Mel Reams


Stubbornness > intelligence

As part of my ongoing effort to demystify development, let’s talk about what personality traits actually matter even a little bit for developers. There are tons of stereotypes out there about how you have to be super smart or great at math or have started programming when you were six to be a really good programmer. That’s all total bullshit. I believe there is a single personality trait that’s extremely.. Read More

Podcast of the day

As a person who takes the bus to work and has trouble reading in moving vehicles (motion sickness sucks), I’m a big fan of podcasts. My favourite tech podcast is Hanselminutes. It’s run by Scott Hanselman, a programmer, teacher, and speaker, to directly rip off his about page. Hanselminutes is my favourite tech podcast because of the variety of topics and guests and Scott’s skill at interviewing. He’s had guests come talk.. Read More

How does big O notation work, anyway?

You didn’t think I was going to stop beating that programming interview concepts post into the ground, did you? Unlike some of the other concepts, big O notation is something you actually need to understand to write good code. Even better, you don’t need to know the term big O notation to have a conversation about the underlying concept. Big O notation, also known as the order of a function, is a.. Read More

Authenticator tip of the day

Fun fact about authenticators like Google Authenticator and Authenticator Plus: they have their own internal clocks that can get out of sync with the server you’re logging into. Most of the time they don’t drift far enough to cause problems, but AWS is very, very particular about your clock being in sync with theirs. If you find that AWS rejects your one time codes but the rest of your accounts work just.. Read More

What should you ask in an interview: culture edition

Last time I talked about what technical questions you should ask in an interview, which is important but culture fit is at least as important. We’ve all heard of The No Asshole Rule, right? I firmly believe there is no such thing as an asshole so brilliant they’re worth working with, so for me culture fit trumps technical skill as long as all the candidates are halfway competent. So what should.. Read More

Perl tip of the day

If you have to use Perl, a) don’t feel bad about having trouble understanding it sometimes, everybody else does too, and b) there is an operator that’s extraordinarily difficult to google. If you happen to run into it, in Perl =~ returns true if the value on the left matches the regex on the right and false if it doesn’t. That type of operator is called a binding operator and if.. Read More

What should you ask in an interview?

In a few of my how does it work? posts I’ve mentioned that asking about a particular data structure or algorithm is a boring interview question that doesn’t tell you much of anything about whether your candidate can code. First of all, the reason I think asking someone to implement a data structure or an algorithm is boring is because all you learn by doing that is whether or not your candidate.. Read More

Mongo tip of the day

If you ever use Morphia and Jongo in the same codebase, be warned they can interact in very confusing ways. Quick note for people who may not have any idea what I’m talking about: Morphia maps Java objects to Mongo documents and provides a really nice fluent interface for querying. Jongo is not quite as friendly but gives you all the same functionality as the Mongo shell. Most of the time we.. Read More

How does quicksort work, anyway?

Why yes, I am going to keep mining that article about stuff you should know for programming interviews for blog post ideas :) While I don’t think that a lot of the common interview concepts from that article are actually worthwhile to ask about in an interview, I do think they’re interesting bits of nerd trivia and going in depth into how stuff works shows that nothing the computer does is.. Read More

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