Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Definition of Done

I wrote Always Be Closing and it spawned a conversation about what it means to be “done”, so here’s a Definition of Done I wrote a few months back.

“Done” means different things to different people. It’s important to be clear about what you mean when you say “Done”.

Some example definitions include (in roughly increasing order of “strength” / “thoroughness”):

The Curse of Knowledge

It sounds like it’s the latest Indiana Jones title, but the curse of knowledge is a pervasive problem you should know about:

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when, in predicting others’ forecasts or behaviors, individuals are unable to ignore the knowledge they have that others do not have, or when they are unable to disregard information already processed.

Always Be Closing - the Importance of Focus and Finishing

(From Glengarry Glenn Ross, where Alec Baldwin’s character acts like a colossal asshole, but we’re all kinda cool with that because he’s a charming and successful colossal asshole. Warning: that’s how toxic environments happen.)

Close things. Finish things. See them through to the end.

I’m writing this for myself more than anyone else. Closure is important. Being able to mentally go “that’s done” and move on is vital.

When Slack Is Your Office

My team is distributed; twelve people everywhere from Munich to Berlin, Rio, Nova Scotia, “somewhere north of Katowice”, Biggleswade and Berwick-upon-Tweed (among others!).

Accordingly, Slack acts as our office. We rent some office space in Munich, but Slack’s where the magic happens. We interview on Slack because that’s where the majority of our interactions occur. We have JIRA, we have GitHub, we have email, we have Hangouts, but by volume and frequency, Slack’s where it’s at.

We spent a long time on IRC but it took migrating to Slack before we really got the whole company on board; the mobile support, the ease of use, the easy integrations and the richness of the medium were all vital to this.

So here’s some things we learned along the way!

Universal Greeting Time (UGT)


UGT […] states that it is always morning when person comes into a channel, and it is always late night when person leaves. Local time of any member of channel is irrelevant.

Great convention for groups of people who spend time travelling across timezones.

Unfortunately the habit sticks, and now I find myself having to explain an oddly-timed “good morning”!

Serverless: Nice Idea, Terrible Name

All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection

David Wheeler

I love a nice layer of abstraction.

Filesystems let me just put files on a drive without concerning myself with explicit allocation and disk geometry. TCP clients let me just make a request without concerning myself with packet retransmition, re-ordering, and on-wire representations. Logic gates let me think about digital circuitry without concerning myself with voltage levels and capacitance.

What these abstractions don’t do is explicitly deny the existence of what they abstract away.

Nobody Likes Naked Pings

Ever received a voicemail or text message that says nothing other than “call me”? You got a “naked ping” – a context-free request for response / attention / action.


The naked ping should be Considered Harmful, for at least two reasons. The first is that it conveys no information. The recipient of your ping, like you, is a Busy Person. They may be in the middle of something requiring intricate thought, and should not be interrupted for anything less than fire, flood, or six figures of revenue. Worse, you may forget why you pinged someone; when, four hours later, your victim gets back to IRC and responds to you, you will be disrupted in turn trying to remember what was on your mind in the first place.

Postgres for Ladies

Someone started selling a book titled “Postgres for Ladies” on Amazon (now removed).

On the plus side, it received some well-deserved snark in the reviews that was both amusing AND on point:

But when my wife wanted to learn to use [Postgres], she just couldn’t wrap her head around it. Personally, I think it was due to stress at work; computational modeling of disease transmission takes a lot out of a girl.

I’ve created a database with all of our finances, for example. It includes our expenses, and every month she adds in her income from work. She’s even managed to automate the process of removing $.23 from every dollar she earns, just like her employer does.

On the minus side, presumably someone thought the book was a genuinely good idea :(