Developer On Fire

by Dave Rael

Developer On Fire with Dave Rael is an interview podcast with inspiring and successful software professionals telling personal stories about their experiences with delivering value. It is a chance for you to get to know your favorite geeks and learn more about who they are, how they deliver, and what makes them tick. Learn from and get to know special geeks like Matt Wynne, Rob Eisenberg, Udi Dahan, Ted Neward, John Sonmez, Phil Haack, and David Heinemeier Hansson.


Latest Episodes

Episode 410 | Adam Barr - Character

Adam Barr talks with Dave Rael about humility, balance, making a contribution, writing, and solving big problems

Adam Barr started programming around 1981, first learning Fortran on a university mainframe, then BASIC on a very early IBM PC. He majored in computer science at Princeton, graduated in 1988, then spent a year and a half working for a small software company in New Jersey. He started at Microsoft in early 1990, briefly working as a developer on LAN Manager before moving to work on the networking parts of Windows NT 3.1 and 3.5 (that was the first two versions). He worked briefly on an interactive television project, then for about a year at Softimage, a company that Microsoft acquired in Montreal (where he grew up). He came back to Redmond, worked on Windows 2000 (aka NT version 5). He left Microsoft for 3 years in early 2000, came back in 2003, and was a PM on the first version of PowerShell, an internal instructor and consultant in the Engineering Excellence team, and then a dev lead and engineering manager on various teams in Office. He left Microsoft two years ago to write the book, The Problem with Software; Why Smart Engineers Write Bad Code, and for the last 6 months he has been working as a consultant at a company called Crosslake Technologies, primarily doing pre-acquisition due diligence on software companies. On a personal note he is married with four kids, is the president of his high school band booster club, is on the board of a non-profit youth theatre, and is president of his neighborhood homeowners association (for about 15 years, because nobody else wants to do it…). He's also written two other books, Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters (about my first ten years at Microsoft), and Find the Bug (about code reading).

Adam's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
  1. Focus on and think about the customer
  2. Care about what you're doing
  3. Have balance in your life

Audio Download

Posted on 11 February 2019 | 12:00 am

Episode 409 | Andy Collins - Golden Rule

Andy Collins talks with Dave Rael about serving others, working in education, formative experiences, vulnerability, and limitations

Andy Collins is a software developer and educator in Nashville, TN. Since earning a computer science degree in 2000, he has spent his career trying to be of service to others. From working as a public servant in government, to building software to support the continued education of healthcare professionals, to his current role as a senior instructor at Nashville Software School, he seeks out work that combines the technical with the human. As a developer his focus is on web development, primarily in the Microsoft stack. As an educator he draws on that development experience to teach C#, ASP.NET and SQL to students in a full-time web development bootcamp.

Andy's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
  1. Take code review seriously
  2. For an honest and open relationship with your management
  3. Regularly ask yourself if what you are doing is valuable, how valuable, and if something else is more valuable

Audio Download

Posted on 4 February 2019 | 12:00 am

Episode 408 | Michael Szul

Michael Szul talks with Dave Rael about technology, family, education, chat bots. social interaction among geeks, and making an impact as a technologist

Michael Szul has spent two decades in software engineering in industries as diverse as insurance, energy, travel, and higher education, including consulting with companies such as AIG and Conde Naste. He has worked in both application and product development, as well as framework creation, code generation, API building, and machine learning. Szul is a blogger, podcaster, and Microsoft MVP, and he publishes the monthly Bots and Beer email newsletter. Currently, he is the principal software engineer for the University of Virginia's School of Medicine. You can reach him on Twitter @szul, or at

Michael's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
  1. Know your customer
  2. Exercise your empathy
  3. Do less

Audio Download

Posted on 28 January 2019 | 12:00 am

Episode 407 | Sarah Withee - Open Learning

Sarah Withee talks with Dave Rael about teaching, being a geek, sharing secrets and vulnerability, and the rewards of learning

Sarah Withee is a polyglot software engineer, public speaker, teacher and mentor, and hardware and robot tinkerer located in Pittsburgh, PA. She has a passion for technology, and has ever since she wrote her first computer programs in elementary school. Sarah has given incredibly popular conference technical talks as well as powerful talks capable of making people laugh and cry at the same time. She's given workshops to teach programming and hardware building to women in tech, as well as to students of all ages. She's mentored middle and high school robotics teams to world championships. She's even helped organize six conferences, and is presently the director of programming for Abstractions conference. She has even been on a Google Year in Search video, and started the viral hashtag #SpeakerConfessions. She passionately tries to connect with people and communities, both online and offline, and encourage and support new people going in tech.

Sarah's book recommendation:
Sarah's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
  1. Remember empathy
  2. Keep learning
  3. Be kind

Audio Download

Posted on 21 January 2019 | 12:00 am

Episode 406 | Rodney Norris - Opening Up Black Boxes

Rodney Norris talks with Dave Rael about working on differing problems and with differing tech, constraints, priorities, solving the right problem, and walking up and down the levels of the tech stack

Rodney is a Frontend Software Engineer with Mesosphere. He is a full-stack developer with 15 years of experience in a variety of fields, such as manufacturing, defense, email marketing, and infrastructure software. He’s a dedicated husband and father of three. In his spare time he podcasts, blogs, and goes mountain biking.

Rodney's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
  1. Cultivate empathy
  2. Write a journal
  3. Use mindfulness meditation

Audio Download

Posted on 14 January 2019 | 12:00 am

Episode 405 | Justin James - Let Your Nerd Be Heard

Justin James talks with Dave Rael about getting involved, being a speaker, the impact of great workshops, and offering coaching for developers to make an impact and turbocharge their careers

Justin is a Microsoft MVP, DevOps Evangelist, Web developer and Professional Speaker who loves to code, teach, and share his knowledge with others to help them grow in their careers. He specializes in making the complex simple and easy to understand. Justin has worked at Intel for over 20 years in various groups leading software development projects, being an Agile advocate and most recently has taken on a role as a DevOps Evangelist. Justin's new role as a DevOps Evangelist is the perfect marriage of his love of development and teaching. Justin frequently speaks at conferences, meetups, and community events. He has been a guest on the .NET Rocks podcast (episodes 1158 and 1390) and the Angular Air Videocast (episode 105). To hear his thoughts on software development and public speaking, follow his website at, subscribe to his YouTube channel at or subscribe to his Twitch channel at In his limited free time, Justin is an organizer for the Arizona Give Camp and a Chief Science Officer (CSO) Jedi Mentor.

Justin's book recommendation:
    Justin's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
    1. "You don't have to be fantastic to start, you have to start to be fantastic"
    2. Make time in your life to grow your skills

    Audio Download

    Posted on 7 January 2019 | 12:00 am

    Episode 404 | Cassandra Faris - Learn, Meet, Help

    Cassandra Faris talks to Dave Rael about community, personal and career development, helping people, mental health, and using technology to solve problems

    Cassandra Faris is passionate about the human side of tech. Her career has focused on supporting technology professionals through community outreach, hiring, mentoring, and employee engagement. She is an international speaker who specializes in teaching tech professionals how to advance their careers and be more effective team members. She is also the President of the Microsoft and open source conference, DogFoodCon, and a Per Scholas Advisory Board member. She has an MBA in Organizational Leadership. When she's not busy with the tech community, she is avid tabletop gamer, runner, and soccer fan who travels as much as possible.

    Cassandra's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
    1. Learn things
    2. Meet people
    3. Help them

    Audio Download

    Posted on 31 December 2018 | 12:00 am

    Episode 403 | Mathias Brandewinder - Methodical and Fun

    Mathias Brandewinder talks with Dave Rael about speaking, confidence, choices, gatekeepers, and biases

    Mathias Brandewinder has been developing software for about 10 years, and loving every minute of it, except maybe for a few release days. His language of choice was C#, until he discovered F# and fell in love with it. He enjoys arguing about code and how to make it better, and gets very excited when discussing TDD or functional programming. His other professional interests include machine learning and applied math. Mathias is a Microsoft F# MVP and the founder of Clear Lines Consulting. He is based in San Francisco, blogs at and Twitter handle is @brandewinder

    Mathias's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
    1. When you don't know, just say so
    2. Resist bias and consider risk using a technique for imagining a failure to deliver on the estimated schedule and asking why it will happen
    3. Identify people who aren't speaking and seek their input

    Audio Download

    Posted on 27 December 2018 | 12:00 am

    Episode 402 | Johanna Rothman - Learning and Delivering

    Johanna Rothman talks with Dave Rael about experiential learning, writing, learning about human interaction, consulting, and frank advice

    Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” provides frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams see problems, resolve risks, and manage their product development. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair and was the co-chair of the first edition of the Agile Practice Guide. Johanna is the author of 14 books that range from hiring, to project management, program management, project portfolio management, and management. Her most recent books are From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams (with Mark Kilby) and Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver. Read her blogs, email newsletter, and more information about her books at www,

    Johanna's top 3 tips for delivering more value:
    1. Create a product good enough for customers to use now - don;t start with architecture first
    2. Make the smallest deliverable you can
    3. Stop multitasking - focus on one thing and get it to done

    Audio Download

    Posted on 24 December 2018 | 12:00 am