Scale Camp - a Brief History

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In organising the upcoming Scale Summit unconference, I’ve been reflecting on the history of Scale Camp, and what the purpose and point of running these events was to me.

Velocity Conference starts it all

Scale Camp was born out of a pair of frustrations. As a new developer, I was introduced to the Velocity Conference by Paul Nasrat, one of the Guardian’s system adminstrators. We watched a video by John Allspaw and Paul Hammond about 10+ deploys a day at Flickr.

Many of the velocity teachings were directly applicable to what we wanted to do at the Guardian, so I made a request to attend the conference to the management team.

2013 in Review

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It’s the new year, and as should be typical, it’s probably time to write an update on my blog about what I’ve done this year.

It’s been an interesting year. After 6 years of working at the Guardian, I felt it was time to move on to a job as an Architect at the Government Digital Service.

Prism and NSA Spying: Why I Don’t (Entirely) Believe It.

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[EDIT: Note, I have absolutely no inside knowledge here whatsoever. I haven’t seen anything except via the stuff the Guardian has published publically.]

You may have read this morning that the Guardian and the Washington Post announced that they had an authenticated NSA training presentation on PRISM which claimed that they had access to multiple large companies servers and were able to spy on any and all communications.

In essence the presentation says that Gmail, Apple iMessage, Facebook and most of the other internet services are all actively monitored by the NSA.

A Return to Form for Google IO

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Google IO Keynote was watched by nearly a million people, six thousand of them in the auditorium, and the sense of disappointment in some cases was palpable.

Already we are seeing pundits talking about how Google didn’t make any really big announcements, that they didn’t give away enough free stuff, and that Google IO isn’t as good as last year.

I believe that Google is simply returning to form, in that IO and Google developer relations is about developers, APIs and services, not products and people.

Learning Management Skills as a Developer

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I’m embarking on a program to build up my management skills and learn more about what the business that I work in actually does. To achieve that I’m reading some classic management books. Why?? Because I’ve realised that I have a hole in my education. I know surprisingly little about Sales and Marketing; Business Management, Facility management; Supply chains; procurement and the various other things that happen in a business. I’m trying to fix that, and I’m trying to build respect for the people in my organisation who do those jobs.

Why should I learn management skills?

Bad Conference Speakers

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Are you at a conference and bored? Do you start using the backchannel to start sniping at the presenters taste in clothing, presentation background, or speech idiosyncrasies? What you should be doing is asking yourself one very important question - What is this presenter doing that is not keeping your attention, or rather what could they do to keep your attention?

See as a sometime presenter I find myself analysing what good and poor presenters do. I find myself looking to see what is irritating me, whether it be the presenters suit, or the way she keeps swearing, or the number of times he says “Um”.

Here are some of the things that can cause bad presentation style, and what I do to avoid it

Pragmatic Coding

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>At its core, pragmatic development is about getting code written, getting it deployed and getting it out there.  Pragmatism should lead us towards minimum viable products, and releasing the minimum that we do have as early as possible to garner the quickest and best feedback.

What do I think pragmatic code actually looks like though? ¬†I figured I’d talk about a very simple app that I built recently to explain why I wrote that code and what it does.

What Is DevOps Not?

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I’ve spent the last two weeks at conferences, and for some reason people keep assuming that I work in operations. I can kind of understand why, but it’s also started a number of conversations about DevOps, and the complete misunderstanding of the term. It seems that DevOps is a confusing movement for people, and lots of people are assuming that some of the practices that might come with organisations embracing DevOps are themselves what make you DevOps.

Defining what devops is can be hard, so instead I thought I’d feature a few of the things that devops isn’t.