Misc

DevOps Roadshow coming to Portland!

Hey folks, more details coming – but we are going to have a half-day roadshow on DevOps coming to Portland on Friday, July 15th! We’re hoping for a few surprise presenters so the agenda is subject to change – but here’s a sneak peek.

Ping me to get an invite!

As a movement, DevOps has now replaced Agile as the key factor in getting software builds out the door faster and safer. This workshop will help you define conditions of success for your organization and lay out a practical roadmap to change management. We’ll discuss features and advantages of leading DevOps tools and how to make sure your org culture and people can use these to best advantage to drive value and repeatability.

Agenda:

  • Building a 3-Phase roadmap to sanity – and getting out of firefighting
  • Defining DevOps For YOUR Organization
  • Release Management Plain and Simple – Which Tool is Best?
  • Metrics Make It Happen – KPI’s You Can Use to Track Progress and Drive Success
  • Puppet, Chef, Octopus, Release Management and Visual Studio – Better Together

 

When/ Where:

Microsoft Pearl Office, 1414 NW Northrup St, Portland, OR 97209

Friday, July 15th, 9 am-Noon

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Only YOU Can Make This The Best Anniversary Evuh.

Anniversaries for us are kinda a big deal. For example, this year I went to Sur La Table (pronounced “surla Taaahhhhb”), and loaded up on expensive French lasagna pans in the vain hopes of finally topping Jennifer. Nope, she crushes me with a fiberglass fly fishing rod and a 1930’s antique Royal typewriter. Dammit!

So my idea for the 22nd anniversary is somehow to convince Jennifer that I need a Van Mural style painting on the wall of our home. Think like this:

The actual idea for this came from Big Hero 6, with Fred’s painting. To me this was the funniest part of what was a very, VERY good movie. I’m not going to lie, I really want this on my wall.

… or really just about anything from this post.

Anyway people send me your cash today so we can make this happen. Think about the tears of joy from my wife’s eyes as she casts her gaze upon a 6′ x 10′ reproduction of me on a sabertooth tiger carrying the shrunken heads of my enemies or something. If you contribute $1000, you will be named a Gold Sponsor, meaning you can have your face painted in the background of this timeless work of art. For example, as part of my fearsome Pyramid of Skulls, or (for you ladies), maybe as a buxom waif clutching my legs as I mow down my enemies with my battleax Gortha the Soulhammer. You get the idea. Contribute today!

Microsoft Hearts Linux. No, really, we do!

When I used to think about Linux from my bias as a Windows developer I used to think about posts like this (courtesy PennyArcade):

Yes, all the way back in the dusts of time – say 2002. Well, things have changed a lot since then. We have all kinds of great Linux integration points. And I must say – from my experiments and fumbling around with Linux – I remain very impressed with it as an ecosystem. I can’t think of a better central point when it comes to running lean, mean DevOps – Chef and Puppet run natively on it and setup couldn’t be easier. And I love the control. All that CLI goodness just takes me back to my first days writing programs on my old C64.

My good friends Jeremy Rule and Rich Maines wrote recently on Microsoft embracing Linux: “Did you know that 20% of virtual machines on Azure are Linux today? Azure also provides first-class support for Java, Node.js, Python, Ruby, and PHP and our recently announced Azure cloud security tools will work both on premise and in Amazon’s cloud.”

I know personally I’ve had to step up my game in terms of embracing Linux as an OS – including the LAMP stack (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PhP) – and Java. We can’t afford to be insular and think that MSFT provides the best in class tool for every given scenario. And on the Linux side of things, combining your development with the VS IDE means you’ll have enterprise-level debugging and repeatability that your team has been craving. Wow!

Anyway as I’ve left behind my prejudices and misconceptions about what Linux and OS programming is like, I’ve become a better programmer and a much better architect. I’m glad the old adversarial ways have passed behind; cooperation and integration is the new game and it frees up a lot of limitations that used to hurt our customers. Nicely done guys!

Other Points

  • A great article on 31 points successful people have used to form positive life habits. Three that popped out – get enough sleep (no screen time 1 hr before bed), waking up early and working out is nonnegotiable, and eating the frog (putting the most important things first).
  • A great comic on the long road to confronting climate change, highly recommended.

Pomodoro. Maybe start small?

Saw a great blog post today on boosting productivity using Pomodoro. This works very well for programmers especially where we are faced with multiple tasks coming at us all at once – or a major project where we are having trouble breaking it into little pieces. It integrates very well with Agile and Kaizen-based principles and techniques. And it couldn’t be simpler – all you need is a timer. The idea is, by having 25 minute chunks of focus time on work, followed by a break, you’ll get more done each day – with less churn.

(from Wikipedia)

One of my life goals is to write a novel. Actually getting off my rear end and writing is proving to be something of a challenge. I downloaded Simple Pomodoro today from the Google app store to my phone, and linked it to Google Keep in a few simple steps. Now I am churning through some pages, 25 minutes at a time – my goal is 6 “focus times” in a day. AMAZING progress! Give it a try.

 

Money, it’s a shame! We love Mint, and so should you.

“Money, so they say

Is the root of all evil today

But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise

That they’re giving none away.” – Pink Floyd

So I did an article a few weeks back about my personal struggles with money. That posting boiled down a very practical book on personal finance into the five essential ingredients for getting on top of things:

  1. Plan for monthly bills and daily needs.
  2. Keep a running total of daily needs spending.
  3. Have a bill payment plan where bills are paid each month automatically
  4. Have a savings account for what you want and need
  5. Keep a record of all of the above.

You must do all these things to have any control over your money – no matter how much of an income you have.

The issue though came down to implementation. All of these things required time – something I have little of these days. So, were there tools out there that could help me?

First a few words about my personal relationship with finances. Money is a topic I find frightening and I tend to shy away from it – mainly because it’s just so depressing watching it pour out every month. I thought, well, some people seem to have a knack for it. I just don’t – and there’s no changing that. I just got used to being a colander or a sieve – and tried to earn as much as I could to balance things out.

There’s a strong correlation between money and food (or alcohol, or anything else you can abuse or get addicted to). In my case, I would binge spend to feel better – the same way some people drink whiskey or food when things get most hopeless. The feeling of being out of control, of being a victim of circumstances beyond my control – a car bill or the dishwasher breaking setting us back once again – would start the spiral.

 

This morning we had a breakthrough. I think it’s the first time in twenty years of marriage that we’ve had a discussion about money and what we’ve spent without an argument. Here’s how it worked:

  1. Go to www.mint.com and sign up. It’s FREE and amazing – and yes, they have an app for it on your phone.
  2. Add any accounts you have. We’re talking checking, savings, 401(k)’s, and your credit cards, home/rental and cars. This way you know your financial health in one nice snapshot. (turns out, you may find out you are worth more $-wise than you think!)
  3. Then it’s time to fill out a budget. Do the best you can on the categories – they’re all prefilled out. I pulled my checking account records for the previous month and had a good idea of what I spent each month. I also allowed money each month for fun money – you know, fishing and other trips – and an allowance, small, each month, for things like a vacation, home expenses, car breakdowns, etc.
    1. It’s very important to allow SOME room for fun. There’s no point in being a budget Nazi if you will break down and binge spend because you’re going overboard. For me, I need some time every few weeks to get away. If you select the option to “Start each month with the previous month’s leftover amount” – you can even save up this discretionary money for that trip to the Bahamas you’ve always wanted to take.

Guess what? You are basically done at this point. At this point all your financial transactions – everything coming in and out – will show up on one nice dashboard. You can check it daily or – as my wife and I have committed to doing – once weekly. We look at every item we spend and make sure that it’s falling into the correct line item on the budget:

 

See that line item below for “Royal”? That’s $40 bucks I spent on fly fishing books at Joel’s fine fly fishing shop locally in Lake Oswego. (Yes, I’m an addict.) Knowing that it would be showing up and that I would have to account for this made me spend a little less at that store this day.

Then we can go through and see if we’re over or under-spending. See below – we definitely spent a little more than we should have last month on eating out and even on groceries. I can fine-tune this then for the next month – or adjust the budget so it’s more reasonable. Like with tracking what you eat every day, a tool like Mint really makes tracking – and being accountable for – what we spend will help us turn our financial ship around.

Hopefully, over time we will become a little less of a colander – and more of a bowl. Going through what we spent and saved took us less than half an hour – well worth it. We’ll keep doing this every week. What a great feeling!