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Interview with LOPSA-East Keynote: Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph will be giving the closing keynote at LOPSA-East this year. I caught up with her to talk about her keynote, source code management, and Star Wars. The conference is May 2-3, 2014 in New Brunswick, NJ. If you haven't registered, do it now! (We'll have an interview with the opening keynote, Vish Ishaya, soon.)

Tom Limoncelli: Tell us about your keynote. What should people expect / expect to learn?

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph: Over the past few years there have been a number of high profile incidents and news stories around the subject of women in technology. In my keynote I'll be giving some solid advice for how the technology industry, and each of us, can do a better job of attracting and keeping talent. I will focus on women, but the changes are ones that will help all of us and make the industry a better place for everyone.

As a sneak peek: It would be great if we could all have real flex time (particularly since my pager may go off at 2 AM) and gave more opportunities to junior systems administrators.

TL: What do you do for HP and OpenStack?

EKJ: I'm a systems administrator working on the OpenStack project infrastructure, so a vast majority of my day to day work is working directly on an open source project. Internally at HP I also pitch in with teams using the same upstream infrastructure tools and sometimes help out teams who are seeking to open source their projects to offer best practice advice.

TL: You are also giving a talk called "Code Review for Sys Admins". Tell us more about code reviews and how they benefit system administrators?

EKJ: A code review is my favorite thing! In software development it's a review of the code you submit, typically before it's merged.

The team I work on in OpenStack has taken this to our practice of systems administration. For each change we submit to the systems, it goes through a review system that does a few automated checks (ie: running "puppet parser validate" on Puppet changes and pep8 checks on our Python scripts) and then is reviewed and approved by peers on our team. It's led to one of the best working environment of systems administrators I've ever worked on and has been a valuable tool for our geographically distributed team. Plus, the whole thing is open source, and so is all of our work.

TL: This question is forwarded from two of the LOPSA-East committee members, one has a new born daughter and the other has a 7 year old granddaughter. What can they do now so that their granddaughter/daughter grow up to be engineers?

EKJ: Great question!

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family of all girls with a geek for a father. He was always encouraging us to learn and build things. My parents also encouraged interests early on like jigsaw puzzles. This kind of supportive environment helped develop the curiosity and interest in engineering that I've built my career upon.

I'm also really excited to see companies like Goldie Blox ( come on the scene with toys designed for girls to foster an interest in engineering. But you don't actually need specially designed interlocking blocks, lacking in funds for expensive LEGOs, my parents kept us stocked with plain wooden blocks that I'd build zoos and other creations with. [See picture.]

Today there are many programs that offer computer-specific programs for young people, like

And others that are specifically tailored to girls and under-served demographics, like,, and a Girl Scouts program. Oh, and programs with robots!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, only ones I've casually come across lately. More are popping up all the time, many just serving their regional area or school districts.

TL: You recently moved from Philly to California. I hope you are surviving the good weather and healthy living. When will we see you back in the Philly Linux community?

EKJ: I love San Francisco, but there's no place like Philly. I come back about twice a year to visit family and friends. If I'm in town during a PLUG ( meeting I'll typically drop by, sometimes even give a presentation about some of my latest work. I also spoke at Fosscon ( in Philadelphia last August and hope to again this year.

TL: Your domain is so I have to ask... Which of Chapter 4, 5, or 6 is your favorite?

EKJ: A New Hope (Episode 4) will always be my favorite. Self-contained, not too complicated, and so endearing!

Thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to do this interview! See you at LOPSA-East!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

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