Jiu-Jitsu of project management

Ancient olympic wrestling.
Ancient olympic wrestling

About seven months ago, I started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a grappling art founded in Brazil. Immediately after, I began comparing everything to it. My kids started making fun of me: “Everything is Jiu-Jitsu for you, Dada.” And, they were right. If I was reading, I’d say, “I’m grappling with the book.” If I was cooking, I’d say, “I’m Jiu-Jitsuing food.” If my five-year-old daughter asked me to help her cut her food during dinner, I’d say, “Just Jiu-Jitsu it. Pin it down with your fork so it won’t move. Then, cut it.”

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Twenty Thoughts

Yesterday marked our 20th anniversary.

It’s been an awesome ride and we’re grateful for the opportunity to have enjoyed every moment with so many wonderful partners, clients, and colleagues. This weekend, I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes to sit back and reflect on the experiences of the past twenty years as well as the path forward to the next twenty.

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Meet Julie Vo

Julie Vo
Julie Vo

Meet Julie Vo. In this latest post in our interview series, we’d like to introduce you to our own Julie Vo, the newest member of the Infinity family. She is on our Consulting team as a project manager.

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So much #speakerlife!

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to represent Infinity and speak at a number of conferences. Earlier in the year I was doing a much better job of keeping up with writing up my experiences at each conference soon after it happened, but as things got busy over the summer, I got behind. Below the fold, I’ll do a brief recap of each of the five (yes, five!) conferences I’ve spoken at and not yet recapped here.

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Meet Eric Wagoner

Eric Wagoner
Eric Wagoner

In this latest post in our interview series, we’d like to introduce you to our own Eric Wagoner, the magnificent man of many talents. He is one of our senior developers.

Name, Company, Title, City

Eric Wagoner, Infinity Interactive, Senior Developer, Athens Georgia

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Meet Emal Sakwall

Emal Sakwall
Emal Sakwall

Here we are with yet another blog post in our interview series. This time, we'd like to introduce you to one of our consultants, Emal Sakwall.

Name, Company, Title, City

My name is Emal Sakwall. I live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’m a consultant at Infinity, and I’ve also done release management, QA, and project management at Infinity. I have a number of hats and wear them as I need to.

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Meet Toby Deshane

Toby Deshane

Welcome to the latest blog post in our interview series. We’d like to introduce you to our programmer, Toby Deshane.

Name, Company, Title, City

I’m Toby Deshane and I work for Infinity Interactive as a Programmer. I live in Middletown, CT.

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Analyzing a Fantasy

Some of the folks here at Infinity Interactive are avid players of fantasy sports, and this year, they convinced me to join their Fantasy Football league. Two months into the season, what started as a casual game has turned into a trip through a data analytics wonderland as well as what will hopefully be a recurring series of posts here looking at various aspects of the data analysis that I've been doing.

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Meet Tracey Shirley

Image by Emal Sakwall

Welcome to the 10th blog post in our interview series. Let’s pause to mark this occasion and fire up the confetti cannon. We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know our crew. And, while those colorful tiny pieces of paper fill the backdrop, let me introduce you to our own Tracey Shirley.

Meet Tracey. She is compassionate, kind, clear, logical, efficient, and analytic. She keeps projects on track and uncovers software bugs in a way that leaves us all inspired. I know I want to be like her. Read her answers to my questions.

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YAPC::EU Recap

YAPC::EU is Europe's premier event for the Perl programming language. This year the conference was held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, from August 24 through August 28. Infinity sent one of our developers, Sweth Chandramouli, to attend, and we asked him to give a quick recap of his experiences there.

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Meet Rikki Swetzof

Rikki Swetzof
Image by Emal Sakwall

In this blog post in our interview series, I would like to introduce you to Rikki Swetzof. She interned with us during the summer of 2016.

Meet Rikki. She is observant, tenacious, quick to learn, and easy to talk to. Before her internship ended, I had the pleasure of asking her some questions. Please see her answers below.

Name, Company, Title, City

Rikki Swetzof, Infinity Interactive, Intern, Lincoln City, Oregon

When did you first work with Infinity?

I began as an intern in June 2016.

What are six words you think of when you think of Infinity?

Nimble. Knowledgeable. Creative. Well-rounded. Responsive. Helpful.

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Meet Nate Robison

Nate Robison
Image by Emal Sakwall

In this blog post in our interview series, we would like to introduce you to Nate Robison.

Meet Nate. Calm, patient, and smart, he is one of our .NET programmers.

Name, Company, Title, City

Nate, Infinity Interactive, Programmer, Salem OR

When did you first work with Infinity?

I started as an intern during the summer of 2014 and have stuck around ever since!

What are six words you think of when you think of Infinity?

Creative, Unique, Flexible, Fascinating, Perspicacious, Talented

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OpenWest 2016 Recap

OpenWest is “the largest regional tech conference devoted to all things OPEN: Hardware, Standards, Source & Data”. This year the conference was held in Sandy, UT from July 13th to July 16th.

Infinity sent a large contingent of folks to Sandy for the conference, and a number of them have summarized their experiences in this blog post.

Photograph of the front of the OpenWest 2016 venue

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Meet Jay Hannah

Jay Hannah
Image by Brett Brayman

In this blog post in our interview series, we would like to introduce you to our own Jay Hannah.

Meet Jay. He is a traveling man, currently somewhere in North America — we think. He is a programmer and team lead at Infinity.

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Meet Sean Martinez

Sean Martinez
Image by Brett Brayman

In this next blog post in our interview series, we would like to introduce you to our own Sean Martinez.

Meet Sean, a man of many passions. He has ridden his bike in the rain and communed with wolves. He is one of our .NET programmers.

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Meet Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee
Image by Brett Brayman

In the latest post in our interview series, we’re pleased to introduce you to Tommy Lee.

Meet Tommy. He is half of the founding duo of Infinity, a NY Yankees season ticket holder and a sleep-deprived parent of three precocious young girls.

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Women, Technology & Grace

GHC 2015 -- Houston Texas
Grace Hopper Celebration 2015

Just the break I needed ... attending the Grace Hopper Celebration seemed like the perfect place to get inspired

Oh man, was I ever ready for a break. I had spent the last thirty years trying to figure out what to be when I grew up. And now, here I was ... with a chance to be what I wanted to be. I'd always wanted to be a mouse in an IT guy's shirt pocket, watching and learning and doing cool stuff with technology. (Notice my reference to "an IT guy," we'll come back to that later.) Well, I AM that IT girl. Now what the heck do I do?

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Meet Lauren Ryan

Lauren Ryan
Image by Brett Brayman

In this blog post in our interview series I would like to introduce Lauren Ryan. She interned with us during the summer of 2015.

Meet Lauren. She is diligent and methodical. Her fearless determination and enthusiasm to figure things out, and tackle issues is unsurpassed.

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Meet Ruby Tidwell

Ruby Tidwell
Image by Brett Brayman

Welcome to yet another blog post in our interview series. This time, I would like to introduce one of our 2015 summer interns, Ruby Tidwell.

Meet Ruby. She adapts quickly, learns fast, works efficiently, and speaks calmly. Ruby worked with us for nearly three months before going back to school. While she was with us, at Infinity, I asked her some questions. Let's see her answers.

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Meet Erik Sjoblom

Erik Sjoblom
Image by Brett Brayman

Welcome to the second blog post in our interview series. I am happy to introduce another member of the Infinity team, Erik Sjoblom.

Meet Erik, a capable and graceful man. He is the fearless leader of our front-end team. He leads by example. He listens more than he speaks. His words have weight. Let's see what he has to say.

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Meet Yanick Champoux

Tiger Sloth
Image by Brett Brayman

Welcome to the first in our series of interviews with people in the Infinity community. Approximately monthly, we’ll introduce you to a member of the Infinity team, an Infinity partner, or general person of interest. Our first interview is with our own Yanick Champoux.

Meet Yanick. A damn fine man. A programmer extraordinaire. A comic book writer. He is a native of Montréal currently living in Ottawa, Canada. The man contains multitudes.

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A Dashboard for My Apartment

I originally bought my iPad back when tablets were becoming a fad. I had expected to use it for everything from reading ebooks to playing elaborate new games. But no, it has been sitting idle, collecting dust, for years. Even the promise of a shared, coffee-table web browser has fallen flat. Whenever there's a task to be done, I instead reach for my laptop or my phone. After all, as phones get larger and more capable, and laptops get lighter and extend their battery life, the sweet spot that tablets offer gets squeezed out from both above and below. So for the past year or so, my usage has been limited to ordering food online with friends, passing the iPad down the couch. But now I've finally figured out the perfect job for it. I've mounted it right next to my front door. My previously-unused iPad now serves as a dashboard and control panel for my apartment.

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Grandma, can you pause the story?

I remember smiling to myself when my granddaughter asked me to “pause” while reading her a bedtime story. To her, the language was appropriate. She has only known a world where you have the power to “pause” by simply pushing a button.

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Modernize Your Legacy

Are you trying to bring modern development practices to a… less-than-modern software development environment?

Image by J. Gannon used under CC-BY-SA

Talk to any experienced programmer and they probably have a few stories to share about organizations that were — or still are — suffering from business, organizational, or technical practices causing unnecessary suffering for everyone involved.

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Work - Live - WOD

Editor's Note: The picture below, and this article in general, may seem like unusual content to find on the blog of a technical company like Infinity Interactive, but one of our goals here is to give you a full picture of Infinity and our employees, and we think this article by Paul Zolnierczyk, a member of our .NET/Java team, has some important things to say.

Before I joined Infinity Interactive, I worked in typical IT work environments. I can go on about how much better the water cooler talk is over in our '#General' IRC channel but that can be saved for another post. What I'd like to talk about is how working at Infinity Interactive allows me to live my life and truly achieve a healthy work/life balance.

Here I am with my wife doing Crossfit Workout 14.4

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Don't Call Us a Vendor

I abhor when people treat us like “Vendors” instead of Partners.

You might think that it’s merely semantics, but I would say that the words that we use to define our relationship actually help define the quality of our interactions and the philosophy and attitude of how we work together. Look at the etymology… Vendor comes from the Latin "vendere," to sell, whereas partner comes from the French "parçonier," joint owner. The former smacks of "me getting mine", while the latter is about our mutual success.

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Code Hard and Dive Young

Editor's note: Infinity's Notebook isn't just about our technical prowess. We also showcase some of the amazing things our team members do away from the keyboard. This week, one of our .NET developers, Alex Sparkman, writes about scuba diving in Las Vegas immediately after our company summit.


Weeks before our annual company retreat to Las Vegas, Jay and I discovered that we both hold "Open Water" scuba diving certificates. We jumped on a thirty minute Skype call and decided to dive Lake Mead. We chartered a dive boat for the Monday morning everyone else was flying home.

Planning was needed, because diving is risky.

  • Tiny air spaces in the sinuses can fail to equalize, damaging the ear drums.
  • Nitrogen can bubble out of tissue causing muscle and nerve damage.
  • Debris can catch on a diver's equipment and trap them.
  • Overexertion can cause panic.
  • Thermoclines can cool divers into hypothermic states on otherwise warm days.
  • Poor or changing visibility conditions can leave a diver stranded.
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Should everyone do a rotation through the QA team?

Thinking about the QA/Developer relationship

At Infinity, we have a culture of testing. We believe in this so strongly that every Statement Of Work we create includes an introduction to our QA philosophy. Software is believed to be broken until it is proven to work.

Like many software companies, Infinity has a dedicated QA team that follows an incremental approach to testing software, including QA as a part of the development process from the beginning. As the developers make code changes, the testers inspect & validate. Sure, developers do their own testing, but, to make a broad generalization, developers test to confirm, while QA tests to interrogate. Testing software seems to be a contrary exercise to building software. Given that, could a developer benefit from seeing the other side?

What if we asked every team member to spend some time on the QA team? My colleague asked me this question not long ago, and my answer was an immediate "No." I imagined a bored developer navigating around a web application trying to break it. My thought was that a developer would rather spend their time building software than testing it.

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Fear and Coding in Las Vegas

Infinity Interactive

I joined Infinity a little over two years ago. Came from a much more traditional corporate culture. A culture contained in traditional brick-and-mortar buildings. You could stop by a coworker᾿s cube and bump into folks in the lunchroom. Infinity has no brick-and-mortar home. We᾿re a distributed workforce with our ~25 people spread out all across the US. Each of us works from our home. Our water cooler is an IRC channel called #general.

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Why do we exist?

Infinity Interactive

Why do we exist? I’m not speaking on a molecular level, nor am I talking about the human race’s larger role in the universe, but rather something simpler, but of equal importance to me.. and you.

Why does Infinity exist?

For our clients? Yes… and no.
To make money? Yes again, for our families and ourselves… but also no.
Fame? No… but we’ve managed to make quite a name for ourselves along the way.

Our purpose, our reason for being, is to create an amazing place to work for people who love technology.

Even in today’s world, where so much of our productivity is driven by technology, most larger (and older) organizations tend to view the contributions of their technology staff as secondary to that of traditional front-line roles. Technologists are often last to the table, their recommendations muted, their failures trumpeted and their time undervalued.

In our company, we cherish our technologists for their creativity, their passion, their dedication and their commitment. We understand what motivates technologists and are adept at cultivating their collective talents into a cohesive team.

It’s important that you understand our motivation.
We are here because we love working together and want a culture that very few can provide.
You’re just lucky enough to benefit from a team of highly motivated, brilliant, kick-ass problem solvers.

Our team is united in purpose, but our interests outside of bits and bytes range from driving around the country with a laptop and a paintbrush, learning Japanese for fun, backpacking the Appalachian Trail and turning a popcorn maker into a gourmet coffee roaster. We decided to create this blog and have everyone on our team contribute so that you could get to know some of our amazing people.

Stay tuned for a peek inside the mind of the geek.

Jeremy Shao

We solve problems with technology. What can we solve for you?

Reach Out

t: 800.646.0188