I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time in and around Walt Disney World, Florida. I’ve noticed things along the way which seem to be super applicable to building just about any kind of solution — those things are shared here, in the “Lessons from Magic Kingdom” (LfMK) series. This is the fourth entry, see the third entry here.

Note this is specifically about Unhappy Users. Dealing with Bad Actors is a different process which needs its own story.

A common scene in the Magic Kingdom:

  1. Parent buys popcorn.
  2. Parent gives popcorn bucket to the child in the stroller.
  3. Parent collects…

Think of yourself as a Pocket Monster.

Learning Moves is good, but the only thing that really makes you more powerful is Experience.


This is an entry in the Tao Te Dev series. This series is a very un-scholarly interpretation of the Tao Te Ching which applies the wisdom found to the world of software development. Learn what you can, but don’t take anything written here as actual life advice.

The Tao doesn’t differentiate;
from it arise both good and evil.
The wise engineer doesn’t differentiate;
they welcome all

The Tao is empty without being exhausted;
the more it works, the more is given.

Communication pushes out.
Better to hold fast to the center.

We’ve departed some from architecture and software inner-workings and…


“____ is a solved problem” is a fallacy.

Yes, similar problems have been solved, and yes, we should gather wisdom from those efforts. Ignoring the past is a super bad idea.

But your problem is unique. It’s now. It has elements that are different from when _____ was solved before. You need to understand those elements, even if they are only contextual, in order to use the wisdom from the past appropriately today.


What it will take to do it right

2001: a space odyssey, inside “HAL’s brain”

Looks the same but isn’t

Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning runs on computers. The enterprise has lots of computers. It’s not an infrastructure issue; and this is one of the few significant advancements that isn’t.

AI / ML doesn’t use significantly different (or more) resources than any other current technology. Even though they can have specialized needs, they primarily leverage the enterprise’s existing services, interfaces, and data stores.

From an infrastructure perspective, integrating AI / ML in the enterprise is pretty much exactly like almost everything we’ve integrated previously.


January in Florida is rarely cold, at least not by normal people’s standards. If it is cold it’s usually overnight, and by mid-morning it’s warm enough to stand outside without much hassle.

This particular morning I wasn’t noticing the cold at all. I had my red sweater my aunt had made me, I had the warmth of the sun on the playground, and I had just about as much excitement as a five-and-a-half year old could muster. I had pleaded with my kindergarten teacher to let us go outside and watch. …


I fix things to prevent the sadness and anger that preventable failures bring.

Everything is a fix, there’s no such thing as a project that’s completely new. I’m fixing something, even if that something is just “the old way of doing things.”

Size doesn’t matter. The small failures tell us about the looming large ones; so they are equally important. I go after the small stuff, because the small stuff is the big stuff.

It doesn’t matter what needs fixing. Nothing is more special than anything else.


The Tao is empty,
called and used but never exhausted
eternal, empty,
and filled with infinite possibilities.

It softens their resolve,
It unties their confusion,
It diminishes their importance.
It bears their dust.

The Tao is clear but transparent
Penetrates and endures
It created creation.

The intent here is to re-enforce the way; show that the inescapable unnamable way is pervasive. Lao Tzu intentionally abstracts this so that this passage can be used in many metaphors, therefore communicating that the unnamable simply is.

The Software metaphor

I’m only going to provide one example metaphor for this passage. I challenge you to identify other…


Not praising ability
ends competition

Not prizing possessions
ends theft

The engineer architects
by emptying actor’s minds
and filling their needs,
by limiting their scope
and strengthening their resolve.

The engineer helps actors lose everything
they know, everything they expect,

and prevents the informed
from doing anything.

Practice not-doing,
nothing is out of order.

We’ve talked about using tools that follow the tao — now we’re talking about building systems that follow the tao.

Lao Tzu has identified two core elements in the system we’re architecting — “the actors,” which are empty minded, and “the informed” which specifically are *not*…


When everyone agrees some things are beautiful,
other things become ugly.

When everyone agrees some practices as good,
other practices become loathsome.

Yet
Procedural and OO create each other.
Easy tasks create the difficult.
Long and short shape each other.

High and low;
Before and after;
require lookups.

The wise engineer
acts without doing
and advocates without advocating.

things arise and the engineer lets them come;
things deprecate and the engineer lets them go.

The engineer bears,
but does not possess,
creates but does not retain.

to do the work and let it go;
for letting it go
is what lets it…

Chris Duffy

Co-Founder, Liquid Genius

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