Death by CTO

A few days ago, I pointed to an article written by Dan Luu. Ostensibly about recruiting developers, the article looks at some of the nastiest biases that come into play when we recruit software developers. It looks at the habit of only hiring the trendiest, only recruiting from the same six schools and ultimately driving up prices for junior developers who match a certain pedigree while rejecting vast swathes of highly competent and productive developers.

I am a Saskatchewan based startup founder and have felt the problems recruiting and retaining good developers. Startup developers are a rare breed. They have to be a little bit obsessive, prone to march down deep rabbit holes in the pursuit of worthy gains, and completely committed to the cult of early stage. They also have to be comfortable with bleeding edge stacks. You can’t just take someone out of a provincial government software development gig and expect them to be happy or productive in a tech startup.

Going fully remote is an attractive possibility, but it ignores some of the economics of startup developers. If you are a startup developer, unless you are extremely entrepreneurial, you have the most career opportunities if you live in one of about eight cities. These cities have major startup communities with highly advanced angel investor communities and entire ecosystems built to make startups succeed. Because of how sophisticated investors are and how much of an advantage the ecosystems are, smart developers tend to move to these cities because if they don’t like their job, they can walk down the street and get three more offers. This opportunity comes at a certain cost – cost of living tends to be higher. As cost of living increases, wages have to rise. Simply, if we raise money at Saskatchewan valuations and pay developers San Francisco rates, our companies will die.

So, what is a founder to do?

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Excellent article on recruiting programmers

When I relaunched, I vowed to avoid these weak, paragraph of text plus a link articles, but I can’t resist posting this. Dan Luu has written an absolutely amazing article about elitism in programming and all the amazing developers who get rejected because of elitist attitudes.

http://danluu.com/programmer-moneyball/

I feel like this article should be required reading for Saskatchewan based startup founders. If we keep our companies headquartered in Saskatchewan, we will not have effective access to the Bay Area’s talent pool. It isn’t that Saskatchewan startups are bad, just that there’s a crippling financial disconnect involved in paying Bay Area salaries at Saskatchewan valuations.

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Struggling with log files

Barely a weekend has gone by since I completely removed Google Analytics from my website and I’m already having regrets. Log files are fine, but I miss being able to go deep into visits as easily as I could with Google Analytics.

Thus far, with log files I can still go deep, but I have to write code anytime I want to go deeper than basic traffic counts and simple click flows. I use Python and their re module so it’s fun code to write, but it seems like such a strange waste to write code to go deep into my log files in late 2019 when those analytics problems have already been solved for years.

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Two questions for all content marketers

If your website (or client’s website) went seriously viral, could it stay up? Would it still be fast?

If the answer is ‘yes’, that is great news. You and your brand are in a good position to capitalize on going viral. Your site will likely stay up and you’ll give first time visitors a great first impression.

If your answer is ‘no’, you have some work to do. At minimum, I suggest that you find a good web developer with a background in ops and performance testing to take a look at your site and figure out how/why it goes down or gets incredibly slow. Beyond this, I can’t give you any specific advice because it depends on how/why your website goes down. In some cases, the culprit is clear but in other cases, the culprit is a number of small issues that all cascade into an outage.

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A new theme

Last night at 9pm, I flipped the switch and launched a new version of hluska.ca. This theme is brand new and built with some new ideas I had around WordPress themes so there are definitely some problems, but I’m quite happy with how this theme performs.

It is based off of Underscores which is still my favourite WordPress starter theme. But, I removed all the Underscores CSS/navigation.css and replaced it with Bootstrap 4. At first, I planned to use Understrap, but it’s a long story that I’ll either write about or do my best to forget.

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Building high ROI marketing campaigns – one hour at a time

One of the questions I hear most from (especially new) startup founders is along the lines of ‘how can I increase my marketing ROI if I only have a few extra hours a week?’ My answer often seems to catch people out of left field because it has nothing to do with new customers. In fact, it has to do with old customers.

Still, if I only had a few hours a week and I wanted to do something with a high return on investment, I would talk to my existing customers. They don’t have to be long conversations. Ultimately, I’m interested in what they like/dislike about working with my company, what they would improve if they were in my shoes, and what made them decide to do business with me.

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Review – Deceiver by Diiv

I didn’t like this album at first, but I’m glad that I held off writing this because over the last few weeks, it has become one of my favourite albums of 2019. My initial reaction was based more around Captured Tracks’ promotion for the album than the album itself.

Captured Tracks is one of my favourite labels. If you go through their roster, you’ll find some of my favourite bands. And if you go through their back catalogue, you’ll find a couple more albums that are absolute monsters in my music collection. Captured Tracks releases amazing, cerebral music and I’m confident that I will find something I love in every release.

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Behavioural advertising and return on investment

Several months ago, I was helping a friend do some user interviews. His startup was killing it with Facebook ads but then his returns started to drop. At first it was okay because he was still making money on Facebook but then Facebook dried up. His growth metrics flattened out and he had no idea what to do. So, he asked for my help and I started contacting some of his customers.

While I spoke with them, I noticed a narrative like this coming up again and again:

I researched your company online and was going to sign up for an account but sort of forgot about it. Then I saw the ad on Facebook and it reminded me to sign up.

(Typical customer story)
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Messy moments in dadding 2

A few months ago, I wrote about some experiences changing my kid in public. Today, I’m going to write about a different kind of messy moment.

My sister is a wonderful artist and spends a lot of time drawing with my daughter. She is a wonderful aunt and has taken on near godlike status in my kid’s eyes.

Both my sister and I have tattoos so as Lauren gets more interested in art, she’s getting interested in tattoos. I told her the story of each time my friend Shawn tattooed me and told her it’s really special when someone you care about designs a tattoo for you because whenever you see the art, you’re reminded of the person who put it into your skin. It’s like wearing a permanent record of the artist.

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Review – Live from Brooklyn Steel by Wild Nothing

Of all the bands I really dig, Wild Nothing is likely the most polarizing. When I mention Wild Nothing to people, I seem to get one of two reactions. It’s either “fucking amazing” or “pretentious music for pretentious people”. Needless to say, I fall into the ‘fucking amazing’ camp. But I was blown away by this live album because I think it has the capacity to unite the two camps.

Wild Nothing has always struck me as this perfect mix of everything I love about Factory Records released on Captured Tracks. Their (or perhaps Jack Tatum’s) sound is best described as dreamy synth-pop, but it’s a little edgier and their studio albums are best appreciated in one sitting.

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