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Interviewing Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Monday, 05 March 2007

Whatever you think about the book Good to Great it’s hard to argue one of its premises–that great companies don’t exist without great people. I’m a believer.

In my experience a great engineer can be equal to two, three or even more average engineers. They have good attitudes. They’re productive. They do things right and minimize re-work. They’re not defensive. They communicate with others effectively. They look for things to do when they’ve got spare capacity. They’re easy to talk with. And they inspire others. I just love them. People like this are easily worth what their skills and experience demand in the market.

So how do you find them?

 
A Peculiar I.T. Shop Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Wednesday, 07 March 2007

In many ways the Church’s I.T. operations resemble those of a normal company:

  • Network systems
  • Email systems
  • Workflow applications
  • Financial & HR applications
  • Trainin

The Church is peculiar in that each of these systems is enormously more complicated than it might be for a typical company because each of them potentially supports millions of members of the Church, people who aren’t considered “employees.”

 
Tommy's Tips: Volume 1 Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Friday, 09 March 2007
While I was working at Linspire, Inc., serving as the CTO, I came up with a monthly article called "Tommy's Tips". The purpose of this article was to teach people some of the lesser-known features of the Linspire operating system. I thought that I would start the same tradition here.

Tip 1: New Posts

The forums are getting very busy and it is harder to keep up with all of the threads that have new posts. However, there is an easy way for you to see every post that has not been read.  Once you have logged in to the forums, simply click on the "New Posts" link inside of the navigation bar towards the top of the screen. This link will show you all posts that you have not read.  his is how I get through reading each and every post on the forums.

 
A Technology Buffet Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Friday, 16 March 2007

Within the Church ICS Department, we have a menu of technologies that are available to a team when working on a project. I call this menu the "technology buffet." Here is how the menu works. 

There are three general categories that govern each of the product categories. Those general categories are as follows:

Contained

Items within this category are technologies that are currently in use at the Church but that we no longer wish to use to implement new solutions. We will continue to support these technologies as long as the products that depend on them are in use.

 
Managing Complexity Print E-mail
Written by Pete Whiting   
Friday, 16 March 2007

A few weeks ago Joel warned you that there would be occasional guest posts - I am the first volunteer. The brief bio on tech.lds.org should provide you with some understanding of my experience and biases. In this post, I leverage those experiences and biases to offer some observations about complexity.

 
Big Iron-y Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Friday, 23 March 2007

Scale. Reliability.

When you’re in enterprise I.T.  you care a lot about those words–sometimes too much.

Like most I.T. shops, we have a very complex environment: multiple hardware, os, database and programming languages. You’d expect a fair number of outages.

 
The Maintenance Monkey Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Thursday, 12 April 2007

Maintenance. Call it bug fixing. Call it “keeping the wheels on.” Call it warranty. Call it whatever you want.

Maintenance is a necessary evil. You’re never going to get the product perfect. So you’ll always be called upon to fix bugs. Typical large I.T. shops spend an extraordinary amount of effort on “maintenance.” Estimates range from 10% of labor budget to 70%. In the past our maintenance budgets have been in the 50% range. That seemed obscene to me so we checked into the actual work being done and learned a lot as we’ve struggled to reduce the amount of time and money we spend on maintenance. When thinking through how to reduce maintenance expenditure, I recommend consideration of the following:

Use great prototypes to narrow the “gap of misunderstanding” between you and your customer regarding scope before you start development. The practice we’re trying hard to implement is having Interaction Designers 6-8 weeks ahead of development before ever entering a Cycle/Milestone/Sprint/Release (or whatever you want to call it). So our “agility” comes from working back and forth with the customer on high fidelity prototypes. This substantially reduces the number of times a customer comes back after you’re already done, asking for some new feature they thought “was going to be included from the very beginning.”

Test, test, test! Don’t under-invest in your QA team or in automation. We made the mistake of under-investing for a long time and felt the pain. We’ve staffed a high quality QA team with many engineers who could easily be developers in our shop. We find many, many bugs before our customers do. We can do much better, but the improvements in QA have materially decreased the amount we spend on maintenance.

 
Pleasing the Customer(s) Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Monday, 14 May 2007
When I worked in the mobile devices division at Microsoft we had an ongoing discussion about who our customer was for our mobile device offerings:
  • The carrier (e.g. Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) upon whose network the device would run.
  • The OEM who would make the hardware (Dell, HP, Motorola, etc.).
  • The kid who would use it.
  • The parent who would buy it for the kid.
  • The department(s) within Microsoft which might profit from services sold through the device.
  • The random executive or product manager who had an opinion of what features should be on the device.
  • And of course: ourselves!

So which are the customers? Answer: All.

 
The Myth of Youth Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Wednesday, 06 June 2007

Who uses instant messaging? Reads blogs? Publishes blogs? Uses MySpace? Who buys stuff online or downloads videos?

Kids, right? 

Piper Jaffray recently executed a survey of a sample of the 232 million Internet users in North America. By extrapolating the data, they estimate that over 100 million use instant messaging, over 100 million read blogs and almost 100 million participate in one or more social networking sites.

 
15 Simple Suggestions for Application DBAs Print E-mail
Written by Merrill Spendlove   
Friday, 27 July 2007

Over the years working as a DBA, I've come up with some simple suggestions that make life as a DBA easier.

  1. "Right" and "wrong" choices apply only to moral issues. In database administration, remember that “your way” and “my way” are just different ways, and neither may be right or wrong. 

  2. Normalization is a must. Avoid having data stored in more than one place. A database that is properly constrained and indexed will seldom have performance problems due to normalization.

  3. Integrity should be independent from the applications using the database. Data corruption is a database administrator’s worst nightmare and can ruin an application. Properly constrained data cannot become corrupted. It’s that simple.
 
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