Mar 18
DevOps Days London 2013
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 March 18th, 2013| icon3No Comments »

I spent this past Friday & Saturday at DevOpsDays London. There’s been a few reviews written already about various bits (and a nice collection of resources by my co-worker Anna), and I wanted to throw my thoughts out there too. The talks each morning were all very good and well presented, but for me the real meat of the event for me was the 3 tracks of Open Spaces each afternoon, along with various break time and hallway discussions. I didn’t take as detailed notes as others did, but here’s the bits I took away from each Open Space:

  • Monitoring: – Discussed using Zabbix, continuous monitoring, and some companies trying out self-healing techniques with limited success (be careful with services flapping off and on)
  • Logstash: – Windows client support (not as good as it sounds), architecture (Zeromq everything to one or two servers, then to Elastic search), what to log (everything!)
  • Configuration Management 101 (w/Puppet & Chef): It was great having the guys from PuppetLabs and Opscode here to give views on both products (and trade some friendly jabs!). Good discussion about Window support, including a daily growing community with package support and the real possibility of actually doing config management on Windows. We’re using CFEngine, and while I got crickets after bringing it up, a few people were able to offer some good advise and compare with Puppet & Chef (stops on error like Chef, good for legacy support, promise support is nice, etc).
  • Op to dev feedback cycle: Besides the usual “put devs on call” idea (which I still feel is a bad idea), there was discussion about getting bugs like memory leaks prioritised above features. One of the better suggestions to me was simply going and talking to the devs, putting faces to names and getting to know one another. Suggestions were also made for ops to just patch the code themselves, which throws up a lot alarms to me (going through back channels, perhaps not properly tested, etc). I say make a pull request.
  • Deployment orchestration: Bittorrent for massive deploys (Twitter’s Murder), Jenkins/TeamCity/et al are still best for kicking off deploys, and MCollective for orchestration.
  • Ops user stories: Creating user stories for op project prioritisation is hard, as is fitting the work in for sprints. Ended up coming down to standard estimation difficulties – more work popping up, unknown unknowns, etc. Left a bit before the end to pop into a Biz & DevOps Open Space, but didn’t get much from it before it ended,

Overall it was a great conference. Well planned, good food, and great discussions. Nothing completely ground breaking, but a lot of really good tips & recommendations to dig into.

Jun 24
Software Craftsmanship 2012
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 June 24th, 2012| icon3No Comments »

I attended the Software Craftsmanship 2012 conference last Thursday up at Bletchley Park. It was an awesome event ran mostly by Jason Gorman and the staff at the park. The company I work for, 7digital, sponsored the event so all ticket proceeds went directly to help the park, which is very cool. They’re in desperate need for funding and this event has brought in a hefty amount the past few years.

I did the Pathfinding Peril track in the morning. They went over basic pathfinding algorithms, including brute force and A*, and their applicability outside the gaming world. The rest of the session was spent pairing on bots that compete against other bots trying to automatically navigate a maze the fastest (using this open source tournament server). Unfortunately they didn’t have mono installed, so my pair and I wasted some time getting NetBeans installed and a basic Java app up and running. Very interesting, and it spurred a co-worker to setup a tournament server at work too. Looking forward to submitting a bot there to try out some path finding algorithms.

During our lunch break they gave a nice, albeit quick, tour of the park. We got to see the main sites, including Colossus. Very interesting stuff, and amazing to hear how they pulled off all those decoding and computational feats during the war.

For the afternoon I went to the Team Dojo session. We were told to write our strongest languages on name badges, then break off into teams of 4-6 based on that. I got together with a group of 6 devs, some co-workers. After a brief overview of the Google PageRank algorithm and a generic nearest neighbor one, we were set loose to create a developer-centric LinkedIn clone from a complete standing start. We had to figure out where to host our code, how to integrate, code the algorithms, parse in XML data, and throw it all up on the screen somehow in around 2 hours. Unfortunately we spent way too much time shaving yaks, as it were, with testing and our CI environment, and didn’t get to the algorithms until the end (although we were close to finishing it!). Learned a bit about trying to jump start a project like that with different personalities and making it all mesh together. It’d be interesting to see how we’d all do it again, especially since katas are meant to be repeated.

Between the talks, lunch, hog roast dinner, tour, and the great little side discussions had between it all, it was an excellent event (although they could try doing something about those beer prices!). Everyone did a great job putting it on. Here’s a video of the day Jason put together (I’m one of the last pair of interviews during our afternoon session). I’m quite looking forward to attending it again in the future.

May 27
Canton Software Craftsmanship
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 May 27th, 2011| icon3No Comments »

Just a quick reminder about the next Canton Software Craftsmanship meeting on June 6th. It’s the usual 6pm at Stark State College with free pizza and drinks, and sponsored by Synergy Data Systems this month (who’s coincidentally looking for another junior C# developer, if you’re interested). Asher McCune will be giving a talk on the Open/Closed Principle (the O in SOLID) and we’ll be doing more katas together, trying to push the pairing aspect and getting everyone to work with different partners.

Hope everyone can make it! Please don’t forget to register right here so we have a head count for pizza.

May 9
StirTrek: Thor Edition
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I went with a few co-workers to Stir Trek this past Friday. They’ve put an event on for the past two years, but this was the first one I’ve been to. It was an excellent event. Good talks, very well planned out, and a pretty decent movie to boot! Here’s the talks I went to:

  • Are You Satisfied With Your Tests? (Jim Weirich) – Jim gave a good overview of testing (do it, make them fast, etc.) and tips (clear naming, refactoring, when to combine/split tests, etc.). Overall pretty good. My co-workers gave a laugh as I harp on many of these points all the time already.
  • Node.js – Show and Tell (Leon Gersing) – A neat explanation of this async javascript framework. Leon gave a demo of a simple client/server chat setup, and a run down of a slightly more advanced website. I hadn’t seen any Node.js stuff other than very broad overview articles, so it was cool to get the explanation of when/where to use it, and look at working examples. Unfortunately he ran out of time before getting to the testing examples, but I guess that give me a place to start in my personal learning.
  • Testable Object-Oriented JavaScript (Jon Kruger) – One of the better talks I attended, as it tilted more towards the intermediate/advanced level than others. Jon walked through a live demo of building out a simple Twitter client by test-driving the javascript with Jasmine to run the tests, and his custom JS View framework to fake out the HTML. Pretty darn neat, and I’m looking forward to digging into it a bit more for our new features, as they’ll be far more client-side dependent than previous ones, and we haven’t gotten to the UI part just yet.
  • Getting Started with User Research: DIY Quick Course (Carol Smith) – Carol went over the basics of user research via interviews, observance, and card sorting, which helps you structure you application’s layout to match how users would expect it to be. Very helpful for a high-level overview talk, and gave me a few tips to pursue with getting information on our application.
  • Testing Web Applications with Selenium (Jim Holmes) – I was definitely looking forward to this talk the most, and it didn’t disappoint. We use Watin at work and have only dabbled once in Selenium, so seeing how he structures his tests was helpful. Unfortunately he spent 80% of the time going over a basic UI test and overview of Selenium. By time he got to the lessons he’s learned from running 14,000 some-odd UI tests, he ran out of time. Booo. It was actually quite comical… “OK, now the most important things you need to know… I’m out of time, aren’t I?”. A few of the database/browser handling tips will come in handy for our UI test suite though, and I’m looking forward to giving them a shot.

I really wanted to hit up the GitHub talk, executable requirements, and a mobile talk or two, but I guess there’s always next year. Overall it was an excellent conference, and the peeps that ran it did a great job. Thor itself turned out to be pretty decent flick, too.

They already scheduled next year’s version in May: StirTrek Avenger’s Edition. Looking forward to it!

Mar 31
Canton Software Craftsmanship
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 March 31st, 2011| icon3No Comments »

The next Canton Software Craftsmanship meeting is this Monday. We’ll be going over TDD basics by having everyone follow us along on simple exercises.

Register here if you’e interested.

Hope to see you there!

Mar 8

Thanks to everyone that attended the first Canton Software Craftsmanship meeting this past Monday. It was a great turn-out (around 33 people?) and everyone seemed genuinely excited to see where this goes, myself included. Good food and good discussions all around. Sign up for the next meeting on April 4th if you haven’t already, and be sure to spread the word to anyone that might be interested. Remember, we’re about the practices, not the language, so everyone’s welcome.

I’d also like to thank Brandon Joyce and John Hoover for doing a great job with the logistics needed to get this group off the ground. Great job guys!

Feb 24
Canton Software Craftsmanship
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 February 24th, 2011| icon3No Comments »

Brandon Joyce and I are starting a Software Craftsmanship group in the Canton area. Appropriately titled Canton Software Craftsmanship, it’ll be the first Monday of every month starting at 6pm in Stark State’s auditorium. You can get more information at the group’s website, here.

If you’re interested in attending, please register so we have a head count for the provided pizza & drinks.

Hope to see you there!

Jun 10
Code & Coffee – Getting Started
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We had a couple of new guys join us for last week’s Code & Coffee, and during the 15 minutes or so we spent helping get them up to speed I realized a quick “getting started” post might be in order to help future attendees.

For starters, download the Ruby 1.8.6 one-click installer (from the main Ruby site). It may or may not require a reboot to get the standard C:\ruby install directory into your PATH variable. Open a command prompt and type ruby --version to make sure it’s working correctly.

We’re working our way through Edge Case’s Ruby Koans right now, which are basically a whole suite of failing unit tests that teach you more about the language as you get them passing. There’s a download link in the middle of the upper portion of their GitHub page. Once you download and extract it somewhere, open up a command prompt in the root directory and run the rake command. It will use the Rakefile in that directory by default and it should tell you the first test failed. Open the respective file in the koans directory, try getting it to pass, and re-run rake. Keep going through that process, test by test. Some are blatantly obvious, while others require some research. It’s best if you think about what you’re actually doing too, besides just trying to make the test pass. We’re currently somewhere in the about_hashes.rb file.

The idea is to get through these, soaking up as much as we can, then probably jump into an intro Rails application, eventually working on some sort of blog for the Code & Coffee. Should be fun. I’d also like to get into either RSpec or Cucumber along the way, and see what TDD/BDD in Ruby is like as I’ve always heard how great it is.

Our next get together will be Friday, June 19th @ 7am. Hope to see you there, and let me know if you have any problems with getting this stuff setup.

May 24
Code and Coffee – Inital Impressions
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We’ve had two meet-ups for the Code and Coffee already now, and it seems to be going pretty good. We decided to tackle a simple Rails application, as none of us had used Ruby or Rails before much, and thought it’d be worth taking a look at it.

We’re working through EdgeCase’s Ruby Koans to familurize ourselves with Ruby first, then we’ll start tackling some Rails examples. The Koans are a great way to introduce people to the language. Really, they’re brilliant. The meet-ups have stuck to about an hour in length so far, and we’ve determined we’ll meet every other Friday, still as 7am at the Canton Arabica that was previously mentioned. That puts our next get together on June 5th.

It was only Jason Lautzenheiser, Eric Schliffka, and myself there, but we’re hopeful more people will start coming. There’s been quite a bit of interest, so we’ll see. Looks like these meetings will be pretty helpful, though, keeping all of us on tasks, meeting some new people, and most important, pushing our comfort zone in development terms. They’re pretty fun, to boot! Hope to see you at the next one!

May 8
Code and Coffee
icon1 Darrell Mozingo | icon2 Events | icon4 May 8th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

Coffee and Code

A week or two ago Jason Lautzenheiser emailed around about to a few of us about starting a local Code and Coffee here in the Canton area, and I think it’s a great idea. We haven’t set a schedule or anything, but the first get together will be Friday, May 15th @ 7 AM at Canton Arabica, right on Dressler in Belden. Everyone’s already busy in the evenings, so we figure we’ll give this whole “first thing in the morning” time slot a shot.

Basically we’ll get together to do some pairing on whatever interests everyone, with an eye towards pushing comfort zones (read: new languages and technologies). Very informal. Stop by if you can make it. If we can’t figure out what we’ll do before next Friday, we’ll just call this first one a meet and greet and pick a topic for next time. Since the idea is to pair, don’t worry if you don’t have a laptop.

Don’t fret about the early AM thing. I’m not a morning person myself either (my alarm isn’t even set until 7:20 normally), but it should be good to get the ol’ brain neurons firing that early in the morning.

If you’re interested, let either Jason or myself know. We’re planning on keeping it to about an hour in length.

Hope to see you there!