A couple weeks ago I boarded a plane at the always-adorable Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport en route to Seattle to participate in a Microsoft Azure OpenDev Event. Thanks to my pal Ken Thompson, who recently joined Microsoft as a product marketing manager for their Open Source DevOps team, I was invited to talk about all things Jenkins with a dash of Azure.
2018 will be the sixth year for the Testing/Automation dev room at FOSDEM. This room is about creating better software through a focus on testing and automation at all layers of the stack. From creating libraries and end-user applications all the way down to packaging, distribution and deployment. Testing and automation is not isolated to a single toolchain, language or platform, there is much to learn and share regardless of background!
The traffic on the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to Oakland is one of the most congested routes of traffic in all of Northern California. Somehow it gets even worse on Saturday and Sunday. One weekend, a few years ago, I was driving my wife and some of the women from her soccer team back to Berkeley, from a game in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. On the east side of the bridge, before inching onto I-580N, I was pretty pissed off, and half-joking half-frustrated shook back-and-forth at the steering wheel "GAHHHHHHHHHHHH." The woman sitting behind me, who was certainly the "funny one" of the group, put her hand on my arm and gently said "Tyler, this is your reality now."
The insanely strong gusts of wind would not stop clattering the tin roof panels over the back patio. Begrudgingly, I awoke, dressed, and tried to secure the roof panels before the neighbors got too ornery. Stepping up the ladder, I noticed an orange glow north of the house. Just after midnight, I had not heard any sirens, I jumped into the car on the assumption that one of those houses by the park was burning and had not yet been reported.
Quite possibly my favorite part about working on open source infrastructure is that I can share as much as I want! Contrary to corporate infrastructures, where most of it is closed source and hidden away, open source project infrastructure is by its very nature open. From a pedagogic standpoint, this allows me to teach others without needing to create contrived demonstrations or examples, but we can instead refer to the real code being used to deploy the Jenkins project.
Over the past decade two things have become increasingly clear: practically every modern industry is part of "the software industry," in one way or another, and "the software industry" is rife with shortcuts and technical debt. Working in an Operations or Systems Administration capacity provides a front-row seat to many of these dysfunctional behaviors. But it's not just sysadmins, many developers are also called to engage in or allow: half-baked product launches, poor-quality code deployments, or subpar patch lifecycle management.
"For vegetables, your best bet is to get some drip lines 'cause you don't want to get water on the leaves" said the helpful employee at a local farm supply store. I have heard this "advice" numerous times over the past few years, and it gets a little deeper under my skin each time I hear it. Like most advice handed out in this fashion, there's a kernel of truth hiding somewhere behind layers of indirection associated with such old wive's tales.
I have tremendous difficulty with decommissioning electronics. I only recently stopped using my Galaxy Nexus, an almost five year old cell phone. Earlier this year I recycled a 32-bit x86-based Thinkpad T41, only because its overheating issues made it impractical to continue running workloads. And up until today, the lowest powered device actively running a Unix in my office, was a 266Mhz AMD Geode-based Soekris.
Practically every professional developer can name a great, and a terrible, manager they have worked with in the past. Good Engineering Managers are kind of like the bass line in a song, you might not notice them when they're there, but something will definitely sound wrong if they're absent. For one reason or another, I have somehow ended up leading a team or acting as an Engineering Manager at each of the four companies I have worked for over the past decade. As time has progressed, I have become increasingly aware of "management" as a skill, rather than some intristic talent. A skill which can be practiced, honed, and improved upon.
To say that I'm an expert gardener would be an extraordinary stretching of the truth; capable, yes, expert, not even close. While I tend to focus on what crops fail outright, or produce lower-than-desired yields, my neighbors and some of the folks I know online seem to be impressed with my results.