Archives for category: software

I am always interested in looking at large sets of data. Earlier today, LinkedIn released InMaps which provide a simple tool for visualizing one’s network on LinkedIn.  After a few seconds of processing, I was presented with this colorful and interactive visualization of the ~200 connections I have on LinkedIn. Now I don’t have quite as many connections as others, but I was still very impressed with the powerful bits of information I was able to quickly get out of this graph. The plotting algorithm did a pretty good job, as I see 3 major clusters which are composed of my University of Toronto connections, the connections I made at my previous startup Thoora, and the connections I have made (mostly coworkers) since I moved to San Francisco for Twitter.

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I recently received a Wacom tablet+stylus as a gift and could think of no one else to draw for my first sketch but Alan Turing. This is a 4 layer Photoshop trace atop a famous photo of one of my favorite historical scientists. I figured it could be a late tribute to one of the guys who started it all. On this day (November 28) in 1942, Alan Turing was sending a report from Washington, D.C. describing his 2 week tour of America and their code breaking efforts for WW2. I’ve always appreciated his subtle humor and lingering disappointment in his writing/dialogues, this report is no exception. Always up for a challenge, and (seemingly) rarely impressed or satisfied; breaking German encryption codes and theorizing the modern computer wasn’t bad for a 30 year old math geek from West London.

“I’d say we have come a long way since Zygalski sheets and Hut 8 in Blechley Park, Alan.  Don’t forget to thank Welchman for that diagonal board.  R.I.P.”

Above is an overlay of every (CrunchBase listed) startup in San Francisco.  In an afternoon hack, me, @alan and @thetylerhayes scrapped the crunchbase API then mashed it into Google Maps to get an interesting view of the city.  I am always amazed at the amount of startup culture in this city (hence I moved here), but never had a chance to really see it from this perspective.  My office and apartment are somewhere buried underneath one of those pins.  I’ll try to put up a more interactive version of this chart sooner than later.

Who do you bring to the fight when facing a tough market, timelines and competition?

While excellent engineering talent is a must, there are many overlooked or under-appreciated roles that I believe are essential to the success of any software company – at any stage.   I often hear the excuse:  “We are too small of a company to hire a ________”.  Well guess what?  Your competitors have one, or maybe more, so SOMEONE at your company has to be taking on these responsibilities.  You might be lucky enough to have these roles filled, perhaps these responsibilities are shared within your company, but ignoring them will soon land you in a lot of trouble.  Lets get started with the 3 P’s that I believe are so important for any software project to succeed.

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As a summary, this post outlines some good-to-know things for any Canadian software developer thinking about moving to the US to work.

Pretty bizarre tutorial no?  But after going through this experience (just shy of 2 months ago) I realized that there are a lot of things I wish I had done / known before.  A recent visit from a friend from Toronto had me thinking that others may benefit from a post like this.  This info is specific to San Francisco, however I am sure it applies to many other cities.  I have to thank @bentlegen and @shazow for the advice I got while moving in, I intend to pass the baton.  For a great post on how to decide where to work (if you are fortunate enough to have options), checkout @shazow’s post on: A check list while considering offers.  This post outlines all sorts of issues I ran into, feel free to skip ahead to the parts you might find useful.  I will cover things like: getting a visa, finding a place to live, and how to efficiently spend your first week in the city.  As a disclaimer for all the immigration advice, this is just through my experience.  I am not an immigration lawyer and if you have specific questions, I suggest you consult one.

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Is your software development a linear conveyor belt of bottlenecks?

This post describes my experience mixing Agile + User Experience design while building out the mobile site for  While this process worked for us, it won’t work for everyone/every project, however it allowed us to minimize blocked tickets and maximize the time of our small development team.  Breaking the work into manageable stories, and parallelizing the work early and often is a great technique to maximize output and manage the traditionally serial and inherently blocking jobs and responsibilities when mixing UX and Agile methodologies.

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The infamous TN1-VISA: Its like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, except this one lets me legally work in the US.  I took this photo 5 minutes after walking out of the US customs office in YYZ

(for tips on what to do/expect when making the move yourself, checkout my other post here)

I recently moved from my home town of Toronto, Canada to downtown San Francisco.  A lot of people have asked me why I moved (other than the job) so I thought I’d write a quick post about my move.  Over the next few months I will also be publishing weekly (hopefully) updates about my journey into the heart of the tech world.
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