Randy stories

Good Variable Names

Randy was the best pure problem solver I’ll likely ever meet. He wrote and read code like most mortals read English. Computer Scientists are taught early to use good variable names in an effort to reduce cognitive overhead. Randy didn’t give a shit. This was not uncommon in his proof-of-concept code:

var x = new Foobar();
// 200 lines of ridiculous math

// Josh looks at code asking WTF is this trying to accomplish?

I was always griping I couldn’t understand his code, as he refused to consider mortals. On my first project with Randy and Scott M., I was attempting to extend some functionality. I couldn’t figure out some of Randy’s code. There was a variable named table. I was stuck, and asked for assistance. He recognized the problem embarrassingly quickly. I thought table was of type Table. Randy asked why I thought it was a Table? “Dude, the variable is named table. Why would it be a Foobar?” He immediately recognized the type based on the context, not the variable name. He had refactored the code, and simply didn’t change the variable name. It didn’t matter to him. The code told the story. He didn’t need the crutch of a good variable name.

Joshua Friend


We were implementing a digital dashboard, and the user interface was essentially a full-featured pivot table written in JavaScript circa 2002, well before this golden age of widget libraries, React, etc. Randy expected pixel-perfect widgets, which is very challenging. He assigned me a task to write a File Explorer dialog. “Make it look just like Windows File Explorer.” Right! Off I went. Eventually finished, and demo’d it to Randy. He took a screenshot of my work and one of Windows File Explorer. He laid them on top of each other with some opacity. Pixel-perfect. “Great job!” A “kudos” from Randy was like having the sun shine on my face.

Joshua Friend


I cut a bunch of code I was particularly stoked about. Feeling good about my effort, I asked Randy for a code review. It was a medium sized bit of code that took me the better part of a week to implement. When he got to the part I thought was novel/clever he said, “Cute.” I’m laughing my ass off as I type this. At the time, I was like, “WTF? Cute?”

Joshua Friend

Do You Have a Minute?

Randy almost always called me from his car. “Hey, do you have a minute?” 95% of the time he wanted to describe something he was working on. It was never a minute. We all know Randy's attention to detail. He'd jump right in telling me the minutiae of his current project with pure joy. After each piece of the puzzle he'd ask, “are you still following?” I'd nod over the phone knowing he lost me ten minutes before. “I'm tracking high-level, Buddy. Keep going.” I'll miss those calls.

Joshua Friend

Fun Facts You Won’t Believe