The Specialist

October 01 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.