I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

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

    A silver respite

    • 1 Comments
    I skipped writing this month, and instead took a holiday with my wife in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time, recalling old memories and creating new ones. Hard Code will return next month.
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Love your customers and partners

    • 3 Comments
    Horrible teams dislike their customers. They think their customers are stupid, lazy, and ignorant. To horrible teams, customers are infuriating imbeciles who completely miss the point of the product, but must be dealt with anyway. In contrast, tragic...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Bogeyman buddy—DevOps

    • 5 Comments
    Tell average naïve developers that their team is embracing DevOps , and panic will fill their eyes. Their hearts will race, their muscles will tense, and their resumes will reinvigorate. DevOps is the bogeyman to unfamiliar developers. The thought...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Being big

    • 3 Comments
    In March, I sang the praises of Staying small , as each team focuses solely on its added value, and we share more as One Microsoft. If you agree that to go fast you must be small (which I do and you should), then shouldn’t Microsoft be much smaller...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    On budget

    • 1 Comments
    When you become a dev manager, new responsibilities may arise that you are utterly unprepared to handle. I’m talking about recruiting, firing and layoffs, vendor management, and budgeting. You get very limited exposure to these duties prior to becoming...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Staying small

    • 6 Comments
    The One Microsoft strategy tells us we are one company. We have one operating system, one app API, one marketplace, one cross-platform set of apps, one search, one cloud solution, and one toolset. The days of duplication and reinvention are over. Good...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Winning among friends

    • 2 Comments
    There are plenty of ways to lose. People can be unlucky, unskilled, or unprepared. People can simply be overmatched. However, it takes a special kind of talent to lose in spite of having all the luck, skill, and preparation. These special losers have...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    You want a revolution

    • 2 Comments
    Microsoft is undertaking its biggest set of internal changes in years. The organization from the top down is being restructured and realigned. Our performance management system is being revamped. We’re even getting a new CEO to drive the new direction...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The flow fallacy

    • 26 Comments
    In 1990, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi published his famous book about achieving exceptional productivity and concentration, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience . The book’s basic idea is a familiar one to most developers: Situate yourself in a...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Courageous design

    • 3 Comments
    Does this sound familiar? You’re meeting to design a solution to a tricky problem. People are alternating between adding new requirements and deriding prior approaches. Everyone agrees with the issues (“Yeah,” “Yup,” “That’s...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Vision quest

    • 6 Comments
    On August 23, 2013, Steve Ballmer announced he would retire within 12 months. I’ve been a big fan of Steve since I joined the company in 1995. At the annual company meetings back then, there were only three presentations that counted: Bob Herbold’s...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Permissible poaching—internal recruiting

    • 3 Comments
    Review discussions are happening now, which means that the Microsoft internal transfer market is heating up. Some people want to move because they’ve stagnated. Some want to move because they need to find a better fit for their talents, temperament...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Stupid in any language

    • 3 Comments
    Surely you’re smart enough to know that people outside the United States attempt to use Microsoft software every day. I mean, Nadine Kano first published Developing International Software for Windows 95 and Windows NT back in 1995. By now you must...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    To be precise

    • 3 Comments
    On August 5, 2012, the NASA rover Curiosity completed its six-month journey from Earth to Mars, touching down near the middle of its roughly 40-square-mile targeted landing area. Many news outlets compared the landing to making a hole-in-one at a Scotland...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Debt and investment

    • 5 Comments
    We all have friends or relatives with money problems. There are three sources of those problems: a lack of income, a catastrophe, or a lack of self-control. There are whole industries devoted to solving the income issue—I’m not going to cover...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Evil assumptions

    • 1 Comments
    You work on big, important projects that involve many moving parts and many different teams. You work hard to deliver your piece on time and with high quality. No one can claim that you’re the one who held things up. No, it’s always those...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    You can't have it all

    • 0 Comments
    There are two executive planning strategies: go for it all (cut later), and do a few things well (add later). Executives follow the strategy that best reflects their belief system. They use that planning strategy to drive work throughout the product cycle...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Fixing five fundamental flaws

    • 7 Comments
    After decades as a professional software engineer, working for six different firms (large and small), I can honestly say that Microsoft is by far the best. I can also honestly say that Microsoft is far from perfect. My monthly rants typically focus...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Is it important?

    • 0 Comments
    We’re getting into the midyear career discussion period at Microsoft. People do appreciate a career discussion with their manager, but most folks have another topic on their mind—how am I doing? Look, it’s not a mystery—you should...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Taking over

    • 1 Comments
    There are many books and lecture series about creating high-performing teams that work well together, work hard for each other, and produce tremendous results. That’s nice. In real life, you, the manager, don’t get to create high-performing...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Collaboration cache—colocation

    • 7 Comments
    Software geeks know that registers fetch data roughly 10 times faster than the L2 cache, 100 times faster than main memory, and more than a million times faster than hard drives. Smart software engineers work hard to keep all the data for their inner...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Data-driven decisions

    • 2 Comments
    You’re working on a feature and think there’s an obvious customer improvement to be made. The tester thinks you’re in obvious need of medical attention from a psychiatric professional. She believes the shipped design was fine from the...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The new Microsoft

    • 0 Comments
    The Microsoft Company Meeting was a few weeks ago. If you love the tech status quo inside or outside of Microsoft, seek shelter. How the company operates and how it engages with customers and the markets is about to change. All the signs were there in...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    It’s not going to be okay

    • 7 Comments
    Eric Aside This month I cover a touchy subject—getting a 4 or 5 review rating. Please know that all opinions expressed in this column (and every Hard Code column) are my own and do not represent Microsoft in any official or unofficial capacity...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Too much of a good thing? Enter Kanban

    • 0 Comments
    Last month, I wrote about the value of good program managers (PMs). Some people liked the column (mostly PMs). Some people hated it (folks with bad PMs). However, the most common response was that Microsoft has too many PMs. Can you have too much of a...
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