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.
January 16th, 2019 | 36 mins 49 secs
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
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
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
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
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
October 10th, 2018 | 37 mins 58 secs
How can your company empower your entry-level developers to grow their skills and advance their careers? If you are an entry-level developer, what are skills that are important for growth? Mercedes Bernard, a Senior Software Engineer at DevMynd, joins Tech Done Right to talk about empowering entry-level developers. We talk about giving people scaffolding to support them in owning larger and larger parts of a software process, and how to align your entire company to support growth.
September 19th, 2018 | 48 mins 24 secs
What has changed in web development in the last 20 years, and what do those changes say about the next 20? I recently realized that Avdi Grimm, the head chef of Ruby Tapas, Sarah Mei, of Ruby Central and Salesforce, and I all began our professional careers within a couple of weeks of each other in August 1998. I wanted to talk to them about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. I was curious as to whether our different career paths led to similar observations. We talk about open source, agile, dynamic languages, distributed systems and how they’ve all changed or haven’t changed the developer’s experience.
September 5th, 2018 | 42 mins 44 secs
How can you learn from an engineering team's failure? Can you take the examples of how others have dealt with engineering problems to improve your team's day-to-day operations. Our guest is Nickolas Means, a software manager at Muve Health, who is fascinated by engineering failures. We talk about what you can learn from studying disasters, how to create a company culture in calm times that will works smoothly in stressful times, and how a successful engineering team communicates using stories and how they handle mistakes. Along the way, we talk about the recent incident at the Seattle Airport, the CitiCorp building in Manhattan, Three Mile Island and other engineering and team missteps. We have, I hope, a successful show about failure.
August 22nd, 2018 | 42 mins 47 secs
What's a good way to learn a new programming language that focuses on solving problems and not merely syntax? Katrina Owen is the creator of Exercism, a tool for getting beyond "hello world" in new programing languages. She is also the co-author of 99 Bottles of OOP, and the presenter of a number of outstanding technical talks. We start off by talking about Exercism, how it started, how it evolved and what it’s good at, and then we talk about how the process by which it evolved, and how Katrina learned to analyze the project more strategically, and how that strategic thinking has helped her in other parts of her life and career.
August 8th, 2018 | 48 mins 51 secs
Ruby is great. But it's not the best tool for everything. On this episode, I talk to James Edward Gray II and Steve Klabnik. Both James and Steve have made substantial contributions to the Ruby and Rails community, and they now both spend lots of time using other languages. We talk about what makes Rust and Elixir interesting for Ruby developers to learn, what some other interesting languages might be.
July 25th, 2018 | 49 mins 3 secs
Presenting a technical talk can be an important part of a developer's career.
In this episode, we're talking about how to perform a technical talk with Saron Yitbarek. Saron runs the CodeNewbie Podcast, and others, and organizes and coaches speakers for the Codeland Conference. Saron and I both have some thoughts and opinions about how to deliver a good technical talk. This episode has a lot of tips about how to prepare, what to do at the start of a talk, how to engage the audience, and why emoji are better for slides than videos? We'll give advice on how to give the talk that only you can give and how to get the best performance that you can.
July 11th, 2018 | 37 mins 14 secs
What is an apprenticeship program, how is it different from an internship, and how can your company benefit from having one? In this episode, we’re talking about technical apprenticeships with Megan Tiu of Women Who Code. Megan and I have both run apprenticeships at various companies. We’re also joined by Table XI’s current apprentice cohort, Kara Carrell and Alyssa Ramsey.
Episode 40: Diversity and Inclusion at Small Companies with Meara Charnetzki, Michael Donnelly, and Elena Valentine
June 20th, 2018 | 38 mins 27 secs
What can a small company do to improve its diversity and inclusion practices when your company just isn't changing personnel quickly enough to improve via hiring? Here to discuss this are Meara Charnetzki from Table XI, Michael Donnelly from the FWD Collective and Elena Valentine from Skill Scout. We'll talk all about company values, supporting a wider community, using internal feedback, and what to do to encourage improvement at your company.
June 6th, 2018 | 49 mins 44 secs
I've been attending technical conferences for years, and I've always wondered about the hidden challenges involved in putting a conference together. In this show, four of the best conference organizers I know join me to share their secrets and stories. Marty Haught, organizer of many conferences including RubyConf and RailsConf, Jen Remsik and Jim Remsik, who organize the Madison+ family of conferences, and Leah Silber, who organizes EmberConf and RustConf. Learn about budgets, picking talks, and managing facilities and vendors.
May 23rd, 2018 | 47 mins 1 sec
How do common Agile practices like pair programming and retrospectives work when you have diverse teams? How can you make sure that underrepresented team members have their voices heard, and how does doing so improve the way that your team delivers software? Besty Haibel, Jennifer Tu, and Marlena Compton discuss ways in which Agile practices can better serve your team in the real world. For more discussion, be sure to check out PearConf.