Occasionally, I ask myself what professional advice I wish I’d been given earlier in my career. You know, like the kinds of things your grandmother would have told you, if only your grandmother had been a software engineer instead of an English teacher, and you’d been listening?

Strap yourself in. Here comes another link bait-headlined episode of ramblings on software engineering.

Assuming you work in software, you’ve no doubt noticed how engineers vary widely in intellectual style and capabilities. Some are good — they know stuff, they get things done, and people respect them. Some are are really good — they move faster, are more reliable, know even more, or can solve the toughest problems. …

A Dark and Tortuous Journey in DevOps

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[Edit: This was posted back in October, but this post become way more relevant on March 22, 2016, when a key dependency was unpublished and the breakages discussed here actually happened to lots of people! I’m not at all saying everyone should use instaclone, but external instabilities like package registries is something every devops person should consider.]

Node development is quick and easy with npm. But managing the workflow around npm install can be a pain point in terms of speed, reliability, and reproducibility as you scale out builds and in production.

I’ve recently had some luck with a tiny tool that’s significantly improved build speed and reliability, so thought I’d share some thoughts on it. But first, let’s talk about some of the issues in managing npm packages reliably for developers, CI systems, and deployment. …

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1. Kindergarten. 2. College. 3. Preschool and Professional Athletics. 4. Effective Software Engineering. Most of us muddle along in the middle.

The Golden Rule of Software Engineering

It’s late now, after a couple beers. So this might get philosophical.

I’ve been a software engineer in the Valley for a while now. Written code and led teams, especially in tech startups, both successful and failed. And been lucky enough to work with amazingly skillful programmers. At times, one pauses to reflect. This week, I decided to write down some musings.

Also, forgive me. Years ago, I studied math. So I like to make gratuitously categorical statements that defy logic and number statements for no apparent reason.

Rule 1: On average, you’ll throw it away

Startups are exciting. You have a founding team with a vision. By good fortune and hard work, you have funding, a few brilliant engineers, and a lot of energy. It’s like loading a rocket with fuel, aiming it in the right direction, and launching it. …

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Yesterday, I was confronted with a moral dilemma. I need your help.

Actually, this thing — well, things — have been with me a long time.

In my closet.

Let me tell you how it started. I assure you, this is all true.

A few years ago, after moving to Mountain View, California, fatigued in my attempt to live by bicycle in suburbs, I began the search for a car. Not too expensive, nice to drive. When I saw the well-preserved Volkswagen GTI offered in an ad by a man in Santa Cruz, I knew it was perfect. …


Joshua Levy

Scaling systems and teams.

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