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Stevey's Tech Talk

I share stories and tips from my 3 decades of experience in the Big Tech industry, including working for many years at both Amazon and Google. This is not a deeply technical show. I talk mostly about things like tech leadership, corporate decision-making, politics, dysfunction, and how to be a better engineer. Anyone interested in Big Tech should be able to listen to this and enjoy the storytelling.

  • 2022 / 9 / 26
    STT e54: On to my next adventure!

    Hi folks,In this episode I say a tearful adieu. I have taken a very exciting new role at Sourcegraph, and I only want to talk about that from now on, so I'm semi-retiring this podcast.I will release a few...

  • 2022 / 7 / 5
    STT E53: The Bazel Build System

    Featuring special guest Alex Eagle, Founder and CEO of Aspect.dev, which specializes in Enterprise Bazel support. I worked with Alex for years back at Google and we both have a ton of respect for the Bazel...

  • 2022 / 6 / 20
    STT E52: Service Mesh 101

    Hey folks! Today's episode is an intro to Service Meshes.There are many, many players in this space, and I only talk about a few of them. Notably I left out Buoyant, which provides a mesh based on linkerd....

  • 2022 / 6 / 14
    STT e51: Should I be a manager?

    Hey folks,Someone asked me for career advice on whether they should make the jump over onto the management track. We had a nice conversation about it and I decided to give a little talk on it this week.I had...

  • 2022 / 6 / 6
    STT E50: Jeff Atwood (Stack Overflow cofounder)

    Hey folks!I'm very pleased to be hosting Jeff Atwood as our guest this week.Jeff was co-creator of Stack Overflow, which is by far one of themost successful Q&A sites ever created, and is every...

  • 2022 / 5 / 30
    STT E49 - I'm Un-Retiring

    Today I talk about how (and why) after 2 years of really enjoying retirement, I've decided to go back into the industry.Feel free to give this one a pass if you are looking for something more like one of my...

  • 2022 / 5 / 24
    STT e48 - Exploring recursion and programming language expressiveness

    Hey folks! This was an overly-ambitious attempt to do a mini-lecture on the Farmer, Dog, Chicken, Grain puzzle and its programming solutions.This was one of the homework questions I had in my Intro to...

  • 2022 / 5 / 16
    STT e47: Ruby is Great

    Hey folks!This week I talk about Ruby, which is one of my Top 3 favorite programming languages (if you count "Lisp" as a single language), the third being Kotlin.If you want to get straight to the hand-waving...

  • 2022 / 5 / 3
    STT E46: Learn Lisp!

    Hey folks! Sorry this one is a day late. I had to redact some confidential information and it took a little extra time.Today we talk about the Lisp family of languages, and how coooool they are, and how...

  • 2022 / 4 / 25
    STT E45: Compilers, why learn them?

    Hey folks,Apologies for 2 weeks of missing podcasts. The episode 2 weeks ago was all coding and didn't make much sense to just do the audio for. And last week I was busy redoing my recording studio cabling...

  • 2022 / 4 / 4
    STT e43: Guest - Russ Brennan

    I'm joined today by a Google buddy who left for Facebook/Meta 3 years ago. We talk about a broad range of fun topics, including comparing Google and FB in various ways.If you enjoy this content, please head...

  • 2022 / 3 / 28
    Stevey's Tech Talk E42: Do I need a CS degree, and can I teach myself?

    Hey folks,A commenter asked if I could talk about whether you need a CS degree to be in Big Tech and make it as a software engineer. So that's the topic for today!In this episode, I talk about what you would...

  • 2022 / 3 / 21
    Stevey's Tech Talk E41: Emacs Part 2 - Emergency Emacs

    Hi folks,Given that my Emacs tour from 2 weeks ago is in 2nd place overall on views, I'm gonna see how far I can push my luck, and do another one about Emacs.Apologies to the podcast listeners. I narrate...

  • 2022 / 3 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E40 - Game of Reorgs

    In this week's episode I talk about reorgs! How and why to do them, when and why to avoid them, and how to make sure they go as smoothly as possible when you really do have to do one.I also tell some war...

  • 2022 / 3 / 7
    Stevey's Tech Talk E39: A guided tour of Emacs

    Hey folks,This week I did a guided walkthrough of Emacs, on my computer, while narrating what I was typing out.It went pretty smoothly and I _think_ I did an OK job of narrating what we were looking at, as...

  • 2022 / 2 / 28
    Stevey's Tech Talk e38: Guest -- Grigory Javadyan

    Grigory Javadyan, the commenter who inspired episode 37, has graciously agreed to be a guest on today's show.In this episode we talk about all sorts of interesting things, including: * Zynga and the game...

  • 2022 / 2 / 21
    Stevey's Tech Talk E37: sed -i 's/sorry/not sorry/g'

    In this episode I dig in my heels and defend my position that you have to know command-line interfaces and shell scripting (or equivalent) in order to be a great programmer and a great generalist.I didn't say...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E36 - Supercharge your company with TPMs

    This week's episode is all about the Technical Program Manager role, and how it helps companies execute at their highest level.A TPM is a special role that requires "capital-T" technical expertise and a whole...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E35: How to do the Impossible

    Hey folks!  This topic was suggested to me by a buddy.  I tackle the problem of engineers saying something is "impossible", and how to prove them wrong.

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E34 - Guest: Eni Segun (Microsoft)

    Hi folks! I'm very pleased to present our second guest interview, with my good buddy Eni Segun. I've known him for many years; he has been playing my game Wyvern since he was 8 years old, and has been a...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E33 -- Guest: David Herman

    Hi folks! We have our first-ever guest on the show. Ex-Googler David Herman has been kind enough to be the guinea pig.In this episode we talk about how to detect and deal with stagnation in your career,...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E32 - Tips for New Managers

    In today's episode I give some pointers to people who have just recently become engineering managers.  Not really a Management 101, since it's not comprehensive.  But definitely a subset of Management 101.

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    STT e31 - Super Apps will make the next trillion dollars

    In this episode I talk a bit about Grab's super app strategy, and where super apps came from, and why you should invest in them.I cut over 20 minutes of blathering about unrelated topics in this episode, so...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    STT e30 - Let's talk about sexual harassment in Big Tech

    Special New Years Episode: A call to action. Spread awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, help put an end to it, and also -- to companies with great training materials -- STOP keeping them...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E29: My Grab Adventure, Part 1

    I'm going to do a series of talks about Grab Inc, a ride-hailing service in Southeast Asia, where I served as Head of Engineering, Ads, Monetization, and Data Insights for 2.5 years. It was and still is a...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E28 - The story behind my Platforms Rant

    The steamy, sordid tale of how drank a bottle of wine, wrote a rant, and wound up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E27 - My Embarrassing Google Interview

    I tell the sad but kinda funny tale of how I basically failed my first Google interview.

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E26: Us vs Them: Tribalism in Big Tech

    Today I talk a bit about how Big Tech companies split into "tribes", usually by geography, and how you can avoid the pitfalls that inevitably tend to occur.

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E25: How to motivate people!

    Hey folks, thanks for watching the channel. Today's talk is my 7-or-so-step plan, give or take, for becoming a leader who can motivate your people to do their best and most sustainable work for the company....

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E24 - How to Be a Better Programmer

    Here are some a few thoughts on how to be the best software engineer you can be. It's not comprehensive; just some thoughts I've had about it over the years. Hope it's helpful!We'll talk a lot more about...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E23 - How to Get Yourself Promoted

    This is basically the contents of a tech talk I used to give at Google, to help Google engineers get promoted as fast as possible. I hope it helps!

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    STT e22 - Management 101: Crisis management and avoidance

    I'm finally starting my leadership series. This first talk is for you, if you think you might ever want to go into Management in Big Tech.I cover some of the things that you might not expect or be prepared...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk e21: The rise of Flutter

    In this episode I talk for way too long about how Flutter is going to take over the entire world of UI programming, from web pages to mobile apps to desktop apps.I didn't do a dry run on this video, and...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E20 - Answering viewer questions

    This episode is a retrospective, where I answer questions people have been asking me about various themes in the past 19 episodes. Main questions answered: * Am I underpaid? * Can I really get into the...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E19: So You Want To Be A Manager

    In this episode I rant at length about the terrible reasons that people have for wanting to go into management/leadership. I get really worked up by the end.Just to clarify one part of the video, I really...

  • 2022 / 2 / 14
    Stevey's Tech Talk E18 - All about Big Tech interviews

    I talk about how messed up tech interviewing is, and yet it's sort of the best we've got... or is it?

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E17 - What it's like to work for Google

    Several people asked me to talk about Amazon vs. Google and compare them, so I'm doing that in this episode. I talk a lot about what it's like to work for Google.The dude in the beginning is a little joke,...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E16 - Crazy Talk: My predictions for Big Tech and Biotech in the near future

    This is the one. The episode where you decide that listening to me was the biggest waste of time in possibly your entire life. I rant like a certifiably crazy person about tinfoil hat conspiracy theories, and...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E15 - Real Talk: Big Tech is going to put a lot of people out of jobs

    This episode is two parts. The first half is me telling the story of how this channel came to be, why I'm doing it in this format, and my future plans. The second part explains WHY I'm doing the show - it's...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E14 - Why CEOs crash and burn, and how dumb execs can kill YOUR company

    In this episode I take off the boxing gloves and plop on the brass knuckles. I talk about just how horrifically a senior executive can hurt or even kill a company, with lots of examples and real-life stories.

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech talk E10 - How to Fire Your Boss

    I talk about the tricky problem of having a manager (at any level) who is hurting the company and requires corrective action. There is a playbook for this, and I walk you through it. This talk mostly...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk E13 - How Google promotes their employees and decides who gets the promotions

    Google's promotion process is VERY different from how it works at most companies. They have spent years refining the process, and it avoids a lot of the dysfunction and problems that happen at other...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk E12 - How writing a computer game got me jobs at Amazon and Google

    In this episode I talk about my online multiplayer computer game, Wyvern (https://ghosttrack.com). It has been a 25-year journey, and it wound up being responsible for the pretty awesome career I've had in...

  • 2022 / 1 / 17
    Stevey's Tech Talk E11 - Why Jeff Bezos is on track to be erased from history

    Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are in a race to polish up their image for future generations. Both of them were Bad Guys, but only one of them seems to be on track to atone for it. Warning: I trash talk a lot of...

  • 2021 / 11 / 23
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E9 - Join big tech and make yourself a millionaire. Or not. Your call.

    In this episode I talk about how I struggled with learning programming, and eventually made it into the tech industry, where you can very easily make millions of dollars--and that's even more true with each...

  • 2021 / 11 / 23
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E8 - Structural dysfunction: How big fancy companies set themselves up to FAIL

    In this episode I talk about a kind of corporate disease that I'm calling "structural dysfunction", where employees are set up to fight with each other, because they have overlapping or even competing job...

  • 2021 / 11 / 22
    Stevey's Tech Talk - S1E7 - The biggest company on Earth should have you a bit worried right now

    In this episode I begin the journey (completed in episode 16) of explaining the operation of the biggest company in the world, and how and why they are going to be so dominant for the next 100+ years.

  • 2021 / 11 / 22
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E6 - Corporate Disease #1: How your DevOps team is killing your company

    This is my first episode fully dedicated to a particular and VERY common corporate disease called a "centralized DevOps team". I explain how Google does DevOps, how Amazon does it, the "right" way to do it,...

  • 2021 / 11 / 22
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E5: Why Amazon.com executes better than any company on Earth (Part 3)

    In this episode I conclude my first 3-part series on Amazon's world-class execution. I talk about how Amazon treats their corporate customers and their developers, and how different it is from Microsoft,...

  • 2021 / 11 / 22
    Stevey's Tech Talk S1E4: Why Amazon.com executes better than any other company on Earth (Part 2)

    In this episode I continue my exploration of why Amazon executes so darn well compared to pretty much everyone else. Here we explore their 25-year obsession with retail customer satisfaction, and building...