Temporarily Unemployed

Yesterday was my last day at Red Hat. I wasn’t there for long. It was really very bittersweet to leave. I loved the company, I loved the corporate culture. But I felt the greatest constraint on my success there (and the success of the mission for which I was hired) was coming from above, and it was increasingly clear that this wasn’t going to improve. That’s all I really want to say about that. I don’t want to look in the rear view mirror, but rather ahead to better days.

So at least for the weekend, anyway, I’m a free agent. I’m just going to spend it with friends and family like any other weekend, really, but we’re all having great fun pointing out that technically I’m unemployed right now.

Monday is a new day. I’m starting at Bronto Software as Principal Engineer in the Systems Engineering group. After I’m settled in and have a better idea of what my day-to-day work is going to be like, I’ll talk about it some more.

My job search was conducted fairly quietly, and with a good bit of discrimination. Any shops that were too big were not seriously considered (I was looking for a high water mark of no more than 300 employees, ideally). Any shops that were based in out of town locations, with Raleigh as a remote location, had a lot of selling to do. Any shops that required relocation were not considered at all.

If I was told the title was “DevOps Engineer” or that I would be part of a “DevOps Team”, my enthusiasm for the position waned to near terminal levels. This was a sign to me that the shop in question wanted the DevOps buzzword without understanding what it means.

Early in the process, I had reached out to Bronto directly. There are myriad reasons for this. Bronto is extremely engaged in the local community, not only hosting many professional networking events month after month, but also sending small armies of associates out to perform community service acts in the surrounding area. The people who end up working there by and large end up staying there. And they all seem so darned happy to be there. They have been sharing of themselves to the local technical community, enough so that I’ve been known to mention them as “the Etsy of the Triangle”. 

The welcoming committee has been nothing short of mind blowing. Everything from emails to tweets to private messages on LinkedIn, from all corners of the business, all welcoming me to Bronto and anticipating my arrival. I’ve been in the business for 20 years now, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. It’s fair to say that I’m hoping my weekend of unemployment passes quickly, and that I’m really anticipating a wonderful start to my next chapter on Monday.

A Software Developer’s Reading List

Magnus Hedemark:

Check out this great reading list for Software Developers. If you’re thinking of getting into this line of work, or you’re in it but want to bring up your game, this instant library should be helpful in building good work habits out of best practices.

Originally posted on Steve Wedig's Notes:

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Many of the best software developers have T-Shaped Skills: Deep expertise in programming and software development, and broad knowledge of diverse areas including testing, DevOps, UX design, team organization, customer interaction, and their domain areas. While there is unfortunately no substitute for experience, reading is probably the next best thing. Over the past 10 years I’ve read a lot in an effort to deepen and broaden my knowledge as a software developer. Along the way I’ve been organizing books and concepts into the reading list I share below. I have been trying to design a core curriculum for “modern” software development by asking myself:

  • What core concepts are required to be a world class software developer?
  • What is the best book for introducing and teaching each concept?

The result is a…

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The Homelab Resurrection Begins

I’ve been working full time in IT for about 20 years now, and I’ve had computers at home for a little over 30 years. My personal interests and passions sometimes lead me to getting a bit carried away. There was one point in my life where I had over 300 computers in a 1,500 square foot house. Yes, really.

After the pain of moving several times, tearing down and rebuilding the home lab, it got to be too much. I tired of $1,000 electricity bills every month. I tired of the noise, the heat. And when I moved back from Pennsylvania to North Carolina about 10 years ago, I distributed 99% of my hardware to the winds and didn’t take it with me.

The industry has changed tremendously in the last 10 years, as IT is wont to do. The skills I use today bear superficial resemblance to those I had to bring to bear back then. And I’m learning so much of it on the job now. This has led me to a good bit of frustration, knowing I have to focus on delivering value to my employer even if that means I can’t dive as deeply into something new as I’d like, or take a little extra time to really deeply grok a new thing.

The homelab was always great for this. I dare say I had, for many years, a more impressive and resilient infrastructure in my house than I was ever allowed to create for any of my employers. It worked, it worked well, and there was a certain pride in good engineering work that went with it all. I kind of miss it. Even the heat and the whining fans. (more…)

DevOps in Straight English – Part 2 of 2

Originally posted on Red Hat Developer Blog:

In Part 1, we talked a bit about this DevOps thing and why people won’t stop talking about it. In Part 2, we’ll talk about the areas where you can change your IT focus today to help benefit from DevOps.

A classic mistake is to focus primarily on the tools associated with successful DevOps shops. It’s not as if you can bring up your own Deployinator and suddenly become as high-functioning an IT shop as Etsy. The tooling is important, but won’t succeed if used for its own sake. The most relevant tooling is used to support a culture that can consume it effectively.

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DevOps in Straight English – Part 1 of 2 – Enter the Buzzword

Originally posted on Red Hat Developer Blog:

“DevOps”.

If you’re like me, you may be suffering a bit of buzzwordfatigue, especially relating to how this word is used (or misused) within the IT community. But for those of us who have been a part of the community for awhile, it holds deeper meaning than the oft repeated platitude of “Software Developers and Sysadmins working together, riding unicorns over rainbows“. Okay, while I may have gotten slightly carried away, you get the point.

What is DevOps to the broader community that embraces it, and is helping even now to define it? What does that even mean for Red Hat’s IT efforts? We’re going to dive deeper into both questions in this installment.

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Incepting DevOps at Red Hat

Originally posted on Red Hat Developer Blog:

A few short months ago, I was managing an operations team at another firm. There had been a sea change in executive leadership over the summer, and the DevOps transformation that I’d helped to kick off was quickly being unraveled by the sorts of executive shenanigans that can ensue when a C level departs and leaves an opening. I was open minded to a change in scenery and got the call of a lifetime from a Red Hat recruiter.

You see, I’ve been involved in the Linux community since around 1998. I helped grow the Triangle Linux Users Group in its early years, and served a term on the steering committee as Vice Chair. When the community was looking for an enterprise class Linux distribution without the cost of a subscription model, I joined the cAosity project (now gone) and helped deliver CentOS to the Linux community. Open Source was…

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Corporate Politics and DevOps

So you might think that evoking the word “politics” might mean there’s going to be a rant coming. There will be nothing of the sort. Politics is not necessarily a belligerent act in the corporate world, though it’s often perceived that way. And while sometimes there are people who engage in a bit of belligerent politics to improve their own situation instead of the organization that they serve, those guys are pretty easy to spot and are usually well known as assholes anyway.

We’re not here to talk about the assholes today. We’re here to talk about good, competent people who struggle with consensus sometimes for very understandable reasons. (more…)