Stay Curious!

The Root Cause Fallacy

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - 600 Words
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.

A Review Of The Docker Book

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - 300 Words
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.

Mac's Time Machine and Symlinks

Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 200 Words
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.

On Focus

Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 2600 Words
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. 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.

Meditate With Me At Velocity

Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 300 Words
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. I’ll guide you through a process of checking in and becoming aware of your body and mind.

Unfixable Code

Sat, Jun 21, 2014 - 300 Words
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. The scenario arises when a specific set of conditions exists: the code is difficult to work with for some reason — inherent complexity, badly written code, whatever the code is not tested and is not written to be testable bugs are high-stakes, so changes are extremely risky the code needs to be changed for some reason (it’s buggy or doesn’t fulfill its requirements) This situation is a deadlock.

Two of My Favorite Conferences: Velocity and Surge

Wed, Jun 18, 2014 - 700 Words
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.

Time-Series Database Requirements

Sun, Jun 8, 2014 - 1500 Words
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. 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.

Can Anomaly Detection Solve Alert Spam?

Mon, Jun 2, 2014 - 100 Words
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.

The Goal

Sat, May 24, 2014 - 1500 Words
Once upon a time I managed several teams of consultants. At a certain stage of the organization’s growth, we wanted to achieve a higher billable-time utilization more easily, and we wanted more structure and process. Cary Millsap, about whom I have written quite a bit elsewhere on this blog, suggested that I might profit from reading The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. I will let history be the judge of the outcome, but from my perspective, this was revolutionary for me.