I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

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

    Meaningful versus mundane

    • 0 Comments
    We all deal with project management. Leads and program managers (PMs) deal with it constantly. There are meetings, status reports, charts, and dashboards. Project management beats project chaos, but how much of it really matters? What’s meaningful...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Diamond dependencies

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    How can you tell if you’re a smart engineer? What separates people who go through the motions from those who really get it? Second-order effects. Anyone taking an introductory software class can learn what changing a line of code does to a function...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Solving the whole problem

    • 1 Comments
    The time is nearing for annual reward People Discussions. Time for employees and their managers to review Connects from the past year and assess results achieved by individual effort, contributing to other people’s results, and utilizing what others...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The evils of inventory

    • 1 Comments
    When I worked for Boeing in the early 1990s, the company was utterly dominant in the commercial airplane industry—record profits, orders, and market share. However, Airbus was a growing concern, and Boeing leadership was keenly aware of how U.S...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Some time away

    • 1 Comments
    I have few regrets about my career, but there’s one that stands out. Back in 1998, my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, and my life was dramatically altered. This happened before there were widely accepted protocols or insurance coverage...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    More money, more problems

    • 2 Comments
    In Staying small , I exposed how big teams are inherently slow and thus less productive, responsive, and competitive. However, I only scratched the enormous surface of large teams and large budgets. You’d think that having lots of money and lots...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Get real

    • 1 Comments
    Could you be replaced? Could your product get hacked? Could an essential service fail? Could a key co-worker leave? Could a critical dependency arrive too late? People often measure themselves, their peers, and their heroes by how they respond to crises...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Off for the holidays

    • 0 Comments
    My next column will be in February. I'm taking the holidays off to enjoy a break, and work on a fun personal project that I'll share when it's finished. Happy Holidays!
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Escalation acceleration

    • 1 Comments
    When I recently wrote about the frightening yet fantastic world of DevOps , I discussed how escalations reach the dev team, but I skipped over when the dev team does the escalating. As you move from shipping annually to shipping weekly and daily, you...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    Better for everyone

    • 4 Comments
    This month’s column is about accessibility. I’m not making patronizing arguments for it. I’m not saying, “We’ll all need it someday.” I’m not rehashing heartwarming stories of inspiring people who prevail over...
  • I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”

    The value of navigation

    • 1 Comments
    Times change, and we must adapt to those changes. There was a time when software products were packaged, installing an upgrade was a big deal, and the market could only handle a new version every few years. Now products ship daily online. There...
  • 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...
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