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Craig Kerstiens

OKRs aren't going to fix your communication issues

Talking with a startup a few days ago they asked for my opinions on OKRs. I have slightly mixed opinions on them overall and started to disclose some of those. Though in sharing some of this I had a few immediate realizations that might be broadly applicable. The crux of his question was, at what stage should we put them in place. I’ve seen a few companies try to put in some form of OKR, and most were met with pretty mixed results. The reason is that OKRs need to change something about your behavior otherwise why put them in place… either change something about the goals you would otherwise have or the methods at which you went about achieving them.

Tips for your first tech conference

I make it to a lot of conferences these days. I often see colleagues, former colleagues, and friends at these conferences. Sometimes it is friends I haven’t seen in a few years, sometimes I just saw the same person in a different country the week before. Conferences now are much easier for me, in fact it is a bit hard to recall what the experience was like when I first started attending, but I’m at least going to try to give some input so others can have a smoother first experience.

Give me back my monolith

It feels like we’re starting to pass the peak of the hype cycle of microservices. It’s no longer multiple times a week we now see a blog post of “How I migrated my monolith to 150 services”. Now I often hear a bit more of the counter: “I don’t hate my monolith, I just care that things stay performant”. We’ve actually seen some migrations from micro-services back to a monolith. When you go from one large application to multiple smaller services there are a number of new things you have to tackle, here is a rundown of all the things that were simple that you now get to re-visit:

Why I love building developer products

For much of my career I’ve been focused on building out developer or data focused products with the customer in some form or fashion being a developer on the other end. I fully realize now that I’m destined to spend the rest of my career in that space, either that or trying my hand at wine making. There are a few things that I personally find rewarding about the space that I’ve shared with a number of people individually lately and thought I would share more broadly.

How can I help? East coast vs. West coast mentalities

Often times when I’m traveling on the east coast, whether it is NYC area or back home down south I try to spend some time to catch up with various people. In catching up we’ll spend some time talking about what we’re both up to, thoughts on tech or in general, and at the end I typically ask “Is there anything in particular I can help with?” More often than not the answer to this question isn’t super substantial, which is fine.

SQL: One of the most valuable skills

I’ve learned a lot of skills over the course of my career, but no technical skill more useful than SQL. SQL stands out to me as the most valuable skill for a few reasons:

  1. It is valuable across different roles and disciplines
  2. Learning it once doesn’t really require re-learning
  3. You seem like a superhero. You seem extra powerful when you know it because of the amount of people that aren’t fluent

Let me drill into each of these a bit further.

The biggest mistake Postgres ever made

Postgres has experienced a long and great run. It is over 20 years old and has a track record of being safe and reliable (which is the top thing I care about in a database). In recent years it has become more cool with things like JSONB, JIT support, and a powerful extension ecosystem. But, Postgres has made some mistakes along the way, the most notable being the name.

Postgres gets its name from Ingress. Ingress was one of the first databases and was lead by Michael Stonebreaker who won a Turing award for Postgres and other works. Ingress began in the early 70s at UC Berkeley, which is still to this day known as a top university when it comes to databases. Out of Ingress came a number of databases you’ll still know today such as SQL Server and Sybase. It also as you may have guessed by now spawned Postgres which means Post-Ingress.

Postgres 11 - A First Look

Postgres 11 is almost here, in fact the latest beta shipped today, and it features a lot of exciting improvements. If you want to get the full list of features it is definitely worth checking out the release notes, but for those who don’t read the release notes I put together a run down of some what I consider the highlight features.

PostgresOpen 2018 - First look at talks

PostgresOpen is just a few months away and our list of talks is now live and available on the PostgresOpen website. This year selecting the talks was the hardest yet not only due to the number of talk submissions, but also the across the board high quality of submissions. There is hopefully something for everyone among the talks, at least if you like Postgres that is.

If you’re thinking about joining us I’d love to see you there and buy you a beer or coffee. The conference is September 5-7 in downtown San Francisco, and early bird tickets are open for just another few weeks. If you want to save some money on tickets grab it and the room now before things jump.

But, if you’re curious for a sampling of a few of the talks I thought I’d break down my top five I’m personally most excited about:

Same great Postgres with a new player in town

Many of us have known how great Postgres was for years.

In fact I recall a conversation with some sales engineers about 6 years ago that previously worked for a large database vendor that really no one likes down in Redwood City. They were remarking how the biggest threat to them was Postgres. At first they were able to just brush it off saying it was open source and no real database could be open source. Then as they dug in they realized there was more there than most knew about and they would have to continually be finding ways to discredit it in sales conversations. Well it doesn’t look like those SEs or the rest of that company was too successful.