Awesome Conferences

October 2013 Archives

One of the DevOps goals you often hear about is "improved cycle time" for releases. What that means, basically, is speeding up the time from when a developer writes a line of code to when it is in production. The opposite would be writing code for a release that doesn't ship for a year or so (common in shrink-wrapped software). You often hear about teams bring their cycle time from months to days, from days to hours. Etsy brags that they've gotten it down to minutes. The benefits to reducing cycle time are well documented.

Well I have a technique that reduces it to a cycle time that is faster than minutes. Faster than seconds! It is absolutely instant. This is not even a new technique! It was common in the 1990s!

It's called "letting the developers edit code directly on the production server". Edit. Save. Boom! Code is in production. Thank you. #dropthemic


(P.S. If you weren't sure, I'm just kidding.)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Funny

Tom will be the Tuesday evening Keynote Speaker at SpiceWorks conference known as SpiceWorld. Register today!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in AppearancesArchiveConferencesSpiceWorks

Thanks for coming to SpiceWorld and attending my session! I'll have the slides up on this site totomorrow.

If you aren't here at the conference you can sign up for the livestream here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

My hosting company has enrolled this site in their beta for IPv6. All I had to do was ask.

If you have a hosted site, I highly recommend that you open a ticket asking for your site to be available via IPv6. If they don't offer it, ask for an arrival date and keep them to it. Enroll in any beta tests and so on. The more demand hosting companies see, the better.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in IPv6

The schedule of Usenix LISA sessions has been updated with icons that represents categories: DevOps, Cloud System Administration, Coding, Linux, Soft Skills and Women in Advanced Computing. Check it out.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA

Talks are no more than 5 minutes with no AV (no slides, no videos, no projector). They can be on any topic though we prefer topics related to System Administration. Please keep the content 'professional' in tone.

Sign up here.

With only 5 minutes to give the talk it is important that you cut to the chase. I've seen some people make the mistake of spending a lot of time on something inconsequential like how to install the software they're talking about (and the talk wasn't about installation techniques). The best talks I've seen start with a solid explanation of the problem (in terms of the pain being caused) then explain the solution.

Because the talk is limited to 5 minutes, I highly recommend you rehearse in front of a friend or two before hand. It is worth it.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA

Evi Nemeth news...

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Evi Nemeth

I wrote a lot about habits in Time Management For System Administration. If there is something you need to do a lot, turning it into a habit means you are more likely to do it and less mental effort is required when doing it. To paraphrase the Java (programming language) slogan "Write once, run everywhere": Habits let you "Think once, do always."

One tip I realized after finishing the book was the power of linking one habit to another. If you need to add a new habit, linking it to an existing habit helps develop that habit.

Here's an example: Problem: I forget to put my wedding ring back on after I shower. Why? I'm not used to wearing jewelry. Being recently married it just isn't a habit for me yet. (Yeah, this is an excuse to brag that Chris and I got married this summer.) When I take off my ring I put it in a safe place far from any drains or other places it might disappear into. Out of sight, out of mind. I forget to put it back on. Solution: I do have a habit of putting my watch back on after I shower. My wrist feels "wrong" without a watch. Therefore, when I take my ring off I always put my watch in the same place. By linking the established "put my watch on" habit with the new "put my ring on" habit I don't forget either.

Another example relates to a wedding gifts we received. It is a Neato Robotics robotic vacuum. We love it. We've programmed the schedule to wake up and clean the house when we're at work. It is luxurious to come home to a freshly vacuumed house. While it is good at avoiding obstacles there are certain things we need to move out of the way before it starts. I was having difficulty remembering to do this pre-cleaning on the days the robot is scheduled to clean.

The solution again was to link this new habit to an existing one. I need to take the trash out Tuesday and Friday morning. Therefore I changed the Neato's schedule to clean on Tuesday and Friday. Now when I take the trash out, I also take a moment to remove any debris from the floor.

If you are trying to develop a new habit I highly encourage you to think about the other habits in your life and linking the new habit to one that is already established. There is a bigger discussion about routines and habits in chapter 3 of TM4SA. The book is available in paper, e-book, and you can also read it on the web thanks to Safari Books Online.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management

Evan Pettrey just emailed out the LOPSA-East 14: Call for Volunteers. The next conference is May 2-3, 2014. Mark your calendar and join the volunteer team. It is a great way to get involved in the community and meet new people!

Evan's complete letter after the bump.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA

You may recall Tom's guide for Tourists Visiting NYC (special Sept 11th anniversary edition). Glove and Boots, one of my... no... my favorite YouTube channels has just done a video that is surprisingly similar. Of course, theirs is a lot funnier (and leaves out the Sept 11 Memorial part, understandable). Check it out:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

A friend commented to me:

Are we really so lazy that we cannot "take the time" to remove a 4 inch device from our pocket to check the next meeting or see who's calling?"

A new level of convenience turns something old into something new. Remember the move from dial-up to cable/dsl wasn't so much about speed but the "always on" capability. Wanted to look something up? Your computer was already connected. Friction-free use of the internet made the internet feel more useful. Today can you imagine a 30-60 second delay any time you want to use the internet? No, you can't and you wouldn't want it that way.

These new wristwatches have a similar effect. Yes, you can pull your cell out of your pants or purse, but having it on your wrist means not interrupting the flow of what you are doing. I don't have one but I know a few people with Pebble devices. They use it like a remote display for their cell phone: displaying time, txt messages, weather. For about the same price as an expensive watch (or 2x a cheap watch) it becomes a no-brainer.

Of course, tethered wrist-devices are really just a practice run for the industry who is really waiting for components to shrink enough to have a full-fledged phone on your wrist. Right now they're developing market share and trying new things. By the time the industry figures out the what the killer apps are, how the UI should work, and so on, the hardware world will have caught up with them and be ready for a wristwatch that eliminates the need for a cell phone in your pocket.

Which is all we really wanted in the first place.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Misc

Usenix has released a video with a number of Usenix attendees explaining why they go to LISA. I make a brief appearance.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Book signing at LISA

People often tell me they wanted to ask me to sign a copy of my book but "didn't bring it to the conference because they didn't think I'd want to be bothered". The truth is that (nearly) all authors love to be asked to sign their book.

I'll be doing a book signing on Thursday at 1pm in the exhibit hall.

Other authors such as Mark Burgess and Diego Zamboni will be there to sign books too.

I hope to see you there!


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA

Register ASAP before all the seats are gone. This year my classes are all on Tuesday which is the most popular day to attend. That means the seats will fill up even faster.

I've totally revamped my "Advanced Time Management: Team Efficiency" tutorial and my entirely new "Evil Genius 101" class is chock full of DevOps goodness plus a lot of traditional "how to sell your evil plan to management" badness.

Register today:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA

IPv6 Flashcards

In IPv4 there are a number of things that every sysadmin knows. I bet you recognize the following:

  • /24
  • /26
  • /32

You probably didn't even have to think hard about most of those.

So what are the equivalents in IPv6? I don't mean the direct translations, but what is the list of terms and numbers that sysadmins should know?

I recently sat down and came up with such a list. I listed things that Unix and Windows sysadmins should know. WAN/LAN network administrators need to know a lot, lot, more. This just covers common knowledge, a lot like the IPv4 list above.

Next I did what any good geek would do: I made Flashcards.

You can study them, quiz yourself, and even print them out. They make a great birthday gift (not really).

The flashcards are here: Click "start study session" then either "standard" or "4D". The "Printer Friendly HTML" view is good too.

I'd like to thank Phillip Remaker Eliot Lear (both from Cisco) and Shumon Huque (from UPenn) for their help proofreading the cards. Shumon gets special thanks since I used his slides to get most of the information. Shumon will be teaching classes at Usenix LISA 2013 on DNSSEC and, of course, IPv6!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in IPv6LISA

The early bird registration and hotel reservation deadlines are both next Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

Remember that airfare is a lot cheaper if you book 21 days in advance.

If you would like to spread the word about LISA, consider printing this one page flyer and giving it to coworkers.

Register today:

There are also Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Lanyrd, and Twitter doohickies to like, plus, follow and so on.

SEATS ARE LIMITED for my tutorials. Please sign up ASAP!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

  1. People that complain that the enterprise world doesn't get DevOps but don't participate in enterprise conferences.
  2. Lack of a "sound bite" definition of DevOps; leads to confusion. I was recently told "DevOps means developers have to carry pagers... that's why our developers don't want anything to do with it." If that's the definition that is getting out, we're in trouble.
  3. Engineers thinking that "if something is good, it doesn't need marketing". Tell that to the many inventions of Nikola Tesla that never got turned into products. The "build a better mouse trap and people will beat a path to your door" myth was debunked years ago.

So... what are you doing to change this?

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in DevOps

[As you may recall, a few months ago PuppetLabs gave me a few free admission tickets to give away. One of the recipients was Jennifer Joy, who wrote this conference report. -Tom]

Conference Report: PuppetConf 2013, by Jennifer Joy

It has been a long time since I was in the sysadmin space. Any further clarification would reveal I have been through far too many iterations of technology (I'm pretty sure you can date sysadmins with a swift core sample and counting the rings caused by each swing between centralized and decentralized architectures).

The problem of managing large numbers of systems, especially diverse systems, is not new. Having been out of the systems game for over 10 years (ok, now you know, but I'm not telling you when I started!), I wasn't sure what to expect at this conference. Being one of those exceptionally lazy people who hate to do repetitive tasks, I'd glommed onto cfengine and used the heck out of it long before it was fashionable. I understood those basics, but now I'm back in the systems world and dealing with virtual machines which seem to multiply like rabbits. Puppet seemed to have a buzz, and I was excited to learn about it. How was it different, what was new, what is so great about it?

I can answer that in a word: momentum (forums, conferences, devotees, enthusiastic employees, continuous change and improvement). Router vendors (Juniper and Cisco) are beginning to integrate it - if we can have IT and Developers getting along (more about this later) can you imagine the systems and networking folks on the same page? Yes, this needs to happen. If you have a super complex environment: Puppet. If you have a super simple environment: Puppet. Just do it. I'm new to it, so I can't give you the low down techie reasons, yes there are modules and an abstraction layer and in my programmer's mind I know that's good. If you know a lot about Puppet and want to know more, just quit reading now and search for YouTube in this post and go watch the more advanced videos!

What was I totally not expecting: a conference with a side of DevOps. I'm not going to spend too much time on definitions, since probably most people reading this already know and if you don't, you know how to find out more because you are my people - you know how to find answers to questions, solutions to problems and where the best bar is in a given 25 mile radius. A nutshell version would be: breaking down the barriers between developers, IT and QA in part by being able to quickly react to developer needs. And one way to do that is automation.

I will say this, if you've been under a rock like me, you might want to pursue some of these titles:

And maybe read this page as well.

DevOps sounds really cool and something I'd like to be in, because to me there is no greater thrill than trying to make people more efficient in their jobs. Yeah, I have really exciting Friday nights, too. Now, I don't work in a software building world, but my ears were perked throughout the day and my mind was keyed in because while my environment has nothing to do with software development the principles are the same, and maybe this is true for you as well.

I started a new job in April, and my team is currently in 100% Hair on Fire mode. My current tasks are trying to make some changes in how things are done, including production data analysis and improved testing (of a vendor's product we deploy) which are definitely not Hair on Fire tasks. I have found it extremely frustrating because my boss only works in pure interrupt mode, my team won't return instant message-based questions half the time (because they aren't about things burning ) and emails go straight into the fires of hell, which I assume are what are keeping the hair on fire, but I'm not entirely sure. If everyone is so busy trying to put out fires they can't stop for a moment to bring a new team member up to speed or even help move tasks forward that will pay off in the long term, and not short term, red flags should be going up. Let's just say I see a sea of red.

This is the acid test for an organization. Let's circle back to IT/Ops. If your boss does not recognize that something like Puppet is a necessity, even though it is a diversion away from immediate gratification (for example, tickets closing like falling dominos), then it's time to put on those walking shoes. This is a bad place to be. For that matter, if closing 100 tickets a day is more important than figuring out why they are 100 tickets to close every day, join the rats leaving the ship. (I accidentally wrote shit, maybe that's more appropriate.) Things like Puppet are gateway drugs to DevOps because that means you are in an environment that gets it. If you want things to get better, somehow you have to keep spinning the daily grind but be allowed to go sideways before you can move ahead. Automation is basic; if you can't get this going your organization is critically ill. However, automation is but a small piece of a highly political world that requires exceptional communication skills, understanding of processes and method of the people you support and a never-ending adaption to a moving target. Nobody said it would be easy.

I probably should have said this earlier, although no one has ever accused me of linear thinking. PuppetConf 2013 was awesome. And if you want to get in on the awesome, they will be putting talks up on YouTube although they aren't there yet, but if you can't wait, you can see talks from previous conferences now. Aha - just announced: 2013 talks are at I may be an introvert, but meeting fellow travelers on the same road is a shot in the arm I can't get anywhere else. Maybe I don't do what you do, but your passion and problems are going to enlighten me if I listen. And perhaps I can help you, although this time I was the sponge.

Again, stepping off to the side, this hotel was one of those fancy ones with stores full of things for rich people who can buy pretty things. I walked into one that carried Chinese art (mostly old, and mostly jade carvings) on one of the breaks, and had a long and interesting conversation with the proprietor and in the end I walked out knowing a lot more about jade and with a signed copy of one of his books as a gift. My point is simple: Don't zombie-walk through life or a conference. Go to a conference with a mind to solve your problems, but also talk to people and see what they're doing. You never know when an indirect approach will help you and I have never found it boring to listen to people when they talk about things they care deeply about. Passion is perhaps tossed around too often these days, but I could feel passion at this conference and it is a good thing.

For automation 101 start with this one: Getting Started with Puppet . I have some notes, and if people are interested in me writing them up as a blog post, badger me in the comments section. If you think you do not have time for this talk, again, you have to move sideways before you can move forward. Find at least one hour in the day for going sideways. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in life is all the work is going to be there and if you don't look out for you, no one else will.

Having been the ridiculously young, female person in the crowd, it was a little harsh to realize, while I'm still female, I am no longer young. I'm not old yet either, but I wanted to <god help me> pinch the cheeks of those dyed hair, tattooed young ladies, and those who were not dyed or tattooed, but certainly young, and tell them, don't lose the faith -- be strong, grow more women in the field, mentor everyone <all genders, all races>. But they exuded a confidence I did have not at that age, and I'm not worried about them, although we should all be concerned that the tech fields are inclusive. And yes, women's shirts - women's conference shirts, women's vendor shirts, WHAT?! Thank you. For a culture that embraces the diversity of its people, that's a first for me: clothes that fit. Nice! Bonus: one of the nicest looking conference shirts I've received, I like it.

I don't have a solution to the problem of what to do if your company doesn't pay for conference like this (I was stuck paying my way and was exceptionally grateful for the gift of a free entry). Of course, yes, this is red flag time. PuppetConf, USENIX Lisa, and others (would love to know about them) aren't a boondoggle, they aren't just an escape from work, they are an infusion of new ideas, new people to stay in touch with and, in my opinion, they are a critical part of escaping company culture so you can improve company culture. One person I met a long time ago at a USENIX conference was the author of this blog, and I wouldn't trade that connection for anything.

--Jennifer Joy

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ConferencesPuppet

The Central PA Open Source Conference (CPOSC) is a small, low-cost, one-day conference about all things Open Source. It was started in 2008 by a few of the members of the Central PA Linux User Group and the Central PA Ruby Meetup.

For more info:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Conferences

I'll be speaking at LOPSA-NJ's October meeting. The topic will be "Heroes of IT". It is a rehearsal of a talk I'll be giving at another conference later this month.

Full information here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in AppearancesArchive

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LISA