Hi! I'm Chris. I'm a technologist living in San Francisco and co-founder of Grove Collaborative. Over the years I've written a number of articles about software, technology, and teams. I hope you'll find some of them useful.

We're Hiring!

My company, Grove Collaborative, is hiring full-stack engineers. If you like what you read here, and want to work on similar problems, email me ([email protected]) or learn more & apply.

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Form Over Function & The New iPhone

I probably found this more profound than it really is, but Matt Buchanan said it well in the New Yorker, regarding the latest iPhone announcements:

Fundamental technology, like manufacturing processes for processors and imaging sensors and displays, have evolved to the point that the basic shape and sense of a ...


Declarative Approach to Nesting Backbone Models

Backbone doesn't have great (any?) support for nested models. Here's my approach. I think it's kind of fun (we get to write recursive functions!), and hopefully useful. I'll report back when I've lived with it for a bit longer.

Here's the problem: We have ...


How to Write a Bug Report

Writing good bug reports is the difference between actually seeing your bug get fixed and sending protracted emails over the course of a week convincing a developer that there is, in fact, a bug. By far the most important information you can provide in a bug report are clear reproduction ...


Changing Our Development Process

This is a post about change management at a start-up.

Kaggle, at just under 20 people, is an interesting size because we are right on the cusp of being able to wing it in terms of process and communication, and needing more formal processes to make sure changes and plans ...


Getting Started with Pandas - Predicting SAT Scores for New York City Schools

This tutorial will get you started with Pandas - a data analysis library for Python that is great for data preparation, joining, and ultimately generating well-formed, tabular data that's easy to use in a variety of visualization tools or (as we will see here) machine learning applications. This tutorial assumes a solid understanding of core Python functionality, but nothing about machine learning or Pandas.


Entering Kaggle Competitions with Google Predict

BigML had a great series of posts over the summer pitting some prediction-as-a-service products against each other. One of those was the Google Predict API. I thought it might be fun to enter a Kaggle competition using the API and see how it did against some of the world's ...


Extensible, Single-Line Fizzbuzz in a Tweet

Yep, it's a fizzbuzz blog post! I can hardly believe I've gone this long without ever doing one.

I was thinking about hiring and what I would do if someone asked me fizzbuzz, and I think I would have used it as an opportunity to show off some ...


Rapidly Saving .jpgs in Photoshop

Cliffs notes: Now, whenever I hit F2 in Photoshop, I get a high quality jpg of my file saved to the same directory. No more "File->Save As" nonsense every time I want a static version of the image.

What/how/why: I was working on some product mock-ups this ...


Engineering Practices in Data Science

Josh Wills wrote this excellent, pithy definition of a data scientist:

Data Scientists (n.): Person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician.

It's certainly true that software engineering and data science are two different disciplines, and for good reason ...


Getting Started With Python for Data Science

As the product manager at Kaggle I'm fortunate enough to hang around with some of the world's top machine learning experts. And working at a place that specializes in running predictive modelling competitions means that I inevitably got the itch to learn some of this stuff myself.

I ...


Tale of the Tape (The Indentation Apocalypse)

BRUCE "Emacs" BUFFER:: Now entering the Kill Ring in the blue trunks, with a reach of approximately three-quarters of an inch, hailing from the 9th spot in the ASCII table, it's TAAAABBBBBB!

BRUCE "Emacs" BUFFER: In the opposite corner, wearing white, you know him well, don't-call-him-32-he-prefers-hexidecimal-number-20...it's ...


Four Fun Facts From Big Data
  1. The credit card industry's term of art for false positives in fraud detection is "insult rate". If you've ever swiped your card at a shop and had it declined, you understand why.

  2. A large auto insurance company has discovered that if a household owns two identical cars (same ...


A Very Painful Bug

I'll lead off this post by listing all of the various things I thought might have caused this bug, and related phrases that I Googled in the hopes that it will lead some poor soul chasing the same issue to this post, thus shaving 2-3 points off that person ...


Juggernaut in Windows

Note: This is an old post, and no longer relevant as Juggernaut is no longer a thing. Just use socket.io directly.

I've fallen in love with Juggernaut.

Juggernaut gives you a realtime connection between your servers and client browsers. You can literally push data to clients using your ...


Communicating Performance Thresholds

I think visually, so here's a way I like to communicate performance thresholds. There are a bunch of dimensions that might make an application behave differently. Test against those dimensions and plot the thresholds of each one. Here are some that I made up, for a theoretical application.