April 18, 2020

Fundamental leverage for fundamental improvements

In my previous post, I ranted a bit about the state of programming tools based on my struggles working with infrastructure in large-scale systems. The general landscape of infrastructure tooling seem to address complexity in ways that don’t seem very effective to me. If the power of tools is to make the complicated tasks simpler, the improvements promised by these tools seems quite superficial: there is still a lot of tweaking incidental details, only in YAML now instead of XML or JSON1. Read more

February 22, 2020

Sweating the Right Details

Some things have been bothering me for a while now, about programming as an activity and the software engineering discipline from which it follows. As usual, I’ve been struggling for a while to articulate the insights that I’m grappling at. But let me finally commit to trying, at least. I’ve been spending a lot of time with infrastructure in my current role, wrangling automation, troubleshooting environments, configuring and optimising builds. Operating machinary that pushes buttons and pulls levers on other machines ad infinitum. Read more

March 25, 2019

A Knowledge Workers Toolkit

Knowledge work can have some pretty tricky characteristics that renders it distinct from physical work. For one, it defies quantification. While chefs, carpenters and other tradespeople can see their efforts take shape into concrete, material output, the knowledge worker is not so fortunate. Our raw materials are intangible - what tools could we use to manipulate them? Likewise, our output can seem quite ephemeral - did the thing we produced actually add value, by what measure1? Read more

September 12, 2018

Four principles from four people (part 2)

This is the second part of a blog post in which I share four principles that I picked up from four different people I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with. The last two principles are less well-formed, they’re still cooking, incubating so the ideas below will be rough, the writing will be (necessarily) context-rich and less concise. Bear with me🐻. If you haven’t read it yet, part 1 is over here. Read more

September 9, 2018

Four principles from four people (part 1)

I’ve been extremely privileged to have worked with so many different people, in so many different contexts. Being exposed to such diversity has greatly benefited me and enriched my world view. But there’s also a little bit of everyone I’ve internalised - little tools, values and principles for which I am grateful. You get to learn a lot about a person just by pairing with them on a technical problem or even collaborating on something more strategic1. Read more

© Sett Wai 2020