Courtney Nash

Courtney Nash is an erstwhile neuroscientist who is still fascinated by the brain and how people learn just about anything. She's been known to teach people how to salsa dance, conduct psychology experiments, or even get air on a mountain bike. She manages all O'Reilly content related to web performance and operations.

Ops Mythology

Velocity 2013 Speaker Series

At some point, we’ve all ended up trading horror stories over drinks with colleagues. Heads nod and shake in sympathy, and the stories get hairier as the night goes on. And while it of course feels good to get some of that dirt off your shoulder, is there a larger, better purpose to sharing war stories? I sat down with James Turnbull of Puppet Labs (@kartar) to chat about his upcoming Velocity talk about Ops mythology, and how we might be able to turn our tales of disaster into triumph.

Key highlights of our discussion include:

  • Why do we share disaster stories? What is the attraction? [Discussed at 0:40]
  • Stories are about shared experience and bonding with members of our community. [Discussed at 2:10]
  • These horror stories are like mythological “big warnings” that help enforce social order, which isn’t always a good thing. [Discussed at 4:18]
  • A preview of how his talk will be about moving away from the bad stories so people can keep telling more good stories. (Also: s’mores.) [Discussed at 7:15]

You can watch the entire interview here:

This is one of a series of posts related to the upcoming Velocity conference in Santa Clara, CA (June 18-20). We’ll be highlighting speakers in a variety of ways, from video and email interviews to posts by the speakers themselves.

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Google Glass: What Developers Need to Know about This New Platform

Creating Glassware today and what's in store for tomorrow

You’ve likely already seen pictures of people using Google Glass, if not had an actual in-the-wild spotting as well. After getting a quick demo myself, I spoke with Maximiliano Firtman about his talk at Fluent conference that covers what developers need to start doing and thinking about when it comes to developing apps for this new environment.

Key highlights include:

  • The current version supports cloud-based web applications that can be built in any language using the Mirror API. [Discussed at 0:30]
  • A forthcoming SDK will support native app development, essentially Android apps written in Java. [Discussed at 2:20]
  • The only truly augmented reality type application currently available is Google Maps. [Discussed at 3:30]
  • Developers need to think outside the technical details as well, and spend time considering how people will be interacting with Google Glass—it’s a uniquely new paradigm with unique use cases. [Discussed at 4:14]
  • While the beta (Explorer) program is currently closed, Max expects to see more devices available and “on the street” within the next year. [Discussed at 6:10]

You can view the full interview here:

Read more…

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Beyond Puppet and Chef: Managing PostgreSQL with Ansible

Velocity 2013 Speaker Series

Think configuration management is simply a decision between Chef or Puppet? PalaminoDB CTO (and Lead DB Engineer for Obama’s 2012 campaign) Jay Edwards (@meangrape) discusses his upcoming Velocity talk about Ansible, an alternative configuration management offering that is quick and easy to start using.

Key highlights include:

  • Unlike Puppet or Chef, Ansible has no notion of a centralized server. [Discussed at 1:30]
  • Ansible lets you get started more quickly and easily by doing everything via SSH. [Discussed at 2:12]
  • It’s also good for small-scale projects, such as home or personal things where no persistent state is required. [Discussed at 2:47]
  • Configuration in Ansible is all handled via markup in YAML files, so no domain-specific languages (DSL) or Ruby knowledge is required. [Discussed at 3:30]
  • Ansible is easily extensible in any language (not just Ruby). [Discussed at 4:50]
  • While it’s less relevant for someone with existing configuration management installations, Ansible could be useful in certain cases, such as Puppet without mcollective set up. [Discussed at 6:11]

You can watch the entire interview here:

This is one of a series of posts related to the upcoming Velocity conference in Santa Clara, CA (June 18-20). We’ll be highlighting speakers in a variety of ways, from video and email interviews to posts by the speakers themselves.

Comments: 6

Kate Matsudaira: If You Don’t Understand People, You Don’t Understand Ops

Velocity 2013 Speaker Series

While automation is clearly making everyone’s lives who work in Operations much better, startup founder Kate Matsudaira (@katemats) acknowledges that “No one ever does their work in a vaccum.” You can try as much as possible to Automate All The Things, but you can’t automate trust. And trust is key to a healthy, thriving operations team (and your own professional growth, too).

In this interview, Kate discusses some of the things she’ll be talking about at Velocity next month. Key highlights include:

  •  The word “people” is pretty broad. What aspects of working with people should operations teams care about? [Discussed at 1:32]
  • Ultimately, you depend on the people around you to help get work done, especially when you need to get funding, be it externally for a startup, or internally for an infrastructure or refactoring project. The more people trust you, the more likely that is to happen. [Discussed at 3:17]
  • Cultural change takes leadership, but that leadership doesn’t have to come from the top. [Discussed at 5:00]
  • You can be ridiculously technically competent, but if you can’t communicate well, it hinders your success in the long run. [Discussed at 5:40]

You can view the entire interview here:

This is one of a series of posts related to the upcoming Velocity Conference in Santa Clara, CA (June 18-20). We’ll be highlighting speakers in a variety of ways, from video and email interviews to posts by the speakers themselves.

 

Comments: 2

Sascha Bates on Configuration Management: It’s Not about the Tool

Velocity 2013 speaker series

“Puppet and Chef are completely different, and yet exactly the same,” admits Sascha Bates (@sascha_d). In this interview about her talk at the upcoming Velocity Conference, she discusses common pitfalls that people can avoid when getting started with configuration management. And here’s a hint: it isn’t about which tool you choose.

After years in the trenches helping a variety of organizations implement Chef, Sascha learned (often the hard way) a few critical things that she’ll share in her talk. Key points from our discussion include:

  • When getting started with configuration management, people often fret over which tool they use, when they should be thinking more about the overall integration with their particular system. [Discussed at the 0:50 mark.]
  • Both Chef and Puppet have the concept of a package manager, and if you’re not setting that up properly, things can spiral out of control quickly. [Discussed at the 1:25 mark.]
  • Her top configuration management anti-patterns. [Discussed at the 2:43 mark.]
  • What superpower someone will have after attending her talk. [Discussed at the 3:55 mark.]

Watch the whole interview here:

This is the first in a series of posts related to the upcoming Velocity Conference in Santa Clara, CA (June 18-20). We’ll be highlighting speakers in a variety of ways, from video and email interviews to posts by the speakers themselves.

 

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R as a Programming Language

Moving beyond traditional tools makes data analysis faster and more powerful

Garrett Grolemund is an O’Reilly author and teaches classes on data analysis for R Studios.

We sat down to discuss why data scientists, statisticians, and programmers alike can use the R language to make data analysis easier and more powerful.

Key points from the full video (below) interview include:

  • R is a free, open-source language that has its roots in S-PLUS [Discussed at the 0:27 mark]
  • What does it mean for R to be a programming language versus just a data analysis tool? [Discussed at the 1:00 mark]
  • R comes with many useful data analysis methods already implemented, so you don’t have to start from scratch. [Discussed at the 4:23 mark]
  • R is a mix of functional and object-oriented programming that is optimal for handling data structures that data analysts expect (e.g. vectors) [Discussed at the 6:08 mark]
  • A discussion of using R in conjunction with other languages like Python, along with packages that help with this [Discussed at the 7:30 mark]
  • Getting started using R isn’t really any harder than using a calculator [Discussed at the 9:28 mark]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

Related:

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