The clouds and technologies we use in 2019 are a by-product the last decade of low interest rates. As these rates change it dramatically alters the way we use cloud and shapes the technologies that will define the next decade.

Money has been effectively “free” since 2008, and this last decade of low rates coincided with the growth of public cloud and the emergence of “big data.” AWS, GCP, and Azure began, respectively, in 2006, 2008, and 2010. The bulk of the migration to public started after the financial crisis in 2008, and low interest rates enabled this expansion. …


I’m writing about stuttering because I’ve come to the realization that no one understands this disability. Also, I’ve noticed that in some circles it is still acceptable to make fun of stutterers. I’m going to write about my experience so people understand it. The hope here is that if people understand stutterers we can start changing attitudes.

As someone who stutters, I have to face the possibility of failure every time I try to speak. Notice that I didn’t say “every time I speak,” but “every time I try to speak.” …


Good software architects are not educated in classrooms they are forged in the “focus rooms” of catastrophic failure. This is a pessimistic view of professional development in IT, but I’d rather hire someone who has had a front-row seat to failure than someone who hasn’t.

When hiring senior technical talent don’t focus on success. Focus on failure. Your candidate might have scaled his or her previous employer’s systems by 10x, but what broke first and how did they deal with failure? How did your previous system fail and what was the most glaring oversight in your original architecture? …


I guess this is a Meta-post, but I’d just like to let you know something. We all get together and talk about your Medium posts. We over-analyze them for days, and several of us wonder aloud if you are talking about us indirectly.

Sure, we understand the need for you to express yourself, but that story you told about that thing that had to do with technology was uncannily close to that situation we all remember on that project we all worked on together.

Some are giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are referring to a wholly…


Two days ago I wrote a post about how “developers tailing the logs” is a common pattern. A couple people responded to me directly asking me if I had some sort of telepathic ability because they were stuck in a war room tailing logs at that very moment. It’s a common pattern. As developers we understand that tailing log files is much like tasseomancy (reading tea leaves) — sometimes the logs roll by so quickly we have to use a sixth sense to recognize the errors. We are “log whisperers.”

The problem here is that tailing logs is ridiculous for…


Not long ago, I had the opportunity to help a large company upgrade a fairly critical piece of software that was running everything. I can tell you that the job involved Tomcat, but that’s about it. As a consultant, you learn to keep the specifics of any engagement close. What I can tell you is that this was the kind of client that has a “War Room” that looks exactly like what you would expect — three rows of Mission Control-style desks all facing a huge wall of monitors. The lights were dimmed, and (minus the uniforms) it reminded me…


You have a server-side bias and you don’t even realize it. I know this, and you need to know this. It’s keeping you back a bit. Step one is to admit that you have a problem and that your addiction to easy server-side frameworks is ruining your performance. You’ve used frameworks like Rails, Django, WordPress, or one of several hundred Java web application frameworks for years and you are resisting this move toward Javascript. …


I work with people much younger that I, but the reality I’m discussing in this article is really just 12 years ago. It feels like another era entirely. This is especially true if you develop anything that touches the web.

When I started my career it was all about web applications that involved full round-trips to a server. You had a browser (or a WAP phone), your browser makes a request for a web page, waits a few seconds (a few seconds!) and you get a fully assembled HTML page in return. It didn’t matter because the Web was still…


Years ago, I had the idea that I should put Google Analytics on my own web site. You know, why not track the readership, find out why people show up, track top refers, maybe even define a couple of conversion goals. At the time, maybe it made more sense than it does today. I had this open source book that I had made available, it got a lot of traffic, and I was thinking about trying to convert readers into newsletter signups. Whatever. …


Was eating at a local restaurant a month ago. (A good one, but I won’t mention which one so that the owner won’t get in trouble with OpenTable.) We sat at the bar because I had a hard time getting a reservation, and since we’ve “sort of” known the owner for a decade we started talking about “whatever”. Conversation eventually ended up on, “So, Tim, what do you ‘do’?” I do a bunch of different things, but I usually say, “Internet.” This answer is obtuse, but it conveys two things: I do technology and also I don’t really want to…

Tim O'Brien

I write and I code. Not always in that order. I do infrastructure and architecture at Walmart. (Opinions are my own.)

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