TRIP REPORT: QCon SF 2019, Amtrak Coast Starlight, #Bikelife in San Francisco, and Thoughts

This past week has been QCon. I departed last Sunday on the Coast Starlight. My preference is to take the train when it’s possible. Sometimes the schedule allows it, sometimes it doesn’t. This trip, the schedule was perfect for a little coding time on the train, reading, and introspection. Taking the train always gives me a bunch of time to do these things uninterupted while being comfortable and enjoying the countryside rolling by.

The train got out of the station and I cut some video for a VLOG episode or two. To note, I’ve got more than a few, some linked in this post, VLOG’s of the week and the various adventure. I hope they’re interesting and in some cases informational! Feel free to ask questions, I’m more than happy to elaborate on any of the videos, content, and the related topics.

Departing Seattle for San Francisco to attend QCon

The train departs at 9:45am from King Street Station. If I had to drive or take transit I’d have to get up at about 6am to get there and fiddle with luggage and all that, but since I was cycling bikelife style to the station, I got up around 7:15. However, I didn’t follow that schedule a made a coffee stop on the way.

When I arrived at the station I saw one of those post boards that showed the old Union Station near the King Street Station and I point out a few details about the two. I included some tips for bike life traveling via the train too. Rolled on out to the platform and boarded. Watch the video for a shrot summary of my departure and boarding the train.

The countryside is beautiful on this trip, and getting into Oakland and the ferry ride across the bay is spectacular. I had to, of course, VLOG a bit of that too.

After getting in I made my way back down via Valencia onto Market Street to the Hyatt for QCon Day 1 events. A VLOG on that run with a little montage and then some thoughts.

First thoughts, it won’t be soon enough that get get SOV (Single Occupant Vehicles) off of Market Street altogether. The street is used in a vastly superior way having transit, active transport, and work vehicles as is. Having SOV’s plying the streets just makes it dangerous and clogs up the whole thing, but alas, that’s just a first though.

I got into QCon and was super stoked to catch a few talks and talk to fellow data folks. I had noted though, even as a sponsor, our badges don’t get us access to anything really but the sponsorship hallway. That was kind of a bummer, so in the interim I had to work some magic so that I could catch some talks!

Palumi & Langauges of Infrastructure by Joe Duffy was the first talk I wanted to see. Alas, with scheduling I couldn’t make it. The description read,

“We have all become cloud developers. Every day we use the cloud to supercharge our applications, deliver new capabilities, and reach scales previously unheard of. Leveraging the cloud effectively, however, means navigating and mastering the ever-expanding infrastructure landscape, including public cloud services for compute, data, and AI; containers, serverless, and Kubernetes; hybrid environments; and even SaaS — often many at once.

Join us to learn about the modern languages, tools, and techniques that leading-edge companies are using to innovate in this world of ever-increasing cloud capabilities. We will explore: how to create, deploy, and manage cloud applications and infrastructures; approaches for cloud architectures and continuous delivery; and how modularity and reuse is being applied to infrastructure to tame the complexity, boost productivity, and ensure secure best practices.”

Hopefully we can get Joe to come speak at Seattle Scalability in the coming year! I’d even like to setup a hack day akin to a workshop to try out some of these techniques and related languages for infrastructure for the meet! Ping me Joe and we’ll make it happen!

The next talk I really wanted to catch too was Lachlan‘s “Helm 3: A Mariner’s Delight”.

“Adjusting your spyglass and looking out over the water, you can see how useful a package manager like Helm is. Perhaps you’ve used it to manage the fractal complexity of packages on your Kubernetes clusters (without losing track of versions stashed in the hold). But Helm 3 is rumored to be different, and you’re ready to get started on this exciting voyage – as soon as you have some idea of what’s port and what’s starboard!

In this story-fueled session, we’ll take you through differences from the Helm of yore, tips for a successful rollout or upgrade, and opportunities to shape the project’s future. The cloud native waters can be choppy, but a technical deep dive powered by open source tooling will steer you right!”

But again, my scheduling and access prevented this but I’m hopeful. This next week is KubeCon and I should be able to catch up with a number of people, maybe even Lachlan, on the Helm 3 bits!

Other talks that I might have or might not have officially attended included “Beyond Microservices: Streams, State and Scalability”, “Better Living through Software at The Human Utility”, and “Parsing JSON Really Quickly: Lessons Learned”. I hear they were all spectacular talks! 😉

Day 2 rolled in. Talked with Auth0 and Solace at their respective booths, if you’re curious.

After all that, another solid QCon, I’ll make sure to get a full pass next time if I can make it. Unless of course they fix that ranked access sponsorship pass mess, then I’d happily opt for that again. It is after all rather interesting to speak with all the companies.

After the conference I put together an exit VLOG. Enoy! Catch everybody next time!

Next week, on to KubeCon, cuz two conferences in two weeks is like a two-fer!

 

Happy Year 5 of the Birth of The New Stack

This is the 2nd post in a series of posts on OSCON 2019, the first is “OSCON: What it is.“.

Happy 5th Birthday to The New Stack

I tend to write a lot of articles, documentation, and all sorts of various things. It’s one of the many things I enjoy doing. A while back my friend Alex approached me and presented this new idea for a tech publication he was starting. He mentioned he’d love for me to put a few articles in if I were interested. I was, and over the next several months as the company got rolling I added a few articles to the mix!

In those early days Alex started with all sorts of ideas about things to add to the medium beyond just articles. Over these last 5 years he’s worked diligently with a team of great writers, coders, and others to make those ideas happen! Here are a few of my favorite sections of The New Stack.

Podcasts – Of course there had to be a podcast the The New Stack right! Just recently there’s been some whiz bang awesome episodes. Check these out for a wide range of interesting tech topics.

Again, happy birthday to all at the The New Stack, hope OSCON was most excellent and awesome for y’all. Cheers!

 

2x More 2019 Seattle Area Conferences

We’re halfway through the year now. In Seattle what’s going on in this later half? Here are a few of the conferences, camps, or code related events I’ve purchased tickets to over the last few months.

Seattle Code Camp – September 14th – I have attended a few, and even spoken at some of the code camps here in Seattle. Every time I’ve had a good time and enjoyed a number of very educational conversations. For an idea of the range of topics, also check out the schedule – it’s HUGE!

API City Conference – September 5th – API City is another non-profit community conference that I attended for the first time last year. Again, the sessions were good but the conversations, like with Seattle Code Camp, are what made this conference valuable.

Both of these conferences are extremely high value for the dollar. Arguably, I’d say these provide more value than some of the conferences that are in the $2000-3000 price range, which is mind boggling, but that’s what you get when the community comes together on something that people have a shared interest in!

Either one, or both, hope to see you there.

 

OSCON: What it is.

This is the first of a few articles I’m going to write over the next couple of weeks related to the O’Reilly Open Source Conference, or what is more colloquially called OSCON. Before the conference event topic let us sync up on understanding exactly what this conference has been, what it was intended to be, and what it is today and its roots in open source.

OSCON was inaugurated in 1999 with its first conference held in Portland, Oregon. The location, that generally, has been the accepted home of OSCON. There have been other OSCON events in other locations but the sentiment remains – OSCON is a Portland conference and it’s a bit rough going in other cities hosting the conference.

OSCON started as a conference centered around the open source community since day one. It’s consistently held that course even when open source was regularly lamented, insulted, and cursed by the software industry. At one point Microsoft, the biggest of big software companies in the early days of OSCON relentlessly attacked open source. Steve Ballmer stated, “Linux is a Cancer” back in 2001.

Jim Allchin attacked open source as “the worst”.

Even the founder Bill Gates even went on record saying open source would make it so, “nobody can ever improve the software”.

Microsoft execs weren’t the only ones, just some of the richest, prominent, and loudest about berating the licensing model. Many corporations and others attacked it as communist and in other ways. But OSCON continued onward every year with solid turnout in Portland. The community continued to grow. But considering where we are now, that might seem a bit obvious. But way back then it wasn’t so obvious that open source licenses and related open models would become the way a vast percentage of software would be developed, as it is today.

But here we are!

OSCON started around those earlier days when open source was more often maligned than celebrated. At least in the business world and in the places the vast majority of us were, or would have been employed. When it started the conference aimed high and achieved a lot of victories in bringing together key people within the industry to grow open source development from multiple angles. As time went on OSCON expanded, as did its host library of open source books, on all the tools, options, and available solutions that were being created via open source licensing and the plethora of development paradigms.

Fast forward to today and OSCON is still that stalwart conference that brings people together, from those early days, to people that have just joined the open source communities today. This cohesive gathering of minds has a very low barrier for entry with its hallway pass, all the way to standard – more expensive fare – that covers the whole conference, specific and special gatherings, presentations, demos, and related activities.

Stay tuned, subscribe to the blog, and my next post I’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of more OSCON events, The New Stack‘s birthday at the conference, and more.

TRIP REPORT: Accelerate 2019 in Washington DC, I mean National Harbor!

Trip Time.

Today’s trip care of Alaska Airlines Flight 2 out of SEATAC Airport (Seattle & Tacoma’s airport) to National (Reagan) in Alexandria, Virginia. I’ll be staying there and commuting daily across the Potomoc River to Gaylord Resort and Convention Center (at National Harbor). I decided I’d write up something about this trip for a few specific reasons:

  1. I finally purchased a Bromptown Bicycle which I’ve been wanting to attain and use for my trips that require air travel or don’t have enough space for a proper bicycle.
  2. The adventure is entirely new to me, I’ve not been to these locations at any point in my life. New for me, new for those reading this (or adventuring along with me on my Twitch channel).
  3. I also picked up a number of new things that I want to see how they’ll work for streaming while on the go. These include; Android Phone, a new dual Go Pro + Phone mount for the bike, and among these a few existing devices like my trusty set of GoPro Cameras.
  4. I flew over via first class for various reasons. I thus, wanted to share some of the advantages and why I think it’s more than worth it to fly first class vs. coach and why companies should rethink their ideas around this when positions require frequent travel and working on the go.

Leaving Cascadia

The first thing I did was pack up the Brompton. I got a hardshell case to go along with it since I’d read during my research the airlines sometimes will snap off parts of the bike when a softshell case is used. The other advantage, the hardshell case has wheels! Inside this I also put my front mount messenger bag and some bungie cables so I can mount this stuff up to the bike upon arrival.

Once that was packed it was time to get the Mission Workshop ARKIV backpack I have locked and loaded. In my pack, which is the large of the two sizes, I get all my cloths, toothbrush, razors, and related amenities. In the side pouches that I mount up specific for longer trips I put my power brick and other electric plugs I’d need regularly in the quickest to access pouches. The other things go in various assorted pockets here and there. Since this is such a short trip, I also skip the outer backpack laptop pouch and just put the laptop in the inner sleeve.

Stats

Backpack w/ Laptop: 22 lbs. (with laptop)
Hardshell w/ Bike: 32 lbs.

All in all, a fairly heavy load, but the cool thing is with the configuration and post-arrival setup I have there isn’t actually much to carry. Backpack goes on my back and the hardshell case rolls along like a carry on. What makes it even easier, I’ve got an express bus with plenty of space and light rail with special areas specific for luggage like this. My 17x Express arrives on time, I board and ride off with my pack and hard shell sitting right next to me.

When I arrive downtown I merely pack up and roll downstairs to the Sound Transit LINK, board the train and off to the airport I go. No need to mess with a driver, no need for chatter or worrying about the implications of social anxiety or evils of clicking “don’t talk to me uber driver”. Just board and go. Then, read a book, check your phone, or whatever comes to mind. That’s what I do.

At the airport I strolled and rolled into the first class lounge, which I attempted to record via my new Android with the Twitch app. It… went oddly I’m assuming. Let’s take a look here.

Once I got situated in the lounge I made some pancakes – a tradition I have now – and sat down for some coding. The seats are comfortable, the views are great, and along with the coding I get to nerd out on all the planes taking on and off. At least, when one is flying in and out of C Gate at SEATAC. N Gates are kind of “meh”.

Eventually I left the relaxing lounge and headed into the boarding area of C Gates. The Alaska Air 737-900 arrived and started deplaning. With deplaning, boarding, and refueling done for the trip back east to DC we headed back out on the tarmac to queue up 15th in line to take off. Check that out, total plane traffic jam!

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Once in the air we flew through some piddly turbulence and into more clouds. Clearing 10,000 foot laptops came out and a little bit more coding resumed. In addition I started this post, took a few pictures, and knocked out a few other things I needed to do.

After a while food and drink services began. In first class anything over an hour can safely assume a meal will be served. This time it was tortellini or a sandwich of some sort. I got the tortellini. The meal is then served in three parts. Starting with a little salad and soup, entree, and then wrapped up with a desert.

The soup was tasty, I was somewhat surprised by this. Where as the salad was merely a salad with some cherry tomatoes, carrots, and greens. Nothing real special, but then of course it’s a salad so not like there’s much expectation.

The tortellini was pretty good. Even in comparison to other food outside of the airlines. A little salt and pepper brought it up just slightly to something I’d even have been happy with in an actual restaurant!

Finally we wrapped up with some Salt & Straw for desert. Considering this is an airplane I was kind of amazed they’d get Salt & Straw, but then again, Alaska Airlines does like to play to the local products and all!

After food, a couple more hours of coding and prep for the oncoming days of Accelerate.

Arrival in the District of Columbia

I arrived in DC, retrieved my Brompton and racked up the case it packs in and threw my bag on the front. Now for a 26 minute bike ride from the airport to Alexandria.

the-path.png

On the way, the setting was magnificent with honey suckle providing a divine fragrance while I road along the bike trail along the Potomac River. The moon shined down, almost full, and in spectacular fashion!

Eventually I arrived at my new home for the week. The ride a success, an experiment that it was.

Bootcamp!

NOTE: I am an employee at DataStax, just so you know, in case you didn’t know. I always do my best to give you the direct details, but just so you don’t think I’m being a shill here. Some people don’t seem to be able to determine how people and occupations are correlated, so I like to keep things on the up and up.

First day, or maybe it’s zero day on account of zero based indexes and all, bootcamp kicked off!

In the boot camp we covered a lot of material to get attendees up to speed on Apache Cassandra. To boot, Patrick McFadin announced that everybody would get to use DataStax Constellation, our new Cassandra as a Service offering – currently in test. The awesomeness about this whole bootcamp was that we provided Constellation for everybody, without a blip on the radar! No system issues came up, albeit we crossed a few programmatic network wires that were crisscrossed but that got remedied in seconds. With that all wrapped up, released, with a bow on top, bootcamp went off without a hitch. Also a huge shout out to the dozens of team members that provided support throughout the room of 300+ attendees!

Good times in success!

Day 1 – Announcing DataStax Constellation

The first day, based on our zero based index numbering of conference days, started with Billy Bosworth CEO of DataStax giving keynote number one.

In the keynote Billy talks about the direction of DataStax and the upcoming releases, and current releases as of Accelerate 2019. Then Chelsea Navo joins Billy to do a LIVE – emphasis on a LIVE demo of DataStax Enterprise (i.e. Apache Cassandra and all the goodies) running multi-cloud in Azure, AWS, and GCP.

9:23 – Demo of DataStax Enterprise – Multi-cloud in real life. “Not a pretend demo!

15:17 – Chealsea shows how we introduced a little chaos into the mix, and introduces the ability to simply and easily bring a datacenter down. In realtime, as the related reads and writes are occurring. Nothing stops, not even a blip… whoops, did I spoil it? Give it a watch, it’s a solid keynote demo!

At the 20 minute mark, Billy introduced DataStax Constellation. Watch it, learn more, etc. Following that Billy talks about Insights, which will be built in and services based AI, system health, and related capabilities within the cloud offering.

After the keynote, everybody broke out into technical sessions on a wide, very wide range of topics. From Apache Cassandra to DataStax to Kafka to Vue.js! Great day!

Day 2 – Apache Cassandra v4.0

On day two Billy starts off the keynotes, and introduces others including Nate McCall. Nate is the Apache Cassandra PMC Chair & committer to the project. He dove into the new features, capabilities, and changes of v4.

Next up is DataStax CTO (and founder!) and Apache Cassandra committer of yore, and more, Jonothan Ellis! (video is time point linked below so you can dive right into the talk).

After the keynotes more technical sessions. I attended some architecture discussions around graph and related technology. Lots of good conversations. I really enjoyed it, and to wrap it all up that evening we had an ending keynote with Keren Elazari.

Departure

I had a great time, and as I always like a little lagniappe. Here’s some photos from the trip back. If you’d like to join DataStax Accelerate for 2020, give a good look at the upcoming conference next year!