Claudio is a Principal Consultant at Improving Houston. He has been developing software for 25+ years. When not building software, consulting with clients, doing presentations, delivering training, or hanging out with his family, he can probably be found working on his music.


Speaking at Houston Tech Fest on Saturday, September 12

I’ll be speaking at the virtual Houston Tech Fest this Saturday, September 12. You can register for free here. After registered, you’ll get information with the schedule so you can registered for the sessions you’re interested in (there are 30 sessions to choose from!!)

Here are my talks. I hope you get to attend to any or all of them!

All times shown in Central Time.

  • 10:10-11:10am – Beyond the Daily Stand-up: An Intro to Scrum
  • 1:40-2:40pm – Navigating and Refactoring Code, and other Productivity Tips
  • 4-5pm – Preparing and Giving Sprint Reviews (and Demos)

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Virtual Brown Bag: August 2020 Summary

The weekly Virtual Brown Bag meetings keep going strong. August was filled with great discussions.

Check it out, and also consider joining us, every Thursday at 12-1pm Central Time!

  1. August 27th, 2020

    Houston Tech Fest, 3D-printed masks, Code Metrics (messy code), George’s architectural talk and new talk on “computer pioneers you should now about”

  2. August 20th, 2020

    We talked about job searching, code challenges, job interviews, being manager or leaders and how to apply for such job. We wrapped things up with a quick discussion about “Human Code Reviews”.

  3. August 13th, 2020

    Great discussion on books that all software developers should read. Also some talk about this post: “It’s probably time to stop recommending Clean Code”. And to close the meeting of, some geeking out with a Python FizzBuzz implementation.

  4. August 6th, 2020

    Topics we discussed: looking for a job, helping out others, RocketBook, Replacing Jasmine with Jest on Angular projects, test style, Jest Custom Matchers,


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15 Year Anniversary!

Wow. It has been 15 years since I started this blog!

It’s kind of cool seeing the areas that stick out:

Productivity, Testing, Evernote… that sounds about right.

Fun Facts

  • Most popular post: A Good Example of Liskov Substitution Principle (Nov/2010). It’s such an old post, but it still gets many views. The 2nd most popular post doesn’t have even 1/3rd of the views .
  • Total Posts: 426
  • Average Words Per Post: 342
  • Year with the most posts: 2007, with 75. This is post #51 this year, should I look into setting a new record?
  • I can think of at least two occasions when I googled something and ended up finding the answer on my blog, having totally forgotten I had already run into the same problem and written about it.
  • While I don’t get lots of comments left on the blog itself, countless times somebody mentions one of my posts in conversations. My point: people are “listening”, and that’s why I write and post, regardless as to whether I’m generating tons of views and a buzz or not.
  • I still look at zero-based arrays and think “what the heck?”. 🙂

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Virtual Lunch and Learn: Code Review – I Mean No Harm!

Tomorrow, August 12th, I’m giving a free Virtual Lunch and Learn on one of my favorite topics! You can sign up here.

Code Review: I Mean No Harm!

As part of the work I’ve been doing for many years, I get to do a lot of code review. I usually document things that come up doing a code review so I can share it with other developers in the teams. In this session, I share some of the code I’ve looked at, the reasons why the code raised yellow or red flags in my head, and some possible solutions I’ve proposed.

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Virtual Brown Bag: July 2020 Summary

Tons of great conversations at the Virtual Brown Bag weekly meetings in July. Check it out, and also consider joining us, every Thursday at 12-1pm Central Time!

July 2nd:

Our bud Tony shared his experiences learning React. We discussed a little about React vs Angular vs Vue. Then we talked abou Story Mapping and Impact Mapping. And last but not least, we had a conversation generated by asking folks on the call the following questions: 1. As a developer, what’s most important to you? 2. What does “being a great developer” mean to you? Why?

July 9th:
We’ve had a great conversation about communication challenges and techniques, including how to communicate through code, spoken language, Improv techniques, etc.

July 16th:
George had a question about C#, Generics, Reflection, which then led us to a TypeScript discussion, interface vs class, etc. Alper gave us a mini-presentation on Distributed Systems Design Principles: Lessons Learned from Udi’s class

July 23rd:
This week we talked about estimation techniques for projects, as well as API documentation.

July 30th:
Great conversation that included an F# project using F# Dapper and Fable React (an F# solution for Server Side Rendering), DSL in F#, Farmer, difficulties learning React, the history of CSS…


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Virtual Brown Bag: June 2020 Summary

June was another month filled with Virtual Brown Bag meetings every Thursday. Lots of great discussions on a variety of topics. Here’s a summary and links to the videos. Enjoy!

June 4:
We talked about a bunch of stuff this week! Books, Connecting, F# Conf, WebForm/WinForm, Android crash, Racket, FizzBuzz, The QA’s Role in a Scrum Team. George brought up discussion on resumes and interviews It sparked many comments. We’ll bring it back next week. We have even mentioned FoxPro. 🙂

June 11
Great chat about resumes! We’ve lost the 2nd half of the discussion due to technical issues, but still, there’s good content in here.

June 18
We’ve continued our conversation from last week, talked a little more about resumes, and also job interviews, developer challenges, etc.

June 25:
We talked about upcoming free virtual events, Claudio’s “Trusting IT” call for feedback, the “Badass – Making Users Awesome” book, George’s code challenges, using generators, threading/pipeline operator, and the Rocketbook.


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Can you help me with “Trusting IT”?

In May, I’ve given my new talk “Trusting IT: Bridging the gap between Vision and Execution” (you can watch the video at the bottom of this post). I’m now in the process of refining and expanding that content and would love to get feedback from the community.

I’m gathering volunteers to attend a 1-hour onlne session, in which I’ll ask a couple of questions to the participants and gather their feedback. Who am I looking for? IT Professionals, including (but not limited to) software developers, QA, Scrum Masters, and those who work closely to them, such as UX designers and Business Analysts.

If you’d like to participate, fill out this form (email and name), and I’ll send you a link to a survery to help me determine the best date and time to accomodate the volunteers’ availability.

No preparation needed, just show up on time for the session. I’m planning to have it between July 1st and 15th.

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Virtual Lunch and Learn this week: Testing in Agile

I’m giving a Virtual Lunch and Learn talk this Friday, June 26, at 12pm Central Time. You may register here!

This has been my favorite talk for the last three years or so. I’m going through the content and updating it to reflect feedback I got during this time. I hope to see some of you there!

Testing in Agile: from Afterthought to an Integral Part

Many who try to start automating tests end up giving up the practice. Those tests seem really helpful at the beginning, but are abandoned over time. Even the practice of Test-Driven Development (TDD) faces similar issues, with many giving it up. 

How do long-time practitioners do it? Or, perhaps more importantly, why do they do it? 

Let me share my experiences in this area, starting with unit tests way back in 2004, navigating through lessons learned the hard way, and ending with my current approach to automated tests, code coverage, TDD/BDD, and how I use those techniques to bring together developers, QA, UX, Product Owners, and Business Analysts .

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Remembering People’s Names

I have always been bad and remembering people’s name, and that has always bothered me, so I try whatever tricks I learn to fix that. Here are two that have been helping me a lot!

In training, meetings, or similar situations

In the past, there have been situations where I was teaching a multi-day class, and I’d get to the end of it not remembering all of the attendees names. Shame. That was until I’ve picked up this trick from a friend of mine when I sat at one of his classes:

When we’re going around the room doing introductions, I write down people’s names based on where they’re seated. As they talk about themselves (usually answering starter questions, such as “what’s your role, what’s your current skill level, what are your expectations for this class, etc.”), I jot down quick notes close to their names. During the day, before directing a question or an answer at any of the attendees, I look down at my notes and make sure to say their names out loud.

Most people have a tendency to always sit at the very same spot every day, which certainly helps with this practice!

In other types of group gatherings

I’m into Motorcycle Riding. More specifically, riding at the race track. I get to meet a lot of riders at the track, and it can get pretty hard for me to remember everyone’s names. It bugs me remembering people by “the tall dude on the red yamaha” or “the fast guy who cut me off going into Turn 1”.

In order to address that, I’ve added a very simple feature to my Beyond the Track website: as part of the “track day debrief” feature, I’ve included a “People I’ve met” area. This is a free-text field where I jot down people’s names, the bike they ride, the color of their leathers and/or helmets, and any other information I’ve learned about the person (what city they live in, how long they’ve been riding, what kind of work they do, other areas of interest, etc.).

Sometimes, I go months without seeing a person at the track again, but when I do see them, I happen to remember at which track we’ve met for the 1st time, so I can easily find my notes on that person and pick up the conversation where we’ve left off last time.

The most supporting user of my website has thanked me multiple times for this simple feature.

For other types of group gatherings, I’ve been following this same approach, where I take some quick notes about people. I review the notes later in the day and add more to it in order to facilitate recalling these notes at a later time.

Do you have any special tricks you use to remember people’s names and other things about them?

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Show me your Spreadsheets!

Have you ever seen any business that doesn’t make heavy use of spreadsheets? Right, me neither.

Here’s a technique I often use when working with a new client: I ask them “Show me your Spreadsheets!”

A lot of decision makers base their decisions off this or that spreadsheet. Even when there’s a costly ERP system involved, they normally use the “Export to Excel” feature, and then play with the data to find the answers to the questions they have.

Those questions they’re asking are often the most important part in their decision-making process. I want to know:

  • What are those questions?
  • Why are they important?
  • Does the person have to enter additional data on the spreadsheet? if so, why is it not already captured in the system?

There are also cases where users export some data out to Excel and email the results out to somebody. I ask the users why they need to send that data and how it’s used. If they don’t know, I’ll go ask the recipient, which then may take me to the questions listed above.

This type of conversation of the clients, end users, businesses, help quite a bit in identifying the real business needs and them providing them the best solution (which could be a matter of addressing a workflow, coming up with a process, creating new software or changing existing ones, or a combination of those elements).

So, the next time you’re working with a client, give it a go: show me your spreadsheets!

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