The Tech Done Right podcast is a show by and for people who care about what they build. We don't just build software, we build teams, companies, careers, and communities.
Each episode features host Noel Rappin talking to interesting people in the tech community about building something the right way. We’re not just going to give you our thoughts on the topic, but tools, processes, or references that you can use immediately to build better software and communities.
June 5th, 2019 | 41 mins 40 secs
Our guest this week is Chad Pytel. Chad is the CEO of thoughtbot, which is a design and development firm known in the world for its support of open source projects like paperclip and shoulda. Chad and I talk about how to make short consulting projects work, the importance of hiring, why thoughtbot makes their internal guides public, and how they continue to be able to support open source. It's a great conversation about how thoughtbot approaches the world.
May 22nd, 2019 | 37 mins 6 secs
communication, design, design sprint, food
In this episode, we have a slightly different topic for Tech Done Right - food. Table XI has been working to adapt our design sprint process out of the realm of custom software and into more general product design. In particular, we've worked with Tyson Foods Innovation Lab on a few different projects including the creation of their Yappah brand which is designed to prevent food waste. In this episode, you'll hear from Chemia Davis and Santi Proano from Tyson, Rex Chekal from Table XI and Jessie Shternshus from the Improv Effect and we'll show you how we adapted design thinking and Agile process from software to food products.
May 8th, 2019 | 33 mins 21 secs
community, developer, nonprofit, open source, tech for good
Our guests this week are Andrew Means of Data Analysts for Social Good and Sean Marcia of Ruby for Good. Both of them run organizations that are involved with using technology to helping non-profits that could use even some simple software or data assistance. We’ll talk about what kinds of work their organizations do, how non-profits differ from for-profit work, how they try to keep projects running over time, and how you can get involved working with technology for good.
April 24th, 2019 | 35 mins 14 secs
career, design, developer
Our guest this week is Dicko Sow. Dicko is a software developer at a technical consultancy, but recently she has been spending her time building out a side project called Yodi Naturals. We talk about how she chose the project, how important it was to plan the project, the technical decisions, and what Dicko learned putting together the launch page. If you’re trying to decide whether to try a side project, this episode has some good information about how to put that together.
April 10th, 2019 | 41 mins 9 secs
book, developer, git, open source
Our guest today is James Coglan. James has written an extraordinary programming book called Building Git. In it, he describes the inner workings of the Git source control tool by re-implementing a substantial part it in Ruby, including commits, diffs, branching, and networking. Along the way he shows not just how Git works, but also details of some of the algorithms it uses. There’s also a lot about building complex systems generally. And it has some great examples of test-driven development. James and I also talk about implementing in a high-level language like Ruby, versus a lower-level language like C. It’s a unique book, and I’ve been looking forward to talking to James about it for some time.
March 27th, 2019 | 34 mins 41 secs
Our guest today is Orlando Saez. Orlando is the co-founder and CEO of Aker, a precision crop diagnostic data and service company. We're going to talk about what that means and more generally, about how technology and agriculture intersect. We'll talk about how Orlando got into the agriculture and technology space and who his customers are and what they learn from using specialized drones to monitor their crops. It's an interesting deep dive into a part of the technology world that I, for one, did not know very much about and I hope you enjoy it.
March 13th, 2019 | 39 mins 23 secs
career, communication, learning, management
Our guest today is Barry O’Reilly, author of the book “Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results”. In it, he sets out a process for defining outcomes, identifying behaviors that might help or hinder reaching the outcomes, and then unlearning existing behaviors and relearning new ones. We talk about how that process works, how to use it yourself, how it might fail, and what Barry unlearned for himself in the process of writing the book. We’d like to hear from you. What’s something you’ve needed to unlearn to reach success? Let us know at
techdoneright.io/57or on Twitter at
February 27th, 2019 | 44 mins 28 secs
career, developer, hiring
Today on the show, we're talking about hiring with Jennifer Tu and Zee Spencer of Cohere, Thayer Prime of Team Prime, and software consultant Matt Patterson. We talk about the entire developer hiring process from how to advertise your company to potential candidates, through coding tests and interviews, and all the way to the final decision process. It's a great conversation with a lot of different perspectives and a lot of good advice. We’d like to hear from you. What do you look for when hiring developers? Let us know at http://techdoneright.io/56 or on Twitter at
February 13th, 2019 | 38 mins 45 secs
career, developer, management
Today on the show we’re talking about engineering management. Allison McMillan is an engineering manager for the Atom team at GitHub. We talk about what her role is within the team, how she helps her team grow and improve, and how the management role is different from her previous developer jobs. We’d like to hear from you. What makes a great engineering manager? Let us know at
techdoneright.io/55or on Twitter at
January 30th, 2019 | 47 mins 16 secs
code, communication, developer
On this episode, we’ve got Sam Phippen and Justin Searls back for their third round on the show. Both of them have been working on new Ruby tools to better standardize your team’s style and code formatting. We talk about why they’ve decided these tools are important, what their philosophy of coding style is, how coding style relates to the Ruby community, and how they evaluate code when given a code sample to look at.
We’d like to hear from you. How does your team handle differences of opinion in code style? Let us know at
techdoneright.io/54or on Twitter at
January 16th, 2019 | 36 mins 49 secs
career, communication, management
Developers and teams build up a lot of knowledge about their code and their process which never gets written down and which makes it harder together to get new team members up to speed. Our guest, Annie Sexton, is a support engineer for Heroku and has to deal with not only Heroku’s vast amount of knowledge, but also the unwritten information of many of her support customers. We’ll talk about the practical things Annie recommends to help make this knowledge explicit, and how your team can improve its group memory and team on-boarding. We’d also like to hear from you. Is there something your team has done to write down the things everybody knows? Let us know at http://techdoneright.io/53 or on Twitter at @tech_done_right.
January 2nd, 2019 | 41 mins 30 secs
career, developer, tools
Developers use a variety of tools other than their programming language to get their jobs done. This week, we talk about those tools with Brian Hogan, a Technical Editor for Digital Ocean. Brian's a prolific technical educator, writer, and editor and he's currently the author of the book Small, Sharp, Software Tools from the Pragmatic Press. We talk about why command line tools in particular are important, what command line tools do well, and why some people including myself often find them opaque and confusing. We talk about our favorite tools and about customizing your workflow to fit your needs.
December 12th, 2018 | 39 mins 29 secs
career, developer, hiring
On this episode, we're talking about becoming a senior engineer. When you first become a senior engineer, you suddenly have new job responsibilities that aren't coding and they aren't management. It's not clear how to balance your time or evaluate your success. Our guest this week is Jamey Hampton, a panelist on Greater Than Code podcast and a Senior Engineer at Agrilyst. We talk about how to handle the changing responsibilities and perspective that comes from being promoted even when you're still the same person that you were the previous week. We also talk specifically about hiring as a non-coding responsibility.
November 28th, 2018 | 39 mins 39 secs
community, developer, open source
The Open Source world is large. It’s also complex and difficult to manage, especially for a novice. Our guest this week is VM Brasseur, who is the Vice President of the Open Source Initiative and the author of a new book from Pragmatic called Forge Your Future With Open Source. We talk how Open Source is different from free software, and how to get started in Open Source, how to pick a project, how to navigate a new project to make your first submission. We’ll also look at it from the other side, and talk about open source projects can make themselves more contributor-friendly. And we talk about the state of Open Source in general. We want to hear from you. What was your first open source experience like? Or, how do you handle new contributors on your project?
November 14th, 2018 | 35 mins 1 sec
accessibility, d_and_i, developer
As many as 15 to 25 percent of your site’s potential users may have trouble accessing it due to some kind of disability. How can you design your site to allow your content to be usable by the widest variety of users? My guest today is Luisa Morales, an engineering fellow at the New York City Mayor’s office for Economic Opportunity. We talk about what accessibility means, how to design your site to be accessible, and what guidelines to use to help ensure success. We’ll also talk about a very literal form of accessibility — making your site behave in a way that it is accessible to users with limited bandwidth or older devices. We’d like to hear from you. What issues or successes have you had with accessibility? Let us know at techdoneright.io or on Twitter at
October 27th, 2018 | 38 mins 55 secs
Today we are talking about meetings. Any group software activity is going to have meetings, and we’re going to talk about making them better, where by better we mean more interactive and able to get meaningful contributions from everybody without letting the loudest or most powerful voices dominate. My guests are Mark Rickmeier, the CEO of Table XI, and Katie Gore, of the communication coaching company SpeechIRL. As this podcast comes out, Table XI is running a Kickstarter for a new meeting tool that you can use to improve your meetings. We’ll talk about how we came to develop the tool, how we use it, and why we think it’s effective. We want to hear from you — what’s the problem with your meetings and how have you solved it? Let us know at techdoneright.io/48 or on Twitter at