Cover art for podcast This Old App

This Old App

121 EpisodesProduced by CTO ThinkWebsite

A podcast about learning, coding, smashing stuff together, breaking things apart, startups, failing, winning, and any other buzzwords we can think of.

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BLM, White Privilege, Accountability, Guilt, Responsibilities, and Helping

June 9th, 2020


The world feels like a different place from just a couple weeks ago, but it's not. The United States is still in the same place it has been for a long time, if you're a minority. Randy and Don discuss the Black Lives …

From Manager/Dev to Non-coding Manager

May 19th, 2020


Right before the COVID pandemic hit, Randy was asked to take on the management of two new teams, which changed his typical role of manager-developer …

Big Ideas Getting Planned, Part 2

May 12th, 2020


Don and Randy continue their discussion about the business plans in the Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition, this time about the best entries and how the competition played out. Coconuts!

Big Ideas Getting Planned, Part 1

May 5th, 2020


Don brings in a few examples from an upcoming Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition in which he's playing the role of a judge. We discuss the …

Difficult Choices and Hard Conversations

March 31st, 2020


Don and Randy talk about what's been going on with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected their firms, jobs, and side projects. What does it …

Growing Up and Losing the Fun Parts of App Development

March 3rd, 2020


Don asked Randy about what he's working on, lately, and Randy exclaimed, "nothing fun," which actually turns out not to be true. Randy details the additional mix of people, communication, and risk management around …

Improving Visual Communication for Remote Management

February 25th, 2020


Randy is making efforts to improve the communication of visual examples via remote video meetings. We discuss his first attempt to achieve online whiteboarding using a Macbook Pro, a Wacom One tablet, and a Google …

Security Concerns Keep Coming

February 11th, 2020


In Don's role as CTO for AspirEDU, he has a number of security audits posed by potential customers and increasing complexity around third-party …

Proposed Project Approach and the Wonders of Sous Vide Cooking

January 28th, 2020


Randy pitches to Don an approach for a CMS project and then rifs on the cool new toy he recently purchased for the kitchen: A sous vide cooking …

Viable or crap? Discussing Blockchain, VR, Autonomous Cars, and Drone Delivery

January 21st, 2020


This week we take a look at the state of a few hyped technologies and see where they really are in terms of usefulness, adoption, and long-term …

Modern Content Management Options

January 7th, 2020


Don and Randy discuss content management options from the old-school Full Stack apps, WYSIWYG SaaS, and Headless + Static Site Generator options

A Deeper Dive into Building Power Apps

December 31st, 2019


Don takes Randy along for the ride of his latest applications using Microsoft's Power App platform. They discuss building an application that uses Twilio, Trello, Flow, Power Apps, OneDrive, Adaptive Cards, and …

Automation vs Programming

December 17th, 2019


Don describes his work on moving his company to Microsoft and his use of Power Apps. This leads to a discussion of the automation vs programming strategies and how this might be the future for all non-coding employment.

Headless CMS + Static Site Generators

December 10th, 2019


Randy's been approached, both at his job and from an external firm, about the need for a CMS. The old stalwarts of Wordpress and Drupal don't seem to …

Twilio Segments, Pricing, and Proxy

November 19th, 2019


Randy has been working on Twilio a bit since the team last worked on the Chasms project and updates Don on some of the interesting features Twilio has brought to market. In addition, they discuss a few gotchas about SMS …

Switching to Services

November 12th, 2019


Randy is part of a team focused on building a Service Oriented Architecture with Go. Don figures out he has always been using services, but the SOA …

Power Apps for the People

November 5th, 2019


Don has been hearing Randy tell him to quit coding so much and finally does something about it: He decides to build an app without writing a line of code (but not delegating it to someone else) by using Microsoft's …

Is Accessibility a Worthwhile Focus?

October 29th, 2019


Domino's Pizza recently lost a lawsuit regarding the lack of accessibility features for their online ordering platform. Don and Randy discuss the ramifications of the decision and whether accessibility is worth the time …

A Front-End Dev That Can't Build a Website?

October 15th, 2019


Chris Coyier recently posted a tweet regarding a front-end developer he knew that "could not build a website." Is this strange? Shouldn't every …

How Should a CTO Use Their Time?

October 1st, 2019


When a CTO is juggling multiple responsibilities, people, and projects, what is the best use of their time? Randy, once again, tells Don to put down …

Clean Code is Covered in Caca

September 24th, 2019


This week, we shall rant! The term "Clean Code" is a vague and irresponsible phrase to use regarding programming and Randy will have nothing of it. It's time Uncle Bob's cute money-making catch phrase was put to pasture.

Organizational Train Wrecks explained by College Football Dumpster Fires

September 10th, 2019


In honor of the second week of the college football season, Randy and Don discuss three programs, UCLA, Tennessee, and FSU, falling into disaster …

Using a Framework Before Mastering the Language

August 27th, 2019


Following a tweet from Ben Hong @bencodezen about whether people need to master JavaScript before using a framework, Don and Randy discuss how they …

Should Startups Avoid Hiring a CTO?

August 20th, 2019


A recent blog post by Philip Thomas of Moonlight titled "Startups Should Not Hire a CTO" sparked a conversation about why blanket statements like …

Developers, Ageing, Naps, and What Are We Talking About, Again?

August 13th, 2019


Don and Randy discuss the changes that ageing has on their development skills and focus, how to combat it (or adapt to it), and stay somewhat off the …

Authentication: Buy it or Build it?

August 6th, 2019


With hacking stories dropping on a seemingly daily basis, the question keeps coming up about application security: Should you build your own user …

Breaking down bootcamps

July 30th, 2019


Randy reacts to a Tweetstorm about Lambda School using his former experiences as a bootcamp teacher to add some perspective

Getting going with Go!

July 23rd, 2019


Randy starts his new position and Go (or Golang) is one of the main languages used there. He reviews what he's learned so far and what's ahead.

2x CTOs talk about 10x developers

July 16th, 2019


In reaction to a Twitterstorm about the concept of a 10x engineer being important for any startup, we discuss the downfalls of such a thing and what positives exist.

Post-mortem on Randy's Job Search

July 9th, 2019


Randy is about to start a new job and has a number of opinions about the job search, hiring, negotiation process he recently went through. Don tries to play Devil's Advocate as the employer/hiring side, but Randy's not …

Using Cypress for Integration Testing

June 25th, 2019


Randy and Megan recently worked on a Single Page App and Megan learned how to use Cypress for integration/acceptance testing. Don and Randy discuss …

Ditching Wordpress vs Free-time Driven Development

June 18th, 2019


The show begins discussing setting up a product roadmap for AspirEdu, but things devolve when Don mentions he is considering swapping Wordpress for …

Microsoft Bounces Back: Monopolies, Ballmer Years, and Open Source

June 11th, 2019


Don and Randy discuss the "New Microsoft" and how a change in leadership has led to a completely different experience with one of the largest …

From Hands-on Dev to CTO: Jess Szmajda, CTO of Axios

June 4th, 2019


We have an exceptional guest for our 50th episode in Jess Szmajda, CTO of Axios, and we cover a whole lotta ground:

From building "horrible PHP …

Trying to find a product-market fit

May 28th, 2019


Don and Randy discuss the latest installment of the Chasms app saga. Don heads out to Denver for a sales conference loaded with potential customers of the Chasms text-to-chat system, but finds no takers. Further …

Stages of the CTO Lifecycle

May 21st, 2019


This week we review an old, but good, blog post by Andy Skipper named "Looking at the life of the CTO through the stages." We discuss our own …

Testing with Node and JavaScript (Finally!)

May 14th, 2019


After years of testing with Ruby on Rails and rspec, Randy never had quite the flow with testing on the JavaScript and Node side of things... until now. We discuss the value of testing with Node, Express, and in the …

Benefits of Continuous Integration

May 7th, 2019


Over the past two decades of working in tech, the use of Continuous Integration (or CI) has become a mainstream approach to product development. Randy and Don discuss the systems they used before (or lack thereof), what …

Managed Hosting Rocks! WPEngine, Pantheon, and Heroku

April 30th, 2019


Randy is working with a client that uses Pantheon for Drupal hosting and he loves the tools. After spending a good decade using cPanel on cheap …

Business Metrics and the Lack of Context

April 23rd, 2019


We discuss business metrics, reporting, statistics, and how many of the numbers, without context, lack much value. Can your business deliver the Five Nines? Does it even need to? What kind of performance can you …

Typescript Pain. Is there any Gain?

April 16th, 2019


Randy is diving back into the Chasms backend using Firebase Functions, which is written (by him) in Typescript. We discuss the ins and outs as to why Typescript was chosen, some pain points that cropped up along the …

Writing a Job Description for a Non-specific Job

April 9th, 2019


Don's firm is looking to hire a non-senior Python developer to help spread the workload of the engineering team. We discuss how he's writing up the …

Document Datastores and Many-to-Many Relationships

April 2nd, 2019


While continuing work on the Chasms app, Randy asks Don for his two cents on an approach to solving a document datastore (firestore) schema involving …

Customer Perspectives and Managing Expectations

March 26th, 2019


A customer claims the service provided didn't meet expectations despite them choosing the more “economical” solution. Another client’s manager felt a …

Building an App (and Learning) with Vue.js

March 19th, 2019


Randy has started working on the Chasms project again, and after the previous episode with David Rogers, he chose to use (and learn) Vue.js to get it started. Don and Randy discuss the various libraries being used to …

Hiring Good Consultants

March 12th, 2019


This week we talk about how we’ve hired consultants in the past, where we’ve failed, and the perspective of consultants that might help tech leaders …

Just Doing It Yourself Because of Liam Neeson

March 5th, 2019


As a continuation to a previous episode, Don discusses why he's going to roll up his sleeves and handle a data-gathering project himself. He attempts …


February 26th, 2019


This week we discuss the various C-Level titles in the tech world: CTO vs CIO vs CDO vs others. What do folks with those titles tend to do and do the …

Switching Frameworks to Vue.js with David Rogers

February 19th, 2019


We interview David Rogers (a.k.a Al-the-X) about his career path among the front-end frameworks and his latest roles for firms switching from Angular …

When a Third-Party Service Fails

February 12th, 2019


Don's company ran into problems when their email provider, Mandrill, suffered a significant outage. Randy and Don discuss how they handle outages, prepare for switching to other providers (before or after failures), and …

Learning JavaScript and Accessibility with Megan Schemmel

February 5th, 2019


Don follows-up with previous guest Megan Schemmel, who is learning how to be a full-stack web developer. They talk about how she went from being a …

Pushing Your Team and Self to the Limits

January 29th, 2019


Following up on another Elon Musk communication, we discuss the side effects of working too many hours, burning out, and how you might be guilty of …

Products are Fun, Promotion is Not, and Preventing Perfectionism

January 22nd, 2019


We begin talking about the career aspirations of sports officiants (tennis gigs) and upcoming technology projects Don wants to tackle, but it slowly …

Setting Goals for your Team

January 15th, 2019


Don is setting up goals for AspirEdu for 2019, which takes us into a discussion about how to set up big projects and campaigns for small firms that have lots of small tasks to get done at the same time. How do you get …

Discussing Firebase Authentication

January 8th, 2019


Randy has a possible conference presentation coming up in the next few weeks, so he gets Don to listen to the outline and poke some holes in the …

Brainstorming the Tech, Managed meetup

December 31st, 2018


As we move into 2019, Randy and Don discuss a new meetup concept they aim to create called Tech, Managed. With goals to build upon the growth of the CTO Think and This Old App audience, the Tech, Managed meetup will …

Follow-up with Mark on Flutter,, and Family

December 27th, 2018


About a year has passed since we last spoke to Mark Thompson about his journey through a solo developer application build for using …

Kubernetes Exploits, Bernie Madoff, and Minimal Skepticism

December 18th, 2018


Don and Randy discuss a recent exploit that came to light in the Kubernetes container framework that seemed to fade off as a widespread concern. This leads to a discussion about how much diligence is required by …

Viability of a Watch App Concept

December 11th, 2018


Don has an idea for a building a watch app to service American football referees and discusses with Randy whether the concept is viable for a build. …

Review of the State of JS Survey

December 4th, 2018


How is Angular doing vs React and Vue? What are the most used and growing back-end JavaScript frameworks. Which strongly-typed flavor of JavaScript …

Crossover Episode - The World vs React (Nuff Said)

November 20th, 2018


The previous two episodes of our sister podcast, This Old App, discussed the rapid development of React and its possible side effects on the development community. For this CTO Think episode, we run our first …

React-ions and Corrections to Last Week

November 20th, 2018


Last week's episode about the speed of React development either struck a nerve, had enough keywords for a Google SEO explosion, or involved a …

Is React the Popular Kid in School?

November 13th, 2018


During Randy's interviewing stint, he spoke to a good number of firms that had needs for different stacks, but one particular framework stood out: …

Should We Open Source This Code?

November 7th, 2018


Don and his company, AspirEDU, decided to open source a small bit of code for the first time for the Django community. We discuss the various considerations--across proprietary, support, and licensing questions--the …

Chipping Away at Project Blockers

October 30th, 2018


Don continues to work on his Azure-backed PDF processing application and describes his process to fix a number of blockers. After making progress, Randy asks him about widget pipeline options, like IFTTT and Zapier, and …

Adventures in Interviewing

October 23rd, 2018


Randy is moving to Kansas City and exploring new job opportunities both local and remote, which has him in the thick of a variety of interviewing processes. Don and Randy discuss the good and bad about some of the …

Debugging Azure with Ego Driven Development

October 16th, 2018


In another effort to prevent Don and Randy from working on the same stack, Don wanders off into Microsoft land to build a web app on Azure, and promptly runs into trouble. Through a little troubleshooting, they figure …

Thinking About Smart Homes

October 9th, 2018


After a two-week break, we return to discuss how Randy's buying a house and is thinking about all the new tech and gadgets he can add to it. We discuss home automation, the unnecessary features added to some appliances, …

Build vs Buy and Disrupting Processes

October 9th, 2018


We're back after a couple-week break! Don and Randy discuss the ever-debated strategy of building versus buying your software solutions. But they up …

To Test or Not to Test?

September 18th, 2018


Do you practice test-driven development or feel left out of the "cool-kids" club of folks that swear testing is a necessity to develop quality code? …

Handling Critical Feature Updates

September 11th, 2018


Don's firm recently underwent its first major platform upgrade and we discuss the various ways they prepared, tested, and worked through the changes, all the way up to the dreaded "point of no return."

What to Use for Mobile Development?

August 28th, 2018


We discuss the state of development around iPhone and Android development, mainly with using non-native code bases. Randy makes valid complaints about Apple. Don wonders why he isn't allowed to complain about Apple. The …

Elon Musk and Leading Your Team to Burnout

August 21st, 2018


Pulled from the media, Don and Randy discuss Elon Musk's interview regarding the personal toll that his attempt to run three companies, perhaps …

Debating (Angrily) the Responsibility of Cross-platform Support

August 14th, 2018


Don runs into a problem with a podcast app as he launches a new podcast of his own, Friday Night Stripes, and wants to deploy his show on Overcast. The issue? Don is not an iOS user and cannot find a way to sign into …

Grab Bag - GraphQL vs REST, Websockets, Uber Fusion, Redux Sux, and Firestore Search

August 7th, 2018


Don and Randy get back from a couple weeks of trips and projects and discuss a grab-bag of subjects of things they've worked on or learned.

Betting on Vue JS with Gregg Pollack

August 1st, 2018


Covering everything from Rails for Zombies to Code School to Vue Mastery, we talk with one of the original online tutorial creators, Gregg Pollack, …

Returning to Game Development with Renee Lahoff

July 24th, 2018


We speak with Renee Lahoff, content editor for Moms Can: Code, who began a career years ago as a game developer, left the industry to start a family, …

When People Don't Listen to You

July 17th, 2018


We discuss the inevitable issue of bosses, owners, managers, and clients not listening to every bit of advice we offer up. From ignoring the …

Benefits of Coding While Streaming with Jesse Weigel

July 10th, 2018


Jesse Weigel talks about being a self-taught developer, how he got started live-streaming his code on FreeCodeCamp and YouTube, and how creating a coding community makes him a better developer.

When Everything's Going Wrong

July 3rd, 2018


How do you get things back on track when everything from the engine to the caboose is falling off? We discuss steps to take when everything and anything is spiraling downward on a tech project.

Moms Can: Code with Bekah Hawrot Weigel

June 26th, 2018


After giving birth to her fourth child, and suffering a serious medical issue in the process, Bekah Hawrot Weigel coped by finding a new path in life as a software developer. We talk about how she joined Moms Can: Code, …

Stakeholder Types and Working With Them

June 26th, 2018


We discuss the various types of stakeholders that a technology leader may need to deal as being part of a company or a particular product. We discuss …

Callbacks! and Promises! and Awaits! Oh My!

June 19th, 2018


We discuss the asynchronous nature of JavaScript, the old-person method of callbacks, the evolution to Promises, and then the shiny new car of …

Relational vs Document DBs

June 12th, 2018


We yell at document datastores to get off our lawns! We talk about the joys of SQL and 50-year-old relational databases we grew up with, trying to …

Thinking About Dependencies

June 12th, 2018


What are the considerations do you need to make regarding third-party services and software? We talk about relying on Github after the Microsoft purchase, using AWS or Firebase, and the world of JavaScript, Node, and …

Project Chasms - Part 3, Prototype Feedback and The Bug

June 5th, 2018


We discuss our prototype of Chasms as it's used in the wild, successfully supporting a real business.

Learning as a Cultural Component with Griffin Caprio

June 5th, 2018


We speak with Griffin Caprio of Dante32 about his experiences building trust and psychological safety, accepting failure in a positive way, and …

Appraising Alexa (and other voice interfaces)

May 29th, 2018


We talk about Alexa development, the strong developer ecosystem Amazon is investing for it, some of the privacy problems it's facing, and a few quips about Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even Samsung.

GDPR Pain and Projects Outside Your Expertise

May 29th, 2018


We lament about the recent GDPR hullabaloo, our initial reactions to the new regulations, and how we approach projects that we don't have any …

Finding Firebase

May 22nd, 2018


We talk about Firebase as a new backend tool for a few projects we're working on and cover many of its features, what is weird about it, and why this …

Compassionate Coding with April Wensel

May 22nd, 2018


April Wensel started a company named Compassionate Coding, which aims to "humanize the tech industry." We discuss why she started the firm and how she goes about making the tech industry a better place to work. We also …

Project Chasms - Part 2, Debugging and Brainstorming

May 15th, 2018


In another installment related to the Chasms app, we discuss errors with the prototype, finding the right balance of customer/product fit, and the need to brainstorm without adding requirements to the ideas.

Meetings, Schmeetings

May 15th, 2018


We talk about meetings, the negative vibe the tech industry has taken against them, how to best run meetings, or finding ways to communicate without wasting so much time.

Project Chasms - Part 1, Getting Started

May 8th, 2018


Listen as Don and Randy begin a new side project together from problem/solution explanation, planning, and build approach. We aim to reduce the …

Why do we podcast (and other projects)?

May 1st, 2018


People (and ourselves) have been asking: Why are you all doing this? What is motivating you to podcast? In this episode, we discuss our motivations …

Social Media Side-Effects

May 1st, 2018


Would you hire Kanye West if he was a great programmer, despite his social media presence? This week, we talk about social media quality control, …

Networking for Introverts

April 24th, 2018


Having a strong network makes for a huge advantage for career opportunities and learning how to lead. We discuss how to push past shyness and introverted tendencies to grow your own network of relationships.

The 30-Day Deadline of Failure and Follow-Through

April 24th, 2018


Mark Thompson gave himself a tough 30-day deadline to build and launch the first version of his app, Setting a goal gave him tremendous motivation, but also served him with a strong dose of feeling …

Learning and Shipping with Flutter

April 17th, 2018


Mark Thompson discusses his learning and launching a native app using Flutter, a new cross-platform framework developed by Google.

Choosing a Tech Stack

April 17th, 2018


There are a lot of factors tech managers need to consider when inheriting or choosing a technology stack. We talk about how we chose specific stacks …

Identity Heft

April 10th, 2018


With hacking, data security, and privacy as huge issues in the press, we discuss how we approach identity management on both products and across our teams.

Learning CSS Grid

April 9th, 2018


We have a guest, Megan Schemmel, discuss her new career as a developer, learning Wordpress, and taking on the new Grid functionality of CSS

Learning JavaScript (Better)

April 8th, 2018


Don and Randy discuss the steps we've taken to better learn JavaScript, Node.js, React, and React Native. A whole lotta videos and pain.

The Intro!

April 6th, 2018


Randy and Don introduce our new, loose-form podcast, and talk about how it contrasts with our more formal, parent podcast, CTO Think.

Don't Be Evil-ish?

April 3rd, 2018


Where do you draw the line on ethics? How do you take a stand when you want to keep your job? This week, we discuss ethical behavior and the responsibility people have regarding it.

Non-Disclosures, Non-Competes, No Way?

March 27th, 2018


Should you sign non-compete or non-disclosure agreements? Are these kinds of contracts binding? Are they even useful for your business? We discuss …

You're so vain, you think in-office work is about you

March 20th, 2018


We discuss our history with in-office and remote work, why junior devs might reconsider working outside the office, and how requiring folks to work …

Fostering a learning environment with Mark Thompson of Trilogy

March 14th, 2018


We speak with our first guest, Mark Thompson of Trilogy Education, about his approach to creating a productive learning environment both on the job and in a classroom setting. Mark is also working on a side project …

Communicating on a roller coaster of uptime and downtime

March 7th, 2018


Randy and Don found themselves stranded, mid-ride on the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. Following their rescue, …

Are code challenges a lazy or legitimate method for hiring developers?

February 25th, 2018


Are code challenges or quizzes a legitimate practice for hiring developers? We debate whether the method of filtering candidates via whiteboarding or code games is plain lazy or a necessary part of the recruiting …

Skills for a career in tech leadership

February 18th, 2018


If a junior developer is looking at the fork in a technology career path of software engineering or management, what kinds of skills do they need for …

Developer focus is an excuse not to talk, right?

February 10th, 2018


Is the call for "developer focus" a selfish complaint from precious snowflake employees? What right do developers have to ruin the design trend of …

Your hosting strategy - Choosing from self, managed, cloud, or serverless

February 3rd, 2018


How do you choose the best hosting options for your product or firm? This week, we discuss the thinking in a choice between self-hosting, managed hosting, cloud options, and the new buzz word: "serverless".

Work-life balance

January 27th, 2018


We discuss the importance of a work-life or non-tech balance for someone building a career in technology. Do folks need to set aside a specific …

Does a tech manager need to code to be effective?

January 18th, 2018


Randy is a CTO that codes almost daily. Don has found it difficult to string together multiple days where he's able to code for his current roles. …

Antifragile and TDD - What's the value?

January 12th, 2018


Don brings up the subject of chaos, based on a book he's been reading, Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. We discuss the merits of test driven …

Risk and Exploits - Dealing with Meltdown and Spectre

January 5th, 2018


Randy and Don discuss an item ripped from the headlines: What should a technical manager do about the recent Meltdown and Spectre exploits? They move …

Managing tech debt - When best to work on it?

January 2nd, 2018


Don faced an issue at his education tech firm: When should you slow down forward progress on new features in order to spend time on festering …

Hiring developers - Who should I hire to build an app?

December 28th, 2017


Randy was posed a question by a potential client: "I want to build an app. Who should I hire?" and he asks the same question to Don.

Introducing CTO Think

December 23rd, 2017


Welcome to CTO Think, a podcast about how technology leaders think about business, tech, and people problems. Don VanDemark and Randy Burgess, two …

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