A Product Management Blueprint

I find myself having more conversations with startups – both small and large – about product management. I’ve blogged about some of the tools in my chest here but I haven’t talked much about my “blueprint” for product management, which I find myself laying out in many conversations over coffee. What follows is this process I’ve used a few times over with new teams to get product and engineering moving together, shipping in a predictable manner, and tackling bigger and more strategic projects.

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A Simple Guide for DB Migrations

Most web applications will add/remove columns over time. This is extremely common early on and even mature applications will continue modifying their schemas with new columns. An all too common pitfall when adding new columns is setting a not null constraint in Postgres.

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My Wishlist for Postgres 9.5

As I followed along with the 9.4 release of Postgres I had a few posts of things that I was excited about, some things that missed, and a bit of a wrap-up. I thought this year (year in the sense of PG releases) I’d jump the gun and lay out areas I’d love to see addressed in PostgreSQL 9.5. And here it goes:

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When to Ship It, When to Kill It

A few weeks ago at lunch I had the opportunity to catch up with a company in the current YC batch, building something very similar to dataclips. While we talked about a lot of things from what we’ve learned from dataclips, marketing, and other areas. One area we talked about was product and when to ship vs. when to kill things and I realized I hadn’t talked on my fairly simple but clear view on this publicly, so here it is.

A large credit to Adam Wiggins for giving this model early on in Heroku and his approach to shipping product.

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Scaling Organizations - Scribing

In the process of growing a company there’s several hurdles based on the size of the company. What worked at 5 doesn’t work at 20, what works at 20 doesn’t work at 50, and what worked at 50 doesn’t work at 150. There’s a lot of talk about two pizza teams and scaling development teams out there. One thing I haven’t seen quite enough of is details around scribing and documenting things.

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Postgres and Connection Pooling

Connection pooling is quickly becoming one of the more frequent questions I hear. So here’s a primer on it. If there’s enough demand I’ll follow up a bit further with some detail on specific Postgres connection poolers and setting them up.

The basics

For those unfamiliar, a connection pool is a group of database connections sitting around that are waiting to be handed out and used. This means when a request comes in a connection is already there whether in your framework or some other pooling process, and then given to your application for that specific request or transaction. In contrast, without any connection pooling your application will have to reach out to your database to establish a connection. While in the most basic sense you may thinking connecting to a database is quick, often theres some overhead here. An example is SSL negotiation that may have to occur which means you’re looking at not 1-2 ms but often closer to 30-50.

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Personas, Data Science, K-means

If one of the industry lingo terms in title didn’t make your skin crawl a little then I need to try harder. At the same time you’ve probably heard someone use one of them in a non-trolling way in the last month. All three of these can often actually mean the same or similar things, it’s just people approach them differently from their world perspective.

Personas don’t have to be marketing only speak, and data science doesn’t have to be only for stats people. My goal here is to simply set a context for the rest of the meat which talks about how you can simply look at your data and let it surface things you may not have known. Read on

Postgres Datatypes – the Ones You’re Not Using.

Postgres has a variety of datatypes, in fact quite a few more than most other databases. Most commonly applications take advantage of the standard ones – integers, text, numeric, etc. Almost every application needs these basic types, the rarer ones may be needed less frequently. And while not needed on every application when you do need them they can be an extremely handy. So without further ado let’s look at some of these rarer but awesome types.


Yes, I’ve talked about this one before, yet still not enough people are using it. Of this list of datatypes this is one that could also have benefit for most if not all applications. Read on

What You Need to Know About April 7 and Your Security on the Web.

On April 7 a vulnerability, nicknamed heartbleed, was discovered in a programming library that helps power somewhere over half of the internet. In the most basic sense this library allowed intentional external parties to acquire data that was thought to be safe and secure from whomever was running a vulnerable website. There was little to know one that was except from this due to their security practices, major examples of sites that were affected include:

  • Yahoo
  • Amazon.com
  • Netflix
  • Various banks
  • Many more

If you’re interested in more technical details you can follow along or on the Heroku blog.

The short of it is you, yes you as in everyone, should rotate your passwords once all websites are safe. For further details please continue reading.

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Some Non-traditional Marketing Tips

Marketing is generally unexciting to a ton of engineers, until it brings eyeballs which bring feedback and dollars. Marketing doesn’t have to always be cheesy campaigns or ads, it can often just be surfacing the things your customers actually do want to care about. My favorite type of marketing is when a service sells me on something at the exact time I want it. Here’s a few short tips on some non-traditional marketing that won’t seem sleezy but still can work quite well.

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