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August 15, 2003

Goodbye Andy

Today was Andy's last day at Tufts. He's moving on to do graduate work in security at Johns Hopkins.

Andy was rightfully labelled a cynic and a paranoid by most of the team, and I think he enjoyed that role. I learned a lot from Andy over the past year. Was thinking of a few things.

Never accept things because "that's just the way it works."

In numerous instances we experienced positive changes in our development due to Andy exploring details of behaviors and recommending a better way. One example is an underlying library that gets called in almost every page in our code. Through improper use of eval blocks, this library was quite good at masking problems with other libraries. For the longest time we operated in an environment where if something would break a person would have to manually go through the libraries (perl -M<library>) to determine which library was at fault. Andy put a stop to this by rewriting the eval blocks and now we enjoy clear, and forthcoming messages if there are problems with included modules.

Security is Serious Business

Andy could always spew off the security expert's worse-case-scenario. He cringed at things like people keeping passwords on sticky notes or in Notepad files on their desktop. He refused to use Tufts centralized authentication (within reason), citing that the more things he had behind one password the worse off we'd be if someone sniffed that password. Andy loved to propose hypothetcal situations like some cracker is listening to your keystrokes with a high-powered microphone and using the sounds of fingers hitting the keys to collect sensitiive data.

Homer's Voice Adds Context

Andy would say technical things using Homer Simpson's voice. Either in a drooling-over-something (soooo cheeeap) moment or in a forcefull moment (grrrrrrrrep it). It always gave a little extra context to the situation when Homer would emerge.

In the interviewing process for Andy's replacement we were trying to match a person's skills with our requirements, but what we really wanted was another Andy. I guess that's a good way to leave, with the employer looking for your duplicate.

Posted by mike at August 15, 2003 11:20 PM