Mentorship Matters

I did a talk on Coder Cruise last year called Mentorship Matters. It’s called that because I truly believe that mentorship matters and the talk is about the matters of mentorship. The agenda for the talk is:

  • How mentors have shaped me
  • How to pick and approach a mentor
  • How to be a good mentor

The original abstract for the talk is as follows:

In this, ever challenging world, having a strong set of mentors is key to your success. Building on the experiences and knowledge of others is the only way to even catch up, much less get ahead. And you need to think beyond career management and think about technical, personal growth, growing your network and all sorts of dimensions as you are thinking about mentors.
Secondly, mentoring someone else can be the most rewarding experience in your life. When should you take on mentees? What are the questions that you need to be asking them? How much of your time should you give up? And so on…
In this talk, we’ll dive into why you need mentors, how to select mentors, how to approach them and how to work with them with case studies from real life. Then we’ll dive into the other side of the coin and how you should work with others when approached to be a mentor.

I hope you enjoy the talk and I’m looking forward to your comments!

Resume Tips – What do you call yourself in your resume?

What you call yourself in your resume is important. At a high level, make sure that you’re using standardized titles as that helps the recruiter and the hiring manager align your experience with what they are looking for. Far more content in the video.

My YouTube channel is at

As always, my caveat is that I’m not in HR or a professional recruiter, I’m just a manager who has read a lot of resumes. These are just my thoughts…

Resume Tip – Check your links

Everything you put on your resume is fair game. The things that you link to become extensions of your resume. In today’s resume tip, I talk about two categories of things to think about.

  1. Check your links to make sure that they go to where you think they go.
  2. Ensure that the content at the end of that link reflects you personally and professionally in the way that you want to present to the potential employeer.

The YouTube Channel is

As always, I’m in HR and I’m not a professional recruiter. I’m just a manager who has read a lot of resumes.

Resume Tip – Fit and Finish

Fit and Finish means looking after all the little details. I’ve got three categories of fit and finish that I talk about in today’s resume tip.

Feel free to subscribe to the Youtube Channel Directly –

My big caveat with this series is that I’m not in HR, I’m not a professional recruiter, I’m just a manager who has read a bunch of resumes. The tips are my perspective on things.

Resume Tip – Above the Fold

In today’s resume tip, I talk about the importance of an old concept on your resume. That old concept is “Above the Fold”. The short version, don’t make the person reading your resume go hunt for the reason to hire you.

My big caveat with this series is that I’m not in HR, I’m not a professional recruiter, I’m just a manager who has read a bunch of resumes. The tips are my perspective on things.

Resume Tip – Tell me what you did

I’m starting a little Youtube series on resume tips. Over the past handful of months, I’ve read close to a thousand resumes and there are some things that really make a resume stand out, good and bad, to me. I’ll be covering these in small bite sized chunks. My goal is one a day. Help hold me to that… 🙂

My first tip is about telling me what you did, not what you were responsible for.

I don’t really care what work people assigned you. I care about the work that you drove and the things that you accomplished. That gives me a far more interesting look into your past.

My big caveat with this series is that I’m not in HR, I’m not a professional recruiter, I’m just a manager who has read a bunch of resumes. The tips are my perspective on things.

Online Conference Chat

I’ve attended a few online conferences recently and one of the most important features, the group chat, is arguably the least functional of the features of the web infrastructure. The reason I attend conferences rather than just watching content on Youtube is the interaction with the rest of the audience. Since we can’t do that in person these days, the group chat in the conference is often the closest thing and I’ve not seen an online conference that does this well yet. That’s not a fault of the conference, it’s that there’s not a group chat that is actually built for conferences that I’ve seen yet.

I’ve spent some time researching this feature set and haven’t found anything that actually does what I believe that a conference chat should do. There are some things that are close but nothing that I’ve seen that actually fulfills all the requirements.

I’m posting here on my blog because I would love input, argument, additions to, … the features that I think are important and if there is a viable solution in the market at the moment. If there is, fantastic. Otherwise, I might start a project to fill this niche in the community. More on the possible project at the end.

  • As a conference organizer, I want to easily embed a seamless chat experience into my conference website
  • As an attendee, I want to be able to comment to the other attendees of the conference in the large group chat
  • As an attendee, I want to have the chat switch to a track specific chat when I’m watching a specific chat
  • As an attendee, I want the ability to declare a “hallway discussion topic” and invite have other attendees join me in that side conversation and have that hallway discussion close once people have left.
  • As a conference organizer, I want the ability to easily spot issues and moderate content, both in an automated fashion and manual fashion, in all those forums
    • Auto-moderation around words, phrases, …
    • Turn on and off links and other such features
    • Ability to boot and ban attendees if needed
  • As a conference organizer, I want to be able to pin an important message to the top of the chat
  • As an attendee, I want to log into the conference web site and have that log into all parts of the website including the chat
    • This one is tough because all kinds of authentication could be happening and we’d need to figure out what the min set of authentication schemes we’d need to support. And likely make this very modular so that it’s easy enough to add another scheme later.
  • As a conference organizer, I need to be able to control all the data to adhere to privacy laws in various geos
  • As a speaker, I’d like to be able to run simple polls in the chat during my talk
  • As an attendee, I would like the navigation at least localized in my preferred language
  • As an attendee, I would like to have the content of the chat translated to my preferred language
  • As a conference organizer, I want the chat to be brandable with conference coloring and logos

I’m sure that there are other features that are important and I’d love it people could suggest them here until such point as we get a github repo going and we can just put things in issues there. I’m holding off on the github repo at the moment though as I’d love to find an existing solution to the features above.

So far, there’s a bunch of things that do subsets of these features but they are typically company chats, not conference chats, that we are trying to bend to our use case but they definitely don’t actually do everything we need as conference organizers and attendees. I’m not going to drain all of these options such as Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, … as it does them a disservice. They are awesome products but not purpose built for conferences.

I’d LOVE for this to be a solved problem. 🙂

What I’m thinking about doing is starting with Kiwi IRC. It has a ton of the right functionality already so a large part of the heavy lifting would be creating UI around the existing features to make it easily usable for people who are not intimately knowledgeable with IRC.

  • The backend is node.js and flat files so it’s not expensive to run, fairly easy to deploy and will run on whatever server the conference is already hosting their conference website on. This gives the conference the control over the data that they need.
  • It already has the main chat obviously.
  • It’s easy and programmatic to add additional topics which is how we do tracks.
  • It’s got a fair amount of moderation tools built in already.
  • It has an embeddable web client already.
  • It is already localized into a large number of languages.
  • It already has theming support.
  • It does not integrate into your authentication scheme easily
  • While you can have multiple tracks, we’d have to add UI to make it really simple, through the embedded front end, to add a hallway track and be able to navigate back when done.
  • Some investigation would be needed into automated moderation
  • I don’t believe you can do polls at the moment
  • bonus is that anyone could connect to it with their favorite IRC client and interact that way rather than through the website if that’s desired.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this and would love some thoughts and opinions.

Also, feel free to tell me that while this is not a solved issue, that I’m the only one stressing about it so I should move on. 🙂

Looking forward to the discussion.

Seattle GiveCamp 2019

The Seattle GiveCamp Crew 2019

We just wrapped the Seattle GiveCamp 2019. If you’ve never heard of GiveCamp, make sure to check out The short version is that we get a number of non-profits with technical needs and a number of willing technical volunteers to come help them with those technical needs – lots more detail below.

Josh Holmes presenting at Seattle GiveCamp

I’ve been involved in the Ann Arbor GiveCamp back when we were really early on in figuring out the process. Chris Koenig got this movement started in Dallas. I got involved when Jennifer Marsman and Michael Eaton ran one in Ann Arbor. I feel in love with the movement and have been involved a ton. Two years ago, while at a conference and giving a talk about building community, I talked heavily about GiveCamp and the Seattle GiveCamp leads, Paul Litwin and Suzanna Litwin, came up to me and asked me if I’d like to get involved in the Seattle GiveCamp. Of course I said yes and have helped with the last two.

This year has been a fantastic labor of love. We had 10 non-profits this year:

  • Cancer Pathways — provides support to those affected by cancer. They run an annual contest for teens to write about how cancer affected them. They had just a folder of PDFs which we helped to organize better, convert to HTML, allow for search and much more over the past 13 years worth of contest articles. You can see that work live now at –
  • Freedom Project — supports healing connection and restorative communities both inside and outside prison through the strategies of Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness, racial equity and anti-oppression. As their non-profit rep said, the website looked like an encyclopedia with lots of walls of text. They needed a redesign that embodied their culture and mission. You can see that live now at
  • Friendship Adventures — is dedicated to enriching the lives of people with developmental disabilities by providing social, recreational and educational activities in a safe, engaging environment—building interpersonal skills, confidence and lifelong friendships one smile at a time. I have a special connection to this one as my daughter Maura is likely to become a member as she approaches her adulthood. They were doing the registration of all 1500+ of their members by hand on paper. They desperately needed way to do this all electronically. You can see the form that we created for them live now under Yearly Registration Form – Freedom Adventures GiveCamp Team
  • iD.A.Y.dream — inspires youth to daydream out loud. They needed a website that would embody their mission and have automation around email lists and more. Deeper than that, we had a fantastic designer on the project who helped them produce a complete brand language including colors, fonts, logos, … You can see that live now at
  • Neurological Vocational Services Unit — helps people with neurological conditions gain independence one person, one job, at a time. This non-profit was a repeat customer of the Seattle GiveCamp. They had build a website with us many years ago but as tech moves on, the template that had been used was no longer supported by the latest versions of WordPress. Take a pause and realize that they were actually updating their WordPress install themselves – I love that. They needed a refresh on the site and a new theme that would be compatible with the new versions of WordPress. You can see that live now at
  • PeaceTrees Vietnam — heals the legacy of war by removing dangerous explosives, returning land to safe use, promoting peace and cultivating a brighter future for the children and families of Vietnam. It’s amazing, they will turn a landmine filled field into a park, school, library, … They needed an interactive map that can show their projects all over Vietnam so that they could show their impact for their donors so that they can get funding to accomplish even more. We built that complete with an admin portal that can edit the points. It’s not quite live at the time of writing here but it’s coming soon. Peace Trees Vietnam GiveCamp Team.
  • Roots Young Adult Shelter — builds community and fosters dignity through access to essential services and a safe place to sleep for young adults experiencing homelessness. Their site was unwieldy and complicated to manage. We helped them rebuild their website so that it was far more accessible to their audience and manageable by their staff. You can see that’s live now at
  • Special Bunny Rabbit Rescue — is a Seattle-area house rabbit rescue. Bunnies are the number three most adopted pet and the number one abandoned. Special Bunny Rabbit Rescue rescues these rabbits and helps those who have special needs bunnies. They had an overly complicated to navigate and maintain website which we helped them redesign and rebuild. They are live now at Gil the Bunny
  • Street Youth Ministries — provides youth in Seattle’s University District with life-skills, resources, and relationships that bring hope and healing to their lives and the community. This is another repeat customer to GiveCamp. Last year, we helped them build their light weight CRM so to speak. They have a highly customized use case and which only used about 5% of the functionality of a traditional CRM but required at least that much custom work. This year, we helped them implement new functionality and bug fixed a few things from last year. That’s an internal tool that they’ve already rolled out to their staff.
  • Transplant House — provides thoughtful and clean spaces for transplant patients and their families, a home away from home so to speak. They had been doing the hoteling for all of their rooms manually with a lot of excel spreadsheets. We built them a workflow that helps them manage that on the back end of their website complete with reports and more. Transplant House GiveCamp Team

We helped a lot of people this weekend. As always, it was an incredibly rewarding and incredibly exhausting experience.

Paul and Suzanna have been running the Seattle GiveCamp for the last 9 years and have decided to step back a little. They will still be involved but not running things next year. They have asked me to lead next year and I’ve said yes.

Looking forward to next year’s Seattle GiveCamp! It will be Oct 23-25, 2020.

If you are or know of a non-profit in the Seattle Area, have them sign up for notification when we have the call for non-profits, have them sign up at

If you would like to volunteer, either as a tech volunteer or as a operational support volunteer, please register to be notified when we open our call for volunteers at

Visiting Ireland

Over the years, I’ve had a ton of folks ask me for tips on visiting Ireland. I lived in Ireland for close to three years and, honestly, still consider it my second home. I’ve spent a ton of time writing people emails and guides and decided that I really need to just publish this on my blog so that I can refer people to it.

Map of Ireland with Points of Interest
Map of Ireland with Points of Interest
I’ve written about quite a few places below but the map linked above has pinpoints to a ton of great places. Enjoy!


Obviously most people start in Dublin as that’s the largest city and there’s a big international airport. Dublin is awesome and has a ton to do.

  • Downtown
    • Grafton Street – amazing walking street with a ton of shops and street performers – especially on the weekends.
    • Book of Kells – Awesome book hand-painted by monks that dates back to 384AD. Contains the 4 gospels from the Bible.
    • National Leprechaun Museum – Ireland has a huge legacy in folklore and this museum tells the stories. It’s amazing…
    • Tidal Flats – One of the things I love in Dublin is walking on or even just looking at the tidal flats. It’s beautiful and goes on and on.
    • Dun Laoghaire Pier – Great place to stop and get an ice cream, walk along the pier or watch the sailboats coming and going.
    • Dalkey Castle – Living museum where the tour guides are dressed in period clothing and give the tour in character. Fantastic peak into the old world…
    • Killiney Beach – Quiet little beach to walk on and collect shells, sea glass, play with dogs…
    • Howth Pier – Lovely pier with sea lions and lots of fresh fish restaurants.
    • O’Connell’s Bar – This is not on the drinking list because you should stop in here and have one of the best fish and chips you’ve ever had…
    • O’Neill’s Pub – Again, not on the drinking list as it’s a great “Carvery”. Go here for lunch and it’ll be worth it…
    • Hairy Lemon – Get the bread pudding.
  • Downtown Drinking… There’s a ton of great pubs but some of my favorites…

Northern Ireland

There’s a ton to see up north and I’ll be adding more as time goes on but here’s some highlights. And yes, I’m conflating some Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland places.

  • Giant’s Causeway – Fantastic views and stories here as there are huge pylons with a very cool octogonal shape. There’s a great legend involving giants and deception and more!
  • Europa Hotel Belfast – The most bombed hotel in all of Europe. It’s actually a beautiful hotel with a great pub.

Western Ireland

  • Cliffs of Moher – Many of the locals will tell you, “Oh yeah, you should go to the cliffs”. What they don’t tell you is that these cliffs are the “Grand Canyon of Ireland”…
  • The Burren – amazing natural place that’s about 30 square miles of limestone and amazement.


  • Quay Street – Pronounced “key” – great walking street with a ton of little pubs, shops, live music and so on…
  • Claddagh Jeweler – The Claddagh ring is a mainstay in Irish traditions and the original was made in Galway at this shop. Very cool little shop.
  • The Pie Maker – Some of the best meat pies that I’ve ever had in my life…


  • The English Market – stunning indoor food court and market.
  • Blarney Castle – Definitely worth visiting. I was terrified that this was going to be way too touristy but it wasn’t. It was awesome. Pro-tip though, the tour busses show up about 9:15 or so. They open earlier than that so get in early. There’s an awesome B&B across the street called The White House.

Other places in Ireland that you should definitely go

I’ll be adding to the list here and categorize these better sometime soon. The ones that ended up in this list are awesome and I love them, they just don’t categorize with the other items geographically.

  • Newgrange – This is where the celtic swirls are first spotted in this manmade structure that pre-dates the pyramids at over 5200 years old.
  • Sean’s Bar – This pub dates back to 900AD in the same location…
  • Kilbeggan Distillery – One of the oldest working distilleries in Ireland. They make some awesome whiskey here including one of my favorites – Connemara Peated Whiskey, the only peated Irish whiskey on the market.
  • Kilkenny Castle – beautiful castle and grounds in a beautiful little village. Oh, and have the Kilkenny Cream Ale in any of the pubs.
  • Knock, Ireland – in 1879, there was an apparition of the Holy Family and the heavens plus a few saints thrown in. They’ve built an amazing set of grounds for the 1.5 million pilgrims that come each year.
  • Derrynane Beach – When God made the world, this is where he put his thumbprint. It’s remote, quiet and absolutely beautiful. And the surfing is great!
  • Fethard On Sea, Wexford – Specifically, you should look at the Hook Lighhouse which is the oldest working lighthouse in the world. It’s sooooo cool.

Wrap up

This is far from complete and I’ll definitely be adding to it but this is a starting list with some descriptions.