Personal Log 2020-09-02

Started later than I’d like, trying to spend more good morning time with the kiddos. Nothing huge on the schedule, some customer and internal meetings, some time for deep work.

Morning Popcorn

Started to spin up revisionary work on an integration between qTest and NeoLoad Web. Good lord I need to document my pre-documentation work better for myself. Critical commands and obscure UI workflows are killer in products you don’t know or care to know.

Had to remind someone how to get to competitive intel docs. LMGTFY also applies to internal docs for organizations that use G-Suite.

Redirected someone from using the old product requests system (Trello) to new one. Only saw this because I ‘watch’ everything in Trello and it comes via email summaries. Trello and email are gross, but hey, it worked today.

Responded to a net-new person interested in collaborating on the book. Good sign that this channel isn’t just a point-in-time blast, but an ongoing consideration from the channel admin now.

Combined two email threads about the same topic from two different people groups in our org. Always nice when you can help people realize they’re asking for or working on the same things as each other.

Helping to Prioritize Tactical Feature Requests

Hopped on with head of PM to discuss how to better prioritize tactical requests in the new product feedback and request system. Using a similar methodology as RICE (Reach-Impact-Confidence-Effort), my main suggestion was around how to represent urgency from the pre-sales or CSM side related to the topic, which isn’t really covered explicitly enough to successfully operationalize a prioritization model that works for the whole business. Well received and there other practical things such as customer, Salesforce links, revenue size and risk info that we would also have to provide as metadata regardless of how we sum the urgency factor up into the high level view.

Lunchtime Community Stuff

In BDO Slack, got DMed politely about helping a local startup get some product feedback from our community. Points for asking what the best way was first, points for having the CEO (techy) do it, saw some community members positively engaging already. Also suggested that if they really want community love and help, sponsoring the upcoming DevOpsDays Boston event would be good, and sent along the prospectus. That’s the nice thing about being an organizer in multiple groups, constructive forces.

While I was on the topic and pivoted from lunch, a few other event organizer-y emails, sponsor asks, and an internal huddle about something that can’t be ignored anymore.

Deep Work, Fast CLI Fix, Short-Circuiting Flys

Back to work-work: deep dive into the qTest integration. Looks like I have to completely create a Dockerfile from scratch (hello versioning hell) that includes their agent, not just the NeoLoad CLI and Python dependencies. Since their Docker example (stale, btw) was Ubuntu 16.04 based, struggled with getting Python 3.8/3.6 as default and proper pip requirements for almost an hour. Gave up and based off of Ubuntu 18.04 to simplify Python install process, and everything works much easier now. Also, their agentctl doesn’t seem to have subcommands properly documented (wait, here it is, halfway down a sea of blah blahs), so there’s no way to know if there’s an automated approach to configuring an agent on a host (will try again tomorrow). So far, what I’ve learned is:

  • Documentation is shit unless it’s optimized for Google via keywords
  • No matter how much vendor documentation sites push their search bar on you, it’s never as good as Google, and usually just downright awful
  • Cyclical documentation articles that bounce you back to high-level categories are bullshit
  • Documentation that is long enough to have sections and don’t provide permalinks to those sections is candy ass
  • Documentation should be written for all supported platforms, not just old versions of Winblows

Saw a product idea about the CLI come in from one of my best customers, made sense, so I implemented it, created a PR and pushed a pre-release version to address the issue. Customer and support comms, then feedbacks that it’s better. Turn around time: less than 30mins.

Figured out why I was getting a roles and permissions error deep in the qTest agent execution logs. Turns out, my trial to their platform had expired, so, nothing that seemed at all related between the error messages and the actual problem. Nice. Emailed our contacts to ask for proper technical partner license acquisition, hoping to hear from them soon. Reported the blocker to stakeholders.

Short-circuited for the third time an ask from the CEO a fledgling startup who’s been stalking Neotys and me about combining their tech with ours. They have one, maybe two customers, and the technology paradigms between them and us by definition are just so far from a match. They’re just looking for legitimacy and customer lists. A big waste of our time, and I won’t have it, I certainly won’t waste my bosses time on it, though they have discussed and been dismissed in the past. Some people just don’t understand when there’s not something there, neither from a tech/architecture perspective nor a business/user case. We already have our priorities, this is a fly buzzing around the ointment at this point.

Dinner and Event Organizer Meetings

Back home for dinner and family time. Partner is listening to upcoming virtual classroom stuff for the new school year. Glad we and 20% of our community families, that’s one whole elementary school out of the five in our city, emphatically said that they wouldn’t be sending their kids back. At the beginning of the pandemic, we flattened the curve about demand on hospitals, why the hell would we all be expected to forget that the same applies with our kids and throwing them back into the schools all at the same time, even if that’s for half-days (which btw doesn’t help working parents more than stay-at-home by much).

Back to DevOps community organizing, event sponsors working group 30mins weekly until the event is done. There are very few ‘other fruits to squeeze’ for sponsorship dollars this year. I guess that makes it all the more meaningful, the companies and organizations that have committed already. The fund for next year will be okay, we won’t be adding to it this with this year’s revenue for sure, but at least we reached a milestone precedent by committing to donate all the net ticket revenue that comes into good causes! Boy, I worked for months getting alignment between groups on how to make that happen, and along with another organizer to put the right pressure words on the right people at the right time, we now we have a list of causes and agreement across groups that it will happen. We also have a process and clear criteria that can scale and be reused again next year. We will also have data about how many people ‘feel generous’ when offered an option to give more than the recommended ticket price, and data on how many people pick a free ticket when faced with the option that 100% of their contribution will go to something altruistic. We will need to write a retro, draft it up beforehand to publish the day after, about how much money and who it went to; this is not something that can wait for weeks or months like the AV post-production in prior years. People will want to know.

More Like Water, Less Like Waterfall

It’s been too long a time since I published something here. The more time I commit to professional and volunteer and personal projects, the less time time I feel I have to write. What a bullshit excuse too, because I book time on my calendar for other operational things, why not this? All it takes is diligence and sticking to a scheduled time.

In tech, people use the word waterfall like a curse word due to historical reasons, a derogatory label…but an actual waterfall is a continuous stream that doesn’t repeat itself. I want to be more like water, as Bruce Lee said, but for more than the reasons he had.

As Master Lee indicated, we should be ready to change, like water in a glass conforms to the situation around it, in martial arts being rigid and stiff leads to being slow and overly anticipatory. Pangai-noon, translated as “half hard, half soft” also indicates that we need to keep strength and application in balance with speed and adaptability. Mindfulness also plays a huge part in this, living in “the now”, being present in each moment, like water that completely fills every dip and cleft from the riverbed to the edge, but also constantly seeking balance at the surface.

Anyway, I hypothesize that it will increase my mindfulness to exhale my field thoughts and experiences (minus personally identifiable stuff of course) to this blog on a consistent basis. I will dedicatedly try this for about 3 months, writing at least twice a week, and not give up because I missed one or two of these personal appointments. I will simply regale out what learnings I can from the main areas of my daily work, since it is so broad. If these pseudo-minutes strike on a topic meaty enough to write as it’s own post, fine. If not, fine.

It will, at the very least, force me to share something, at least, on a frequent basis. Less like ‘waterfall’ deployment as they say in software, more [continuous] like water.