November 12 , 2016

Notes: America’s Best Hope 2016

America’s Best Hope is a yearly, profound Christian leadership conference run by an Indianapolis nonprofit (Truth at Work).  These are a few notes I took that spoke to me in the moment, but this is not a full representation and absolutely does not do the conference justice!


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October 11 , 2016

The Right Way to Run a Technical Interview

I’ve been through my fair share of technical interviews.  Typically, they’ll ask you to complete a live exercise, provide code samples, or answer mundane questions about a particular language or framework.  Generally, those approaches are useless.  Even the most talented software engineers do not always remember how to implement hashCode(), the differences between various search/sort algorithms, or the most appropriate data structure to use for a specific context.

In my stint as a software engineering manager, I set out with all the typical “I can do this better” mantras.  I won’t ask the stupid technical bits — I’d rather have someone who knows the right questions to ask and how to use Google.  I won’t ask for a live coding exercise, since that’s so far from reality and folks are often nervous.  I’ll focus more on how they’ve used specific technologies to tackle problems, what they’re proud of, their hobbies, communication skills, blah blah blah.

All that is well and good, but I found it missed critical areas: how well can this candidate critically think about design patterns, component design, the composition of components, governance, and working effectively in a team?  I’d argue those skills are the most important to have, but also the hardest to gauge and discover.  We tried all sorts of tactics, but never really found the sweet spot.


October 1 , 2016

How to Find a Remote Job

Recently, I briefly went through a period of looking into next step options.  I’ve worked remotely for years and have no intentions of ever changing that!  We were blessed with an awesome opportunity that popped up, so the search is finally over.  But before I completely turn to the next page, I thought I’d throw out some links that were incredibly helpful:


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July 2 , 2016

Hibernate ORM, jOOQ, HikariCP, Transactions, and Spring: An SQL / CQRS Tutorial

When it comes to interacting with relational databases, citizens of the Java world tend to be in one of two camps.  Lately, the rift continues to widen.

  1. Use Hibernate ORM for all CRUD operations, all queries, and anything else that would otherwise touch SQL.  SQL is icky.  Abstract all the things.
  2. I got 99 problems and Hibernate ORM caused them all.  Es el Diablo.  Avoid it, no matter what.  Use nothing but pure SQL, as God himself intended.

Folks miss an important point: ORM was never meant to be used for everything!  It is a tool to be used where applicable.  Can it be used as a complete abstraction or replacement for everything involving the database, shielding developers from ever having to learn SQL?  For the most part, yes.  Should it be?  Definitely no.  It often makes sense to combine ORM with other SQL approaches, marrying the best of both worlds.


May 14 , 2016

Apache Camel Processors Should NEVER Be Stateful

If you have experience with Apache Camel, this one might sound a little obvious.  But, it has recently come up a few times, so it’s worth mentioning. As an example, say you have a route that iterates over paged data and does something with it, and you therefore need to keep track of the pagination. You might use something like the following:


May 2 , 2016

Why Systems Integration is Hard: Ashley, Bob, Cindy, Dave, Emily, Frank, Gina, and Hank

Imagine you manage a team of corporate event planners, responsible for overseeing each event and ensuring every single detail is arranged and executed.  Your team consists of 8 individuals.  The scale of each event is sufficiently large, requiring you to task each individual.  If any of them fail, the event will be unsatisfactory (at best) or completely unsafe (at worst).


January 13 , 2016

Apache Karaf on Vagrant (example Vagrantfile)

If you have a team developing OSGi applications for Apache Karaf, Vagrant provides an easy way to ensure everyone is testing local deployments in a consistent context.  Vagrant is a little like Docker, using a layered approach to build up virtual environments.  In this case, we create an Ubuntu “box”, running on a VirtualBox VM, and automatically set it up with everything necessary for Karaf testing. (more…)

December 30 , 2015

Apache Camel: Throw Exception from Sub-Route to Previous Route

By default, each Apache Camel route has its own error handler, meaning each independently catches and handles Exceptions thrown within it.  But, what if a “parent route” needs to catch and handle Exceptions thrown by a sub-route?  Here’s one approach: (more…)

December 29 , 2015

Find Transaction Leaks in Wildfly and JCA

Here’s a quick tip: the easiest way to find transaction leaks in Wildfly/JCA.  In standalone.xml’s JCA subsystem, change

<cached-connection-manager debug=”true”/>

That will automatically close un-closed JCA connections and spit out a nice warning/stacktrace, showing exactly where the transaction was opened.

December 28 , 2015

Book Notes: The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande)

Here are a few notes I took while reading The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande.  Admittedly, the notes are sparse.  Although the book makes powerful points, the whole thing could be condensed into a few pages.  Instead, it provides 200 pages of anecdotes and examples.  Helpful, for sure, but largely repetitious…

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