I always hear a lot about companies being developer focused. Maybe it’s a bit of cynicism but I never expect much from this goal. Few companies have been effectively developer focused, they just dream of it. I asked myself recently, and would love others’ feedback. What exactly does it even mean to be developer focused?
What I Think of “Developer Focused”
When I think of developer focused organizations, the first organizations I think which actually have some type of grasp and effectively work toward this are open source software projects. Not particularly foundations or companies related to the projects, but the projects and the people involved with the core project themselves. These come to mind for several specific reasons. Continue reading “WTF is “Developer Focused”?”→
It’s been over a decade that Twitter has been an active part of the developer community. It’s grown in popularity from day one, and now holds the uneasy crown as the place for hot takes, trash from politicians, and the general tire fire that is the news. In many ways, that’s what they’ve aimed for. But then there’s us developers, people who make software, who make Twitter, who build all of this technology internet stuff right? We’re here using Twitter still, even amid the backstabbing and Twitter UI’s API’s being yanked from under us. They’ve of course in the past also banned UI’s and somehow here we are still using the service. However, I digress, Twitter’s wrongs against developers are numerous after we effectively built the service. In spite of all this we developers are a large contingent of people on Twitter. It’s still an amazingly useful medium for software developers, and especially new software developers, to get involved with. It’s a very effective tool to strengthen our careers and continue conversations within the developer communities themselves. One just has to avoid the cruft, and that’s what I intent to tackle some of in this article.
This list I’ve put together is of things that I personally have learned, often by stumbling through and discovering myself. These activities on Twitter do have a net positive effect on your career and ability to communicate with the world and local developer communities. First I’ll cover positive use cases of Twitter that are immensely useful as a software developer. These are even compounded if you’re an advocate of open source, cool technologies and libraries, and other miscellaneous things.
1. Twitter as a Communication Tool
First and foremost, Twitter has been and does – mostly – continue to be a communication tool. I make use of Twitter to connect with people for conference organizing, code projects, open source work, to have geek lunch, nerd brunch, and many other things that come up. It can and ought to be one of your primary communication mediums in that it connects many of the key active people within our overall communities. More so than email and other mediums by a large percent. If you intend to have a long term net effect and grow your presence and activities (conferences, meetups, coding groups, etc) you want to foster Twitter has become the de facto medium to be active on.
2. Twitter as a Collector of People
Twitter, even though it does seem to attract some of the most villainous scum (literally, not a figure of speech or hyperbole) and have some pretty horrifying problems (people calling in SWAT’s on people (extremely illegal), death threats, harassment) the net benefit within the community to bring people together has far outclassed pretty much any other system out there. Hacker News doesn’t, Facebook doesn’t, Google+ is cancelled, and about every other social media platform has failed to bring together the develop community in an effective and useful way.
3. Twitter for Answers
Even though I don’t often go to Twitter to find answers, sometimes I do. Often it is a last resort. After all, Twitter is most efficient at providing a place for links, quick blurbs, bumbling and babbling threads from people, and of course cat pictures and hot takes.
The combination powers of Twitter with other services however exponentially increases the ability of Twitter to help with answers. For example, write up a solidly written question on Stackoverflow or one of the branched out services and then post the question on Twitter, maybe inquiring for some retweets and boom, doubling, tripling, and greater multiplier of people looking at the question that can provide a prospective answer!
4. Twitter, Firestarter
One of the things I’ve also found Twitter good for is an outlet for pushing and often straightening out bad behavior in the community. Ever done something racist? Ever known someone to pull some misogynistic action? Yeah, unfortunately I know of these things happening too, and Twitter forces apologies and better behavior among people. But it also is a place people can wreck themselves and be just as destructive as they can learn to better themselves, especially those humans of us that have poor behavior and disrespectful tendencies.
But just as much as individual behaviors among us, Twitter has been used to straighten out some pretty trash behaviors from corporations. Sure, they’re not really people, but the conflagrations of this notion – true or not – make for pressure to be applied to corporations through other means besides the products and services they sell us individual humans, which to often are things we have to buy regardless, and this medium provides us an avenue to induce better behaviors in spite of purchases.
There of course is the positive and negative of this forced societal behavior and in many ways, improving corporate behavior throughout the world, but it’s here. Pressure of the people, often organized and started through Twitter, including against Twitter itself sometimes, is heavily rooted in activity right there on ole’ Twitter itself.
GSD Tactical Twitter
Alright, now to the meat of things. Twitter is great at all these things but how does one make the best use of it without it turning into an outright tire fire trash dump of distraction and stress? Well, it’s moderately easy, but one has to be careful.
1. Find Good and Entertaining People
My personal advice when starting on Twitter is to skip the companies. Don’t follow any of them. Same goes for organizations or any group account of sorts. The key to find good content, good common ground, and useful links, news, and related communities is to follow individuals that are involved in those things you want to be involved in already. The following are some specific examples, and for me, great people to follow.
let’s say you want a little entertainment from the pissed off city of Seattle? Ya follow @AngrySeattle.
2. Lift Up Others, Tweet to Others, Get Involved
When on Twitter, one can just lurk. It’s a completely valid thing to do. However lurking isn’t super high value. You just won’t get that much out of it. Instead, get involved. Find a link with something interesting, write up a tweet and post it. See something interesting someone else just tweeted, respond! See something that isn’t right, maybe tweet why it isn’t.
Always a good idea, regardless of the trash that is often on Twitter to still stay courteous, kind, and friendly. Remember, not everyone is from the mold you’ve come from, or seen things the way you have, so tread lightly and friendly and things mostly work out real well. Overall, people are attuned to helping those that help themselves and helping those that we run in social circles with.
All in all, get involved, tweet at, with, and all around your fellow Twitterers. Your return will improve and in the process you’ll add more value for others too.
3. Follow & Prune the Firehose of Tweets
Alright, I’ve written to follow and lift up others. That’s groovy, but also you gotta bring the hammer down sometimes. When that firehose of tweets just gets a little overwhelming check out what tweets are helpful, rate them to yourself, and unfollow some people if it’s not the direction or the tweets you’re getting value from.
Even though it’s difficult when just starting to use Twitter, the ratio will be more followed than followers for you. But as time goes forward and you get past 50 followers, 100, 500, 1000 you’ll need to make sure to keep the list of people you’ve followed just equal to or less than how many people follow you. It’ll help keep your feed manageable and also help you to keep interactions beneficial for you, followers, and followed.
4. The Down-Low on Conferences
If you’re looking to attend a conference, Twitter via hashtags is a great way to get information on conferences. Dig in, dig deep. Talk to people about the conference in particular. If necessary get into direct messages and invoke the whisper net if need be. Sometimes conferences can be exponentially useful and sometimes they end up bothersome cash burning wastes of time. Figure out what you want from a prospective conference and dig in via Twitter, you’ll prevent wasting time and burning cash, and exponentially increase the positives you can get out of a conference.
5. Filter the Trash Fire
Ok, let’s get super serious. One way Twitter has become a trash fire for many or most people these days is because of the political trash dumped in. Much of Twitter for the general public is bot armies from Russia, crazies like the nutty Wohl kid, and other junk nut accounts. One way to notch this down to a minimal trash fire is to throw some filters (i.e. mute certain words) on your Twitter account. For example here’s my list:
Now as you’ve read that, remember that my goal has been to focus the stream on tech content with a little heavy metal, a few cats, and other entertainment here and there. For example I’m fine with sports events like baseball and football but really don’t want to get distracted by it in on my Twitter stream. On game day those events just overwhelm the tweets and things that are useful get drowned out.
Now a lot of the other stuff in the list is the horrifying reality of the United States today, reflected on Twitter, and part of something that I don’t want distracting me either. Overall this has made Twitter dramatically more useful for me again.
I’m excited to announce several new speakers coming to Seattle. Meet Karthik Ramasamy, Joseph Jacks, and Luc Perkins. They’re going to cover a range of technologies, but to list just a few; Heron, messaging, queueing, streaming, Apache Cassandra, Apache Pulsar, Prometheus, Kubernetes, and others.
Everybody meet Karthik Ramasamy!
Karthik Ramasamy is the co-founder of Streamlio that focuses on building next generation real time infrastructure. Before Streamlio, he was the engineering manager and technical lead for real-time infrastructure at Twitter where he co-created Twitter Heron. He has two decades of experience working with companies such as Teradata, Greenplum, and Juniper in their rapid growth stages building parallel databases, big data infrastructure, and networking. He co-founded Locomatix, a company that specializes in real-time streaming processing on Hadoop and Cassandra using SQL, that was acquired by Twitter. Karthik has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a focus on big data and databases. During his college tenure several of his research projects were later spun off as a company acquired by Teradata. Karthik is the author of several publications, patents, and Network Routing: Algorithms, Protocols and Architectures.
Data processing use cases, from transformation to analytics, perform tasks that require various combinations of queuing, streaming and lightweight processing steps. Until now, supporting all of those needs has required different systems for each task–stream processing engines, messaging queuing middleware, and streaming messaging systems. That has led to increased complexity for development and operations.
In this session, we’ll discuss the need to unify these capabilities in a single system and how Apache Pulsar was designed to address that. Apache Pulsar is a next generation distributed pub-sub system that was developed and deployed at Yahoo. Karthik, will explain how the architecture and design of Pulsar provides the flexibility to support developers and applications needing any combination of queuing, messaging, streaming and lightweight compute.
Joseph was the founder and organizer of KubeCon (the Kubernetes community conference, donated to and now run by the Linux Foundation’s CNCF). He also co-founded Kismatic (the first commercial open source Kubernetes tools and services company), acquired by Apprenda in 2016. Joseph previously worked at Enstratius Networks (acquired by Dell Software), TIBCO, and Talend (2016 IPO). He was also a founding strategy and product consultant at Mesosphere. Recently, Joseph served as a corporate EIR at Quantum Corporation in support of the Rook project. He currently serves as the co-founder and CEO of a new stealth technology startup.
Luc has joined the tech industry a few years back after a foray in choral tunes and thrashing guitar virtuosity. Educated at Reed in Portland Oregon and then on to Duke where he wrapped up. Then back to Portlandia and then joined AppFog for a bit working in he platform as a service world before delving into the complexities of distributed databases at Basho. Having working with Luc there along with Eric Redmond I wasn’t surprised to see Luc just release the 2nd edition of the Seven Databases in Seven Weeks book. Recently he also joined CNCF as a Developer Advocate after drifting through some time at Twitter and Streamli working on streaming & related distributed systems.
Presentation: Prometheus, Grafana, Kubernetes, and a Cassandra Cluster
Over the past few years, Prometheus has emerged as a best-of-breed OSS monitoring and observability solution. In this talk, I’ll walk you through setting up a full-fledged Prometheus setup for a Cassandra cluster running on Kubernetes, including Grafana dashboards, Alertmanager notifications via Slack, and more.
Presentations: Title TBD – Stay Tuned!
I’ll post more details on Joseph’s talk in the next couple of days. But you can get an idea that it’ll be some seriously interesting material!
Recently a whole slew of people got hired at Microsoft. Many of us have taken notice. It’s left a lot of people with questions like:
Why would Erik, Ashley, or Jesse work at Microsoft?
Doesn’t it seem suspicious?
I wonder what kind of cash they allocated to that payroll budget?
Does Microsoft hire anybody that actually uses Microsoft tooling anymore?
I’m confused, what is even going on?
The answers may be more obvious for those of us that have kept an eye on Microsoft. There has been this grand upheaval and cultural change that has occurred. CEO Satya Nadella has legitimately shifted the culture in a way that much of the company has wanted to go. Somehow, he’s also managed to start changing the culture even for those that weren’t sure or didn’t want to go.
Satya has taken what core individuals like Scott Guthrie, Scott Hanselman, and many others have hoped for and pushed for over the years and started to enable the people within Microsoft to make this happen. You can read plenty about how Microsoft has gotten it’s groove back, and about the work the Scotts and others have done to get that groove going. But I’m not particularly writing about that, but it has inspired this article in a big way. I’m going to elaborate on what I’ve observed and what I know to make a strong, effective, useful, and community focused developer advocate and developer advocates team.
The developer advocate team over at Microsoft is led by Jeff Sandquist, Brian Liston, and a few others. They’re solid individuals with good ideas about how to build and have an advocate team contribute effectively to the community in which it works. Here are the top three obvious things they’ve done that have made the team effective, relevant, intelligent, and useful.
The team is diverse. I’m not even going to play around, diverse teams with many ideas and a range of people do better. End of story, it really ought not to be complicated these days. But one can’t just start a team and say “I want my team to be diverse”. That’s a start, but the important part is does one know how to build a diverse team? In technology, if one doesn’t have insight into actual human begins this doesn’t pan out so well. One has to have the ability to communicate effectively to people out of the tech nerd guy stereotype trope in order to actually build this type of team. Jeff, Brian, and crew appear to have this ability. I’ll write more on this later, but suffice it to say, this is a top skillset of a developer advocate team’s leadership.
The team has to be skilled at a variety of complementing technologies. If someone knows X, and the next person knows X, and nobody knows Y, then the team is going to be fairly weak and likely broken in representing and providing value around Y, and in some sense even around X. At this point the Developer Advocates that have been introduced have some pretty extensive skillsets around key technologies that the Microsoft Technical Evangelists have traditionally been extremely weak in. This current team has some skills in the Windows space, but there’s been a big focus in filling the massive skills gap around Linux, cloud technology (ironic there’s traditionally been such a gap on the cloud team), non-MS languages like Go, distributed systems, data analysis and intelligent (or data science or whatever one may call these roles), and more. The Advocate team (also not called evangelists anymore, finally) is finally in a good position to actually start doing advocacy around actual cloud technology. I’m excited for the potential of the prospects!
The third thing that has stood out, is that they’ve hired people that know how to do the advocacy thing already. They’re not trying to define or redefine it on Microsoft’s terms but instead have brought people onboard that are already natural advocates of things they find interesting. Take Erik St Martin (@erikstmartin) for example; co-authored a book, “Go in Action“ with Brian Ketelsen (@bketelsen), co-hosts Go Time FM. That brings up another great example with Brian Ketelsen. Both of these guys are hug advocates in their own right, without connection to any specific big company or what not. These are the types of people that bring huge strength to a team with already proven ability to delivery. Then there’s Jesse Frazelle, but seriously, I really don’t even need to mention the work she’s done with containers (cough cough, docker, etc). Another person you should be watching is Anthony Chu (@nthonyChu), who’s been a steady Azure and great technologies advocate over the years, also joined up. You can read more about the individual team members here, and I hear through the secret grapevine that there are more en route to join. Simply put, Microsoft isn’t pulling their punches!
Now the thing to wait and see is if the team and the team’s leadership can direct all of this energy into their respective efforts. The team is big, lots of people, lots of focus points. How will they use each others’ strengths while building up along core competencies? How will they provide value without detracting from product and push product without losing community value? There are a lot of questions to be answered and I’ll be keeping a close eye on their efforts. As I do with all of the advocacy teams I find fellow interests in. The advocacy, effectiveness, and reasons for it all has been an interest of my own for some time. So much so you can expect more than a few more articles on this topic, until then, cheers!
Recently the question came up from a close friend of mine, “will my PhD help me attain a higher income in the north west?” I had to tell him, that it might get him a little more, but it won’t get him in the top income brackets for the occupation. Another time, a few days later, someone else asked this too. Then again, I see a job posting that requires a Bachelors Degree and some other nonsense. The job posting even states they want “A-Game” talent.
I am almost shocked at how poorly part of this industry doesn’t realize how unimportant a degree (bachelor, doctorate, etc) is to getting real top tier, a-game talent. (and yes, I get a little riled up about this matter)
You Can’t Make Good Software Developers. No college out there is going to train someone to be in the top 10%, and absolutely not to be in the top 5% of skill levels. Colleges can NOT do this. It is up to the individual, and the individual alone. If top tier talent seems to come from a college, one should check their premise and look at the motivations the individuals have to go to that school. There is most likely a reason that top tier talent appears to be made there. The college however, can only guide or assist, but I repeat that “top tier talent is a very individualistic endeavor“.
Some might say, well a group is needed, support is needed, this and that are needed. True, an individual needs a support system and a college can provide that, but it generally ends there. The support group helps, provides a sounding wall, and provides correlation to good ideas for the a-game top tier geek. But again, the endeavor is the individuals desire.
top tier talent is a very individualistic endeavor – Me
Hiring Top Tier, A-Game Talent
There are a few things when trying to hire this level of game player.
The first thing is to not require a degree of any sort. Sure, it looks good, but it won’t dictate anything other than the individual was able to go through the regimented steps of college.
List the skills and ideas that you would like to find in an individual. Think of two people meeting for the first time, what do you want to know about the other individual. Team fit is absolutely fundamental for top tier talent. That support group that I mentioned above, top tier talent works best with a solid group of players.
Keep your technology up to date, moving forward, and don’t bore your top talent if you manage to get it. If the company slows down, they will leave. The more valuable they find out they are, the lower tolerance they’ll have for this. For managers, directors, and leaders in an organization this is THE challenge for them.
Provide opportunities not just for advancement, but ways for them to advance their knowledge such as training, a book budget, or other means. Even if some software they want to use isn’t used ton the project, get it for them (within reason of course ? couple $100 or even a few $1000 for a good software license to MSDN, Tellerik, or other suite of software is ideal).
Don’t push them to, and don’t let them overwork themselves into burnout. This, as a leader in an organization is easy to do if one finds themselves actually hiring top talent. Because top talent just provides results and more results. But they are human, they will break, don’t be the cause of that or you’ll lose your talent.
For now, that is it from me on this topic, back to the revenue, code, projects, and pushing things forward.