Monthly Archives: May 2023

Announcing DryRun Security, Started by One of The Agile Admins

Today, DryRun Security, came out of stealth as the co-founders James Wickett (me) and Ken Johnson (@cktricky) launched the company. To the readers of The Agile Admin, you’ll know that I post about security and its connection with devops from time to time.

We launched the company because the arc of the industry has created silos where legacy security solutions have  been geared towards security professionals rather than those who write the software. 

This leads to three significant gaps.  The first is testing for security issues after it’s been deployed leads to wasted developer and security team cycles when problems are discovered. The second is many of the bugs being identified are not even relevant,  resulting in false-positives. Finally, the third is application security teams lack an accurate picture of which code reviews require their expertise. This is further exacerbated by the sheer velocity and number of daily and weekly code updates. All of these problems lead to inaccurate, delayed, and often incorrectly prioritized security testing and ultimately , an overall less-secure codebase. 

DryRun Security fixes the disconnect between security and developers by performing Contextual Security Analysis which runs where developers work. As a developer writes code, they dry-run security testing and analysis  and get results back in near real time, which is where the name “DryRun” comes from.  This type of testing builds the security context of the code and provides feedback to developers whenever they make changes or write new code.

“The disconnect between engineers and security testers is due to a lack of security context making it back to developers” said James Wickett, CEO and Co-Founder of DryRun Security, “DryRun Security was created to address this fundamental disconnect under the assumption that developers truly care about the security of the products they are building. With that assumption, we believe that security should be an integral part of the software development process.  That’s why it’s our mission to provide engineers with a tool that makes it easy to identify and fix potential security bugs while the developer is working on that section of code.”

“At DryRun Security, we understand that once a developer can see the security context of their changes, they can make better decisions and create more secure applications. This is different from  the way that testing has been happening over the past two decades which has made fixing bugs inefficient, driving up costs and creating unnecessary hurdles for developers and security professionals.” Said Ken Johnson, Co-Founder and CTO of DryRun Security. “I experienced these headaches firsthand, which is why I started DryRun Security with James. Our belief is that the solution we provide will give developers the ability to integrate contextual security analysis into their development workflow and fix issues before they become bigger problems.”DryRun Security is currently running a private beta for their product, and they are accepting signups to the list.

Please visit to signup and join the early access list.

Link to the full Press Release

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Career Tip – Managing Up

“What is my manager’s deal, anyway?”

Here’s some career advice that can help you build a more effective relationship with your manager. Remember, they may be a manager but they don’t know everything, or everything that you do, and they are navigating work and life with just as much trepidation as you are! If you haven’t been a manager, it’s sometimes hard to understand why they’re doing what they are and how to best work with them to make both of you happy. So you want to figure out how to “hack” your manager by managing up!

For many years I treated my managers as random-weird-request generators, and frequently worked at cross-purposes with them. until I got advice on managing up and it helped my career.

Managing up, or managing your manager, is an important skill that can contribute to a more productive and positive work environment. Here are some key pieces of advice to effectively manage up:

  1. Understand your manager’s priorities and expectations: Take the time to understand your manager’s goals, preferred communication style, and expectations. Ask them if it’s not obvious! This knowledge will help you align your work and approach accordingly, or at least find a happy medium. (Feel free and tell them the same about you!) Managers usually have a very specific reason for why they’re asking for something and why they are stressing the things they’re stressing; understanding why is the key to understanding them.
  2. Build a strong relationship: Develop a positive and professional relationship with your manager. Be proactive in seeking feedback, understanding their working style, and demonstrating your commitment to achieving shared goals. Our managers try to share the context of what needs to happen with everyone so that they can go do it with autonomy, so reflecting your understanding of and commitment to what’s going on at a high level helps them empower you. If you can help them achieve their goals via a plan you put together, it prevents them needing to “micromanage” by also dictating how to get there.
  3. Communication is key: Maintain open and regular communication with your manager. Keep them informed about your progress, challenges, and any important updates. Be clear, concise, and respectful in your communication, and adapt your style to match your manager’s preferences – remember they have a bunch of people they are trying to wrangle to understand the state of a lot of projects.
  4. Anticipate needs and be proactive: Try to anticipate your manager’s needs and take proactive steps to address them. Take initiative, suggest solutions to problems, and offer assistance when appropriate. Show that you are capable of working independently and taking ownership of your responsibilities.
  5. Make clear asks: Your manager is there to get you what you need to do your job and be happy and healthy. But everyone is different. They don’t know how you prefer to get recognized, or what kind of projects you want to work on, or resources you think you need to be successful… So tell them! They should be trying to figure it out by asking you too, but “communication is hard” and people often make assumptions based on a given situation or communication that may or may not reflect your needs.
  6. Provide solutions, not just problems: When you encounter challenges or issues, avoid simply presenting the problems to your manager. Instead, propose potential solutions or alternatives. This demonstrates your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and it lightens the burden on your manager by offering actionable suggestions. If you don’t have a good solution to a specific issue it’s fine, but sometimes a manager can become dismissive of someone who “just complains all the time” because it adds work to a limited time without any help.
  7. Seek and act on feedback: Actively seek feedback from your manager on your performance and areas for improvement. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to grow and develop professionally. Demonstrate your willingness to learn and make necessary adjustments based on the feedback received.
  8. Manage your time effectively: Prioritize your tasks, set clear goals, and manage your time efficiently. This will help you meet deadlines, deliver quality work, and reduce the need for constant supervision. Ask if priorities or timings aren’t clear. Your manager dearly wants everyone to be able to do their own thing without any intervention but is held responsible by upper management for outcomes and project schedules/profitability.
  9. Be a team player: Collaborate and foster positive relationships with your colleagues. Support your teammates, share knowledge, and contribute to a cooperative and harmonious work environment. Show that you can work well with others and contribute to the overall success of the team.

Managing up is not about manipulation or trying to control your manager. It’s about building a strong working relationship based on trust, effective communication, and mutual respect. By demonstrating your competence, reliability, and commitment, you can effectively manage up, have the trust and proactive support of your manager, and contribute to your professional growth and success.

(This article partially written by ChatGPT!)

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The Value Of Gratefulness

I have been in technology management for more than 20 years now and have worked in a wide variety of shops, and I think I’ve identified a key element that creates a good leader, and that is gratefulness.

Gratefulness Empowers Recognition

Everyone knows that “employee recognition” is important for morale; any company cites it as a priority whether they are really doing it or not. Sometimes it just gets forgotten – but sometimes there’s excuses given not to do it, concerns that it “sounds artifical” or that “they get thanks in form of their salary” or “people will be uncomfortable or jealous.” And some people honestly have a hard time doing it.

I’ve found that those that cultivate an actual spirit of gratefulness within them for other peoples’ work, especially for those who work for you and the sweat of their brow contributes to your success and growth, have an easier time of it.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. The classic Dale Carnegie book How To Win Friends and Influence People is often categorized as a “sales book.” It’s not, it’s way more profound than that and deserves a place in any leader’s library. In its introduction there’s explicitly a story of a man with 314 employees who did nothing but criticize them, then studied the book’s principles, and subsequently turned around his management strategy so he had 314 friends and not 314 enemies, leading to both increased happiness and increased profitability. And Part 2 of the book quickly gets to the “how” – it starts with “Become genuinely interested in other people” and ends with “Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.”

I don’t think it’s a shocking revelation that gratefulness leads to better recognition and therefor to better morale, but what I want to get across here is that even if you’re not good at that out of the gate, it can be learned.

And once you learn it, you get more help from other people.

I personally grew up as a very introverted person who was happy alone and on the computer, and not being very interested in others. But in my early career I quickly saw that was holding me back. I wanted to change it so I read How To Win Friends and Influence People and tried to put it into action. Awkwarly and self-consciously at first, of course.

Then something strange started happening to me. People I didn’t know would turn and talk to me in the elevator! I was, frankly, shocked. Generally in my life up to that point, in public I left people alone and they left me alone. I came to the realization that even my demeanor had changed and was more open somehow, and it was causing people I didn’t even know and wasn’t intending to interact with to feel like they could interact with me. And not to hassle me, but to help me.

Ungratefulness Leads To Bad Decisions

For many years I thought that gratefulness was just something that made you friendlier and made recognition easier and so was good in the long term. But then I worked at a startup where the CEO had a deep, fundamental lack of gratefulness, and I saw how that leads to critically bad decisonmaking.

Because people, and people’s work, have value – not in some hug-filled hippie sense, but in a very tangible sense. At the company in question the CEO came to me several times wanting to fire an engineer who had legit written 80% of the working product code in the shop “because he doesn’t think architect level.” He ousted a co-founder who was the only person who had actually brought in sales for the company. So years later it was a startup that had trouble even creating a shipping product and certainly wasn’t growing revenue, and had – seriously estimating – about 300% employee turnover in its lifetime. He sabotaged his own company because he couldn’t look at even objective value creation (working code! shipping product! sales revenue!) and value those who generate it at all.

That really made me stop and think. The stereotype of the ungrateful leader is one that only values hard objective results and “is mean” to people otherwise, but my experience has led me to the conclusion that’s a false dichotomy – if you are unable to see value you’re going to be unable to see it whether it’s in a person or in github or on a ledger book. Especially in a sector where that value is being created by the skilled workers!

Instead, you want to train yourself to see value so that you can gather more of it and help it grow! It’s not just being a kind leader because that’s “in” this decade, gratefulness is actually a strength you can develop that helps you make effective decisions.

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