I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

An opinion column for developers.Brutally honest, no pulled punches.
Posts
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Your World. Easier

    • 6 Comments
    During difficult economic times like these, people tend to whine less about common complaints that now seem trite. Mostly, I'm relieved not to hear how much e-mail is in Ingrid's Inbox, how Brian broke the build again, and how Suresh's service schedule...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I'm listening

    • 5 Comments
    It's Midyear Career Discussion time at Microsoft. Perhaps you just finished, but more than likely you're still trying to squeeze yours in. How'd it go? How will it go? For you? For your manager? Well, that depends. It depends a bit on your prior performance...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Green fields are full of maggots

    • 7 Comments
    As I said in Nailing the nominals , the two keys to successful big projects (100K+ LOC) are thinking ahead and defining done. Thinking ahead is about design and planning. Defining done is about setting a quality bar and sticking to it. Yet many big projects...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Sustained engineering idiocy

    • 5 Comments
    Plumbing channels waste water into a series of larger and larger pipes till it is expelled. That's because sewage flows downstream, which explains the quality of goods that test, operations, and sustained engineering teams receive. After all, they are...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    De-optimization

    • 2 Comments
    Why? Why! Why do managers make stupid decisions that cause devastating churn and tawdry results? And it's not just managers, though they are particularly proficient at promoting poor performance—architects, leads, and individual contributors flood the...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    NIHilism and other innovation poison

    • 16 Comments
    Is innovation the act of creating something new (as the dictionary claims) or is it building upon the work of others? To me this is a fundamental question that Microsoft as a company and as a culture has gotten horribly wrong. We deal with the consequences...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Nailing the nominals

    • 9 Comments
    People are always looking for that amazing breakthrough technology or process that solves all their problems—enhances their love life, trims their waist, and improves the productivity of their development team. That's why process manias like Agile and...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    I would estimate

    • 6 Comments
    When I'm discussing challenges with fellow engineers, the first topic that comes up isn't estimation—it's career and people challenges. That's why those issues are so rampant in these rants. However, "How do you generate task estimates?" is always among...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    My experiment worked! (Prototyping)

    • 3 Comments
    It's summertime. Time to sit out in the sun and daydream, perhaps on a vacation or a weekend afternoon. When your mind is relaxed at times like these, you often think of beautiful new ideas. You further develop those ideas and then, when the time is right...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Opportunity in a gorilla suit

    • 4 Comments
    It's annual review time at Microsoft. We differentiate pay between high, average, and low performers in the same roles. Thus, it's time to calibrate those who've made the most of their opportunities in the past year with those in the mainstream of solid...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    No column for June - Preparing for annual internal engineering event

    • 1 Comments
    Eric Aside I'm taking June off to prepare for the annual event my organization runs internally for Microsoft engineers. (Not a Microsoft engineer? We can fix that .) This year the event is five days focused on various themes for improving engineers...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Crash dummies: Resilience

    • 36 Comments
    I heard a remark the other day that seemed stupid on the surface, but when I really thought about it I realized it was completely idiotic and irresponsible. The remark was that it's better to crash and let Watson report the error than it is to catch the...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    At your service

    • 3 Comments
    Remember this one, "The microprocessor changes everything!" No, it didn't. Yes, it had a big impact, but people still fretted about the same problems and tried to accomplish the same things. They just created problems and accomplished things more efficiently...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Things have got to change: Change management

    • 5 Comments
    It's the political season in the United States, making "change" a happy word around here. Politicians fight over who better represents change. They proclaim themselves to be agents of change. Hysterical admirers jump up and down waving "Change" signs...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    So far away: Distributed development

    • 3 Comments
    If you are a software geek, like me, being the product support technician for your friends and family comes with the territory. While it's painful to watch your family struggle with software, particularly if you helped write it, at least you can tell...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way

    • 2 Comments
    We're closing in on midyear career discussions again. It's time to place your hopes and humility in the hands of your hierarchy. I still haven't recovered from the amputation of our midyear ratings, which allowed managers to send messages and employees...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Software performance: What are you waiting for?

    • 3 Comments
    You hurt your shoulder playing volleyball, so you make an appointment to see your doctor. You enter the office and wait in line for five minutes just to let the receptionist know you've arrived. He has you verify your contact and insurance information...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    How do you measure yourself?

    • 2 Comments
    At Microsoft, we can execute, but can we think? When billions of dollars are on the line, you better not be guessing about decisions. A decade ago, our products weren't guesses; they were enhanced impersonations of our competitors' successful products...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Get a job: Finding new roles

    • 1 Comments
    It's the end of review season: time to reflect on your career and current situation. Some people have a career plan, know where they're at, and already have their next move lined up. I call these people "wise, successful, and yet, disturbing." Perhaps...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    October 1, 2006: “Bold predictions of quality”

    • 2 Comments
    I. M. Wright's "Hard Code" book excerpt I’ve been busy dogfooding lately. It’s an ideal diversion for masochists. When it gets to be too much, I can always take respite in a nice horror film. Thank goodness what passes for dogfood now is a vast improvement...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    September 1, 2005: “Go with the flow—Retention and turnover”

    • 1 Comments
    I. M. Wright's "Hard Code" book excerpt Review season is here. As entertaining as that can be for managers and employees alike, it’s just a primer for what follows: musical product groups. The music starts when review numbers are released. A whole...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    August 1, 2005: “Controlling your boss for fun and profit”

    • 4 Comments
    I. M. Wright's "Hard Code" book excerpt There’s a great gesture you can do to show just how little you care about someone who is wallowing in self-pity. You lightly rub the tips of your thumb and forefinger together saying, “This is the world’s smallest...
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