Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rule #20: Ask for opinions

Unwritten Rule of Engineering #20: Cultivate the habit of seeking other people’s opinions and recommendations.

You cannot hope to know all you must about your field and your employer’s business. Therefore, you must ask for help from others; routinely seek out those who are “in the know.”

This cannot be emphasized enough and is an especially frequent flaw in newer engineers who believe they know everything. Typically they do not understand the larger context and thus make locally optimal but globally sub-optimal decisions; decisions that could have been avoided if they had asked for advice from others.

Rule #19: Be inclusive

Unwritten Rule of Engineering #19: In all transactions be careful to “deal in” everyone who has a right to be in.

It is all too easy to overlook the interests of a department or individual who does not happen to be represented, or in mind, when a significant step is taken. Even when it does no apparent harm, most people do not like to be left out when they have a stake in the matter, and the effect upon morale may be serious.

Note particularly in this and the preceding rule the chief offense lies in the invasion of someone else’s territory without that person’s knowledge or consent. You may find it expedient on occasion to do parts of other people’s jobs in order to get your own work done, but you should first give them a fair chance to deliver on their own or else agree to have you take over. If you must offend in this respect, at least you should realize that you are being offensive.

Rule #18: Don’t do an end run

Unwritten Rule of Engineering #18: Never invade the domain of any other department without the knowledge and consent of the manager in charge.

This is a common offense, which causes no end of trouble. Exceptions will occur in respect to minor details, but the rule applies particularly to:

  • The employment of a subordinate. …
  • Engaging the time or committing the services of someone from a different department or division for some particular project or trip. …
  • Dealings with customers or outsiders, with particular reference to making promises or commitments involving another department. …
  • Performing any function assigned to another department or individual. …

There is significant commentary on this last principle that should also be observed: in general you will get no credit or thanks for doing the other person’s job at the expense of your own.

Work Tweets

Successful teams have members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 17, 2015, 7:21 am 
Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others: “the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.” (excellent)

Words about meetings:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbNov 28, 2014, 9:14 pm 
“In a distributed setting, meetings aren’t inherently more expensive, but bad meeetings become more painful.”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 1, 2014, 4:49 am 
“Anyone who leaves a meeting without something to do shouldn’t have been there in the first place”
Nivia HLanoobaDec 8, 2014, 3:59 am 
“@servantofchaos: RT @heyitsnoah: Speaking of meeting rules, here are @percolate’s (via @PercolateDesign) ”Y.E.S.!!!
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 9, 2014, 12:57 am 
“An empty conference room costs less than one full of people wasting time”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 21, 2015, 8:05 pm 
7 Tips For Executive Offsites: “Laying ground rules helps everyone stay on track: No technology during meetings”

It’s not enough to just do stuff, you have to make sure that people know you are doing stuff:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 1, 2014, 7:51 pm 
Why Some People Get Promoted: “do things, tell people” → “don’t end the week with nothing” via @99u

We went public:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 12, 2014, 12:49 pm 
We’re having fun this morning.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 12, 2014, 3:53 pm 
The @newrelic Portland office decorated for today’s milestone. Very nice.
Mik Kerstenmik_kerstenDec 12, 2014, 6:44 pm 
So great to see my long time advisor and friend @bjorn_fb part of the crew ringing in the @newrelic IPO!

Be careful what license you put on your work and then, when you do, don’t complain when others use it according to that license. Personally, I prefer CC-BY-NC-SA to avoid problems and here’s someone who agrees with me:

Frank SchulenburgfschulenburgNov 30, 2014, 9:30 pm 
Why Yahoo selling canvas prints from my free images uploaded to Flickr doesn’t bother me #Flickr @dmac1

The role of a senior leader is to build a strong organization and a talented leadership team. That team then drives the results. It’s an indirect thing which makes it extra hard to do:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 2, 2014, 3:11 am 
What Senior Leaders Must Do To Get Promoted: know, assess and develop talent; multiply themselves; develop successor

Part of building a strong leadership team is to adopt practices like Completed Staff Work:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 2, 2014, 7:58 pm 
Completed Staff Work: “If you were the boss, would you be willing to sign this and stake your reputation on it?”

It’s such a disappointment when one finds oneself in a political organization. Nobody ever starts a start-up saying “I’m going to build a miserable political culture” and yet every company ends up there:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 6, 2014, 10:06 pm 
“In a poor organization, people spend much of their time fighting org boundaries, infighting and broken processes.”

Words on hiring:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 7, 2014, 9:19 pm 
When hiring define “best” as the maximum total area under the curve with no showstoppers.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 27, 2014, 6:09 pm 
The reality of Silicon Valley’s hiring practices is a “mirror-tocracy,” not a meritocracy
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 3, 2015, 9:29 pm 
Do elite software developers exist?
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 14, 2015, 5:25 am 
“Not one of the 40 was invited for a job interview. The founders had built a world that rejected people like them.”

Words about leadership and leaders:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 11, 2015, 9:36 pm 
Give your boss what they want, not what you want.

Leadership is about others. That includes the boss.

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 11, 2015, 9:42 pm 
Use Reading to Improve Your Leadership • George Ambler
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 11, 2015, 9:50 pm 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 11, 2015, 9:53 pm 
“Good people love getting things done. Leaders get things done through others.”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 17, 2015, 5:09 pm 
Reading Keeps Leaders Smart, Creative and Social
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 19, 2015, 4:33 am 
The four most powerful words a leader can use are, “How can I help?”

And many other nuggets of wisdom:

Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 3, 2014, 1:05 am 
Ducksboard: The unique story of how one startup went from closure to buy-out with a single email
Computer Science CompSciFactDec 2, 2014, 4:45 pm 
‘Fancy algorithms are slow when n is small, and n is usually small.’ — Rob Pike
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 4, 2014, 10:53 am 
Java Doesn’t Suck – You’re Just Using it Wrong via @_JamesWard
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 4, 2014, 10:56 am 
The Twelve Factor App “to raise awareness of some systemic problems we’ve seen in modern application development”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 4, 2014, 5:59 pm 
Visual Guide to NoSQL Systems: Taxonomy of NoSQL systems
adrian cockcroftadriancoDec 8, 2014, 11:42 am 
“Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice” Greys Law describ…
Troy HunttroyhuntDec 9, 2014, 3:32 am 
So @juliangiuca totally wins the “Presenter With The Shiniest Shoes” award at #yow14 (plus his content rocks!)
Gergely HodicskafelhobacsiDec 11, 2014, 8:03 am 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 11, 2014, 12:21 pm 
“While the software may work on day one, it also has to be efficient / work even as the task grows.”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 11, 2014, 12:35 pm 
only 3 kinds of monitoring output: alerts, tickets (human needs to take action, but not immediately), logging
chris mittonchrismitton1Dec 12, 2014, 10:10 am 
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. – Henry Ford
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 14, 2014, 2:12 pm 
Kathryn EstrerakatpantssDec 15, 2014, 4:32 pm 
And these dorks
Gergely HodicskafelhobacsiDec 22, 2014, 5:17 am 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 27, 2014, 12:08 am 
Business at web speed: a “Coded Business” harnesses feedback loops, optimization, ubiquitous delivery, etc.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 27, 2014, 6:36 am 
A Testable Idea Is Better Than A Good Idea @harvardbiz
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 27, 2014, 6:01 pm 
New Year’s Questions (neé Resolutions) by @ASmartBear
Michael FeathersmfeathersDec 28, 2014, 5:36 pm 
I hope we do the hard work of understanding why we want to believe in microservices. (my start on this: )
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 30, 2014, 4:45 am 
I’m looking to hire an amazing VP of Site Engineering (a.k.a. Site Operations) for @newrelic – are you that person?,Job&jvs=Hiring_Manager
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 31, 2014, 3:14 pm 
“Benefits of enhanced interaction didn’t offset disadvantages in open-plan offices.”
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 31, 2014, 3:21 pm 
“Quality happens only when someone is responsible for it.” or “A Generation Lost in the Bazaar” @bsdphk
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 2, 2015, 6:42 am 
The Rands Leadership Survey. @rands
Harvard Biz ReviewHarvardBizJan 3, 2015, 6:02 pm 
23 things to stop doing in 2015
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 6, 2015, 2:11 am 
A Synthetic Monitoring Case Study by @Gilt
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 10, 2015, 5:18 pm 
What are the 5 most important things you wish you had know at the start of your career? /from @quora
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 10, 2015, 5:39 pm 
“3 Things Successful Influencers Don’t Do” by @dfbrouillette: #3 is “They don’t wing it”
David HurleydbhurleyJan 9, 2015, 7:30 pm 
If you don’t use @newrelic you’re doing it wrong. Absolutely amazing service and incredibly fast to setup. APM is fantastic software.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 11, 2015, 9:28 pm 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 13, 2015, 4:33 am 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 14, 2015, 3:18 pm 
Nudge – Many of our “to-do lists” are “hope to-do lists.” Try this…and get things done! @ldavidmarquet
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 21, 2015, 4:40 pm 
OH It’s not enough to ship software, you’ve got to ship reliable software.
For completeness, conversational replies are occassionally elided: [1].

Opinion Tweets

Bjorn F-BkingofslugsJan 10, 2015, 7:23 pm 
“Everything we did was morally justified where I come from”
Neil deGrasse TysonneiltysonNov 28, 2014, 10:00 pm 
#WhenIWasYourAge: Religion was taught in Sunday School, not in your Science Classroom.
Jamelle BouiejbouieDec 1, 2014, 4:02 am 
This from Chris Rock is the realest shit I’ve read all week.
Chris RockozchrisrockDec 4, 2014, 12:14 am 
Even FOX NEWS cannot believe this didn’t go to trial. Let me repeat. Even FOX NEWS cannot believe this didn’t go to trial. #EricGarner
Jack SlaterMr_SlaterDec 3, 2014, 9:40 pm 
#CameronMustGo because he believes in trickle down economics that we know simply doesn’t work.
Bjorn F-BkingofslugsDec 5, 2014, 5:53 am 
‘I honestly don’t know what to say’; Jon Stewart gets serious on Eric Garner
Bjorn F-BkingofslugsDec 6, 2014, 4:49 pm 
Stuart Carlson Editorial Cartoon, December 05, 2014: “I can’t breath”
HendLibyaLibertyDec 10, 2014, 3:01 pm 
“Does torture work?” as a question needs to be put in the bin with “Is slavery commercially feasible?” & “Can genocide help overpopulation?”
Chris RockozchrisrockDec 11, 2014, 12:42 pm 
BREAKING NEWS: According to the #TortureReport , Jesus was not tortured. The Romans simply used enhanced interrogation methods on him.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 29, 2014, 8:33 am 
Nerdy WonkaNerdyWonkaDec 27, 2014, 5:05 pm 
NYPD demanded #BlackLivesMatter protesters suspend their protests; yet they politicize a funeral.


Bjorn F-BkingofslugsDec 29, 2014, 7:37 am 
Petulant, immature, unprofessional, armed, militarized cops acting out. What could go wrong?
Meredith YayanosThereminaDec 30, 2014, 3:46 am 
“Police are not under attack: institutionalized racism is.” ~Kareem Abdul-Jabar
Bjorn F-BkingofslugsDec 30, 2014, 6:50 am 
Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 17, 2015, 3:14 am 
“Teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.”

Fun Tweets

David BrinDavidBrinNov 29, 2014, 12:10 am 
Lessons from Science Fiction: How NOT to Build a Future Society
Phil EdwardsLive_for_FilmsNov 28, 2014, 10:34 pm 
Sith Army Knife! #StarWarsEpisodeVII
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbNov 29, 2014, 9:56 pm 
The “Potsdam Gravity Potato” Shows Variations in Earth’s Gravity
Matthew Hankinsmc_hankinsNov 29, 2014, 9:47 pm 
‘Could you fax over a copy?’

‘No, I can’t fax because of where I live’

‘Where do you live?’

‘The 21st century’

chris mittonchrismitton1Nov 30, 2014, 7:09 am 
The sentence “Are you as bored as I am?” can be read backwards and still makes sense.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 1, 2014, 6:09 am 
Tom Rinaldi tells the remarkable story of Kayla Montgomery: just amazing
Mark RichtermarkdrichterDec 4, 2014, 12:23 pm 
#Orion launch countdown halted by software! “Known race condition with _S parameters.” Convening an “anomaly team”. Love the process.
Volvo Ocean RacevolvooceanraceDec 4, 2014, 10:57 pm 
Charging through the Ocean at high speed and in total darkness, nothingness around. Sailing is supreme. Then…BANG
Brian ThompsonbriansailingDec 4, 2014, 10:32 pm 
This was one terrible night for the Vestas crew as they plough into a reef. Well done for keeping the crew safe…
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 5, 2014, 5:15 pm 
Does the Northwest have the most unpredictable weather in the nation?A: No, actually it’s very predictable
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 5, 2014, 6:26 pm 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 5, 2014, 10:13 pm 
the adventures of non-judgmental ninja via @wilw
banksythereaIbanksyDec 5, 2014, 5:37 pm 
Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don’t.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 6, 2014, 5:03 am 
Fantastic Holiday Celebration concert by @pdxgmc – their Jingle Bells has to be the highlight of the show
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 6, 2014, 6:50 am 
Even better was “I Have A Little Dreydel” – the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus’ Holiday Celebration concert is a must see. @pdxgmc
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 6, 2014, 4:27 pm 
Brilliant MapsBrilliantMapsDec 6, 2014, 5:30 pm 
Map of Toronto’s population in 1914
Cliff PickoverpickoverDec 8, 2014, 3:02 am 
Science vs Engineering.
Ken Bauerken_bauerDec 8, 2014, 5:54 am 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 8, 2014, 6:25 am 
Recruiter from @amazon tries to convince me that Sr Mgr at Amazon is same as SVP at New Relic. Um, I didn’t fall off a turnip truck…
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 10, 2014, 5:35 pm 
I love the @Delta pre-flight safety videos with all their humorous easter eggs/skits. Thanks for making my flight start with a smile!
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 10, 2014, 11:04 pm 
@jayztemplier In Portland we don’t measure time the normal way, we measure it by inches of rain – so how many inches of rain has it been? :)
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 11, 2014, 12:14 pm 
The New York TimesnytimesDec 12, 2014, 12:12 am 
If you want a truly great, hot, crisp doughnut, you have to make it yourself
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 12, 2014, 4:44 pm 
Automation is making pilots’ thinking skills deteriorate, but don’t blame laziness.… via @slate
Jorge ChamphdcomicsDec 13, 2014, 12:52 am 
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 13, 2014, 2:57 pm 
Grumpy Programmer, the cartoon: “people assume the technology they use has always been there”
Guillermo IguaranguilleiguaranDec 11, 2014, 7:53 am 
The Pirate bay is now using a .cr (Costa Rica) domain. They’re technically The Pirates of the Caribbean now.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 14, 2014, 5:30 am 
The New York TimesnytimesDec 14, 2014, 5:28 am 
British Columbia’s Powder Highway
Fash KetchumDuncanVBDec 13, 2014, 12:49 pm 
Look at this picture and tell me Brian Eno isn’t being controlled telepathically by a malevolent cat (via @fox_SJW)
FAT AMYRelatableQuoteDec 16, 2014, 2:39 am 
Bryan O’Sullivanbos31337Dec 16, 2014, 8:11 am 
Great news, academics! We have data: your onerous program committee slog can be replaced by a biased coin toss.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 18, 2014, 11:58 pm 
Took a taxi because I can’t stand @uber’s behavior. Ugh. I sure paid a price in UX for my ethics.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 19, 2014, 1:33 am 
Video: Gentle Giants in Formation (5 Airbus A350s) via @FlyingMagazine
Amazing Maps Amazing_MapsDec 20, 2014, 11:40 pm 
Map showing the elevation of the United States
Life AdviceozlifeadviceDec 21, 2014, 5:51 pm 
Your mood should never dictate your manners. It doesn’t matter how angry, upset, or sad you are. Always be respectful & polite to others.
Brilliant MapsBrilliantMapsDec 21, 2014, 5:41 pm 
Since today is the 1st day of winter – How much snow it typically takes to cancel school in the U.S.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 21, 2014, 6:41 pm 
“part of the Land Rover’s charm has always been its stubborn defiance of user-friendliness and customer comfort”
The VergevergeDec 21, 2014, 6:32 pm 
Saturday Night Live did a pitch-perfect spoof of Serial last night
Ellie GibbonsEllieJGibbonsDec 22, 2014, 5:03 pm 
Best Christmassy fact I’ve learnt this year – via @Phoebe_A_Morgan
Jeffrey ZeldmanzeldmanDec 27, 2014, 8:18 pm 
Pee-wee HermanpeeweehermanDec 27, 2014, 5:09 pm 
The VergevergeDec 29, 2014, 7:46 am 
Here’s why so many airports have rocking chairs:
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 27, 2014, 6:17 pm 
Colleges Reinvent Classes to Keep More Students in Science –…
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 30, 2014, 5:53 pm 
Tvísöngur, a Icelandic sculpture that mixes concrete, nature, and sound.
Perspective PicturesPerspective_picDec 29, 2014, 9:05 pm 
A size comparison between the titanic and a modern cruise ship
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbDec 31, 2014, 4:53 pm 
Was served an advert by @dewars for @wavesforwater – so compelling it’s the first ad I’ve watched 100% of; thanks
Multnomah County LibMultCoLibJan 4, 2015, 7:40 pm 
Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books. Authors Turn Up Noses. We’re always All-You-Can-Eat:
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 9, 2015, 2:31 am 
New York’s Hidden Tropical Forest: A miniature rainforest is growing inside midtown office
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 12, 2015, 4:49 am 
Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich
zach whalenzachwhalenJan 16, 2015, 2:55 am 
Some brilliant conceptual haiku in this month’s Highlights magazine. By Nathan, age 9, #botALLY.
literally misandréindirectJan 12, 2015, 3:53 am 
In 1970, 5% of musicians in orchestras were women. Today 40% are women. It wasn’t “the pipeline”.
NewsweekNewsweekJan 17, 2015, 6:36 pm 
2014: A hotter year on earth has never been recorded.
Verizon Wireless USAVerizonWirelessJan 17, 2015, 1:14 am 
Everyone has their pick for #WhosGonnaWin SB XLIX—see how we visualize all the data on our constantly evolving map.
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 18, 2015, 3:47 am 
Why are we short-sighted?
The New York TimesnytimesJan 18, 2015, 2:43 am 
Bats live a seriously long time for creatures of their small size
Dave ForgactylerdaveJan 18, 2015, 8:59 pm 
My new Ohio license plate. You either GET it or you don’t. (
Bjorn Freeman-Bensonbjorn_fbJan 19, 2015, 2:00 am 
Population density map for Africa
banksythereaIbanksyJan 18, 2015, 10:12 pm 

Rule #17: Think for yourself

Unwritten Rule of Engineering #17: Do not be too anxious to defer to or embrace your manager’s instructions.

This is the other side of the matter covered by the preceding rule. An undue subservience or deference to any manager’s wishes is fairly common among young engineers. Employees with this kind of philosophy may:

  • plague their managers incessantly for minute directions and approvals,
  • surrender all initiative and depend on their supervisor to do all the thinking for a project,
  • persist with a design or a project even after new evidence has proven the original plan to be infeasible.

In general, a program laid down by the department, the project leader, or the design team is a proposal, rather than an edict.