### ### Planet Damian

Planet Damian

September 21, 2018

Christof Damian

September 17, 2018

Christof Damian

Books I wish I read earlier

When I wrote the review of The Manager's Path I started to think about other books I wish I had read earlier.

Usually these triggered some kind of change in how I approach my work or life. This list is definitely incomplete and I will add more to the goodreads list at the bottom of this post.

Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change by Kent Beck

I still remember when and where I read this for the first time. It was on a plane from the US OSCON back to London where I had my start-up. 
Up to that point all of our projects where waterfall and we basically had no unit tests in our code.
On the plane I decided we had to do major changes and we did these over the next years.
I was still pretty inexperienced in leading a team, but this was one step into the right direction.

By now most of the things mentioned in the book, like pair programming, small cycles, unit testing, agility are well used and documented. This small book is probably still worth a read.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

This book is one of the ones where the solution is so obvious that a one page summary would probably enough. Nonetheless this is a good book and gave me a better idea about organizing myself.
I am using a mix of the paper approach for all the paper one still receives and Todoist for everything else.

In the end it is just a form of Kanban or Inbox Zero. It doesn't matter how you manage your tasks, just keep your work in progress small and your tasks prioritized. 

Web Operations: Keeping the Data On Time

A collection of essays and interviews that gave me lots of ideas about DevOps and that side of a company in general. I still use it as a reference for things like post mortems.
Because these are mostly stories it is an easy read and you don't have to read the book in sequence, just pick the ones that you find most interesting.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Mostly interesting and inspiring because I am so hopeless bad at this. As an introvert the idea of being candid and even worse radical candid seems absurd. But I know it is one of the areas I have to work on and the book gave me new ideas in a nice form.

It is a bit long though and does repeat the main points over and over again. 

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

I am not working at a start-up any more, neither am I on the business side. I just wish we had this in my time in London. We would have avoided a lot of pain and would probably be still around now.
Implementing this in an existing setting is a lot harder unless you have buy in from the top.

The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

A great book for engineers transitioning to management. Another book I would have loved to have had at my start-up, thankfully it didn't exist back then. My review of The Manager's Path.

Definitely worth reading for all developers even if you don't plan to go into management.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at September 17, 2018 03:22 PM

September 14, 2018

Christof Damian

Friday Links

Time management: the leadership meta-problem.https://lethain.com/time-management/

Advice for a new executivehttps://larahogan.me/blog/advice-for-new-executive/

The Second Edition of "Refactoring"https://martinfowler.com/articles/refactoring-2nd-ed.html#most-people-will-be-disappointed-by-the-second-edition

Use channels, not direct messages - 9 tipshttps://blog.arkency.com/use-channels-not-direct-messages/

Notes on "A Philosophy of Software Design."https://lethain.com/notes-philosophy-software-design/

Removing jQuery from GitHub.com frontendhttps://githubengineering.com/removing-jquery-from-github-frontend/

Why We Prioritize Reading at Buffer and the 19 Most-Read Books From Our Teamhttps://open.buffer.com/prioritize-reading/

The 5 Whys Process We Use to Understand the Root of Any Problemhttps://open.buffer.com/5-whys-process/

CI and the Change Loghttp://www.davefarley.net/?p=263

PostgreSQL 11: something for everyone [LWN subscriber-only content]https://lwn.net/Articles/764515/

How to Run a Workplace with Office and Remote Workers: An Interview with the CEO of RemoteYearhttps://open.buffer.com/office-and-remote-workers/

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at September 14, 2018 08:16 AM

August 24, 2018

Christof Damian

Friday Links

60 agile pros tell me what really matters in agile todayhttps://www.atlassian.com/blog/agile/ask-me-anything-agile

Valve’s “Steam Play” uses Vulkan to bring more Windows games to Linuxhttps://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/08/valves-steam-play-uses-vulkan-to-bring-more-windows-games-to-linux/


Serverless Firsthttps://zef.me/serverless-first-d2117ecc12da

James Mickens on the Current State of Computer Securityhttps://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/08/james_mickens_o.html

New T3 Instances – Burstable, Cost-Effective Performancehttps://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-t3-instances-burstable-cost-effective-performance/

The not-so-secret trick to cutting solo car commutes: Charge for parking by the day https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/the-not-so-secret-trick-to-cutting-solo-car-commutes-charge-for-parking-by-the-day/

Engineering Ladders at Meetuphttps://medium.com/making-meetup/engineering-ladders-at-meetup-caacbea4916e

Questions for our first 1:1https://larahogan.me/blog/first-one-on-one-questions/

Sharing Our Engineering Ladder http://dresscode.renttherunway.com/blog/ladder

Liz Fong-Jones - Adopting SRE and Error Budgetshttps://youtu.be/7VeU6LnOUms

John Mueller and Mark Stewart on the Risks of Terrorismhttps://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/08/john_mueller_an.html

Intel Publishes Microcode Security Patches, No Benchmarking Or Comparison Allowed! (FIXED)https://perens.com/2018/08/22/new-intel-microcode-license-restriction-is-not-acceptable/

Google, Apple and 13 other companies that no longer require employees to have a college degreehttps://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/16/15-companies-that-no-longer-require-employees-to-have-a-college-degree.html

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at August 24, 2018 07:44 AM

August 23, 2018

Christof Damian

My manager README

Original is here: https://github.com/christofdamian/manager-readme#manager-readme

Manager README?

A few people (not only managers) now share information in a README or how-to style document on the web. The first one I came across was How to Rands. I thought it is a good idea for new team members, but also for people in the company who don't have constant contact with me. 

What I do

I am the Technical Director at Devex. I am mostly a manager, but as we grow progressing into a manager of managers.

My job is to make the product development run as smoothly and productive as possible. This includes slowly growing the team to adapt to a growing company. It also means making everyone in my team successful in his job by providing everything they need.

I am also usually the first contact point when there any questions regarding technology from other teams or outside.

I do make decisions about a lot of things and prefer to make an early decision to waiting for the perfect decision.

What I am about

  • I am an introvert, this means I get exhausted if I have a lot of meetings and no time in between to recover. Social events with a lot of people I don't know are especially taxing.
  • I am very patient and prefer evolution over revolutions.
  • I am the person who says "no" to most people, this goes for my team as well as the rest of the company. It is easier to say "yes" because it is preferred by most people and you always to want to help everyone.
  • I tend to think a lot before I talk, this can be awkward in conversations.
  • I think meetings with more than four people are usually a waste, unless they are highly structured or ritualised like a retrospective or an all hands meeting. All meetings should result in action items (having another meeting with the same group is not considered an action item).
  • I prefer nudging over forcing people into one direction.
  • I have strong opinions about how do to things, but I can be convinced with the right arguments.
  • I strongly believe in being agile, from the project management side to programming.
  • I try to be as transparent as possible, please nudge me if I am not
  • I am pragmatic and prefer to have something good enough today, then something perfect in some distance future.
  • I take the blame, but share the kudos.

My schedule

I am usually in the office from 9:00 to 18:00. I don't like to stay longer and will cancel meetings set up after 18:00 unless I agree that it is very important and can't be scheduled to another time. I don't read slack or email outside of working times.

I live in my calendar and it is always really packed, but it is fully public and you can just schedule a meeting with me whenever you like.

If you are on my team we will have regular 1:1s and also retrospectives. If something important comes up I am always available to talk.


My preferred communication medium for actionable items is email. Jira is on par with email.

Slack also works, but I am treating it as asynchronous and will not respond as soon as possible, depending on the urgency. I might also not scroll back in a lot of channels when catching up.

I will also post updates to the internal blog, maybe once a month.

Finally there are the meetings, either 1:1s, team meetings or impromptu meetings.


I currently have my 1:1s every four weeks. I am trying to increase frequency by sharing the load with others. With indirect reports it will be more like once a quarter.

The 1:1 is the place where you can bring up any topics that you are not comfortable sharing in retrospectives or other meetings. I am asking some questions to get the conversation started. These have evolved a bit over time.
  • How is life?
  • What are you worried about at the moment?
  • What are you excited about at the moment?
  • How can I help you learn and grow?
  • Do you have any feedback for me? 

What I expect from you (if you are on my team)

I expect you to try to do the best job you can.

If there are any road blocks or problems I expect you to bring these up with me so we can make sure you don't get stuck.

Come to me early when there is a problem to avoid any frustration. There will never be blame, we will just fix it together.

Books I recommend

  • The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier
  • Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time by John Allspaw, Jesse Robbins
  • Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (The XP Series) by Kent Beck, Cynthia Andres
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  • Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Malone Scott
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

What I am doing aside from work

Most of my free time I try to spend on my bicycle, this is where I decompress and my way of meditation.

I am interested in urbanism and life sized cities and have strong opinions about this.

I also like to follow the Linux and Open Source world. I am a contributor to the Fedora Linux distribution, but nowadays I have nearly no time to work on it.

Me on the Internet

If you like to keep up to date with my random rants on the internet

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at August 23, 2018 09:41 AM