Engineering Articles

Embarrassingly automatable as the first step of legacy modernization

July 20, 2021

Perhaps it’s time for an equivalent of Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs, but for legacy modernization projects.

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The tech debt interest rate

June 02, 2021

Just as interest on financial debt adds to the amount of money that must be repaid, interest on technical debt adds to the amount of code that will need to be revised.

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What engineering teams can gain by prioritizing learning

May 10, 2021

The collective knowledge of a team’s individual members is one of its most valuable assets. Today, I’m here to make the case for putting in extra effort to cultivate this collective knowledge.

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Introducing the ATO Field Guide

April 28, 2021

Ad Hoc is releasing an ATO Field Guide to inform the public, our customers, and our partners about how federal web applications are authorized to operate on behalf of the American people.

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How I create small Go apps quickly

March 29, 2021

I often want to create a small web application to test out an idea or demonstrate some thing, and I’ve developed a small toolbox that helps me do so in Go.

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The Ad Hoc COVID Report prototype is now open source

March 24, 2021

Today, we’re happy to announce that we have open-sourced the code that powers the COVID Report prototype.

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Prototyping a COVID-19 vaccination verification app

January 28, 2021

Ad Hoc has created a prototype that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to check their vaccination status in an easy-to-use web app.

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Getting ready for launch

January 08, 2021

Launches can be unpredictable. Having a plan for launch can help you focus on that which you can control and set you up to recover more quickly should things go wrong.

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Automating Terraform modules

August 25, 2020

On a recent project, my team identified the need to transition from a directory in our main DevOps repository that contains all of our Terraform modules to a discrete repository for each module.

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The new Ad Hoc Government Digital Services Playbook

August 18, 2020

The 2020 version is now a standalone playbook that any federal agency can use to replace enterprise software with proven techniques from the world of commercial software.

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The problem might not be COBOL

July 10, 2020

The government’s problem isn’t using old code or older programming languages. The problem is often that they’re using code that wasn’t designed to meet the needs of people who use it.

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Accessibility Camp 2020

April 20, 2020

This January, 33 Ad Hoc team members came together in sunny Orlando, Florida for the first Ad Hoc Accessibility Camp, a three-day gathering to learn and practice making our services more accessible.

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Dependency audits on JavaScript projects

December 17, 2019

To help improve the security of our projects, we integrated a way to audit our application dependencies into our agile development process.

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Launching a government MVP in less than a month

October 01, 2019

On behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we recently launched a site for insurance issuers. We went from zero lines of code to a production MVP serving pilot users in under a month.

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Using feature flags and dynamic blocks in Terraform 0.12.x

September 24, 2019

With the advent of the new HCL 2 language in Terraform, I’ve been using the newly available methods to make the internal Terraform modules that my team has written more functional and less inter-dependent.

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What makes an API simple?

August 23, 2019

Whenever you’re trying to make something simple, it’s important to think of the people who are using your tool.

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Measuring a process’ memory in OS X/Linux

May 01, 2019

I recently found myself needing to measure the memory usage of a program throughout its run time, and was surprised that I didn’t find a tool out there already that did what I wanted.

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My view of OpsCamp

November 30, 2018

Internal company training events are often associated with boredom, long monologues, and Powerpoint presentations. My first Ad Hoc training event was exactly the opposite.

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Saying goodbye to middleware, or retiring homework for fun and freshness

October 25, 2018

Today is a bittersweet day for Ad Hoc Engineering, as we fully retire middleware, one of our Engineering homework assignments. Middleware was replaced in our homework pools for engineering positions by noclist.

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Ops Camp 1.0

October 17, 2018

Ad Hoc recently held a two-day OpsCamp in Chicago, IL, focused on helping team members learn through sessions, activities, and simulations.

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Validating business rules and building confidence through tests

July 20, 2018

Digital transformation or legacy modernization efforts, while motivated by concerns such as finances, new technology, or shifting priorities, can be risky endeavors from a logistical perspective, and are often dominated by the needs of operations.

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Why we use homework to recruit engineers

February 26, 2018

One challenge is finding a way to evaluate technical ability without an in-person technical interview. We do this by issuing homework assignments to candidates to be completed on their own time.

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Developer-driven focus management for single-page applications

February 20, 2018

This post will outline some best practices for focus management, and how it relates to accessibility.

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Video: Details on our recruiting process for engineers

February 19, 2018

We recently conducted a session over video with potential candidates, and we recorded it so that others can get a feel for how things work.

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Stop your (business rules) engines!

October 10, 2017

One of the many surprising artifacts of the initial failed HealthCare.gov launch was a “business rules engine.” This was a new concept for most of the team that helped rescue the site.

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Soapbox: DevOps with the Ad Hoc Infrastructure team

August 23, 2017

Soapbox is an open source software platform for building and deploying web applications using cloud providers like AWS. It represents our take on DevOps-done-right.

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R&D: BEAM clustering with AWS Auto Scaling

August 22, 2017

Something we pride ourselves on at Ad Hoc is our preference to own the operations and maintenance for the things we build.

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Needed: Full stack software developer for short-term, high-impact project in Sacramento

July 03, 2017

Ad Hoc is looking for two Frontend Web Developers for a project in Sacramento, CA to help the California Department of Motor Vehicles create a new driver license / ID card program.

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How to run a gameday exercise in complex, multi-product environments

June 21, 2017

In my role as Senior Software Developer here at Ad Hoc, I recently led a gameday exercise for a number of systems we support for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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Ad Hoc and the State of California

June 19, 2017

Ad Hoc is actively seeking partners and team members in California, especially in the capital, Sacramento. We’re looking to hiring software engineers, designers, and product management professionals for all sorts of positions.

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Getting help, fast

June 09, 2017

HealthCare.gov has a service called Find Local Help that allows people to search for one-on-one help. This vital search had problems sustaining more than a small set of searches at a time.

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CPU profiling with Qcachegrind

May 18, 2017

Presentation by Ad Hoc Software Engineer Mike Auclair on CPU profiling with qcachegrind.

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