Building Better Teams

Published 23 September, 2019

Somehow you have ended up in a technical leadership role and the first thing you need to do is build a team. Alternatively, you are looking to grow an existing one. But where the heck do you start?

This is a challenge I am facing in my current role as CTO of Higher, a SaaS start-up in Perth, Western Australia, where we are building a platform for digital freelancers to better manage their client relationships and projects.

I have also faced this issue a few times previously in my career, and it can be surprisingly nuanced based on the company, team, culture, economy, and locality in which you are situated. Having worked at large corporates and start-ups alike, I can honestly say that there are always new and interesting problems to get in your way. However, there are also repeated themes that, if handled in the right way, will lead you down a path of success. With that in mind, this article is an attempt to condense my experiences as a CTO/VP Engineering at start-ups, as a Senior Development Manager at Amazon, as an Engineering Manager at Betfair and Yahoo! UK, and overall simply as a hiring manager into something that somebody out there might find helpful.

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How agile is your backlog?

Published 09 April, 2019

Software developers like lists. They like to log-on and focus on working their way through a list of deliverables, checking them off one-by-one as completed. Developers like it even more if they are given clear requirements for each of those deliverables, because having to dig up or define your own requirements requires context switching away from development. Context or task switching away from development is a form of process waste—see my previous post, “Eliminating Web Development Waste“—and software developers do not like wasted time.

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Adding SSL/TLS with CertBot

Published 17 October, 2018

Security is essential for the modern internet. In order to ensure connections stay secure across the information superhighway, it’s a good idea to implement SSL/TLS on your web servers—even when they’re only serving mundane musings like this blog.

Secured connections require a certificate, which needs to be issued by a trusted third-party certificate authority (CA). This used to be costly and slow and required a great deal of manual jiggery-pokery. However, thanks to Let’s Encrypt, a free automated CA, obtaining certificates for SSL/TLS is now very easy indeed.

With that in mind, let me walk you through activating SSL/TLS for your web server using CertBot, an automated tool that will implement SSL and regularly update the required certificates via Let’s Encrypt.

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Writing again

Published 13 October, 2018

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on? Wow. Is it really six and a half years since my last post on here? I really need to get back on the horse.

In a recent conversation with a bunch of old web development and design friends, discussion got around to lamenting that a bunch of us seem to have stopped writing posts and articles on our personal blogs. With that in mind, I’ve decided to resurrect this old thing and start writing again.

In many ways, Matthew Pennell’s “Slight Return” post (potentially an artefact of the same conversation mentioned before) really resonated with me. I believe one reason for my being AWOL is the fact that each of my articles took a great deal of commitment. I would spend a lot of time double checking my sources, and crafting my tutorials, deeply aware of the intelligent scrutiny of my peers. Five years later, and I realise that there is just as much value in the simple personal gratification of documenting stuff I’ve been playing with, so that is probably mostly what I am going to do.

First things first, though, I need to enable some HTTPS on this baby.

Which gives me a great idea for the next post…