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Chats about DC/OS and Apache Mesos in Dublin

At the end of August MJ made plans to spend a week in Dublin for work with a team he has out there. This seemed like a great opportunity for me to go back to Ireland as well! The last (and first) time I went to Ireland was also to tag along, back in 2010 with his previous job when he was doing a rotation in the office out there. That trip landed in October of 2010 and I took the entire week off to explore the city and surrounding areas, this time I only took a couple days off, choosing to also spend some time getting to know some of the DC/OS and Apache Mesos folks there in Dublin.

First on my noteworthy agenda was speaking on The SMACK stack for the Dublin Apache Kafka Meetup by Confluent. It was held at the ZenDesk office just south of St Stephen’s Green. This meant I could enjoy a lovely mile long walk south from where I was staying near Trinity College to get to my destination. When I arrived, my gracious host for the evening was Andrei Balcanasu, an Infrastructure Engineer there at Zendesk. As attendees trickled in he made me feel very welcome and we had some great chats about the direction of infrastructure tooling over the past decade.

The presentation was an overview of the SMACK stack (Apache Spark, Apache Mesos, Akka, Apache Cassandra, and Apache Kafka) itself, but I did try to stress the value of Kafka specifically in this model. My experience thus far has been that Mesos and Kafka are the two components that are least likely to be swapped out as people tailor SMACK for their own infrastructure environment and industry. I concluded with Achim Nierbeck’s Iot Fast Data analytics demo which plots buses from the Los Angeles Metro on a map and is pure SMACK stack. Slides from the talk can be found here (PDF).

The evening concluded with beer and pizza, during which I indulged in my first Bulmers Cider of the trip as I spoke with attendees about their infrastructures and where they were planning on going tooling-wise. While I’d never call myself a social butterfly, getting able to geek out about open source infrastructure tooling is one of the areas where I can let my guard down and get really into it, so enjoyed the evening. During these conversations something that stood out most for me was a comment about the simplicity of the data source for the demo, as the stream coming in from the LA Metro is not what any of us today would call “fast” (just a few requests per second) so the use of Kafka is a bit overkill. It was a very fair point and I’ll mention it up the next time I use it in a presentation, but it is just a demonstration of a pipeline, and at that it succeeds at being reliable and effective.

Unbeknownst to me when I booked my travel, I came into town the same week as the Usenix SREcon17 held right there in Dublin. This meant that a whole bunch of people seeing my Dublin tweets assumed I was in town for that, and reached out to me to meet during the conference. Had I known about the overlap, I would have probably participated, but the CFP has closed long before I made plans for this trip and it was sold out attendee-wise before I knew about it. Still, this was how I ended up with the opportunity to meet up with DC/OS community members Levente Lajko, Luis Davim and Matthew Allen from PTC!

PTC has been an active participant in Working Groups we run for DC/OS so I was delighted to meet with them in person as they took time away from the conference venue to meet for lunch. Discussions centered around improvements we could make to the community involvement side of things, including being more public about our road maps so they can plan accordingly with what they build and lack of engagement around some tickets and pull requests. Nothing here was new for me and my team is actively working to make real progress on these points, but hearing it directly from community members strengthened my confidence that we’re working on the right things. Even better, they were a fun group of folks to spend a meal with and they were eager to make clear that the technology is worth the community-related road bumps.

Now to be clear, I don’t always intend on making vacation-centric trips include work stuff, I do need time away too, but I’m glad I did this time. With only 8 months under my belt at Mesosphere I was eager to spend as much time as I could interacting with community members, and in-person meetings like this are an important part of that. Having visited Ireland before also helped, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, so breaking up tourist time with some work ended up being a pretty healthy use of my time.

August visit to Philadelphia

As I’ve already written, in mid-August I road tripped with my aunt and mother up the east coast from central Florida to Philadelphia. They left on Wednesday, leaving me on my own until that evening when I had to drop the MDX off at the shop to get the windshield replaced due to a very unfortunate incursion with a rock while driving down the highway when MJ was in town back in July. I had dinner with a friend who picked me up there. Thankfully the windshield replacement went without a hitch and was completed by Thursday afternoon, so I was able to craft my work schedule that day to start early, get the car mid-day and be home to work until I had my next house guests, my Aunt Meg and cousin Melissa! The timing worked out well, they were driving up to New England from the Carolinas so I invited them to spend the night on their way up as a nice midway drive resting spot.

We had dinner at the nearby Toscana 52 Italian restaurant before settling in for the night. I saw them off the next morning before starting my Friday morning of work. That evening my friend Danita came over to spend the night, a weekend trip to New York City together, which I wrote about here, beckoned!

Monday arrived much too quickly. The day was spent once again working from the townhouse, which is working out really well. My office may be where we are storing piles of boxes, totes and furniture (most of which will end up in California), but in the midst of all that I have a really comfortable setup with everything I need to be productive. I just plug in my work laptop and go. Unfortunately during this trip I learned that the personal laptop that I keep there as my desktop has finally failed. The blink codes indicate that it’s the CPU or motherboard, which essentially means the laptop has reached the end. I’ll have to bring out a replacement next time I come into town.

However, Monday was eventful for another reason, it was August 21st, total solar eclipse day! I had piles of friends who braved the crowds to experience the totality zone, but in Philadelphia we just had a partial eclipse. During much of it we had cloud cover, but after the high point the clouds parted and I was able to get some nice glimpses through my pinhole camera box as I sat on the back porch. While sitting out there I flash backed to being 12 years old after school and doing the same thing. I have always enjoyed a good eclipse.

Monday evening I drove out to PLUG West to give an Introduction to DC/OS presentation (slides). Surprisingly, up until this point most of my DC/OS presentations had been more goal-oriented, so I really enjoyed doing a more holistic presentation about the “datacenter operating system” space, getting able to dive into more of the infrastructure geek bits of how DC/OS works as a platform on top of Linux for my fellow Linux-loving attendees present that evening. I also still know a number of folks who have attended PLUG meetings over the years, so it was nice to catch up and meet some new folks as a number of us adjourned to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner.

My next two evenings gave me time to catch up with friends over dinners, Tuesday night I had dinner with my friend Crissi. It had been a little while since just the two of us caught up in person, so it was really nice to get that time. Thursday I met up with my friend David to see RiffTrax Live: Doctor Who – The Five Doctors. I’d really been looking forward to this, and almost bought tickets for the actual live event in Nashville when they went on sale in the spring. This was actually a replay from the previous week, but as a Fathom Event in a theater, it’s hard to tell the difference. It was totally worth seeing. I don’t remember if I’d actually seen The Five Doctors before, I have seen a lot of old episodes but this movie is a bit ridiculous, even by old Doctor Who standards. A replacement of the first doctor (who had died a decade earlier), a cameo of the fourth doctor taken from footage shot for another production, and plot holes and continuity problems rounded out the basics of what made it so amusing. The Rifftrax of it was hilarious, even if they frequently took the opportunity to make fun of us old school Whovians.

On Friday morning MJ got into town! He flew in to visit for a few days, attend FOSSCON and so we could depart together on our trip to Ireland Monday night after work.

It’s hard to believe I was in Philadelphia for almost two weeks during this trip. With every visit the townhouse feels more like a home, I can relax and really feel comfortable there. Not sure yet when we’ll be back, but the end of year holidays are always a good opportunity since we have some off from work.

Summer weekend in NYC

Several months ago I learned that they had made a Broadway musical based on the full-length animated feature from 1997, Anastasia. I quickly scoured the dates that Anastasia the Musical was being shown at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City and learned that it would indeed overlap with one of my Philadelphia trips! I got a quick confirmation from my friend Danita that she was interested in seeing it and was available over a weekend I was in town, then booked us tickets for August 19th. We drove up Saturday morning after breakfast to park and drop stuff off at the hotel before we made our way over to the American Museum of Natural History.

This museum occupies a special place in my heart. I’ve always loved dinosaurs, and when I was a kid I visited my grandparents in north New Jersey. They brought my middle sister and I up to NYC for the first time and this museum is where I saw my first dinosaurs. My first impression? I thought they’d be bigger. Now, this was the 80s and since then we’ve learned much about dinosaurs, including discovering even larger ones that my kiddo self may have been more impressed with. During our visit this time I got to see the Titanosaur, a cast of a 122-foot-long dinosaur finally given the scientific name, Patagotitan mayorum just days before our visit. It was in a very large room, but it didn’t quite fit. In addition to wandering through the history of mammal fossils and more, we saw a show in the planetarium.

After the museum we stopped in to Heartland Brewery and Chophouse for beer and a huge pretzel snack and dessert before the show. It was a hot summer day in New York, so I was appreciative of the time we took to pause.

And then it was finally time for the evening show. Much waiting in line before finally getting into the theater. Inside the Broadhurst is lovely!

I hadn’t ready anything about the show before going in, so I wondered what they’d do about zombie Rasputin and his little bat sidekick. Turns out, they replaced them both with the more historically accurate and less fanciful Bolsheviks. It worked out well, and I totally have a crush on the Bolshevik general Gleb Vaganov. “The Neva Flows”? My new favorite song from the original cast recording!

After the show we grabbed another quick bite before a very late walk back to the InterContinential New York Barclay. On Sunday morning we enjoyed brunch at the nearby Lexington Brass before driving back down to Philadelphia. In all, an awesome weekend and allowed for a calm closing to my Sunday before getting back to work.

More photos from our weekend here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157685760317003


This past Saturday I spent the day at FOSSCON in Philadelphia. My friend Stephen and his fiancee came into town for the event, and we hosted them up at the townhouse, so there were four of us heading down to the city. We aimed to get there a little early so we could spend a bit of time socializing with attendees before the keynote began at 10:20AM. During this time, I got to say hello to Charlie Reisinger who I’ve known for a few years through his work on getting kids using Linux systems at Penn Manor, and subsequently wrote The Open Schoolhouse. I picked up a copy when it came out and made sure I tossed it in my bag when I packed for the conference. He signed it for me!

The keynote was on “Why Community Matters” by Shilla Saebi from Comcast. I knew her through work on OpenStack in years past, so it was nice to see her again now that we’ve both transitioned from systems engineering into open source advocacy work.

In her keynote she touched upon key benefits of open sourcing software, like shared control of project direction from various contributors, and then drew from experience at Comcast about how to make it easier for employees within your organization to contribute. She also explained that raising awareness about the value of open source and open source work already being done in your organization is important, which can be done by regular activity reports, internal open source conferences and specific recognition when employees hit defined milestones in contributing to open source. I would have liked to hear more about what Comcast specifically was doing and how they got there as a large company whose focus is not delivery of technology solutions. Still, a nice chunk of their current work can be found by looking at the new Comcast GitHub Page.

The next talk was probably my favorite of the day, Walt Mankowski on “A punch card ate my program!” which was a reprise and extension of the talk he gave at !!Con several months back. In this talk he presented the audience with a bug in some COBOL code, explained what it was supposed to be doing, and then left us hanging as he gave some background about the origins of COBOL. I’d seen his !!Con talk, so I knew the punch line going in, but I loved how he added a whole bunch more history to the longer version of this talk. He had quotes from COBOL luminaries Grace Hopper and Jean Sammet, along with a trip back in time to the creation of the Jacquard Loom in 1804 and Herman Hollerith’s role in the 1890 census to give a proper full history of punch cards. Discussion around the use of COBOL today was also worth sticking around for, he drew from his work at QVC, but there are many older companies who still rely upon their COBOL codebases and they’ll soon need programmers to replace the ones who are currently aging right along with the code. He also wrote an article covering key points of this talk for opensource.com: Don’t hate COBOL until you’ve tried it

With his talk behind us, MJ and I joined Walt and several others for a quick lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Upon my return I attended Andy Wojnarek’s talk on nmon. I was already familiar with the tool and its capabilities, but I was interested in how folks are using it today and any changes that had been made of late. It seems most of the changes of late have been related to architecture support instead of new features to support the increasing complexity of modern systems. Still, it was good to learn that as a tool it’s still a slim option for standard systems statistics reporting, and he also got into some of the dashboard tools that the data can be fed into.

My talk on “The Open Sourcing of Infrastructure” was directly after Andy’s. I had given this talk as a keynote at SLC DevOps Days back in May, and in my time since then I was able to flesh out some of my points, and talk a bit more about the software ecosystem in the 90s when I started tinkering with servers. My key message in this talk is to implore the audience to carefully think through the decisions made when looking to move to cloud-based systems, and that these aren’t new ideas, we can draw from lessons we learned as the industry shifted to using more open source tooling in infrastructures.

Thanks to David Morfin for taking a photo during my talk!

In discussions after my talk I learned how I can improve the talk further by going into security-focused examples of how the global community has come together, like for the creation of the Core Infrastructure Initiative. Slides from my talk can be found in PDF form here. I also wrote an opensource.com article last week that intentionally mirrors the key points in my presentation: Why open source should be the first choice for cloud-native environments

As happens post-talk, I ended up chatting with folks outside as the next talk got started and took the opportunity to walk around the venue and give away some of the DC/OS swag I brought along. It was particularly nice running into a DC/OS user who I got to geek out with over how much easier DC/OS makes it for a very small team to manage an Apache Mesos cluster. At the tail end of my wandering, I got to catch up with Jim Fisher who brought along the annual Oreo cake!

The conference concluded with R Geoffrey Avery organizing a series of lightning talks before organizer Jonathan Simpson formally concluded the conference with some giveaways and thanks given to sponsors and volunteers.

Some more photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157688170091285

As a bit of an unofficial after party a whole bunch of us ended up at the nearby City Tap House at a big outdoor table. We had some beers and good food, watched the sun set and tried to identify strange things flying in the sky. Good times. I always enjoy the connections I make at these smaller regional events, and since it takes place in a city where I used to live, Fosscon itself will always hold a special place for me.

A beach, a space ship and a road trip

MJ and I went down to Florida earlier this month for a family reunion, but the rest of our trip was pretty much a vacation, the first beach vacation we’d had in nearly two years.

Several evenings were spent poolside with frozen strawberry daquaris from the outside bar. Sunday was our beach day after breakfast with family. We got some chairs and an umbrella set up by the hotel and spent a long afternoon relaxing. I went in the ocean a couple times, where strong waves made for an exhilarating dip. On the beach I spent much of the time reading, finishing Madeleine L’Engle’s Dragons in the Water young adult novel that afternoon. Our time concluded when an evening thunderstorm rolled in and forced us to pack up and head inside.

That evening MJ found us a Cuban restaurant to go to, which happened to be both highly rated and near our hotel. It was probably the best meal out I had during our whole trip, such delicious food! And a couple incredibly strong mojitos for me, though I probably should have stopped at one, hah!

Monday was more of an adventure day. At 9:30 we met up with my mother and Aunt Elaine to drive up to the Kennedy Space Center! I had never been before, and that day was a particularly special one since it was launch day for the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-12, which was sending a payload up to the International Space Station. The timing was somehat coincidental since I just learned about the launch over the weekend and then planned accordingly, but I have always wanted to see a launch for myself. Unfortunately we hit several snags in our journey to do so. The first was not leaving early enough. The launch was at 12:31, and we figured that getting there by 10:30 would be fine, but we didn’t expect the hour we’d spend in traffic once we were within a mile and a half of the center. That got us there just shy of 11:30, meaning the viewing platform closer to the rocket was full and we missed the last bus to it by about five minutes. Never fear though, they had bleachers setup within the center for all of us poor souls who had to view from there! It was a hot day, so we picked up a couple umbrellas to shield us from the sun as we sat in the bleachers and waited for the launch.

It’s a really great experience being there with so many other people. To my disappointment we’ve trended away from science and space interest and spending in my lifetime, but being there with hundreds of other people to feel the excitement, brave the hot Florida August weather and do the countdown was a lot of fun. Alas, the second snag of the day was where we were sitting in the bleachers, a huge building was in the way of us seeing the launch! Once it cleared the building we were able to see the rocket, but it was pretty high up at that point. I took a picture anyway.

It would be disingenuous to say I wasn’t disappointed by the experience given the inability to make it out closer and then missing the best views even from where we were, but I sought the silver linings. I’ve watched plenty of launches in the comfort of my own home via NASA TV an SpaceX coverage, I know what they look like. You go to these things to see it with your own eyes, but also to be with the crowd and feel the sonic boom. We did also get a pretty good view of the rocket itself coming down to land over at Cape Canaveral. So we got to experience some of that, and in the end I’d say it was worth it to experience those things with MJ, my mother and my Aunt Elaine. Still, I would like to go back some time for the full experience.

With the launch completed, the heat really started taking its toll. The temperature soared into the 90s with high humidity, placing the heat index at well over 100. We wandered through a Mars exhibit and swung by their shop, but we departed mid-afternoon to find some food in an air-conditioned space beyond the chaos of the center. We ended up at Crackers Island Grille in Cape Canaveral, where I had some delicious fish tacos and a local beer before returning to the hotel and parting ways with my mother and aunt.

With that, our trip together was winding down. A final visit to the pool that evening and a late dinner concluded our evening. Tuesday was bringing an early morning departure for me as I joined my mother and Aunt Elaine on a road trip up to Philadelphia, and MJ was off to fly back home to San Francisco.

Our road trip began at 8AM with a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get us going, and then we hopped on Interstate 95, which we were pretty much taking all the way up to Philadelphia. My aunt drove the entire way, the full 16 hours! Thankfully it was pretty uneventful, at least on our side of the highway, we did pass three major accidents that shut down I-95 south throughout the day.

As our journey progressed I had some lively discussions with my aunt, of which the most fun was a topic we disagreed on, but we were able to roll our eyes and laugh about it when we reached a firm impasse in our discussion. We hit Washington DC at the tail end of rush hour, which slowed us down a bit, but once we were through that we sailed on through up to Philadelphia, getting in a bit before midnight. A quick stop at Wawa provided us some dinner, which we brought back to the townhouse to eat before we went to bed.

This was the first time I had someone from my side of the family staying at our place and the first time using the sofa bed. It made me grateful we’d invested in setting up the guest room as soon as we moved in, and with our decision to go with the sofa bed. Having lots of beds for friends and family to stay makes this place that much more valuable for us.

My mother and aunt departed early Wednesday morning, leaving me a day off from work to catch up on house things and chill for the afternoon before returning to work on Thursday.

2017 Family Reunion in Melbourne, FL

On Thursday the 10th of August MJ and I boarded a red-eye flight across the country to visit my mother’s side of the family in Melbourne, Florida for a small family reunion coinciding with my grandfather’s 81st birthday. The first leg of the trip took us to Miami, where I grabbed an espresso from Cafe Versailles. This stop is a must whenever I’m in that airport, especially since I’m usually stepping off a sleepless overnight flight when I get there. We then had a quick hop up to Orlando. A regional aircraft, right? No, they run a 767 up there, complete with big first class seats which we had complimentary status-based upgrades for! It was a short, but very comfortable flight. We arrived into Orlando and picked up the rental car to drive out to mid day Melbourne and get a nap before meeting family for dinner at a local steakhouse.

Dinner was a sort of was a pre-reunion gathering where MJ and I got to visit with my mother, grandfather and his wife Jo, Aunt Elaine, Aunt Pam, and Uncle Dan and his fiancee Jovie. It was my first time meeting Jovie and MJ was able to get acquainted with my Uncle Dan, the last of my uncles on that side of the family he hadn’t met. It was a fun evening, but even with the afternoon nap I was flagging pretty early and eager to get back to the hotel to get a proper night sleep in a bed.

Saturday was the reunion!

Early in the event we decided to get a cousins photo with grandpa. Now, I have a huge family on that side, since my mother was one of six children. I wouldn’t succeed in naming all of my cousins, let alone getting us all in once place at the same time. So we had a nice, representative sample of some of my generation of cousins, with the kids of four of the six siblings, along with the next generation in little Frankie. Also, our photo is hilarious, and also representative of all of us. We’re all over the place in geography, life and general chaos.

And in spite of my grandfather’s insistence that “this is a reunion not my birthday party!” we did have a carrot cake (his favorite, and mine!) and sang happy birthday late in the afternoon. It was nice reconnecting with family I’m close with, meeting new partners and children who have joined the family since I last visited, connecting with a cousin whose only contact we’ve had since childhood was over Facebook and meeting one cousin I hadn’t seen since we were both kids. It was hot out though, especially with so many people squeezed into a small space, and the required venturing outside for a BBQ lunch, during which I was able to spend some time with my grandfather and an uncle. The festivities wrapped up around 7PM and we went our separate ways for the evening, which for us meant retiring to the hotel pool.

I’d ignored my phone much of the day, and it was upon leaving that we caught up with the heartbreaking news out of Charlottesville, Virginia. My family is all over the board politics-wise. As a technology professional living in San Francisco my liberal leanings are well-known in my family, and I was certainly teased to that effect. But when applicable I’d interject a comment or two about equality and fairness to get people from going off the rails. Alas, while they respect me, as a liberal Californian my words seem mean very little to my conservative relatives. Then again, my incredibly white Irish and German ancestry family is getting more colorful by the year. We’re that newly melting pot family that the white nationalists are so offended by, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more American than us. By quietly living our lives and sharing them with whomever we want, we’re nudging our country into the progressive future that I still believe in, in spite of the dreadful setbacks we’re currently seeing.

The next morning was spent at my grandfather’s place with my mother, aunts and uncles, and some mimosas. We also got some more family photos! First posing with my mother and her three sisters.

And with grandpa and Jo (and Molly!).

It was really nice getting to visit everyone. My family does these kinds of gatherings every few years, but it often conflicts with other travel plans I’ve already made for work or otherwise. This was planned months ago so I was able to adjust my schedule around it. This was also the first small chunk of time I’ve taken off since starting my new job in January, so we spent a couple days playing tourist while we were there in in central Florida.

Baseball, MST3K, OSEN and streetcars

I’ve kept busy these past few weeks. On Monday the 24th I joined my Mesosphere colleagues for pizza and wings before two of us led a group of 25+ down to AT&T Park to watch the San Francisco Giants play against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, our beloved home team lost 10-3 and as the losing game went on the crowds were fleeing the stadium. In the 8th inning, when the Pirates scored four more runs, the seagulls which descend upon the stadium at the end of the game for leftover snacks were starting to outnumber the remaining fans. I toughed it out though, with two German colleagues who were attending their first baseball game. In spite of the loss, it was a beautiful night to be outside and it was my first opportunity this season to get out to AT&T Park.

Later that week I met up with a friend of mine for a walk around Lake Merritt over in Oakland. We met at BART and walked over to the lake to do the three mile loop. We hadn’t seen each other in a few months so it was nice to spend the time together, and I’d never been to the lake before. Pelicans, geese and all kinds of other sea fowl hang out at the brackish lake, and in spite of my dislike for birds they did liven up the evening too, as did the beautiful lake itself.

Last Thursday MJ and I met at The Warfield after work for the second night of San Francisco’s stop of the MST3K Live! – Watch Out for Snakes! Tour. We went for the “Secret Surprise Film!” (rather than Eegah, the night before) night and it didn’t disappoint. The live cast and audience were fun and being around so many fellow MSTies is always an interesting experience, I always forget how many of us there are!

This was also my first time at The Warfield. It’s an easy walk from home, so that was nice. The theater was a bit warm, but in the tradition of these older theater it was ornately decorated and a pleasure to spend time in.

The weekend was spent with MJ as one of the few that we’ve had together recently. We enjoyed some nice meals and then got down to the business of booking travel. My travel schedule from August through October is a bit chaotic. I’m leaving San Francisco on August 10th, not to return until after a partial vacation in Dublin over Labor Day. Then I have trips to Los Angeles, Orlando, Raleigh, Prague and Germany taking me through the end of October. Of that, only one trip had been booked. We spent Sunday afternoon sifting through airline fare classes and routes to find the best deals and over the next couple days we managed to firm up a host of plans.

My first trip takes me to Orlando for a family reunion that’s happening this Saturday. From there I’m going up with my mother and aunt to our townhouse in Philadelphia for a week and a half where I’ll speak at a PLUG meeting and then meet MJ as he re-joins me to attend Fosscon, where I’m also speaking. We’ll be off to Dublin from there, I’ll work for a couple days and speak at a Kafka meetup before spending a long weekend together being tourists.

On Wednesday I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while to grab dinner, and then Thursday was spent at the inaugural gathering of the Open Source Entrepreneur Network Bay Area at the Docker offices in SOMA. There I had the pleasure of finally meeting John Mark Walker (we’ve known of each other for years), and quickly connect with long time open source colleagues Stephen Walli and Jono Bacon, who were all speaking that evening. In the first talk of the evening, John Mark guided us through what he believed made open source entrepreneurs and defined where open source advocates and evangelists for a company sit (it’s near the funnel). He also made clear that there are pieces (bits of software that make up something), projects (think, OpenStack) and products (any of the various vendor-sponsored all-inclusive proprietary-bits-on-top “distributions” of OpenStack). I also gleaned some thoughtful observations from his talk, like how he considers the groundwork laid by the open source way itself to be what drove such high rate of collaborative innovation today, not necessarily the other way around.

Stephen brought us back in time with a history lesson about the rise of open source, particularly centered around some of Red Hat’s customer-focused business model that has brought them such success. In this, he wove in customers and community. A non-paying user community is essential to any open source project, because that’s where you get your outside contributors. It doesn’t just happen automatically though, you must have a quick on-ramp to make sure people can use and develop against your software quickly and you should still expect it to be a pretty small fraction of your total user base. I also liked how he talked about setting customer and partner expectations, along with those in the community, and noted that they were different. The evening concluded with a talk from Jono Bacon who talked about “Building a World Class Community” during which he talked about culture, contribution workflows, the importance of trust and gave a series of recommendations.

The weekend came quickly and on Saturday MJ and I had tickets for a baseball game. Back to AT&T Park for me! This time we went with a winery that we’re members of, so there was pre-game wine and snacks to be enjoyed. Merlot with a hot dog? Don’t mind if I do! We had a really nice time together and it was an exciting game to watch. Even better, this time the Giants won.

Sunday was pretty mellow, but I was eager to spend much of it outside. In the morning I took a walk down Market, picked up a coffee, walked around the Embarcadero. I also took a lot of pictures of streetcars and stopped by the little SF Railway Museum where I picked up a new hat. That afternoon we went out for lunch at a little restaurant on the Embarcadero and watched cars on the E-Line pass by. More pictures! Then I road my first and second ones of the day, taking the E-Line to Ferry Building where we transferred to one of the F-Line cars to go down Market and get home.

This week I met with our new pet sitter. Caligula is on some medication to try and regulate his high calcium levels. Most of his life he’s also been on the heavy side, but he’s been losing weight recently too. I’m really hoping the medication works and the change in his food to one more appropriate for older cats helps.

Tuesday night I had dinner with my friend and open source colleague Remy. We met at Thirsty Bear Brewing to chat about work, open source and life in general. Good times.

And now I’m getting ready to head out on that trip to Florida!

Kitty cardiologist, local Ubuntu+Debian, wine rack, OC Zoo, visiting cousin and server triage

MJ has been traveling for work a fair amount lately. In June he was in Washington state, then he was off to Texas. He’s spent the past week and a half on the east coast. Add in work and both of us entertaining friends we had visiting lately, we haven’t seen a whole lot of each other. I was pretty disappointed when I learned he had to extend this latest work trip by a few days. Instead of coming home Sunday, he returned on Wednesday, just hours after I left for my next trip! Thankfully I was just heading down to Los Angeles for an event and came home Thursday morning. I finally got my husband to myself this past weekend!

I kept busy on the home front while he traveled, including the meetups and another trip to the California Academy of Sciences I talked about here.

The morning following the Redis meetup at work I had to spend a couple hours taking Caligula to the cardiologist. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but he has high calcium levels according to a few blood tests. They are high enough that they need to be treated before it does damage, so the first order of business is finding out what is wrong. During the diagnostic tests they found an abnormality with his heart. We still don’t know why his calcium levels are high, but we’ve ruled out some of the major issues and now his primary doctor wants to craft a treat-the-symptom plan. But first, she wanted him to see a cardiologist, since typical treatments like SubQ fluids and steroids can impact the heart. Our regular veterinary practice doesn’t have a cardiologist in their rotation, so he was off to SFVS, a hospital we got very familiar with as Simcoe went there routinely for care during her last few years with us, and so we were back again!

In spite of friendliness at home, Caligula is never very charming when he visits the vet. Thankfully, he was on his best behavior this time. The physical exam went fine, and since he was being so chill they figured they wouldn’t have to sedate him for further tests. Great! He was whisked away into the back for an ultrasound preformed by the cardiologist, as well to get his blood pressure checked. The result? He has been diagnosed with mild hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HMC). Right now it’s only noticeable as part of his heart being abnormally thick, but he’s asymptomatic and the only advice was to keep an eye on it with annual checkups. Calcium treatment-wise he gave the green light for any treatment his primary vet orders. Hooray!

With that, and then the rest of my work day, behind me, that Wednesday evening was spent doing an Ubuntu Hour and a Debian Dinner. I hadn’t done either one in over a year. Declining turnout and disappointing attendance at a 16.04 release party last June let me to shift it to the back burner commitment-wise. I wasn’t sure I’d pick it back up again at all. A small BALUG meeting where we talked about the latest Debian release and desire to connect with some Ubuntu folks following some big changes this year (discontinuation of the Ubuntu phone/tablet, shuttering of the Unity project) inspired me to take some time to plan another one. We had 7 people come out across the two back-to-back events, including a couple new folks. This is a high average for these events and I had fun, so I was glad I took the time.

After the meetup I set aside a few minutes to meet one of my neighbors who was giving away an 80 bottle wine rack that seemed like it would suit our condo nicely. Indeed it does! He helped me bring it down and I put it together over the weekend. It’s a massive improvement over the pile of boxes in the corner that the wine had been in previously. I did catalog all our wines (both here in and Pennsylvania) in a spreadsheet recently, but I still had to dig through a bunch of boxes to find the one I wanted.

Aside from setting up the wine rack, I had a pretty chill weekend. I wrote a letter, read a lot. Before he left, MJ raided the Yahoo! company store and picked me up a soft, fluffy purple blanket. It’s perfect for snuggling up and enjoying some reading or TV. It’s also Caligula approved. Sunday was spent in Santa Clara for a conference I write about here. I then took Monday off to make up for the day, something I’m quite proud of myself for doing self-care wise, as I’m prone to work way too much.

During my quick jaunt down to Los Angeles last week I made a quick stop in the tiny Orange County Zoo with my friend Nathan after lunch. It’s a park that specializes in local animals, so the big draws of the zoo included a bear, a bobcat, and various large eagles. It was a pretty hot day, so most of the animals were sleeping through it, but even that was pretty adorable. The bear took advantage of the weather to take a bath, and the opossum sleeping in an Amazon box was pretty much my favorite thing ever. We also took a ride on the super cute, 1:3 scale Irvine Park Railroad before heading back to my hotel to get some work done and prep a demo cluster before the evening Meetup.

My 8:30AM flight home on Thursday morning was early, but the John Wayne airport is small and the trip was uneventful. Finally reunited on Thursday morning, MJ and I immediately ran off to our respective offices for a couple busy work days. Thursday I also had a new monitor delivered at home, an Acer GN276HL bid 27-inch. Both my current 22″ monitors were fine, but they only have VGA and DVI outputs. My current work laptop, which I use while working from home half the time, is the first laptop I’ve had that lacks a VGA port. I played around with DVI-to-HDMI and VGA-to-HDMI but there was an annoying amount of fiddling every time I plugged it in because the auto-detection wasn’t great. As a result, over the past 6 months I’ve left my second monitor dark as I just used my laptop screen at home, on my desk, but it wasn’t optimal. While this monitor doesn’t have crazy impressive resolution like my one at work, the price was right and so far it’s working great.

MJ and I spent the together and playing it pretty low-key this past weekend. Saturday I spent much of the day reading and watching a couple episodes of a show MJ and I watch together. The only event of the day was brunch at the Delancey Street Restaurant, which we’d never been to but was quite good. That was how we found out about the closures of the Muni Metro on weekends and late evenings for a month while they test the new light rail cars. We picked it up at the Embarcadero with dozens of folks headed to the Giants game. A beautiful day, I walked home from the restaurant, stopping at Philz for a coffee to balance out the couple of sour beers (Duchesse de Bourgogne and Petrus Aged Pale) I had with my crab cake Benedict.

Yesterday MJ and I met up with my cousin Keith who is in town for work. We drove down to Sutro’s at Cliff House for a late lunch, then took a drive through Golden Gate Park, then up to Twin Peaks. Unfortunately the fog was obscuring the breathtaking views that can usually be seen from there, but we got a picture together anyway. It was a good afternoon. It had been twelve years since we’d seen each other, and with my big family spread out all over the world this was the first time in our lives we were able to really spend any significant time talking.

Sunday evening was spent tackling some triage on our media and backup servers we keep here at home. Both seemed to have some issues with disks in their RAID arrays and one may have a failing SSD, which stores the operating system. There are some gremlins, but we’ve made some decisions about how we want to move forward. Now to order some drives!

And now another work week! This evening a bunch of us from the office are making our way down to AT&T Park to see a Giants game, which should be pretty fun, it should be a beautiful evening for it.

DC/OS Meetups and Cal Academy

Last week we welcomed Matt Jarvis on to our community team at Mesosphere, which I’m pretty excited about. Not just because I have too much work and I’m thrilled to have someone else on board, but because he’s a great guy who I already enjoy working with. For his first week we had the whole team (three developer advocates and our community manager) meet in San Francisco to give him the crash course in what we do. The evenings were also sprinkled with activities, starting with a meetup on Tuesday evening with the folks from Redis.

The meetup was planned before we knew about his on-boarding, but having us all there gave me the opportunity to co-present with our other developer advocate and throw Matt right into the thick of things by making him MC the event (OK, he’s run Meetups before so it was no big deal). The talk that Joerg and I did covered the various mechanisms for service discovery in DC/OS, which the Redis package benefits from. After a quick install demo, we then welcomed Tague Griffith, head of Developer Advocacy at Redis Labs, who talked about the value of microservices, where Redis fits in, and how it’s easy to deploy it on DC/OS.

Slides from the Service Discovery on DC/OS segment of the presentation are up here (PDF) and the video of the meetup is on YouTube.

On Thursday night we wanted to do a social gathering together, along with our current boss. We met up at Joerg’s apartment and made dinner together (I washed and cut some things!) and had a couple beers. Then we set out walk through Golden Gate Park for NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences. A lot of museums in the city are either open late or have special events on Thursday nights, so it was good timing for us and I’d wanted to check out NightLife for some time. By the time we got there, around 7:30, the planetarium tickets were gone and the last entrance to the rain forest dome had just been called, both things I’ll keep in mind for next time, but there was plenty else to do. Having just been there a couple weeks before, I played tour guide as we went into the earthquake house, saw the penguins, explored the aquarium, saw the Pterosaurs exhibit and visited the living roof, where we got a group photo!

Ben Hindman, myself, Joerg Schad, Judith Malnick and Matt Jarvis

Keeping busy with Meetups, this week I popped down to Irvine in southern California on Wednesday. I was able to meet up with a freelancer I know down there for lunch and have some great chats about our shared Ubuntu background (that’s how we met) and the state of the container space (like where DC/OS and Apache Mesos fit in!). He’s also going back in time with some repairs on really old systems that he has, so it was fun to learn about his experience with how difficult and inconsistent personal computer networking was in the 80s, and how interesting it has been replicating it today.

In the evening I met up with our Mesosphere representative at the SoCal DevOps meeting. I was there to give a talk on “Containerized, Cloud-Native Operations for Big Data Analytics” (slides). After pizza and drinks, the meetup organizer had attendees do quick introductions. It had been a while since I’d been to a meetup that did that, and aside from being good for attendees to get to know each other (especially when you’re shy like me!), it’s incredibly helpful to the speaker. Knowing some of the background of attendees helped me adjust my talk quite a bit to tell the right stories and touch upon pain points I knew they’d be familiar with in the operations work they were doing.

Thanks to Steve Wong over at Dell EMC for taking this photo during my talk! (source)

The talk itself centered around maintaining a generic container-based cloud-native infrastructure, but during the Q&A the audience was eager to learn more about DC/OS specifically, so I was happy to oblige! I also did the Bus Tracking SMACK Stack to show them DC/OS in action and answer some more of their questions about usage around the GUI and CLI.

Even better, this demo uses data from the Los Angles Metro, so I finally got to give this demo near Los Angeles! Unfortunately the LA Metro buses don’t come as far southeast as Irvine, so it wasn’t quite a local demo, but it was pretty close. I also enjoyed the subsequent jokes about LA traffic, and buses getting stuck in it, when they asked specifics about how the demo worked.

Getting to meet some folks down there was also valuable as we have MesosCon North America down in Los Angeles in September. For folks eager to learn more about DC/OS and Apache Mesos, it’s an amazing opportunity to do both, and it’s right in their back yard this year.

Cloud+Data NEXT Silicon Valley 2017

Several months ago Bill Liu reached out to me about an opportunity to speak at the Cloud+Data Next conference that was held on Sunday. After some discussion, we settled on me giving a talk on “Day 2 Operations Of Cloud-Native Systems” in the DevOps/SRE track, but there were many opportunities here based on the work we do. Tracks at this event covered containers, machine learning, data infrastructure and analytics and more, all of which we put strategic effort into supporting on the DC/OS platform.

The conference was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It may come as a surprise, but in spite of working in tech, attending a lot of conferences AND having lived here for over seven years, it was my first time at that convention center. I’ve worked so long from home so I shy away from long commutes, and for me it’s generally easier to attend a conference in somewhere like Seattle where I have a hotel instead of commuting down into the valley. Sunday made this an easier prospect, since I wouldn’t have to deal with rush hour traffic. A stroke of luck also meant that MJ was traveling for work this weekend, so I didn’t need to take the train (a 2+ hour ordeal) or leave him without a car as I took the only one we have out here for the day.

The conference format consisted of a series of keynotes in the morning, with tracks in the afternoon. The first keynote of the day was from Craig McLuckie, the CEO of Heptio and one of the founders of the Kubernetes project. His talk was titled “Architecting for sustainability: micro-services and the path to cloud native operations” and he began by talking about the balance between fast development and innovation and having a perfectly stable system. His talk also covered the shift to more specialized operations roles, with staff covering infrastructure, cluster, common services and specific application operations. He argued that with specialization comes more automation, as you end up with a shift from generalists who are doing various tasks rarely, to specialists who will quickly tire of doing the same tasks over and over again, and thus automate them. It also leads to better monitoring and more as you have people who really understand the systems that they’re working with.

I also enjoyed that he talked about the importance of Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR), rather than attempting to build a system that never fails. Systems will fail, people will make mistakes. It’s our job to make sure that when things fail and people make mistakes, we can recover from them and move forward. Containers were a key part of his message here, with immutable images being created in development, tested and deployed. When your development and testing environments look similar to production, a lot of problems go away.

With my own talk later in the day about what to look for when finally going to operate that cloud-native system driven by microservices, it was really nice to have this talk ahead of mine to provide such a great place for the audience to start with. “Remember that keynote this morning? Here’s what you need to consider when you’re finally running it: metrics, logging, debugging, recovery and backup tools…”

The next keynote was from Jeff Feng on “How Airbnb Does Data Science” where he talked about the value of experiments in development of their product. Using examples from changes that Airbnb had made to the website UI, he walked us through how data was used when doing UI change experiments. How will a change in wording on a button impact bookings? What types of customers respond better to what types of photos in advertising their offerings? I learned that in order to most effectively use and learn from these experiments, they have a data scientist embedded on every team who can help them isolate, review and analyze data from experiments to make sure changes don’t have negative or unintended consequences. He concluded his talk by talking about their internal Data University where employees can learn how to data can impact their own work and be introduced to the tooling to make that happen. During his talk he mentioned a TechCrunch article about it, which I dug up after his talk, Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science, as well as a Medium.com post that he co-authored which dives into it a bit more deeply, How Airbnb Democratizes Data Science With Data University

My talk took place after one from Todd Palino who talked about “Holistic Reliability: SRE at LinkedIn” which covered their approach to SRE. I’m very familiar with the role of SRE, so the general concepts around it weren’t new to me. However, it was nice to learn about their practices around common operations repositories so others can pitch in and “help themselves” much like I was familiar with in the OpenStack project. It was also nice to learn how their company mindset was open source first. I’ve known for some time that Apache Kafka (which he happens to work on) came out of LinkedIn, but I learned that this was by no means an anomaly. He talked about how there is often a push for open sourcing when a valuable new tool has been developed internally.

The talk I gave on “Day 2 Operations Of Cloud-Native Systems” (slides here) was an evolution of a talk I gave at Seattle DevOps Days back in April. The talk now includes a more formalized checklist of things you need to build into your evaluation and building of your cloud-native system. After talking with folks in Seattle, one of the most important takeaways that I stressed with the talk this time was that everything I talked about (monitoring, logging, backups and debugging) are the things that are taken for granted and it’s rare that there is enough time spent on making sure they are of high enough quality to serve the operations team when an outage eventually occurs. My hope is that the checklist I added will help give some direction around these “unwritten” necessities as they shift into a world that, even in it’s simplest form, has load-balanced applications, running on containers, on clusters, on some underlying hardware or cloud. That’s a lot of layers to keep track of when something goes wrong.

After my talk I attended one from Nell Shamrell-Harrington of Chef. I happened to run into her earlier in the day and realized at lunch that she was also a speaker at Seattle DevOps Days this year! There she was talking about DevOps in Politics, but at this conference she was giving a talk on “Platform Agnostic and Self Organizing Software Packages” where she talked about the project she’s working on at Chef, Habitat. The promise of Habitat is the ability to build and deploy applications across many platforms consistently. It’s interesting to have a look at so I suggest you do, but what impressed me the most about her presentation was that her demos actually walked the walk. Her first demo showed configuration and installation an app in Ubuntu on Azure, and the second an app on Red Hat on AWS. This may seem like a small detail, but platform agnosticism is hard to do right, and when a project is as young as Habitat is you often see only a single type of demo that has been fine-tuned to work perfectly in one place. Kudos to the team for casting a wider net to impress us early on!

In all, I enjoyed the event. The ticket price was lower than some others covering these topics, so it felt like there was an opportunity for a more diverse audience of people skill-wise to attend. I met a student who was looking into getting into data analytics, a systems administrator who was seeking to move more of his skill set, and eventually work, into the area of data. Several other people I spoke with were working in software development, but curious about where the latest data-drive technology was going and were willing to give up a Sunday to learn more. I may keep an eye out for future events in the area since it may be a nice opportunity.

More photos from the event can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157683129676822