Lessons Learned Shipping Apps

Oct 3, 2016

I shipped my first app Trapeze to real paying customers in January of 1987.

Yes, that’s thirty years ago. Man am I old.

Over the years I’ve worked on and shipped a lot of apps, and delivered app like projects. Although every industry and type of app may be different, some things stick out as being important, or at least worth considering.

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I Dream Of Something

Sep 20, 2016

The project I have been on all year is doomed to failure, not because it can’t be done, but because there is a never ending set of additions and changes, while the completion date is moving earlier and earlier, with dependencies on a dozen other teams, multiple simultaneous app and server releases, and a decided lack of people. All with a budget with more zeros than I have ever seen in my 3.5 decades of doing this yet strangely that’s not a big help at all. Most of the budget isn’t even software.

One can attempt the improbable, tempt the impossible, but this is something beyond my understanding.

So pardon me if I avoid working this evening and dream of the things I would really like to do instead. Of course most of this is as unlikely as we are to finish this nightmare anytime soon, but stay with me here.

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Phone Interviews Can Be So Painful To Do

Sep 6, 2016

I haven’t written much here lately due to the crazy workload at my job. Working for a big company can be really complicated and this project is the second highest profile thing we are doing this year. But being the lead iOS person I have to interview folks for supplementary contract positions over the phone.

Just to be clear, don’t send me a resume. I don’t collect them, they come through some giant process involving people, places and machines I have no connection to. All I get is something spewed out the tail pipe and I get to choose who to call and attempt to discern if they are worth trying out. If you send me a resume it will vanish into a black hole. If you are a recruiter the same response will be given passed through two black holes.

At my last job I interviewed people to replace me, in this case they had a number of recruiting firms who blasted me with every random resume they could scrape together. Oh the humanity. I got resumes for my iOS position which were clearly copy and pasted from random other resumes, often with non-iOS content. One even misspelled Objective-C completely (as in most of the letters were wrong except for the C).

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The Best Code I Ever Wrote (Part 1 of 2)

May 25, 2016

This project was the most pressure-filled thing I ever did yet in many ways it was also the most fun. In the end it was also the best code I ever wrote.

In 1999 or so I was working for a consulting firm working on an application for the US Post Office, and my officemate was assigned to a big new project for a popular magazine. I didn’t really pay much attention at first since I was trying to avoid going postal (USPS was fairly painful to work with). The magazine had boldly promised the previous fall that in one year they would have a fabulous new website that would allow consumers to search their massive consumer product catalog, and especially a database of every make, model, package and feature of most of the world’s automobile manufacturers. It was a bold promise.

I knew it was a big deal since I heard the the magazine had hired another consulting firm who had worked on the project for six months before giving up and telling the magazine that what they wanted to do was impossible. Of course our CEO immediately said we can do it and a team started from scratch. The magazine had all the data in raw form. We (as in the team, not me, I was still postalized) built a database and a data entry system so that an army of 20 people could input and categorize the data.

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