Audiobooks – September 2019

Off the Rails: A Train Trip Through Life by Beppe Severgnini

A collection of train journey articles (written over about 20 years). A good selection on interesting and amusing. 7/10

Exoplanets: Hidden Worlds and the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life by Donald Goldsmith

A history of the discovery of exoplanets, covering the different groups, techniques and rivalries. Good although I got the people mixed up sometimes. 7/10

Save the Cat! : The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

A guide to screenwriting with a few stories and observations on movies thrown in. Good even if you are just reading it for fun. 7/10

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

A book about geriatric and end-of-life care and choices. Lots of points about how risking all for aggressive treatment is often a very bad idea. Thought-provoking. 9/10

Ancient Alexandria: The History and Legacy of Egypt’s Most Famous City by Charles River Editors

Just a two hour long overview of the history. Covered the basic stuff and maybe worth skimming before you hit something meatier. 6/10

Vulcan 607 by Rowland White

The story of the long-distant bombing raids during the Falkland’s war. Lots of details on the history of the Vulcan, the crews, background and the actual missions. 9/10

101 Secrets For Your Twenties by Paul Angone

I really can’t remember this book well. I think it was okay but serves me right for getting months behind on reviews. On list for completeness. ?/10

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Audiobooks – August 2019

Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Various depths of coverage (usually by interest of the story) of the discovery, usage and literature/cultural impact around each of the elements. 8/10

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Autobiography read by the author. Covers his whole career and personal life. Well written and lots of details and insight. Well read too. 9/10

The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King – The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by Walter R. Borneman

A Biography of the 5 Admirals and the interactions of their careers before and during World War 2. 7/10

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

I really can’t remember this book (serves me right for delaying reviews). I think it was okay though. [67]/10

The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek

Pretty much what the subtitles says. Worked fairly well at keep the different people distinct and technical explanations made sense. 7/10

The Unopened casebook of Sherlock Holmes written by John Taylor with Simon Callow as Sherlock Holmes and Nicky Henson as Dr Watson

6 audioplay stories. Quality is okay although I detected a theme with the villains. 7/10

Best. Movie. Year. Ever: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen by Brian Raftery

A run though of the great (and a few not) movies that came out in 1999. Some backstories on many with industry and world news from the year. 8/10


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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 2 – Session 3

Everett Toews – Is GitOps worthy of the [BuzzWord]Ops moniker?

  • Usual Git workflow
  • But it takes some action
  • Applying desired state from Git
  • Example: Infrastructure as code
    • DNS
    • Onboarding and offboarding
  • Git is now a SPOF
  • Change Management Dept is now a barrier
  • Integrate with ITSM
  • Benefits: Self-service, Compiience

Joel Wirāmu Pauling – Why Bare Metal still maters

  • Cloud Native Dev doesn’t exist as a closer system
  • IoT is all hardware
  • AI/ML is using special hardware
  • Networks is all hardware offloads
  • FPGAs and ASICS need more standard open way to access
  • You’ll always have weird stuffs on your network
  • Virtualization has abstracted away the real
  • We care able vendor lockin with cloud APIs and Aus electricity isn’t all that green

Steven Ensslen – Do you have a data quality problem?

  • What is data ops and why do we want it?
  • People think they have a data quality problem but they don’t actually measure it to see how bad.
  • Causes all sorts of problems.
  • 3 Easy steps to fix data quaility
  • 1 – Document data charactersistics and train people to know them
  • 2 – Monitor data as if it is infrastructure
    • Test data like it is code
  • 3 – Professionalize your support of data professionals
    • Bring in the spreadsheet experts
    • Support reporting and analytics people too

Mandi Buswell – What are Kubernetes Operators and Why do I care

  • Like an App Store on your kubernetes cluster
  • Like a like Kubernetes robot doing that hard work for you. Lifecycle management
  • Operators run as microservices on the kubernetes cluster
  • operatorhub.io
  • Work on any kubernetes cluster
  • You can even write your own

Laura Bell – Securing the systems of the future

  • Fear and Lothing
    • It is an old problem because “People are Jerks”
  • All organization try either Fight, Flight, Freeze
  • Trying to protect: Confidentiality, Integrity, Availbality
  • Protect, Detect, Respond
  • Monolith
    • A big wall around
    • Layered defense is better but not the final solution
    • Defensive software architecture is not just prevention
    • Castles had lots of layers of defenses. Some prevention, Some Detection, Some response
  • MIcroservices
    • Look at something in the middle of a star and erase it
    • Push malicious code into deployment pipelines
  • Avoid scar tissue, stuff put in just to avoid specific previous problems. Make you feel safe but without any real evidence.
  • Fearless security patterns and approaches
  • Technology is changing but the basics are still the same
  • Lots of techniques in computer security.
  • Prevention and Detection are interchangeable
  • Batman vs Meercat model
  • Be Aware and challenge your own bubble
  • Supply Chains are vulnerable: Integrations, dependencies, Data Sources
  • Determinate threat vs Dynamic Threat
    • Can’t predicts which steps in which order are going to get the result
    • Comprimise the data then the engine will return bad results
  • Plug for opensecurity.nz

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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 2 – Session 2

Jacob Ivester – Diagnose DevOps: The work behind the work

  • Unhappy DevOps Family
    • Unsupport Software
    • Releases outside of primetime
    • etc
  • Focus on Process as a common problem
    • Manage Change that Affects Multiple teams
    • Throughputs vs Outputs
  • Repeatability
  • Extensibility
  • Visability
  • Safety

Cameron Huysmans – Designing an Enterprise Secrets Management Service using HashiCorp Vault

  • Australian based Bank
  • Transition for last 30 years for a bank to a layered based security model (all the way down to the server in the datacentre)
  • In 2017 moved to the cloud and infrastructure in the cloud
  • What makes a bank – licensed to operate
    • Must demonstrate control of the process
    • Reports problems to regulator
    • Identifyable business Processes
    • All Humans
  • If you use a pipeline there are no humans in the process. These machine process needs to conform to the same control
    • Archetecture naturally resistent to change. Change requires a complex process
    • ITIL
    • 2FA required for everything
    • Secrets everywhere
  • Disruption
    • Dynamic Systems with constant updates
    • Immutable containers
    • Changes done via code
    • Live system changes
    • Code and automation drives things
    • Dynamic CMDB – High Levels of abstraction
    • But you still have a secrets problems
  • Secrets Management
    • Not just a place to store passwords
    • But also a Chain of Trust
  • If Pipelines make the change who owns it, who audits it?
  • Vault becomes a bit of audit by saying who used something (person or process)
  • Why another tool ?
  • Created a pattered on how thing will be deployed. Got Security to okay it. Build it in a pipeline
  • Vault placed in the highest security area
    • But less-secure areas needed to talk to it.
    • Lots of zones internally. Some in Cloud, DMZ
    • Some talk via API gateway to main vault
    • Had a Vault replica that had a copy of some secrets and could be used by those zones that were not allowed to to the secrets zone
  • Learnings
    • This is hard, especially in the cloud
    • If Pipelines are doing the change, that must be kept secure. Attribution, notification and real-time analytics
    • Declarative manifests of change (code, scripts, tools) require more strict access controls
    • Avoid direct point-to-point connections

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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 2 – Session 1

Cath Jones – The Myth of the Senior Engineer

  • They won’t be able to hit the ground running on Day 1
    • Assume they know everything about how things work at your organisation that is organisation or industry-specific
    • If you don’t account for this you will see problems, stress, high turnover
  • Example: Trail by Fire
    • You get shown the basic stuff and then given your first ticket
  • How do you take organisation knowledge and empower people?
  • Employee Socialisation
    • Helps mitigate problems and assumptions
    • Facilitates communication and networking
    • Allows people to begin contributing sooner
  • Pre-Arrival Stage
    • Let people know what is expected
    • Let existing people kno who is thating and our expectations for them
    • Example: Automatic (wordpress)
      • Asked people in the final stages to complete some (paid) work.
      • Candiatites get better understanding of the company
  • Preparing for Transition
    • Culture-shock
    • How are you like compared to where they came from?
    • The new role compared to their previous one?
    • Come from a place where they were an expert and had lots of domain-specific knowledge to being a newbie
  • The Encounter Stage
    • Mentoring, Communication, Technical onboarding
    • Example: Cohorts of new hires
    • Mentoring: Proven way to socialise Senior engineers. Can be Labour intensive but helps when documentation lacking
    • Share Mentor-ship responsibilities: eg Technical and Organisational mentor seperate
    • Communication: Expectations that company places, how privledged and how transparent?
    • Authenticity: Can people be themselves. Reduces stress
  • Technical onboarding: Needs to take time and do it properly. Allow new people to contribute back to it and make it better.
    • Pick out easy wins or low-hanging fruit so peopel can contribute sooner
    • Have Style Guides and good docs
  • MetaMorphosis
    • Senior Engineers are fully Contributing

Katie McLaughlin – Being kind to 3am you

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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 1 – Session 3

Gleidson Nascimento – Packaging OpenShift Origin Kubernetes Distribution (OKD)

  • Centos SIG
  • Based on latest upstream

Joshua King – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Just Realign It

  • Project: Let notifications work for powershell users
  • Then he found the UWP community toolkit
  • Which had notifications built-in
  • These days looks around first, asks for APIs rather than scraping
  • Look around for open-source tools and give back
  • Sometimes your implimentation might be fun or even better than the original

Srdan Dukic – Implicit trust agreement in Learning Organizations

  • Sysadmin shell -> ansible -> APIs -> automate everything
  • Programmers coded themselves out of a job
  • Followup instructions or achieve results?
  • A bit of both – tension between the two
  • Money today or Money tomorrow?
  • Employee – Expected to make things better
  • Employer – Support things getting better, not fire people when they automate themselves out of a job

Julie Gunderson – You Can’t Buy DevOps

  • Lots of companies talking about DevOps are trying to sell you a solution
  • What doesn’t makes you a devops company
    • Be in the Cloud
    • Have a DevOps team
    • Get rid of the Ops Team
    • A checklist you can tick off
    • Easy
  • Westrum 3 Cultures Model
  • We want the generative model
  • Keeping information flowing between teams is prerequisite for high performance teams
  • Psychological Safety to make decisions. Lets employees focus on problems and getting work done rather than politics
  • Practices
    • Configuration management
    • CICD Pipelines
    • Work in small batches
    • Test every commit and everything else (look at Chaos engineering)
  • Tools
    • Let the teams who are using the tools decide on what tools they will use
    • XebiaLabs Periodic table of DevOps tools
  • Getting there
    • Start with one team and a POC
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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 1 – Session 2

Allen Geer, Michael Harrod – Kiwi Ingenuity – Kiwi’s can Overcome Tough Problems In DevOps

  • Contrast – US vs NZ
    • In the US companies are bigger, lots more people, lots more money to throw at problems.
    • Contrast with Arial Topdressing pioneered in NZ using surplus WW2 aircraft
    • Since the problems are up to 100x bigger in the US the tools are designed for that scale. ROI might not not be there for smaller companies.
    • Dealing with Scale
      • Avoid “Shinny new thing” syndrom, plan for keeping things for at least 5 years.
      • Ramp up slowly with the tool, push it into other areas.
      • Avoid Single Person Silo.
      • Bring up some Kiwi Inginuity (Look at Open source, Use the Free Tiers or Cheap Tiers).
      • Out-Innovate the US companies rather than trying to out-scale
    • Infrastructure: Monetization of Toil
      • Spending time and money on stuff you can automate
      • Lots of manual creating of infrastructure, servers, firewalls.
      • Lack of incentive for providers who charge for changes to automate stuff
      • Other Providers will automate (especially overseas ones that will come into NZ)
      • People take risks (eg no DR) in order to save money.
      • Innovator’s Dilemma
    • Solutions
      • More vocal customers
      • Providers should provider a platform, lots more self-service. Ahnd-holding for the hard stuff not the day-to-day
      • Charge for outcomes not person-hours
      • Begin Small
      • It’s an experiment – Freedom to Fail
    • Inattentive Customer Service
      • Overseas companies have a lot more forums, helpdesks, quick responses.
      • “Kiwis reluctant to make a fuss” , Companies not used to people making a fuss
      • Apply “American Ingenuity” – Striving focus to increase customer satisfaction.
      • Build a healthy community (eg online forums) around your service.
      • Gather insights from customers
      • Bezos – “When a customer contacts us, we see this as a defect” . Focus on the source of problems
    • Evolving Kiwi Workforce
      • NZ has older and aging workforce. 2nd oldest in the OECD
      • Slightly Fewer peoples with degrees
      • 11% of workforce 65+ by 2038
    • Learning in the workplace
      • Leverage senior Knowledge
      • Telco – Older customers didn’t want to approach young workers in mall. Brought in retired engineers to work in stores.
      • Mentoring and reverse-mentoring. Mentor learns insights from mentoree too (eg about younger people’s habits)
    • Introducing people to DevOps
      • Kiwi DevOps models

Craig Box – Teaching Old Servers New Tricks: extending the service mesh outside the cluster

  • Service Mesh
    • Managing a service is hard
    • metrics, monitoring, logging, traceing
    • AAA encryption, certs
    • load balancing, routing, network policy
    • quota
    • Failure handling, fault inject
  • Microservices
    • Not just for hipsters
    • Works best at scale. Lots of devs
  • Now introduce a network in between everything. Lots of hard dtuff, distributed systems are hard
  • Leaky abstractions
    • Have to build stuff into microservice to deal with problems of the network
    • In multiple libraries and languages
    • Can we fix it?
  • Sidecar Pattern
    • The sidecar does all the hard stuff instead of making the microservice itself do it.
    • Talks TCP. Able to work with all languages
  • Proxies as sidecars
    • SPOF
    • Sidecar is attached to each MS
  • Flexability and Power
    • Single place where we can do everything
    • Traffic going in: TLS termination, metrics, quota
    • Traffic out of workloads: Authentication, TLS connections
  • Istio
    • Open platform
    • Not always microservices
    • Uniform observability
    • Operational Agility
    • Policy driven Security
  • How istio works
    • Proxies + control plane
    • Pilot in control plane pushes config to proxies, keeps track of them, looks up stuff in k8s cluster
    • Mixer – policy check and telemetry
    • Citidel – cert authority to proxies
    • Control plane has to run on k8s
    • Proxies run using envoy
    • Zipkin built in
    • All done automatically for kubernetes environments ( admission controller adds sidecar )
  • Adding a VM to a service mesh
    • Enable the mesh expansion, connect the networks
    • Add the gateway IP to the VM
    • Get a cert and copy to the VM
    • Install proxy and node agent
    • Traffic from cluster -> VM .
      • Add the service to DNS in the cluster,
      • Create a ServiceEntry on the cluster
    • Traffic from VM -> Cluster service
      • Add Service and IP to /etc/host on the VM
  • Sample Application – Hipster Shop
    • productcatalogservice is outside of kubernetes
    • headless service in kubernetes
    • manually created service entry in k8s
    • Experimental istio commands to simplify process to single command

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DevOpsDays NZ 2019 – Day 1 – Session 1

Brooke Treadgold – Back to Basics

  • Transformation Lead ANZ Bank
  • Not originally from a Tech background
  • Tech has a lot of buzzwords and acronyms that make it an exclusive club. Improvements relay on people from other parts of the business that aren’t in that club
  • These people have to care about it and understand it.
  • Had to use terms that everybody in the business understood and related to.
  • Case for change – What top orgs do:
    • 208 times more frequent deployments
    • 2604 times faster to recover from incidents
    • 7 times lower change failure rate
  • What you need
    • High Priority -> Access to people to do the work
    • Needed tangible goal (weekly releases) to get people to focus (and pay)
  • Making change a reality
    • Risk Management
      • You can just stop doing the reports
      • You need to gain their trust in order to get influence
      • Have to take them along the way with the changes
    • Empathy
    • Influence
  • History at ANZ
    • First pipeline replace just one document
      • Explained to change managment team how the pipeline could replace the traditional plan
    • Rethink of Change Plan and Outcome Reports
      • Other teams needed these for confidence in the change
      • Found out what people actually cared about, found better ways to provide that information (confidence) it an automated way
    • Security Assessment
      • Traditionally required a big document filled in and signed off
      • Found that this was only required for “Significant” changes
      • Got a definition of what significant means so didn’t need to do this.
    • High Risk Change Records
      • Lots of paperwork for High Risk changes
      • Decided that these are not high risk changes so lots less work
      • Templated them so a lot easier to do

Charles Korn – Dockerised local build and testing environments made easy

  • Go Script – Single script that a consistence place in all you repos that does the basic function. install, help, run, deploy
  • batect – tool he wrote
    • dockerized dev environment plus a Go Script
  • Dev environment
    • Build env: code to an artifact
    • Testing Environments. Fake stuff, lots of different levels
  • Build Environment
    • Container with the build tools. Mount our code directory into this
    • Isolation brings consistency and repeatability. No more “works on my machine”
    • Clean container every single time we run a build
    • CI agents just need docker since teams will provide the container
    • Ease of Onboarding. Just get git and docker installed
    • Ease of change. Environment and tasks defined in yaml and versioned like everything else. New version downloaded. Kept in sync with actual code
  • Test Environments
    • You can run local tests
    • Consistently runs test on CI
    • Have to launch multiple containers for more complex tests, using built in docker definitions and health checks and networking
  • Path to Production
    • If deploying docker then can use same image
    • But works with stuff that isn’t deployed as docker too
  • What about docker compose?
    • Better performance
    • Model – tasks are a first class citizen – Doesn’t feel like you are fighting the too.
    • Better UI and developer experience. Updates managed automatically
    • Cleans up better after each run
    • It just works. Works with proxies better. Works with file permissions better.
  • How to get started?
    • start small, work incrementally
    • Start with the build enviroment
    • With the Test env work though one piece at a time.
    • Reuse components
    • Take advantage for other people’s images. Lots of mocks for cloud services.
    • Docker has library of health check scripts
    • Bunch of sample scripts for batect
  • github.com/charleskorn/batect

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Audiobooks – July 2019

The Return of the King by J.R.R Tolkien. Narrated by Rob Inglis. Excellent although I should probably listen slower next time. 10/10

Why Superman Doesn’t Take Over the World: What Superheroes Can Tell Us About Economics by J. Brian O’Roark

A good idea for a theme but author didn’t quite nail it. Further let down in audiobook format when the narrator talked to invisible diagrams. 6/10

A Fabulous Creation: How the LP Saved Our Lives by David Hepworth

Covers the years 1967 (Sgt Peppers) to 1982 (Thriller) when the LP dominated music. Lots of information all delivered in the authors great style. 8/10

The Front Runner by Matt Bai

Nominally a story about the downfall of Democratic presidential front-runner Gray Hart in 1987. Much of the book is devoted to how norms of political coverage changed at that moment due to changes in technology & culture. 8/10

A race like no other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York by Liz Robbins

Covering the 2007 New York marathon it follows the race with several top & amateur racers. Lots of digressions into the history of the race and the runners. Worked well 8/10

1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink by Taylor Downing

An account of how escalations in the cold war in 1983 nearly lead to Nuclear War, with the Americans largely being unaware of the danger. Superb 9/10


The High cost of Free Parking (2011 edition) by Donald Shoup.

One of the must-read books in the field although not a revelation for today’s readers. Found it a little repetitive (23 hours) and talking to diagrams and equations doesn’t work in audiobook format. 6/10



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Audiobooks – June 2019

Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov

A collection of short Robot stores and very short essays. Lots of classic stories although the essays are mostly forgettable. 7/10

Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer

An alien counterpart of Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzes her race’s equivalent of Galileo. 3rd in the trilogy. I like it enough. 7/10

In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford

An English Barrister describes 11 cases she has worked on. The lives and cases are mostly tragic but the writing is very compelling. 8/10

The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why by Amanda Ripley

A wide tour of the various ways people react in disasters for ignoring to freezing. Lots of interesting stories, some investigations into the psychology and some practical advice. 8/10

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien. Narrated by Rob Inglis.

The first time I’ve ever listened to this version. Excellent in every way. 10/10

Podcasting: The Ultimate Guide to Record, Produce, and Launch Your Podcast and Build Raving Fans by Martin C. Glover

A quick (40 minutes) intro to podcasting, some do’s and don’ts for perspective podcasters. Worth a listen if you are new to the topic and considering. 6/10

Nothing is real: The Beatles Were Underrated And Other Sweeping Statements About Pop by David Hepworth

A collection of essays, many about the Beatles but covering lots of other Pop-Music topics. A lot of good ones in there. 7/10

Safely to Earth: The Men and Women Who Brought the Astronauts Home by Jack Clemons

A memoir of a engineer who worked on the Shuttle and Apollo programs about his time there and what he worked on including the shuttle software. 7/10


The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien. Narrated by Rob Inglis.

10/10

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