Coding is priority number five

April 13, 2012 | personal, programming, technology
Let’s set the scene. It’s the summer of 2010. Kiln had been launched into the wild for all of six months, after a grueling year-long, no-revenue sprint to turn my dinky prototype that ran only on my personal laptop into a shipping application that worked both in Fog Creek’s hosted environment and in a gazillion ever-so-slightly-different on-site installations. We’d had all of a few months actually charging people, and were only just barely making a month-to-month profit, let alone having a...

Learning coding from boredom

February 27, 2012 | personal, politics, programming, technology
I think the point of math class is probably to teach people math, but what many of the best developers I know actually learned in math class was how to program. Nearly every high school math class I took was really, really boring. Not through the fault of the teachers; they were actually awesome. But I consistently knew just enough to be bored, yet not enough to actually skip the class. At first, I tried to act like I was paying attention, which meant that my face had to be vaguely directed at...

Enslaving your interns for evil and profit

October 7, 2011 | personal, programming, technology
I should be in the middle of an interview right now. About fifteen minutes into it, in fact. About the part of my interview where we stop talking about awesome stuff the candidate has worked on in the past and start diving into writing some actual code. A stack with O(1) data access that also always knows its maximum, for example. Or perhaps a rudimentary mark-and-sweep garbage collector. It’s usually my favorite part of the interview: I get to see how the candidate thinks, how they process...

Making Your Interns Addicts: a How-To Guide

May 27, 2011 | programming, technology
I was thinking back last week on why I started working at Fog Creek. If you don’t know, I got started on this thing called Project Aardvark, which eventually ended up becoming Copilot, the project I worked on for my first couple of years at Fog Creek. I don’t generally reminisce much about that time, simply because that was a very different point in my life, back before I found fashion, yet after I figured out how to end up in front of cameras constantly. ![Jump, jump, jump...

Why how is boring and how why is awesome

April 28, 2011 | personal, programming, technology
Last fall, Joel came to me and said, “Congratulations! We’re doing another World Tour. Also, we want to teach distributed version control. That’s your job. Make it happen.” This sounded totally awesome. Not only would I get to one-up George Clooney in flight time; I was made for doing something like this. In high school, I was in the NFL, which, sadly, means the National Forensics League, which means the National People Who Talk Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, and not the...

Have a mission

March 14, 2011 | programming, technology
You know why I love working on Kiln every day? Because we’ve got a mission, dammit. Mission, not mission statement. The Kiln team doesn’t have a mission statement, and I’ll fight to keep it that way. Mission statements, no matter how well intentioned, become these trite little soundbites that you parrot indefinitely until they just become a meaningless jumble of syllables—kind of like what happens if you just say the word “marmalade” about 40 times in a row. But that’s totally different from...

Approved for Abusiveness

February 23, 2011 | personal, technology
Speaking of fascinating user experiences, I had to crack a smile when going through Disqus today and approving a pile of comments that got locked in the queue for some reason. On every single one, after clicking on the Approve button, I was greeted with: While I’m still trying to puzzle out what the engineer who wrote that string had in mind, I really think I’m going to have to order a pile of stickers with that message on them for liberal distribution to our interns this summer.

Buying VMware Fusion

February 22, 2011 | personal, technology
Update: VMware followed up with me this morning, and has done a great job getting me help and outlining how they’re planning to address a lot of the complaints I’ve had. We’ll have to see what happens over the next few months, but so far, VMware has convinced me that they get they have a problem and are going to try to fix it. Kudos, VMware. So about a week ago I decide to buy VMware Fusion. I really like VMware. They make awesome products, they have good support. They’re not perfect—the VMware...

Talking to HipChat from Kiln

December 22, 2010 | programming, technology
At Fog Creek, we heavily use HipChat to handle quick internal communication. One thing we decided we wanted on the Kiln team was to get real-time notifications whenever anyone pushed to one of our main repositories. Thankfully, Kiln has a feature called webhooks that cause Kiln to broadcast repository events to a random web URL, and HipChat has a nice little API to post notifications in chat rooms. So I whipped up a little web service, called Squawker, to handle this kind of thing for us. You...

Join the Fog Creek World Tour!

August 26, 2010 | technology
I’m really proud of all the work that we’ve been able to pour into Kiln over the last two years. In March of 2009, we had nothing more than a prototype. By October, we had a beta. By January, we were shipping Kiln 1.0. And just a few months later, we followed with Kiln 1.2, which added a massive number of features and really paved the way to making Kiln feel like a well-rounded product. Well, we’re getting ready to launch Kiln 2.0, and we’re so psyched about it that we’re doing another World...