Home of the Boogie-Woogie Feng Shui

Notes to a New Engineer — Kickoff

I am start­ing a series of posts based on the men­tor­ing I do for new engi­neers. When men­tor­ing engi­neers it is impor­tant to teach both spe­cific skills, prob­lem solv­ing, and men­tal mod­els. The first two are self-explanatory evo­lu­tions of the basic skills of engi­neer­ing. By “men­tal mod­els” I mean ways of fram­ing a sit­u­a­tion, such as from a cus­tomer point of view or a prod­uct man­ager view, which can help one think about the cor­rect han­dling of a situation.

Some of these points are from my own thoughts and con­ver­sa­tions but I don’t own them nor are they wholly orig­i­nal to me. Some points come from my cur­rent and past man­agers who have helped me grow as a leader and engi­neer. Some are from mate­ri­als and dis­cus­sions from the MBA I com­pleted last year. Some are from read­ings on the inter­net. To sum­ma­rize: I don’t own this knowl­edge. I am shar­ing it and I hope any­one who encoun­ters it will share it as well and con­tribute com­ments, feed­back, and other ideas.

The next data breach will be fake

It would be really inter­est­ing if a hacker found a way to har­vest new pass­words and pass­words being changed and faked a huge data breach to get mil­lions of peo­ple to change their pass­words.

Threat­en­ing fake data breaches if not paid a ran­som could be the next prof­itable hacker mar­ket. It would prob­a­bly work a few times, and cer­tainly muddy up the waters for both orga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple. Imag­ine try­ing to fig­ure out how to respond when 10 major groups have a data breach per week, but 2 of those are real and the rest are fakes. Chaos and mas­sive frustration.

Potential Wikis

Wikis are inter­est­ing. I love the page inter­link­ing and editable nature of them. In the past I have used Tid­dly­Wiki for a per­sonal wiki long before Ever­note or OneNote came along. That must have been back in 2004–7, though I check in on it now and then. It is a sin­gle HTML file that works like a wiki, mod­i­fy­ing itself. It is very impres­sive. It makes it easy to sync via Drop­Box too and backup as snap­shots in time.

I just vis­ited that link for the first time in a year or two though and found it’s been revamped, mod­ern­ized, and updated. It looks great! Might have to play with it again.

How­ever today I came across 3 other wikis that I may want to use for my per­sonal notes or for Arts­Fuse knowl­edge shar­ing with my col­leagues. I don’t know much about them yet other than the cur­rent trend is to use git for data stor­age and be eas­ily hostable with nginx on a python/ruby backend.

Realms - Git based wiki writ­ten in Python Inspired by Gol­lum, Ghost, and Dillinger. It is Markdown-only which is a painful lim­i­ta­tion. But it has live col­lab­o­ra­tive editing.

Branch­able — This is a hosted solu­tion start­ing at $10/month

Gitit — Git-based wiki that can be edited in many markup lan­guages and export to many more includ­ing PDF, EPUB, and Medi­aWiki format.

If these can be cus­tomized with­out a ton of effort I may try them over OneNote which is my cur­rent favorite. Wikis may be a bet­ter solu­tion to shar­ing knowl­edge with cowork­ers than shared OneNote folder, but they also have to com­pete with Drop­box and Google Drive for collaboration.

Redesigned ArtsMuse Website

Updated August 25, 2014: Arts­Fuse has rebranded! I updated the links below to point to artsfuse.com instead of old artsmuse.io website.


The redesigned Arts­Fuse web­site is live. This is the side project I am work­ing on with my wife and my friend Steve: a cus­tomiz­able art deliv­ery solu­tion for the home and office. What does that mean? It means we can put art on any TV!

Any­way, I redesigned our page. Below is a screen­shot of the new front page. The goal is to quickly get vis­i­tors to use­ful con­tent on one of the 3 land­ing sites for I want art, I make art, and I dis­play art.

Screenshot of revamped ArtsFuse main website page.

Screen­shot of revamped Arts­Fuse main web­site page.


Jira Annoyances for Agile Tracking

We are using Jira more and more at work and I am find­ing it very frus­trat­ing. As an issue tracker it works well and links nicely with the other Atlass­ian prod­ucts we use, like Cru­cible. But now we are using it for agile iter­a­tion track­ing and it is just a stream of half-baked behavior.

Atlass­ian has put lots of effort towards cre­at­ing an ajax-heavy UI, but each action is as slow as a full page load. Then things that seem to be first-class arti­facts (Iter­a­tions) can’t be directly searched and linked-to with­out drop­ping into their SQL-like query syntax.

You have to get the actual iter­a­tion ID by click­ing the Iter­a­tion from within in a story and it changes from “iter­a­tion 1″ to some ID, in this case 2656. Then you can con­struct a search fil­ter based on that and fil­ter­ing out subtasks:

sprint in (2656) and issuetype in standardIssueTypes()

Then you can get a per­ma­nent link to it. They are pre­dictable after that, but for each iter­a­tion you have to locate this ID and con­struct a new query. There seems to be no Iter­a­tion His­tory type view or even a way to directly open them and look at them his­tor­i­cally. Iter­a­tion doesn’t seem to be a first-class con­cept, just a glommed-on bit of UI wrapping.