Business Review Technology

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal

I just finished this book while walking on the treadmill this morning and I am torn. There are definitely parts that I find insightful, especially as an overall look at the struggles open source communities, founders, contributors, maintainer, etc. run into as it pertains to the continual creation and curation of code and other resources, but I find the emphasis on platforms as the savior of these communities somewhat concerning.

That may entirely be my own bias showing, but looking to technology and platforms to fix what are inevitable human and interaction issues seems shortsighted but also quite understandable today. Who doesn’t like the idea that technology will solve our issues!? However, as we continue to place more and more emphasis on platforms and technology, I fear that we begin to lose the human aspect of what we do. If platforms are our savior, they then are almost inevitably our masters.

So. Torn.

Education Technology

teaching from the Kindle

teaching from the Kindle by Alan Jacobs

And let me tell you, friends, teaching a book from a Kindle stinks. Big time.

That is the money quote. Read the comments as well because they are quite good and extend on the article quite ably and usefully.

There is the need to adjust teaching methods to make the most of the tools available, where that is appropriate. However, this is an issue I ran into when working through grad school: so much of the technology and applications available today are really quite bad for educational purposes. It isn’t that the technology is bad itself, but that within the educational context, they are not as useful as they could be if time was spent working on what the needs are within education (and at this point, higher education).

Trying to work out a workflow for digital discovery and note-taking for my capstone was painful. I ended up having to switch between three or four different applications to make it all fit together, and even then it was less than ideal.

There is a lot of low-hanging fruit to make scholarship and writing better utilizing digital tools. Kindle is just an example.

Education Life

How To Become A Learning Machine: My Tips For Reading More

How To Become A Learning Machine: My Tips For Reading More by David Cancel

The one big takeaway for me is that I should probably look at being more purposeful both with my reading and with my note-taking. I have left a lot in those books, and forgotten a lot in my head, which could be useful going forward.

Review Technology

Review: Effective Monitoring & Alerting

Effective Monitoring and Alerting by Slawek Ligus was not quite the book I had originally thought I was starting. I was looking for something more prescriptive and I read something far higher up the stack. It wasn’t a bad book, but it was something different from what I went in expecting.

The book takes a high-level look at how to keep alerting from getting out of hand. That is the overall message they are trying to get across. Here is the overall message:

  • You need to make sure you monitor the proper things in the proper way. This brings about a deep understanding of the system as a whole and also forces you to really figure out what dependencies the distinct of parts of your system have in order to be certain you are monitoring things that matter.
  • Armed with that information, you move onto mapping out what should be shooting off alerts. This gets directly to the data about dependencies because we want to be certain that we alert only on the parts of the system that are failing, not on those parts dependent on the failed area.
  • The entire idea is to make sure that the alerts getting sent out are needed and useful. There is talk of standardizing the names of the systems and alerts so you can know exactly what is happening right from the start.
  • There is a huge focus on making sure the alerts are truly actionable and needed so that you don’t give your IT operations staff alert fatigue. The idea is to alert on things that can and need to be fixed and on nothing else.
  • This means monitoring everything but alerting on just a small subset. You can use the monitoring data for capacity planning and also trying to find issues before they start, but you will constantly be changing the alerting thresholds so that only the most important ones are sent through.

That’s the overall look. As far as this review goes, it comes down to this: I would definitely read it again, but be aware of what the book is going to be about. It is NOT prescriptive at all, but it is short enough to be useful even for the smallest of operations department.


The Power of eBooks

With a child under one year of age, I spend a lot of time in a rocking chair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the fact that I get to rock my youngest son to sleep, but it does pose a problem when trying to read some of the books that I have around my house recently.

The size of the books I am reading make rocking a child to sleep untenable. A physical book is just not doable in the slightest. So I reach for eBooks as my preferred method for reading many of these more-technical books. The power of eBooks settle into a few categories:

  • Size is obvious. I can hold many books on a device smaller than a single paperback which allows me to read with a small device only in one hand. That’s a requirement. I do use my iPad for some reading, especially books with lines of code, but the iPad Air is too large to use with one hand comfortably so I tend to stick to the iPhone or Kindle when rocking my son.
  • Storage ties in with the first reason. My bag can only carry so many physical books, and it is even limited by the physical size of a physical book (my current CLA reading material does not fit in anything but my backpack). However, an eBook fits in everything from my iPhone to my Mac mini at work. I can store many more eBooks in a bag than I can a physical book.
  • Syncing is lovely, and needed. Whether I’m using or, the fact that I can start a book on one device, quit, and then pick up right where I finished before on another device is great. It is also mostly needed when switching between lighting situations. Where I have a lot of light I’ll usually choose the Kindle, but at night I will be reading on my iPhone.
  • Speed is the final one I’ll throw out there. I can find a book I want to read and have it, right there, that second, with no fuss. There is no shipping. There is no waiting. That is both good and bad. Impulse purchases can get a person in trouble.

Even with everything stated above, I still prefer to read a physical book. For now it is always a tradeoff, and it can be an expensive one to keep all of these books around. The benefit physical books have is that I can find used ones. At least, that is a benefit for me.