Recent Readings

Web

Fixing UNIX Filenames – An interesting discussion of the non-standard handling of the “standards” in UNIX filesystem naming, such as newlines in names.

An ‘Accordion’ of Wood and Glass – A look at where all the money you spent on your calculus textbook went.

Strace – the Sysadmin’s Microscope – An excellent article on using strace(1), the best way to find out what your process is really doing in Linux.

Print

Garner’s Modern American Usage - Okay, I’ve not read the whole thing, but I keep it on my desk at work to figure out if my word choice is correct, or if it makes me sound like an asshole (and, all of the usage examples are from recent media, including great references to Superbad when needed).

Web Operations – Allspaw is listed as the author but this book is written by many people in the DevOps community (and hey, I reviewed Patrick DeBois’ chapter on monitoring). This book offers excellent practical advice to people doing web operations.

Rework – The 37signals guys wrote this book about the lessons they’ve learned running a successful startup, and while the book is pretentious, it does have solid advice (for example: don’t hire fast; don’t worry about being “professional”, build software you want to use).

Recent Readings

Web

Devops Homebrew – Vladimir Vuksan is a regular at the Boston DevOps Meetups and I was happy to see this post on his previous job’s release process. The post is an excellent case study in DevOps in deployment.

An Agile Architectural Epic Kanban System – Part 1 – There’s a lot of room for Kanban and Agile in DevOps initiatives, and I think many people are already headed in that direction (I’ve started doing Kanban with the operations teams at ITA; they’ll be a post on how this is working in a few months). Having the developers and ops people use the same process management technique helps improve communication all around, and Kanban gives excellent visibility into what is happening now in an organization. The article above discusses using Kanban to give visibility into the process of architectural decision making, a process which is often invisible to developers or ops people.

Print

The Visible Ops Handbook – Tom Zauli from rPath brought me a copy of this at the last Boston DevOps Meetup, and I’m about halfway through. I think the practical steps recommended in Visible Ops would be very effective to gain control of an operations organization that is underwater, and after control is regained you can start automating as much as possible.

The Checklist Manifesto –  If you haven’t read Complications and Better you should stop reading this and pick up those two books right now. Dr. Gawande’s analytical look at process improvement in medicine (or lack thereof) is readable and it is easy to find parallels between his observations about medicine and any other industry. Both books are highly recommended for people who care about honest self reflection and evolutionary improvement.

The thesis of Dr. Gawande’s new book couldn’t simpler: checklists prevent errors. He backs this up with examples from many fields and the argument really is compelling; I can think of many cases at work where a checklist has saved the day. I think the DevOps trend of automating as much as possible, especially around deployment, is a way of encoding checklists. At ITA our deployment process went from a checklist that took a day or more to complete manually to code that performs the same checklist in under 45 minutes – that’s 45 minutes for an entire airline reservation system.