The Specialist

Friday, September 5 2011 tekpub

One of my favorite movies of all time is Pulp Fiction. There are so many lines... so many scenes that it's hard to describe one as your favorite - but one that comes to mind often is Harvey Keitel as "The Wolf". When Ving Rhames says "I'm sending in the Wolf", you knew something good was about to happen.

##"I Solve Problems"

Winston Wolf is the epitome of "No shit action" - someone who doesn't equivocate, he just knows what to do to right a wrong situation. He steps in, takes command, and "fixes" other people's problems - often getting right in their face in the process.

If you haven't watched Pulp Fiction recently - you owe it to yourself. One of the great movies of all time and a true tribute to the best filmmakers of our era: Scorcese and Kubrik.


In our industry there are many "Wolf" types that get paid a lot of money to fix a broken situation.

I wanted to capture one of these people at work for Tekpub's Full Throttle series, and I think we pulled it off...

Blindsiding Oren

I know a number of people who are "Specialists" - they get paid to mentor, kickoff, or fix based on their years of knowledge or experience in a given area.

Oren Eine (Ayende) is one of those people.

Oren is asked to consult for a large number of projects - sometimes to help out, sometimes to fix a completely broken situation. In truth I've always wondered what it would be like to sit in one of those meetings - to hear how he handles clients when they're in the deepest of trouble.

So I asked him if he would do a Tekpub episode with me with a simple premise: I want him to integrate an online payment service - something like PayPal or Chargify.

He agreed. Which was nice of him. Then we started recording and I began to abuse him... which wasn't so nice of me.

"Then I Don't Care About Anything Right Now"

At about 40 seconds into recording - I hit him with it:>Our site's offline and we're not receiving orders. We're losing money by the minute and I need you to fix it. RIGHT NOW!

Oren had no idea I was going to do this to him. I promise you that.

What do you think Oren's response to that would be? If you

read his blog you know he's rather outspoken about many things. I wasn't sure if he was going to yell at me, hang up and walk away, or insist on methodically fixing the problem with tests and some type of DD.

Instead - he did something that shouldn't have surprised me: he calmly started taking notes in an effort to understand what I needed, and then said "then I don't care about anything right now..." and he proceeded to crack out some of the most beautiful code I've ever seen.

I have expected him to ask me for another delicious cup of coffee (Pulp Fiction reference)...

A Master At Work

It might be hard to believe - but I didn't give Oren any hints about what I wanted him to do. He just did it. He's written systems like this in the past - sure - but to watch him roll this out right off the top of his head, going full speed with Resharper - it was a treat.

Especially interesting to me was that he

never once used Google.

He wrote up an asynchronous queuing system on top of RavenDB, complete with logging and order management - all in just over an hour.

If you've ever wanted to see a master at work, this is your chance.

I hope you enjoy it.