We all make mistakes as software engineers…

… but at least you can avoid mine!

As software engineers we all make mistakes, whether in our software or our careers. Here are some examples of mistakes that I’ve made over the past 20 years:

And these are just some of the mistakes that I’ve made.

I learned an important lesson from each mistake, but this was an embarrassing, expensive, and painful way to learn.

What if you could skip the painful mistakes and jump straight to the learning?

Here’s what one reader is saying:

I greatly enjoy your Software Clown series. In particular I appreciate that your stories focus on actual events that occur in real day-to-day life as a coder. This is in stark contrast to many of the stories distributed on e.g., Hacker News, which tend to focus on truly exceptional cases not applicable to most actual software projects.

Thank you for the time you put in to this series,


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My career as a software clown

Hi, I’m Itamar Turner-Trauring, and—at least in theory—I’m a software engineer.

On paper I have a pretty decent resume: I’ve worked on open source projects used by Apple, Cisco and many others. I’ve worked on software indirectly used by millions of people. I’ve worked as a product manager for Google, I’ve co-founded a startup, and worked for a few startups too.

But some days I feel more like an involuntary software clown, spending my days slipping on banana peels, being hit in the face with whipped cream pies, and riding little teensy bikes around and around in circles.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what a former coworker has to say:

"Itamar's initial design for a distributed system had potential scaling challenges, and he was very open to acknowledging the problem and evaluating a suggested solution."

Madhuri Yechuri, Founder and CEO, Elotl Inc

“Potential scaling challenges” is a polite euphemism for “did not scale at all”. But the important point is that I learned something from Madhuri, who has 15 years of experience building distributed systems at VMWare and Oracle.

You can avoid my mistakes!

Here's what people are saying about Software Clown:

"Itamar's Software Clown is like a secret guilty pleasure—just without the guilt. Definitely subscribe if you want to learn some things that Itamar learned the hard way."

Victor Algaze, Software Engineer, Cisco CTAO

Are you reading @itamarst's "Software Clown" newsletter? If not, you should be. There's a gem in every issue.

— Glyph Lefkowitz (@glyph)

Subscribe to the Software Clown mailing list, and every week I’ll send you an email with one of my mistakes, and how you can avoid repeating it. If you’re a new subscriber you won’t miss out on any old mistakes; you’ll get every one I’ve written from the start.

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