Long Cellars 3 Year Anniversary Party, Day 1

One of our favorite local wineries had day 1 of their 3 year anniversary party today. Heather and I were lucky enough to get tickets to both days!

A photo of a woman enjoying a glass of wine, in front of several wine barrels.
Heather starting with a Rose.

If you haven’t heard of Long Cellars, you are in good company. Jason Long is a very small producer. He is local to the Woodinville area, makes small batches, and has an experimental streak in him. His parties are legendary affairs, where you are likely to get an extra pour of Merlot while a burlesque dancer shakes her (or his) tassels at you. Long Cellars classics are his $25-bottle everyday drinkers. The Cab Frank, a Cabernet Franc dominant blend with a Frankenstein label, and the Screaming Baby, a delicious Merlot-fronting Bordeaux that most years has near everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it.

Jason Long has been making wine for upwards of 13 years, but has only had his own winery and label for 3 years now. The party had food, stories about the winery and the wines he had made, and of course, samples from vintages we have not seen in quite a while, or at all.

As a local wine snob, the party was an intriguing chance to sample the Long Cellars wine after it had some time to age. Being a smaller producer, it is significantly more costly to keep wine held back from his customers. Right now, Jason is releasing his 2018s (the 2018 Reserve Red Mountain Malbec is wonderful), so the opportunity to sample wine his early vintages was a unique treat.

A photo of a table with wine bottles on it, all of the wines we'd be sampling that day.
Our view of the spoils from Day 1!

To start out a wonderful party, and to show precisely the sort of host and winemaker he is, Jason started us with a Dry Riesling and a mineral-y yet sweet rosé made from Pinot Gris. Bone-dry and a tart finish, it had the full body of a Chardonnay. I thought it would make a wonderful desert, paired with a salted caramel. The rosé was sweet, lightly floral, but had a decided mineral finish that would not quit. I asked about them, noting he did not commonly release a Riesling.

“Yeah, I don’t have any really. It’s just something I’m playing with. I only have about a case. Did you like it?”

Worth the price of admission right there.

Merlot

Day 1 started with a flight of 3 Merlots, from 2015, 2016, and 2017. These were so exclusive, Jason had sent us an inventory of ‘bottles available for purchase.’ Not cases. Bottles.

The 2015, bold and fruity, with a hint of acid. One bottle available for purchase. The 2016 was complex and full. Eighteen bottles. The 2017, fruit-forward and potent. Thirty-six bottles.

A photo of 4 wine glasses, filled with a tasting-sized portion of wine in each.
In the front, from left to right, the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Merlots. In the rear right, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot happens to be my favorite grape, mostly because it is delicious, but also due to that movie that every Merlot winemaker complains about.

An animation of the "fucking merlot" scene from Sideways.
Paul Giamatti in Sideways, 2004.

Bottles of merlot ends up selling about 25% cheaper than they should be, mostly because stupid folks that do not like delicious things copy that movie. Tell ya what world, the smart money is on Merlot!

Cabernet Sauvignon

Jason had five cabs for us to try. A 2013 that was just for sampling, with literally no bottles left for sale. A 2014 from Fidelitas he had seven bottles of, and three different vintages from the Quintessence Vineyard (2014, three bottles, 2016, five bottles, and 2017 about ten cases.)

The 2013 was delicate and delicious. The 14s were a lovely contrast of the two vineyards, with a note of savory and jasmine on the Fidelitas, and a sweet and floral nose on the Quintessence. The dark 2016 was delicious, but the showstopper was the 2017. It was delicious, fruity, and delicate (and with ten cases, easier to get a hold of.)

Cabernet Sauvignon all around. In the front, the 2017 (left), and 2016 (right). In the back, the 2014s, surrounding a plate of food to pair with.

Cabernet Franc

The Cabernet Franc flight was next on the list. This was a unique flight, all from Boushey Vineyards, and one from each year from 2013 to 2017. The fascinating element here was the completely different wine you got from every year.

The 2013 was light and dry, and only available to taste. The 2014 (six available), full, friendly, but with a strong green pepper note. The 2015 (five left), almost pine-y with green pepper, and paired AMAZINGLY well with olive oil drizzled on a crusty piece of bread. The 2016 (six left) was broody, dark and complex. The 2017 (fifteen bottles), bold, fruit-forward with a hint of tannin.

A photograph of a woman smelling a glass of wine, with a flight of glasses in front of her.
Heather sampling the 2016 Cabernet Franc, in a line up from 2014 – 2017 (right to left.)

To round out the tasting was a final bottle, the inaugural Sleeping Baby from 2014, which finished up the evening wonderfully. Again, it was the last of the vintage. Better keep an extra bottle of what you get.

The End of the Party

To conclude the party, Jason offered everyone the chance to purchase two bottles, if they wanted to (via a raffle, to keep it fair). If anyone wanted more than two bottles then after all the other attendees else had a chance, they could do so. Naturally, I was picked last in the raffle (grumbles). Fortunately, we got our prizes.

A woman with a happy grin holding 2 bottles of wine.
A great haul.

Heather picked out the last available bottle of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Fidelitas vineyard, and I went ahead and grabbed a bottle of the 2016 Cabernet Franc. After others had a chance, I snagged an extra bottle of my longtime favorite, the 2016 Merlot.

Day two notes tomorrow!

Coaching Session – Panic at the Deadline

I had a conversation with a new dev lead today. This lead was recently installed into a project with an upcoming deadline that he was genuinely worried about. As we started the conversation, the worry sort of came out of him in piles. When he was finally able to take a breath, I collected from him that 1) he believes that the code-base is largely un-salvageable (he only recently joined the team) and 2) the deadline is completely rushing at him (about a week and a half before the first delivery.) I had spent a few minutes looking through his project and coached him toward doing the following.

1. Get a CI / CD Pipeline Setup

The first thing to do here is to get a Continuous Integration and Delivery pipeline setup, so you can quickly and reliably deploy in an automated fashion. The fact is, no software comes out as a 100% bug-free product the first time and this software will be no exception. By building up the CI pipeline you’ll be able to fix things quickly and consistently. Every commit should create an artifact, and assuming success that artifact is something can release. If the software isn’t good right now, the product can get good over time.

This was the bulk of the conversation, as it felt like to him that I was recommending that he throw sh*t at a wall and hope that it sticks. The big value comes from the ability to iterate.

2. Code Doesn’t Have to be Perfect.

The fact is, when you have a deadline you have already agreed to, you have to get over the fact that the code is crap, and likely will need a rewrite. Code is a tool used to create a product, nothing more, so worrying that it’s “not good enough” is contra-indicated.

The dirty truth about software is that no code is good enough. Ever. There is always something to do better and cleaner. That is not to disparage the craftsmen out there, but a craftsman does not back out of a commitment. When you make a commitment, you keep it.

3. Keep Your Campground Clean

This one was fairly specific to the project, but in development projects un-merged branches and directories all over the place that are largely empty do not help anyone, and make the project look bigger than it is. If you have a REST API and a daemon, you don’t need a ‘Tests\Python’ folder that has nothing in it. Things that look small, will feel small.


I will check in with him again after a few days to see what progress he has made on those items. If he can get the CI/CD pipeline down, and know HOW to get the code into production boxes quickly, we can move into things like refactoring into patterns that might smooth some sailing here.

Powering Through

I hurt myself the day before yesterday. After a weightlifting practice, there was a higher intensity portion of the workout that involved a similar movement. I didn’t think to remove weight from the bar, and after 12 minutes of a 15 minute AMRAP, I felt a stabbing twinge between my shoulder blades. After a few hours, it was uncomfortable enough to take some Tylenol and complain a lot. Most of the evening I spent lying directly on my back, or on my chest, spreading my upper back out as much as possible to alleviate the pressure. I took a few more Tylenol and went to bed, and largely slept in the same position.

Yesterday my back still felt tight. Better, but still tight and twinge-y when I twisted quickly. I took a few more Tylenol in the morning. I decided to let my workout slide and take a rest day.

This morning the tightness remains, but little pain. I notice it from time to time, as I wiggle my shoulders, exaggerating them into circles under the guise of a stretch. When I push my chest out wide, I can feel a small indent, as if someone is digging their thumb into the flesh directly under the tip my right scapula. I plan on taking another rest day, and am considering another tomorrow.

I try not to power through stuff much. Powering through pain is the right way to seriously hurt yourself.


When I was 34, I was 320 pounds(ish), loud, big, terribly funny, and devilishly handsome. Every once in a while, I went into the doctor’s office, and heard the spiel about my blood pressure, and how I should lose weight. In my life, I have almost always been big. When I was a kid, my dad called me the ‘little one’, because I was 1) his youngest, and 2) at 13 years old, 3 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier then he.

Dad was both stocky and wiry; he seemed electric. Quick and powerful. He was also not terribly funny. He always laughed at his own jokes. He still does. I was big and strong and always had been. When we moved out of the bar in Elk River, I held up one end of the hide-a-bed, he and my older brother, the other.


In November of 2013, I noticed a cough that was sticking around longer than I expected. I still came into the office. I could power through. On Friday, seven or eight of us developers from {redacted} went to a downtown bar, that had a large restaurant seating area. Most of us drank a beer, had a burger, and then made the trek back to the office, mostly laughing about Star Wars, meat, or whatever libertarian idea some of the more political friends had proposed.

I could not keep up with my friends up the stairs. Each step, I fell behind. I could not catch my breath fast enough. When I did finally make it up those steps, the group was happily laughing a hundred feet ahead of me. I had seen enough episodes of House to know that this was some kind of walking pneumonia. I just needed to get to a doctor to get some antibiotics.

I would have to go all the way to a doctor to get a prescription. What a damned waste of time.

Walking back to the office, slowly, slightly downhill, I began to feel better. I caught up with my co-workers, they asked about where I went, and I made a joke about noticing an attractive woman and losing my interest in them. It was time to power through the rest of the day.

That night I could not fall asleep. As soon as I would lay on my back, I would start coughing. Whatever was in my lungs just would not go away.

I went in to the doctor in the morning. My normal doctor was not there, but the on-call guy would be just as good. It does not take a lot of experience to prescribe antibiotics.

I went back into the office with a ‘I do not have time for any BS, let’s get this done’ nurse. I liked her; she was quick to laugh. She asked what I was there for, and I told her with a joke. She laughed easily, quickly wrote things on my chart while she went through the basics of a checkup. I was two steps away from a consult with a doctor, then a trip to the pharmacy.

She wanted to get my blood pressure. It had not been taken for a while. Her mouth set hard and her eyes opened very wide as she looked at the gauge on the blood pressure machine. I remember telling her that I knew it was high. She opened her eyes wider, stood up, and headed out of the room while the cuff remained on my arm. The doctor came in. Reran the test. Then asked if he could look into my eyes. “Sure doc. Just don’t fall in love or anything…”

I remember two other points on that day, but the rest is gone.

The X-Ray tech asking me what happened, why he was X-raying my chest, if I got into a fight or something. Getting a few bottles from the pharmacy, and the pretty pharmacist looking up at me, “Are you OK?”

“I’ll power through.”


To be continued…

A Wine Gem : Warr-Kings 2017 Descendant

Last night a storm in the area brought an intense amount of rain drumming down around our home, making for a perfect evening to enjoy one of my favorite red blends, The Descendant, from Warr-King wines. It is a complex blend, with a floral and spicy nose, that leads into deep red fruit and full tannins. The wine is mainly cabernet franc, but the magic is the in the blend. A tiny hint of merlot gives it that floral nose and the full mid-palette. I would not call it a ‘Big and Bold’ Washington Blend, so much as a ‘introspective’ blend. A great wine to read a classic novel with.

I live in a house with 3 teenagers. So beyond the yelling, (why there is always goddamn yelling with teenagers?), about “where such-and-such is in the kitchen”, and yelling at a Zoom call, and yelling about some video game being epic but also totally unfair and hacked, I could only attempt a moment’s peace with a magazine and a glass. The pictures were nice, and I opened the window so I could point my ears at the sound of driving and pounding rain and avoid the sound of ‘stupid unfair hackers’ and ‘where’s the coconut oil.’

Heather and I have been happy members of the Warr-King wine club since mid-2019, and we got this particular bottle at a club pickup in November of 2019.

A Note About Wine Clubs

Heather and I are members at eight local wineries. All of them have their individual charms, but as a club member, you can usually expect a few perks. Wines are released to you first, and usually at a discount to their retail prices. Release parties at the wineries are common, and are sometimes even offered with food. Visits and tastings at the winery are usually offered gratis (including tastings with guests) for a fun afternoon where you usually end up buying a bottle of something wonderful, and again, usually discounted. Often, there are different commitment levels to boot.

Wine club details from Long Cellars, in Woodinville Washington
Woodinville Wine Clubs are Awesome

Frankly, wine club membership is a heck of a deal. You make a relatively small commitment to purchase wine from an artisan crafts-person whose wine already you know you enjoy. The winery enjoys less risk in production, and you get the wine you will enjoy at a lower price.

The Story of The Descendant

If you ask Lisa up at Warr-King, she probably has a wholly different story, but for me, the story of The Descendant started at a local restaurant in downtown Bothell, Revolve Food and Wine. The restaurant offered local wine, and an entirely gluten-free menu. My wife is gluten-free, so having a whole menu my wife could pick from made for a happy evening.

While there I had sampled a few local wines but my favorite on the evening happened to be from a local winery I had not heard much about. The wine was deeply ruby, rich and fruity and a little spicy. Tannin was present, but only just. One of the points I enjoyed the most was the balance. Many Washington wines are so fruit-forward, that they tend to have higher alcohol content. They burn and feel ‘boozy’. This one didn’t at all. It was just wonderfully complex and delicious.

The wine list at Revolve, highlighting the price of the Warr-King Descendant.
It was also selling for $75 a bottle.

A $75 restaurant bottle of wine is a little out of my ‘everyday drinker’ category, so I promised myself I would do a little more research on this as we went home.

Around about that time, I had started following a Washington Wine Podcast called Decanted. The fates conspired, and I happened to be on the way to work, when I clicked into 5th episode, highlighting Lisa and Warr-King. An hour later, I had put ‘go to Warr-King’ on our calendar.

A Happy Fate

It did not take long. Several visits over several months passed. Heather and I had the Passport to Woodinville Wineries, so visited first from there, then we came in again, to sample a Syrah, and again when the Malbec came out. We were hooked.

I had almost forgotten about the Descendant, until the release party in late 2019, when it was happily secured in our club allocation.

An empty bottle of the 2017 Descendant, which thankfully cost me nowhere near $75.

The 2017 is fuller this year, and just as lovely as it was when I first got it. It was rich and dark ruby again. I got hints of tart red fruit and Bing cherries and a floral nose. It is a wonderful blend you should try today. Or, join her wine club, and get a 15% discount!

How-To: Rename the Master Branch

It is well past time for your project to get rid of noninclusive terminology in your git branches! Code is for EVERYONE, so in the interest of making our language serve everyone equally, here is instructions for how to do it.

Starting A New Repo

The process is as follows:

  1. Create to your starting directory.
  2. Initialize the repository.
  3. Create a new “main” branch. I prefer main, trunk or root.
  4. Create a new file in the repo. Start with the .gitignore file.
  5. Add that file.
  6. Commit that change.
$ mkdir demo.branchinit
$ cd demo.branchinit
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in {Your Directory}

$ git checkout -b "main"
Switched to a new branch 'main'

$ touch .gitignore
$ git add .

$ git commit -am "First commit."
[main (root-commit) {hash}] First commit
 1 file changed, 0 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
 create mode {something} .gitignore

$ git branch
* main

Voila! The repo is now rooted off of your main branch, and the word master has nothing to do with it.

Changing an Existing Repo

An existing repo also easy to change, even if you have a remote source setup.

The process follows:

  1. Go to your existing master branch.
  2. Create a new ‘main’ branch, from that master branch.
  3. Drop the master branch.
  4. Push your new main branch to your remote.
$ git checkout master
Switched to branch 'master'
Your branch is up to date with 'origin/master'

$ git checkout -b "main"
Switched to a new branch 'main'

$ git branch -d master
Deleted branch master (was {a hash})

$ git push origin main
Total 0 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote:
remote: Create a pull request for 'main' on GitHub by visiting:
remote:      https://github.com/myorg/myProject/pull/new/main
remote:
To https://github.com/myorg/myProject
 * [new branch]      main -> main

Now you just need to reset the default branch in your remote.

  1. Navigate to your remote git source. I use my web browser for this.
  2. Update the default branch to your new ‘main’ branch.
    • In GitHub,
      1. Go to your repo, click Settings
      2. Then Branches on the left.
      3. Select main in the Default Branch box, and click Update.
      4. Then click through the confirmation.
    • In Azure DevOps Services
      1. Go to your repo, then Braches.
      2. Locate the main branch, and then click the 3 dots at the end of the row.
      3. Click ‘Set as default.’

Finally, clean up your local repo’s remote branches.

  1. While still in your main branch, reset the head on your remote.
  2. Delete the master branch!
$ git remote set-head origin -a
origin/HEAD set to main

$ git branch -d master
Deleted branch master (was {a hash})

Alright, you still have some work to do, but your local repo is nice and clean. You’ll still have to clean up your remote, but you can do so just like you would with any other branch delete.

Thanks for doing your part to make everything more inclusive! #blacklivesmatter

Mocking without Dependencies in F#

I am not a fan of mocking frameworks. Never have been. However, F# allows for some very simple mocking behavior which pretty much throws away the need for mocking frameworks across the board.

Imagine you have the following:

using System;

namespace TestNamespace
{
    public struct Item 
    {
         public string Name { get; set; }
         public double Price { get; set; }
    }

    public interface IDoStuff
    {
          int DoStuffForRealsies(int a, int b, Item y);
    }

    public class ImportantClassToTest
    { 
        public ImportantClassToTest(IDoStuff constructorInjectedDependency)
        {
             /// etc.
        }
    }
}

Depending on your needs, you might choose to make a mock of that IDoStuff interface for testing purposes. Maybe your standard IDoStuff has some database stuff you don’t want running in simple unit tests, or maybe it involves another installed dependency. If you are working in C#, you might be stuck with Moq, or NSubstitute, but in F#, you get a much nicer model.

module WhyFSharpIsBetterV2123

open Xunit
open SampleTestableClasses

let stubDoStuff = { new IDoStuff with 
                            member this.DoStuffForRealsies(a, b, y) = 
                                4
                        }

[<Fact>]
let ``To Heck with Mocking``() =
    let rd = new ImportantClassToTest(stubDoStuff)
    Assert.Equal(2, rd.MethodThatRequiresDi(5))


A nice quick implementation of the interface without any mocking extra dependencies, or any extra libraries to maintain. Just use your F# compiler, unit test library of choice and go.

Coaching Engineers – A Review

One of my regular responsibilities at my new job at the Credit Union is coaching developers, engineers, sdets and QA folks. Today, I got to be involved in three different coaching sessions that all had unique subjects and discussion points.

Session 1: How to get to Senior – Developing Expertise

This is a fairly common situation. A developer wants to go from Software Developer to Senior Software Developer.

The process of making Senior Software Developer generally comes down to adding more responsibility and influence to your day-to-day job. To get to a senior role, you can do one of the following:

  1. Take on a team lead role. In this case, you are the point person and responsible for more of the project work itself. You T-shape your skill set, but become the primary point person for the whole project.
  2. Take on a manager role. In this case, you’re trying to mentor and grow the skills of the folks around you. You may not be directly responsible to all the functions in the project, but you help and mentor those folks around you.
  3. Take on an expert role. In this case, you target getting deeply technical and specialized. Your plan is to become a known leader and expert on a particular technology.

The developer in question was interested in learning more about this third pattern of developing her expertise, and what it would take to continue that progression. She expressed interest in web user interfaces with Angular, and spent the session showing me what she had learned and worked on, and where she was going next.

To coach, sometimes you just need to be the accountability buddy.

Session 2 : Whose Design is Right?

In this session, a team of software developers had some questions about the nature of their solutions. They did not agree about the approach to a problem, and this particular session was with one side of that argument.

Side note: I love these sorts of discussions. Folks getting passionate about the way they choose to solve a problem is WONDERFUL.

The best part is that there was not a clear winner in the design of the application itself. They were different designs, to be sure, but they each had technical merits that could very easily be seen.

At the core, this one came down to coaching back to the engineering. The crux of the problem was that there was no data proving one solution better than another. The quantitative features of the respected solutions had not yet been tested, and that was the end state I coached towards here.

If your design is better, prove it with data. Otherwise, GTFO of the way.

Session 3 : SDETs in the Credit Union

Initially, this one was setup to be a discussion about how to write code to use a Windows Application automation tool (Selenium with WinAppDriver), but after the first session, it was apparent many of the SDETs present already had a lot of experience with those libraries. There were four SDETs and one analyst in this session, so it became a larger discussion about the nature of testing. We started collaborating on ideas about the about the best ways we could automate some of the harder tests to deal with.

Finally, it came down to discussions about the AAA pattern of testing, the kind of test code we wanted across the org, and even some of the difficulties in teams where SDEs and SDETs have a combative relationship.


Coaching engineers is exhausting and inspiring all at once. It was a great day, and I feel blessed to be able to do it!

Protests

This morning, like most of the rest of the US population, I saw protests against police brutality in our cities. Most protests have been nothing but peaceful displays of solidarity. Some, less so, with police responding to property destruction and graffiti with violence, including pepper spraying an eight year old.

I am a pacifist; I do not believe in the use of force, in any case.

Recent news has shown, in clear and not uncertain terms, that being a white male shows that I am not a target. People of color do not enjoy that privilege. It is easy to be a pacifist when systemic racism does not target me.

Statistics back me up here. I am unlikely to be arrested, injured or killed by a police officer. I don’t need to send messages to my friends and family when I have been pulled over by a police officer, as that police officer is unlikely to believe me to be ‘aggressive.’ **

** See the book So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo, for details here. Also, it’s just a fascinating book, you should buy it.


In general, I trust police officers to keep us safe. I fully accept that my privileged position supports that trust. That said, I want all people; people of color, LGBTQ people, differently-abled, and any marginalized group I’m (as of yet) unaware of to feel the same.

The police should make people feel safe.

Everyone’s life should matter. However, saying #alllivesmatter’ is fundamentally ignoring systemic racism. Use of force by police statistically impacts people-of-color drastically differently than it impacts white people.


So, being unable to protest myself in the time of COVID19 (I am high risk, heart condition), I will say emphatically here: Black Lives Matter.

Two Rules to Estimating Software Features

OK, you’re a software developer, and someone’s asked you to quick look at a feature, and give them an estimate on how long it’s going to take to develop. For this example, I will refer to that feature as ‘SuperFeature’, and we will have two estimating developer examples; Gina, who examples good estimates, and Lisa, who examples less good estimates. Priya is our product owner, and since Priya owns the product, good estimates give her the information required to make a intelligent decisions. Well-formed estimates enable her to prioritize work well, and manage expectations of customers and stakeholders.

Here’s two rules to estimating features successfully.

Rule 1: Your estimate should represent doing the ‘work done in a vacuum.’

It is counter-intuitive to estimate work in this way, but creating an estimate, as if that work is being done in a vacuum is the best way for your product owner to assign the feature a priority.

Example:

Gina, who estimates in a vacuum – “SuperFeature will take about 2 weeks to do.”

Lisa, who estimates based off of her current workload – “I will need 6-8 weeks to do this.”

In the first case, Priya knows how long the feature will take to develop. She knows that Gina and Lisa are both working on very high priority items, so she gets Liam to work on that feature.

In the second case, the Priya knows how long Lisa will take to get it done, but has very little awareness of the what priority Lisa is putting on the work. At next week’s stand-up, imagine Priya’s surprise to know that Lisa hasn’t even started work on it yet!

The lesson: Your product owner owns priority of the features. An estimate should give your product owner the information required to set that priority.

Rule 2: The larger an estimate, the more detail it needs.

If your feature is large, your product owner needs to know and understand why. In order to understand the work needing to be done, it should be broken down into tasks.

Example:

Lisa, who doesn’t break the work down – “SuperFeature will take about 4 months to work on.”

Gina, who realizes the work is complicated, and Priya needs to understand the details. – “In all, SuperFeature will take about 4 months. We’ll need 3 days to start building the catalytic converter, and then a week to refit and install the Whizzbang…” etc, etc.

In the first case, it’s hard to really even start the work, or even know how to break it up. Is it 4 months altogether? Can you break the work apart? Can you create multiple work streams?

In the second, Gina gives Priya all the details she needs to break up the work accordingly. She also does so succinctly, so that ordering tasks and dependencies are clear.


Following the two rules above will help make your estimates more valuable and your relationship with your product owner more beneficial.

5 months, abridged

Quite a bit has changed since my end of December post. The first two months of 2020 were a blur. {Redacted} went into a full change-over, a new CTO, and a new org structure early in the year, just as I had received word from a regional credit union that they wanted me to be their new, and only, Principal Software Engineer. I had to make a excruciating decision; to leave a company and people I loved, to move over to a new-idea-to-the-org position. Instead of building things and fixing things, I would be responsible for fixing the org’s developers and development processes.

One of the things I will take away is {Redacted}’s dedication to making the customer right, if there was a mistake or error.

Nothing is more freeing than the knowledge that, no matter the mistake, we will make the client right.

Knowing that we would always make the client whole allowed for experimentation and mistakes. Engineers are free there to do the best they can. There are many orgs who strive to be the very thing that {Redacted} has been.

Still, careers should not stagnate, and there was no place for me to go at {Redacted}. I had reached a space that the only place to go was if my superior retired or quit.

It has been three and a half months since I left, and I still miss everyone terribly.


Well, with the whirlwind of changes that occurred in February, naturally, a pandemic ensued which caused me to get a whopping three weeks of face-time with my new team. There are some outstanding people at my credit union, and with this past three months, I have been working to carve out my new-to-the-org role.

Some notes from the first

  1. Larger organizations have larger org problems. Each subteam has its’ own micro-climate.
  2. Empathy, empathy, empathy. You simply have to assume everyone is trying their best.
  3. TDD is nowhere near as ubiquitous as I assumed that it was.

On item three, I have been a TDD practitioner in spurts and starts since 2005, and I was later than I should have been to the game. It has simply been a part of a majority of the code I have dealt with. When folks describe it as new, it is a bit of a shock.


The elephant in the room clearly has to be the same thing everyone is dealing with. The big CV19. Here’s the high points.

  • My kids have been homeschooling since March.
  • My wife was furloughed from the Y, but still teaches the occasional ZOOM yoga course. We are blessed, in that the income from my new job covers what she was bringing in.
  • I do Crossfit at home, either on ZOOM, or simply by myself, and work from home completely. My outings are walking the dog, or going to the grocery store. I have visited a few wineries for club pickups, and recommend everyone go visit a local winery and support small business!

Stay safe!