The Age Of Smart Machines

What will life be like in the age of smart machines? According to a Batten Institute briefing on Innovation in the Age of Smart Machines, up to 66% of the U.S. workforce may lose their jobs to computers in the coming decades. The report points out, however, that humans will always be needed to direct the computers. I’m not so sure.

ZT 0001

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Making High Performance MySQL's New Website

HPM Cover

I recently updated the High Performance MySQL website to modernize it. I am impressed at how easy it is these days to get a great little brochure site hosted. It used to be a lot more work. I used a variety of tools and services to do this and decided to share this for people who are interested. Hopefully you’ll add comments and point me towards more tools and tips to make these things even easier for me in the future!

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The DevOps Identity Crisis

Why DevOps needs a manifesto after all, but may never get one.

brain

This article originally appeared on O’Reilly Radar.

DevOps is everywhere! The growth and mindshare of the movement is remarkable. But if you care deeply about DevOps, you might agree with me when I say that although its moment has “arrived,” DevOps is in serious trouble. The movement is fragmented and weakly defined, and is being usurped by those who care more about short-term opportunities than the long-term viability of DevOps.

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The Ultimate Bargain Coffee Kit

I’ve started drinking coffee over the last few years. Like most things I’ve picked up relatively late in life, I am kind of a snob, in that I want good coffee but I want it to be quick, easy, and cheap. This post is about the gear I’ve settled on for making my morning cup.

coffee

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Installing CyanogenMod on the Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

I wrote previously about how much I was using and enjoying my 9-inch Barnes and Noble Nook HD+. I’m still using and enjoying it, but a few of the things I mentioned in that article—the useless home screen, the schizophrenic updates from two app stores at once, and so on—started to annoy me. I started to fantasize about installing a clean, uncluttered Android operating system on it instead of using the Nook operating system. The best-known general-purpose Android OS is CyanogenMod, and that’s what I was thinking about.

cyanogenmod

Last time I did this, I didn’t like the result. I’ll explain why, then move on to show you how to install CyanogenMod easily on the Nook HD+ and talk about the results. (I’m very happy thus far).

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If Eventual Consistency Seems Hard, Wait Till You Try MVCC

This should sound familiar:

One of the great lies about NoSQL databases is that they’re simple. Simplicity done wrong makes things a lot harder and more complicated to develop and operate. Programmers and operations staff end up reimplementing (badly) things the database should do.

Nobody argued this line of reasoning more vigorously than when trying to defend relational databases, especially during the darkest years (ca. 2009-2010), when NoSQL still meant NO SQL DAMMIT, all sorts of NoSQL databases were sprouting, and most of them were massively overhyped.

But as valid as those arguments against NoSQL’s “false economy” simplicity were and are, the arguments against relational databases’ complexity hold true, too.

The truth is that no database is really simple. Databases have a lot of functionality and behaviors—even the “simple” databases do—and require deep knowledge to use well when reliability, correctness, and performance are important.

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A Free Tutorial On Go's Database/SQL Package

Do you use Google’s Go language (golang)? Do you use a relational database such as MySQL or PostgreSQL with it? Do you want to learn how to? Go has a package called database/sql for connecting to relational databases. There’s package documentation, but you’ll need to read the source code if you really want to understand how to use the package. The documentation doesn’t really explain how to use the package, it just explains what it does.

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Why Deployment Freezes Don't Prevent Outages

I have $10 that says you’ve experienced this before: there’s a holiday, trade show, or other important event coming up. Management is worried about the risk of an outage during this all-important time, and restricts deployments from the week prior through the end of the event.

What really happens, of course, is that the system in question becomes booby-trapped with extra risk. As a result, problems are more likely, and when there there is even a slight issue, it has the potential to escalate into a major crisis.

Why does this happen? As usual, there’s no single root cause, but a variety of problems combine to create a brittle, risky situation.

freeze

Assumptions

When managers declare a freeze, they’re not being malicious. They’re doing something that seems to make sense. That’s why it’s important to understand the reasoning.

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Can You Bring A Guitar To Velocity?

I need help. I’m giving an Ignite talk at Velocity EU that involves a guitar. I don’t want to bring a guitar all the way from America just for this. Would you please loan me one? It doesn’t need to be anything special – any old classical or acoustic 6-string standard guitar will do. All I’m going to do is tune it. If you can bring a guitar to loan me, please post in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter.

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How To Print All The Way To The Edge In Microsoft Word

You’re creating a document with Word that you want to turn into a nice full-page PDF. It has a gorgeous background color that will look great. But every time you convert it to a PDF, it ends up with ugly white borders at the edges, and Word warns you about printing beyond the printable margins. Dragging the margins and changing the Page Setup options does no good. How can you fix this?

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Win a Free Pass to Velocity

O’Reilly Velocity is November 17-19 in Barcelona. O’Reilly gave me a 2-day pass to give away, and I decided to have some fun with it. We’re also giving away a pass on the VividCortex blog, so you can double your odds of winning. For your chance to win a 2-day pass, do one of the following: Answer any of the following questions; or Write a haiku that’s somehow relevant to Velocity Tweet your answers to @xaprb with #velocitytrivia.

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The Root Cause Fallacy

Wouldn’t you like to find the root cause of that downtime incident? Many people would. But experience has taught me that there is no such thing as a single root cause. Instead, there’s a chain of interrelated causes, each of which is necessary but none of which is sufficient to cause the overall problem.

I am often reminded of an outage years ago. It was “caused” by a failed disk. But the disk was in a RAID5 array, and another disk in that array had failed some time previously. Backups had also failed some time previously, so there were no backups. Health checks didn’t notify anyone of the degraded disk array, due to a misconfigured alerting system. Alerting and backups failed because the person in charge of operations was not performing his duties. The operations person was still in the driver’s seat because of management dysfunction.

If you really want to get to the root cause of a problem, you need to use the Five Whys approach. I rarely do that because I already know where it ends. The CEO or equivalent is always the problem. It’s turtles all the way down (or up). Saying that the CEO is ultimately responsible is true but useless. The CEO is ultimately responsible for everything.

Turtles

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A Review Of The Docker Book

The Docker Book is a newly published book from James Turnbull, whose name you will recognize if you’re at all familiar with DevOps, Puppet, or Docker itself. It’s a nice introduction to what Docker is and how to get started using it. It’s like Goldilocks — not too detailed, not too superficial, just right. The book starts from the basics, assuming no prior knowledge with Docker, or even most of the core concepts of virtualization, but moves quickly through these topics into installing Docker and getting started with it.

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Mac's Time Machine and Symlinks

I use Mac OSX’s built-in Time Machine for backups, and a couple of times I’ve noticed my backups failed and couldn’t be completed successfully. I was unable to fix the problem until I reformatted the backup drive. Today I think I stumbled on the solution. The problem seems to come from swapping a directory and a symlink to it. I had a set of directories with symlinks back and forth, and sometimes I moved the directory to where the symlink was and made a symlink to it from where it used to be.

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On Focus

Focus is perhaps the most important attribute in an organization. In fact, my dictionary defines an organization as “an organized body of people with a particular purpose…” A focused organization recognizes and cleaves to its purpose.

Likewise, the ability to create and sustain focus is perhaps the most valuable skill of the organization’s members, including both individual contributors and leaders.

Rainbokeh

What Is Focus, And Why Is It Hard?

My dictionary says focus is “an act of concentrating.” Consider the root words: concentrate literally means to bring to a common center, to be centered together.

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Meditate With Me At Velocity

Join me and other Velocity attendees during the Wednesday afternoon 2:40pm break for a 10-15 minute guided meditation session appropriate for people of any faith or of none.

Meditation has a host of scientifically proven immediate and long-term benefits. If you get an extra 10% of clarity and effectiveness for the rest of the afternoon, you’ll end up learning more and making your conference experience more worthwhile.

meditation

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Unfixable Code

Over the years I’ve come to believe something that I’m not sure others will agree with. I would like to hear your point of view on it.

I posit that some code can become literally unfixable. Programmers can paint themselves into a corner with the code and it becomes impossible to get out again.

humpty

The scenario arises when a specific set of conditions exists:

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Two of My Favorite Conferences: Velocity and Surge

Two of my favorite conferences are coming up. One’s just next week, and another’s in the fall.

Velocity

Velocity is such a great event. I wanted to go for years, and when I finally did it was honestly one of the highlights of my professional career. I still don’t know what I did get get invited to speak that first year. It was a golden horseshoe falling out of the sky and landing right in front of me.

Velocity

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Time-Series Database Requirements

I’ve had conversations about time-series databases with many people over the last couple of years. I wrote previously about some of the open-source technologies that people commonly use for time-series storage.

Time Series

Because I have my own ideas about what constitutes a good time-series database, and because a few people have asked me to describe my requirements, I have decided to publish my thoughts here. All opinions that follow are my own, and as you read you should mentally add “in my opinion” to every sentence.

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Can Anomaly Detection Solve Alert Spam?

Anomaly detection is all the buzz these days in the “#monitoringlove” community. The conversation usually goes something like the following: Alerts are spammy and often generate false positives. What you really want to know is when something anomalous is happening. Anomaly detection can replace static thresholds and heuristics. The result will be better accuracy and lower noise. I’m going to give a webinar about the science of statistical anomaly detection on June 17th.

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