Contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
The most popular articles I’ve written
- The Agile process of developing software is often perverted by sick politics
- AWS is inappropriate for small startups because its complexity demands a specialist
- I give good tech advice to startups, and different good advice to Enterprises
- A very bad awful way to ask for help with your startup
- How much do websites cost? — from 2008
- Object Oriented Programming is an expensive disaster which must end — This got me a reference from the Wikipedia page devoted to Object Oriented programming, where I am now listed as one of the critics.
- How ignorant am I, and how do I formally specify that in my code?
- GraphQL is the best thing about React / Relay / GraphQL
- The sad, slow way a system of cron scripts becomes ugly
- Sick politics is the driving force of useless ceremony
- Functional programming is not the same as static data-type checking
- Get rid of all Dependency Injection
- A parable about concurrency (demonstrated with comical cartoons)
- HTML is the failed GUI for TCP/IP
- At a certain scale you have to give up on the single, normalized, canonical database
- An architecture of small apps
- RSS has been damaged by in-fighting among those who advocate for it — from 2006
- Amazon has absolutely no idea how to run an app store
- I believe in Enterprise software for the Amazon Echo
- Dialogue designers replace graphic designers when creating voice interfaces
- “Embarrassing code I wrote under stress at a job interview”
- What happens when the Board Of Directors begins to panic? — this is the true story of an insane startup where I worked during 2015. This is also the basis of my upcoming book, How To Destroy A Tech Startup In 3 Easy Steps
I’ve consulted with more clients that I can list, so this is just a sampling of what I’ve done:
- Various Clients / 1999 – 2002 – Developed a CMS in PHP, for various clients. Example: http://www.alexmarshall.org/
- Bluewall / 2002 – 2008 – (Charlottesville, Virginia). My co-founder Peter Agelasto and I used $2 million in our attempt to commercialize our publishing platform. I managed a team including front-end developers, designers, a Flash programmer, and other PHP programmers and Linux sysadmins. We built niche communities around online video stores. Ihanuman.com was an immediate success, and it remains successful to this day: http://www.ihanuman.com/store.php
- TeamLaLaLa / 2008 -2010 – (Charlottesville, Virginia) The designer Laura Denyes and I teamed up to create a design firm which handled both print and digital clients. We oversaw the TheSecondRoad.org: writers, videographers, Flash programmers, PHP programmers, graphic designers and project managers. This was a $250,000 effort to build an online social network that would offer a safe space to those recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
- M Shanken Communications / April 2010 to April 2011 – (New York City) A rescue mission. The company had decided to switch to the Symfony framework, but they had no one on staff who knew it well. As I was a Symfony expert, I was brought in to educate the tech team. I helped them rebuild the www.winespectator.com and www.cigaraficionado.com websites, converting them from Oracle/Vignette systems to MySql/Symfony.
- ShermansTravel.com / April 2011 to April 2012 – (New York City) Another rescue mission. Their newsletter had 3 million subscribers, and every aspect was being handled with technology that had been developed internally, using a chaotic and inconsistent mix of technologies, the core of which was a bloated framework that had initially been built with the CakePHP framework. There were many background tasks that were run with cron scripts. We rebuilt everything as 6 clean Ruby apps, some using Rails and some using Sinatra.
- Timeout.com / January 2013 to November 2013 – (New York City) Another rescue mission. They got 100 million page views each month. However, Timeout had spent years building their CMS, using the PHP framework Symfony, and they were now faced with performance issues that left them crippled. They were losing market share to a company from Brazil that was selling a competing CMS for urban magazines. A new architecture was necessary. We looked for those background tasks that were the most CPU intensive and we re-wrote them as independent services using Clojure. You can read my summary of the evolution of the “microservices” architecture: http://www.smashcompany.com/technology/an-architecture-of-small-apps
SmashCompany / December 2011 to now – (New York City) When I wasn’t busy with the above clients, I consulted on these projects:
- OpenRoad – Another rescue mission. Moving away from WordPress, moving toward React / Relay / GraphQL. We tore apart this: https://github.com/codefoundries/UniversalRelayBoilerplate. We adapated CodeFoundries project to our own needs. I focused on building the GraphQL API. I tore out the Cassandra code and switched to MongoDB for simplicity’s sake.
- Rollio – Using Natural Language Processing to understand the text messages that salespeople type on their phones, Rollio transforms the texts from human languages to computer languages, and then makes use of the Salesforce API to update the Opportunities, Contacts and Accounts of each salesperson. Relying on Clojure and Java, and making use of the Stanford Natural Language Processing open source libraries, we built a system of microservices that can process a vast number of simultaneous conversations.
- MaternityNeighborhood – helped build out their Python framework, which derived ideas from Flask. Attempted to reinvent the whole web eco-system for Python, with new security modules, validation modules, and serialization modules.
- Waleup – Teamed up with the entrepreneur Pasha Galbreath to offer workshops to those entrepreneurs who were just starting out. Built “minimal viable products” with Ruby On Rails or Symfony so the entrepreneurs could see how easy it was to get started. Example: http://robotfruit.com/