What happens when you combine devops & continuous delivery into a card game?

release devops game

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Alex Papadimoulis & the guys at Inedo put together CodeMash The Game an interesting game for a new twist to conference going.

Now they’re at it again with a kickstarter to build Release! a game about devops & continuous delivery.

1. Bring your team together

Weekly standups are great, but what about throwing a quick card game in to mix things up? It’s an interesting twist and one that’s sure to help with team building.

Read: Why has no-one heard of Moskovitz but everyone knows Zuckerberg?

2. Learn more about cutting edge software development

Weak on your agile or want to raise your teams software quality. Release seems like a new and surprising way to do just that.

Related: Why I ask clients for a deposit

3. Learn about software development luminaries

Many of the important folks in the evolution of software development are featured in the game, such as Patrick Dubois, Jez Humble & Dan North.

Also: Is Amazon RDS hard to manage?

Is Amazon RDS hard to manage?

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Join 26,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

I once rented an apartment while traveling in Europe. Unfortunately I didn’t speak the local language of French. So when I got there I had trouble coordinating.

After about twenty minutes of frustration, I found someone who could help. They spoke some broken English. So I would speak very slowly, then they would translate. That back and forth continued, until finally we understood each other.

What would normally be effortless 5 minute process to checkin, became a thirty minute long and drawn out affair. This is essentially what managing RDS feels like. If you’re a day-to-day devops or sysadmin it can be limiting to say the least.

1. Missing command line

If you’ve been administering unix & Linux for some time, you’re using the command line. It’s the lingua franca of systems administration. There are many command line tools that help you manage a MySQL database, from top to innotop, percona-toolkit to mysqltuner. Without the command line your hands are tied. You’re left trying to breathe through a straw.

Is there a plus side to RDS? Yes of course. For those who aren’t schooled in operations, don’t manage servers 24×7, web interfaces are a godsend. They simplify things, and present a field of options to choose from. What’s more they are better dashboards for exposing management to business units.

Related: RDS or MySQL: 10 Use Cases

2. Entrusting someone to your backups

Backups are delicate piece of your infrastructure. Done wrong, and you’re missing data. What’s more when you go to recover, you need options.

Relying on Amazon’s process, means your hands are tied. Done right it will be push button simple. But done wrong and you could have a big mess.

Over the years I’ve been in a lot of fire fighting situations. Everyone is running around yelling, and looking for the extinguisher. You may want any of a number of tools at your disposal. Dumps, hotbackups, cold backups, snapshots. With RDS you’re handing over all your trust & confidence to another party for that.

Pushbutton is great if you’re not comfortable with server operations, but if you are it’s a huge limitation.

Read: RDS or MySQL: 10 Use Cases

3. Can’t tweak operating system

On Linux servers, there are a number of operating system dials that can be useful to performance. One is the IO scheduler, which controls on Linux writes to disk. Another is choice of filesystem. For example you may want xfs or ext4. Furthermore there are tweaks in MySQL that can take advantage of the right filesytem, to simulate raw or unbuffered IO. These can give you a much needed bump in performance as well.

Also: Does a four letter word divide dev and ops?

4. Slow query log limitations

Slow query log is essential. It is your most essential tool for sleuthing scalability problems.

In the early days of RDS, the slow query log file itself was not accessible. You could only use the slow query table logging, which would slow down your server. That meant you couldn’t leave it on perpetually.

Recently Amazon has made the file available, which is a step. But still you have to jump through hoops. With command line you have everything right where you need it. With RDS, you have to first download the file to your desktop, copy it to another server where you have the percona tools installed, then analyze it there. From there you have to open a mysql shell remotely to the RDS box, to run explain plan.

That is lots of hoops for an essential activity like performance tuning.

Read this: Do managers underestimate operational costs?

5. Managing parameters & security the Amazon way

Amazon has attempted to standardize management of servers. Security is managed with groups and RDS is no different. That’s great if you want all your servers setup the same way, but what if you want to tune just one server. You then have to configure multiple groups. It’s again extra steps.

MySQL systems settings are no different. As a regular daily DBA activity, you use SET GLOBAL my_parameter=my_value; But with RDS you are doing a number of obfuscated steps, through a dashboard.

Check out: Why I ask clients for a deposit

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Why I ask clients for a deposit

Editor & writer in friendly dialog

Join 25,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

1. It indicates both parties are serious

A common refrain when discussing terms of a project, and reviewing statement of work – “when shall we get started?”. The answer should be, “I’m ready to get started anytime you like. Would you like to use paypal or ACH for deposit?”.

The deposit signals to the vendor that it’s time to get working. This client has the budget and is serious about moving forward today.

Read: Why Fred Wilson is wrong about Apple

2. It protects against scope changes

Startups & seasoned businesses alike have changing needs. That’s why they may choose a situational resource to begin with.

If the winds change, and we don’t need you tomorrow, a deposit defrays the final invoice, and or discounts you may have applied.

Related: Is Dave Eggers right about risks of social media?

3. Insurance if business fizzles

Fizzling business, is a nice way to say the market has changed. Perhaps the startup has decided to pursue other opportunities. In close to twenty years of business I’ve only had this happen twice.

Once I was working with a rewards card business. They were already having trouble meeting payroll. Turns out businesses have a legal obligation to meet payroll. That’s another way of saying they’re at the top of the who-gets-paid list. And vendors may be closer to the bottom. They owner went back to being a lawyer, his profession before the startup.

All in all, a deposit provides some insurance in these cases.

Read this: 5 cloud ideas that aren’t actually true

4. Signals your maturity to client

This is a hard one for some freelancers and consultants to stomach. “I really want to get going with consulting, and don’t want to turn away this client.” The thinking goes. But consulting is a peer relationship, where vendor and client need to be on an equal footing.

Your need for a deposit, and willingness to walk away without one, says to the client you are professional and have been in business for some time.

Also: If you’re using MySQL in the Amazon cloud, you need to ask yourself this question

5. Protection from early termination

That sounds ominous but it doesn’t have to be. In the world of freelance and consulting, a client can decide they no longer need your services tomorrow.

Why? Perhaps they hired a fulltime resource? Perhaps their needs changed? Perhaps the storm of site outages have passed and the urgency has changed.

Whatever the reason, projects change. If you’ve offered a discount for three months of work, but only end up with one month of work, your full fees may apply. In that case, the deposit should be the discount amount.

Check this: Do managers underestimate operational costs?

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Why Fred Wilson is wrong about Apple

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UPDATE: When this article was written in May 2014, Apple’s stock price was $84.65. Today it sits at a comfortable $130.26.

If you’ve followed the tech news recently, you may have heard Fred Wilson’s comments about Apple. In essence he believes Apple is too reliant and rooted in hardware, and that hardware isn’t viable in the long term. Mobile hardware, is becoming a commodity.

Join 25,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

To be sure Androids have come a long way, and they may yet improve a lot by 2020 as Fred says. But the aftermarket value of iPhones really does speak volumes. See below.

1. iPhone has never had the best hardware

If you’ve ever watched a Samsung ad, or talked to someone with the phone you probably know this already. Bigger screens, faster processors, first phones with fingerprint readers, or untethered syncing. The list goes on and on.
Also: 5 Cloud ideas that aren’t actually true

Yes Apple is rooted in the hardware business, but not in a way that a commodity can disrupt it. They’re rooted in the hardware business only in as much as it helps them deliver polish. If it helps them deliver a seemless experience, and a device that Jean Luc Picard would appreciate, then they are in that business. . Just “make it so!”.

2. Users are seduced by simplicity

So how is it possible that an inferior piece of hardware could sell more?

Easy. Those users don’t think that way. They aren’t buying hardware. What do I mean?

I would argue many iPhone users buy for the experience, the simplicity, the ease of use. Designers call this User Experience or User Interface, but end users don’t know these terms. What they know is they don’t have a headache. They’re not frustrated trying to move an image from one app to another, or copy/pasting etc.

User interface is that invisible force that just makes everything on the device better. Call it polish, but it’s much more than a pretty face.

Related: Are SQL Databases Dead?

3. Most users don’t care about “open”

Another benefit touted on the Android side is it being “open”. The OS is open-source, and then extended by manufacturers. While this surely brings down costs to them, it may be all be irrelevant to end users and consumers.

Yes open standards are great for competition, great for markets, and ultimately great for users. But Microsoft is a great case study in why consumers often still choose a closed solution.

Read: Do managers underestimate operational costs?

4. Apple is Sexy

That may sound fanboyish, but seriously. Look at the accessories market for blinging your phones.

If that’s not enough, look at the aftermarket value. iPhones retain their value, Samsung’s don’t.

Read: Five things I learned from David Maisterabout trust and advising clients

5. Android is still broken

From where I’m standing, and a lot of experts agree, the Android ecosystem is broken.

For one the AppStore, being historically unregulated, is chock full of malware and dangerous downloads. Most users aren’t computer experts, not good at evaluating security risks, and pay the price.

What’s more many Android phones come stocked with bloatware, slowing down the device, and reducing reliability from day one.

Read: Why the Android ecosystem is broken

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