Reddit meltdown and the agnostic cloud

Today's reddit meltdown did spawn some funny comments (like this), but did brought my attention to the fact (especially taking into account statements like this) – how much we do depend on the cloud provider? Is it fair to say, that the cloud is the new single point of failure?

I think – yes. The question is not AWS vs Azure vs Rackspace vs my own. The question is how I do balance the loss of one or more of these – yes, I'm speaking about cloud lock-in. So, take IoC to the next level – inject cloud specific implementations based on which cloud you run in. And on the how to manage this – who is watching the watchers? Let's take granted, that you trust the DNS (there is a reason why you need two servers in two subnets…), so it comes back to watching the capacity, the health of the cloud, the health of the other watchers, and the ability to switch quickly.

Is it easy to build such a thing? There are specific solutions for specific usecases, like GreenButton for MPI/Parallel/Map-Reduce cases, Dell Cloud Manager for managing VMs, but – and waiting for suggestions in the comments; do you know a good cloud agnostic solution?

Xamarin – it’s just amazing

Yes, one of the promise of .NET was that write once, run everywhere. Yes, Java has managed to actually pull this out. Than comes Xamarin. These guys (with Miguel Icaza, who I happen to know in person since 2001 probably – I still has his business card from that time :D) are just AMAZING. Write once as a portable library, and run as a windows store app, a wpf app, a web app, a windows phone app, an iphone app, an android app, a mac app – possibilities are just endless.

So come Nokia, creating Nokai X, which happens to be an Android phone, but with windows phonish UX, and with Xamarin that means… I can run C# on Nokia X, and port my windows phone app to Nokia X like a breeze. So, would I buy a Nokia X, X+ or XL? I don't know, but the possibility is there.

Links I posted No. 1

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Interviews with a glint in the eye

Just recently did I (re)start doing interviews for the positions we have open (from java to C++ to Scala etc.), but I already started enjoying them. Whenever it's a junior position – a grad, an intern – or a lateral, senior position, usually after the first two minutes I can tell whether someone would fit to my group – it's not a particular question or topic. It's more the presence of a given glint in the eye that tells the candidate is a kind that likes to look under the hood, does not accept an answer without an explanation – e.g. she/he is someone that would fit the team. Recently I came across a link on mashable about a few questions to ask yourself before accepting a job; here is my view on the topic:

"Are serious goals being sacrificed?" – my goals were having a team, but still code as nuts; use cutting and bleeding edge technologies but do have a safe net (startups not being the safest nest while having family to take care). By having extensive possibilities to do flexible work arrangements, overall I do see a strong overlap between what I aim for vs what I get. And yes, career is moving forward as well 🙂

"Is there an opportunity to expand your skills and experience?" – wow, so many things I learned, and as far as I see will do in the future as well: whether it's about designing database engines and schedulers, language design or creating a new mashup technology – I'm always supported to try out the newest and greatest. And to fail early and often if I'm on a bad track 🙂

"Does it meet most needs?" – fits my lifestyle, supports family; what else would I long for?

"Imagine working for the company" – before I joined my employer, I could hardly imagine myself working there. It wasn't the dress code, the culture or anything specific. It was the lack of knowledge on what is there. So next time someone wants to introduce you her/his company, listen!

Re: Outsourced project management – what would you teach to the project manager?

By the same customer care specialist I was asked to come up with a short list on what I'd like to the project manager to know for me to be happy to outsource. Here is the short list:

  • Be able to understand my blog 🙂 – it's mostly written in 'business analyst' language
  • I don't expect him/her to plan the architecture‏ – but still he/she should be able to understand it to a given level‏, especially if it's the architecture his/her company suggest
  • Understanding of tiers (1, 2, 3, N, etc)
  • Understanding of Service Oriented Architecture
  • Understanding of the differences between web and desktop, mobile and desktop, hybrid and native
  • If this is about database as well, understand what is a database, what is a star scheme, what is a cube, what is an rdbms, an olap, a nosql
  • Understanding what is S+S, PaaS, IaaS, SaaS
  • Understanding what is UX, where it has it's place
  • Understanding what is model driven, what is test driven, what is business driven architecture
  • Understanding what is a value chain, what place an ISV or a VAR has in that
  • Understanding what is a user, a developer, a programmer, a power user, etc

What else would you add?

Snow and remote access

Reason for remote workDue to the amount of snow (an example on the right – this is the size of ice slabs I got from under the car) in the recent days I became another one of the remote workers; during which I started to think, whether the current setup of mine is actually suitable for longevitied remote working – and I can declare, it's far from being perfect, but can be made so reasonable quickly. Right now I'm using a Surface RT as my main device as part of a device evaluation, and its possibilities to get it connected to external keyboard, mouse, and display do fit my needs. So what are the missing points? One easy to miss is your seat – to let you ergonomically sit. Another one would be good internet connection – luckily I did not have any issues ever with my provider. Lastly, the comfortable noise level is something I need to invest into. Right now I'm using an old LifeChat device, which suits me most of the cases – save for when I'm doing phone calls. I'm now positively looking into investing into a physical IP phone with headset (hopefully either noise cancelling, wireless or both). What else you try to make your remote work life better? And yes, I'm familiar with the posts of probably one of the biggest remote work enthusiast.

Outsourced project management – what would you teach to the project manager?

Yesterday I submitted nearly a dozen projects for summer internship, covering a wide range of topics from UI mashups to infrastructure developments; and was thinking about what language should I use when describing the projects? A while ago I was chatting with a friend of mine working as a customer care specialist at a company that is basically focusing on outsourcing – he complained he does not understand my blog. Which made me wonder: what courses I'd suggest to take for someone who wants to be able to work in such environment – in 2014. Next to some basics like 'requirements analysis', 'solution architectures' what else would be on the ideal list (eg for someone you would be happy to outsource all of a sudden)?

Enterprise templates

While reading another wonderful piece from Scott Hanselman, it just came to me in a sudden – I it possible, that we still haven't arrived to the age of enterprise templates? What are (or better, were) enterprise templates?

As time evolves, patterns and frameworks also do evolve significantly. Some APIs, features tend to become less useful, less 'modern'. If you happen to work at an enterprise, these might be even put to an official list to avoid, even companies implement tools that either at checkin time or later on, automatically; or manually, using crucible or similar tool do hunt down these anti-APIs. Isn't there an easier way? More than a decade ago I've chosen the following as the title of my thesis: Enterprise Templates and Domain Specific Languages – Enabling Modification of Visual Studio.NET IDEs to Comply with Company Standards and to Enhance Developer Productivity (yes, title brevity wasn't an aim). So, what this was about? Visual Studio (and also Eclipse, IntelliJ, etc) easily allows creation of addons/plugins. One type of these addins is the ability to create a DSL – Domain Specific Language. In my thesis I showed a way with actual implementation on using DSL to recreate the normal development environment, language, base class libraries, etc. – minus those particular features you want to get rid of. You want to introduce a warning if someone uses UrlPathEncode? You want to get rid of the property EnableViewStateMac and default it to be true? All of these is easily possible with enterprise templates.

Why it did not got into the common knowledge? That's a rather good question. Have YOU ever heard of enterprise templates and the possibilities described above?