6 posts tagged with "thoughts"

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One Year as Developer Lead

Almost a year ago, I started to perform developer lead responsibilities at Cornell DTI. My first major task was to grade part of developers at the end of the spring 2019 semester. A few days ago, I just finished grading all developers for their performance in the spring 2020 semester, wrapping up almost a year of work.

I came into the position thinking that developer lead has the easiest issues to deal with. I still believe this statement is true for me. However, I didn't realize that the easiest issues are still issues of a complex system full of Byzantine faults. Easy DevOps issues become exponentially harder to deal with when there is a people factor. Just like software engineering, sometimes it's all about compromises.

Therefore, I decided to write this blog post as both a reflection for myself and as documentation for future leads.

2016: A Year of No Significance

In the year of 2016, a school in Shanghai celebrated its 20th founding anniversary. Beyond this ceremony in December, its high school division students have made record-breaking college admission success: Engineering school admission in Ivy League had finally invalidated the 0 success rate record, and there was a student that made it into Columbia University after several years of hiatus.

However, compared to later years, it was quite an insignificant year, at least to the high school division. A year later, it would celebrate its 10th anniversary since it started the IBDP program. The college admission record in the next year also completely overshined the year of 2016. There were a few miniscale crises, but none of them had caused widespread dissent over a long period. Those small crises tend to be remembered less than a week. Yet, these events started to manifest themselves as symptoms of a larger problem, which might eventually lead to a spontaneous online protest that is beyond the imagination of school administrators.

Let's start with something small.

My Decade in Review

Following the lead of React and JavaScript god Dan Abramov, I decided to also publish my decade in review blog post.

I want to clarify that I intend to present the following content as plain facts. I will talk about the facts that certain events happened, and the facts that I thought and reacted to certain events in certain ways. You should treat them as a totally ordered set of boring logs rather than definitive guidance to something.

(To be friendlier to not-so-technical readers, I italicized all the technical jokes that are not essential to understand the story.)

The Road to Better Engineering

The Start

About three years ago, a student club welcomes the largest influx of new members in its entire existence. It is considered as a milestone: it’s a de facto recognition that it’s becoming prominent. By that time, its product covers over 40% of the student base and the club is the place for future software engineers to go. The former president of the club publicly celebrated this, and he was thinking about how the club can continue to move fast without any overhead of bureaucracy.

If you have read my blog post before, you know what had happened. Beneath the promising sign of future prosperity, there were huge risks: the main product already hit the upper bound of the user count; the engineering team was not well-trained by the former president; more importantly, the codebase was in a hell state.

That club is called Computerization and that dumb former president was me.

Computer Science in High Schools

This year, I got an intern with a resume that did not mention my high school’s CS project with a single word. Therefore, at this point, either success or failure in my high school CS career does not matter at all, so I can honestly reflect on it. I reviewed again all my computer science related records and writings to ensure the content in this article is as accurate as possible. I hope it still helps.

Nerd Pride

On the evening of December 8, 2016, exactly on 5:01 PM in Eastern Standard Time, the photons of Cornell Engineering acceptance letter struck my eyes. For me, it was a confirmation, a confirmation for an unexpected success of a rebellion.