DevRel Data: Presentation & Deductions

Before diving into conclusions, let’s take a look at some answers to questions asked. This is a slice of answers, with totals for the charts and such. After a few months of answers I’ll have another follow up to see how things may or may not change.

Do you like video material?

chart

What specifically do you, or would you like to watch in video? Screencasts, short videos, conversational, or some other type of videos?

  • Screencasts/tutorials
  • I love both screencasts going through big topics and short videos that cover smaller tips and gotchas.
  • Videos with a specific outcome as the goal, whether achieved or not. Showing the process of something.. like hey, here’s how you building out a Postgres cluster using streaming replication and repmgr and pgpool… Kind of thing.
  • Bite sized content, maybe 2 minutes, to teach me one thing.
  • Editing. No jokes, no “hey what’s up guys” with 60 second intros. Discuss the problem, then solve it.
  • Demos, learning a new way of doing something
  • Doesn’t matter short or long, but has to be deeply technical with code examples that I can actually apply
  • I watch videos mostly for fun.
  • Screencast
  • Short videos of say 5-10 minutes each covering different concept of the subject matter
  • (videos work best in a classroom setting where time/attention is precommitted, or as part of a tutorial)
  • conversational
  • Short videos.
  • If it’s too long, it ends up on my todo list forever (not good). So shorter is better. And something that benefits from visuals, rather than something that could just be written.
  • I also watch LinkedIn Learning when just starting a new tech. to get a general overview and pick up a tip or tow, then I read books and the Internet from there.
  • short videos

What kind of written material do you like?

chart2

Do you like other material mixed in that details the reason for the tech, the story, or such?

chart3

Is there anything that comes to mind, that you’d like to have me or the team I’m working with (@ DataStax) put together that you’d find useful, entertaining, or related.

  • Place priorities on designing materials for more depth (i.e., more linked material) as well as less attention-nuisance. That’s no criticism of your work, merely the gestalt of where we work — so less noise is a better way to stand out and make materials useful.
  • Maybe focus more on written material – code & architecture material (books, articles) rather than videos and twitch. It is much easier to consume and is easily googlable. Also I’d suggest making blog posts target a specific common issue or question – sometimes I see posts that I don’t really care about or the problem is so narrow that I don’t want to read about it. I’d read about building resilient and highly available architectures in various configurations.
  • Database reliability, scalability, migrations and such stuff is interesting.
  • Anything to do with machine learning.
  • Data model examples, starting up a Cassandra node, configuring YAML, etc

Deductions

I’m going to go backwards through the questions and discuss what I’ve deducted, and in some ways what has surprised me among the answers!

First there’s the “Is there anything that comes to mind, that you’d like to have me or the team I’m working with (@ DataStax) put together that you’d find useful, entertaining, or related.” request and questions.

The answers here didn’t surprise me much at all. Within DevRel from Microsoft to DataStax to Google to many other organizations we have this ongoing battle between “write a whole book on it” or “make it 2 minutes short”. It’s wildly difficult to determine what format, what timing, and what structure material needs to be in for it to be most useful to people. So when I saw the answer that reads, “Place priorities on designing materials for more depth (i.e., more linked material) as well as less attention-nuisance.” I immediately thought, “yeah, for real, but ugh…” it’s difficult. However, I’m working on more thorough material, some of it will be paywalled via LinkedIn Learning or Pluralsight and other material may be available by book in the coming months. But there will be other material that will indeed be long form how to material on how to really put things together – from scratch and from the basis of “we have X thing and need to hack it so we can add a feature”.

The next answer I got in this section that I completely agree with is increasing the focus on written material. I’m making tons of video, and I’ve got that down to the point where it’s actually easier and faster to do most of it then it is to write things down. However I realized, especially from my own point of view, that written material actually ends up being vastly more useful than video material. That’s also why, even with the video material, when I’m covering specifics I aim to provide a linkable timeline and a blog entry with the code and other changes shown in the video. Thanks for reinforcing these efforts and giving me that indirect encouragement to make this process and the results even better. More written material is on its way!

As for the database reliability, scalability, migrations, machine learning, data modeling, Cassandra node starting, and all that it’s in the queue and I’m getting to it as fast as I possibly can.

Next question I asked is, “Do you like other material mixed in that details the reason for the tech, the story, or such?

It appears, albeit not a huge contingent of people, some people are curious about biking, train coding, and making good grub! Hey, that’s groovy cuz I’ve got a show coming out which is basically the behind the scenes videos about all those topics that make the coding and technology hacking possible!

The one outlier in this set however is clearly the request for “Ways to simplify life to dig through those algorithms faster, easier, better?” which I didn’t suspect would be any different then the other answers for this questions. Which left me surprised and ill-prepared on what to do about fulfilling what is clearly a demand. I’ll have to up level my blog posts around algorithms. I did do a couple a long while ago now in “Algorithms 101: Big Sums” which I completed in Go and another I wrote up “Algorithms 101: Roads & Town Centers” which I have 90% of the answer complete but I’ve never finished the blog entry! I guess it’s time to get the algorithm train coupled up and ready to depart!

Then the question, “What kind of written material do you like?

Two options lead by a healthy margin for this question: Demos w/ Write Up and Blog Articles. With this coupled up to the first question it’s clear that written material via blog and demoes via blog should and ought to be top priority. They are, however they’re a whole helluva lot of work, so I only get them produced but so fast. Got some gems coming on Go, Bash, Cassandra, and a few other demo, tech, and historical information.

Next up was single page cheat sheets and documentation, followed closely by books. I kind of expected documentation and books, but wow that single page cheat sheets option is higher rated than I would have suspected and by proxy I’ve immediately added that to my produce this type of material list! I put it in as a very secondary thought but it’s going to get into that increased focus queue.

The last one with some semblance of demand is pamphlet size short form. This one almost seems like a fluke, but I’ll ponder putting together some of these. I know O’Reilly has their short novelette size books which cover a particular topic. They hand these out for free at conferences and seem pretty solid. Maybe I’ll work one of those into the queue? Maybe.

The other three options scraped by with 1%, so somebody was choosing them. So the vi mug isn’t a priority nor the short explainer videos. Which seems in contention with video content demands around shorter content. I guess, explainer videos just doesn’t sound useful!

The next question I just put together a top three of the results, “What specifically do you, or would you like to watch in video? Screencasts, short videos, conversational, or some other type of videos?

  1. Make screen casts.
  2. Make screen casts generally short.
  3. Make screen cases that are short and on a specific and deep dive into a topic.

This seems kind of in conflict with itself, but I’m going to aim for it and try to hone the skill further. So that I can produce screen casts, screen casts that are generally short, and make sure that these screen casts that are short are on a specific and deep dive into a topic. Whew, got it.

Finally, “do you like video material?

chart

At this time, 53.8% of you have said yes. I had guessed it would be around 50%.

I had guessed no would be about 25%, and at 23.1% I wasn’t to far off.

The other respective mishmash of answers made for interesting depth to the questions that followed this question.

Article Summary & TLDR

Produce more topic specific, detailed material around screen casts and blog entries!

End of story.

For more on this information, why I asked, and what I do check out my article titled “Evangelism, Advocacy, and Activism in The Technology Industry” and for some of the big victories for big corporations check out “The Developer Advocates – Observations on Microsoft’s New Competence“.

Back From Scandinavia, Back to Project Coding, Writing and Organizing

Scandinavia Viking.

Scandinavian Viking.

I just got back from Scandinavia (and Amsterdam). I went for a million reasons, mostly for the adventure of it. Visiting Stockholm, Copenhagen and Reykjavik I saw about a zillion bikes, great architecture, Tivoli, amazing and beautiful waterways, Viking boat building museums, design to die for and so much more. It’s truly one of the amazing areas of the world. But now I’m back in ‘Merica and ready to get back to working on projects, design efforts and all the things I love to do. This blog post is a summary of my immediate return to projects, here’s the list broken into coding, writing and organizing:

Coding

  • Deconstructed – [site] This is the startup I’ve cofounded with Aaron Gray @agray. Check out our main site at Deconstructed. Check out some of the open source projects we’ve started here and listed below.
  • Deconstructed Docs – [site] [JavaScript] [Node.js] I’m using Wintersmith to build docs with static site generation. The docs are located at docs.deconstructed.io. Previous blog entries I did on building a static site with Wintersmith are available at Wintersmith Creating Documentation and Working in -34c, Wintersmith Customization & Github Hosting.
  • Symphonize.js – [site] [JavaScript] [Node.js] [issues] This is a project I started to use configuration as a basis for creating data for any database, but specifically Orchestrate (see blog entries under the writing section I did for Orchestrate). The idea behind this started since I needed something to generate test data for Deconstructed. This one is incomplete, but I’ll be pushing it forward to a deployable NPM Module soon that will be easy to download and just use. There’s also a possibility that this becomes a service that I make available in the near future.
  • Orchestrate.NET – [site] [c#] [issues] I’ve been helping out Robert Smith and a crew to manage the effort around the .NET client driver for Orchestrate. This is currently functional and we’d love anybody and everybody using it to really test it out. Currently I’m using this for the OrchestrateExecute Project listed below too.
  • orchestrate-rapping – [repo] [go] [issues] [group] Yo yo yo, hit the beat. This is an effort that I and others have kicked off to put together a wrapper for Orchestrate’s API. The reason is simple, we want to be able to develop sitting far away from wifi and connectivity, in a park or a cabin in the woods, with a beer in hand and a fire crackling. All while knowing we’re building something that will work when we reconnect to the land of the internet!
  • OrchestrateExecutive – [repo] [c#] [issues] For a very serious enterprise application, I’ve started hacking together a C# Application using Xamarin that will provide a library tier (that could be used as a sample) to use in building to Android, iOS or Windows Phone and all of the native Windows, Linux or OS-X apps that might be needed. In the application I’ll be using Orchestrate and Deconstructed to build out the application. Stay tuned at blog.deconstructed.io for more on this.
  • …and also inspired by Rick Turoczy @turoczy eternally another fucking side project will be going live soon. 😮

Writing

Organizing

  • Bike n’ Hack – Follow @bikenhack for information and more coming soon.
  • Node PDX – More to come on this soon.

…subscribe to the RSS link, hit the e-mail subscription or just ping me or follow me @adron on Twitter and I’ll keep you posted on the goings on of all my efforts and others. Cheers!

In-memory Orchestrate Local Development Database

I was talking with Tory Adams @BEZEI2K about working with Orchestrate‘s Services. We’re totally sold on what they offer and are looking forward to a lot of the technology that is in the works. The day to day building against Orchestrate is super easy, and setting up collections for dev or test or whatever are so easy nothing has stood in our way. Except one thing…

Every once in a while we have to work disconnected. For whatever the reason might be; Comcast cable goes out, we decide to jump on a train or one of us ends up on one of those Q400 puddle jumpers that doesn’t have wifi! But regardless of being disconnected from wifi, cable or internet connectivity we still want to be able to code and test!

In Memory Orchestrate Wrapper

Enter the idea of creating an in memory Orchestrate database wrapper. Using something like convict.js one could easily redirect all the connections as necessary when developing locally. That way development continues right along and when the application is pushed live, it’s redirected to the appropriate Orchestrate connections and keys!

This in memory “fake” or “mock” would need to have the key value, events, and graph store setup just like Orchestrate. With the possibility of having this in memory one could also easily write tests against a real fake and be able to test connected or disconnected without mocking. Not to say that’s a good or bad idea, but just one more tool in the tool chest doesn’t hurt!

If something like this doesn’t pop up in the next week or three, I might just have to kick off this project myself! If anybody is interested please reach out to me and let’s discuss! I’m open to writing it in JavaScript, C#, Java or whatever poison pill you’d prefer. (I’m not polyglot to limit my options!!)

Other Ideas, Development Shop Swap

Another idea that I’ve been pondering is setting up a development shop swap. I’ll leave the reader to determine what that means!  😉  Feel free to throw down ideas that this might bring up and I’ll incorporate that into the soon to be implementation. I’ll have more information about that idea right here once the project gets rolling. In the meantime, happy coding!

I’ve Got a JavaScript & Node.js Webinar, Webstorm Tutorial Videos, Work & Flow With JavaScript Development and More…

Webinar: Node.js Development Workflow in WebStorm

This coming week I’m doing an intro to work and flow with Node.js JavaScript Programming that I’m working with JetBrains on. In the webinar I’ll be covering the following key topics in the webinar:

  • Open an existing project & getting WebStorm configured for running, testing and related working tasks.
  • A quick tour of other IDE features that help with daily work. Some in pretty huge ways.
  • Running WebStorm & debugging Node.js JavaScript applications.
  • Checking out Mocha, how it works and what it gives WebStorm the power to do. Then we’ll write a few tests & implement that code too.

All this will include Q & A throughout and at the end of the webinar. Be sure to register soon!

WebStorm Tutorials: Learning Shortcuts, Customizing Layout and Others

These WebStorm Tutorials have been put together by John Lindquist @johnlindquist for JetBrains. There solid, quick snippets of useful WebStorm usage. Two that I’ve found really useful I’ve included here:

John also has a lot of other great totally kick ass material out there. So check out his blog @ http://johnlindquist.com/ and follow his youtube channel too.

Coming Up in the Near Future, The Work & Flow of JavaScript Development

I have a new course I’m working on right now for Pluralsight, that will take these basic precepts and dive even deeper into the daily workflow of the JavaScript Developer. Whether it’s client side hacking or server side coding, I’ll be diving into a whole lot of JavaScript goodness. If you’d like me to ping you when the course is done, hit me up on Twitter @adron and just let me know. In the meantime get a Pluralsight subscription (free to sign up and at least give it a try) and check out these courses by myself and others.

Docker Course, Ubuntu, Wordpress, Angular.js, Notes, Rich Hickey, Datomic…

Updates, updates, updates…

Docker Course @ Pluralsight

I added a new course on Docker to my Pluralsight list of courses today. This joins my one other course on Riak, which I’m aiming to have more added to that list in the future! Check those out and let me know what you think, how I could improve, what I did right and what you learned (or already knew). I’d greatly appreciate it!

Rich Hickey, Datomic, Clojure, Angular.js and Notes

I started a section on the blog here for notes on topics I’m studying. The first two I’ve hit on are Angular.js and Rich Hickey, Clojure and Hammock Driven Development. I’ll be adding to these over time and will likely report whenever I add good chunks of info or helpful tutorials, how-to docs or just whatever I deem worth mentioning. Simply put I won’t broadcast it much, unless I add some real goodies that are worth it.  😉

Ubuntu & WordPress

I needed a kind of WordPress Workstation to hack around testing some WordPress so I put together quick notes on the fastest and cleanest way to setup a WordPress VM from scratch.

Until later, happy coding, have a metal \m/ \m/ Friday!

Plotting Good Things in Portland :: pdxbridge.js / WTF Databases /

Several people got together yesterday to start planning things for 2014 in PDX. It ranged from coding workshops to PDX Node to Node PDX to what kind of food to eat at for lunch. Ya know, daily tactical things that come along with the big picture items. 😉

bridge.js badge.

bridge.js badge.

Two things that I want to bring up to the community out there. One is a workshop that I’ll likely lead efforts to organize and the other is something I’ll just call pdxbridge.js for now. The workshop will cover the topics of which and what databases to use for what data and how to implement. The pdxbridge.js project is about determining the raised or lowered state of the bridges here in Portland.

Some of the other projects, workshops and other topics we discussed included getting a workshop put together around unit, integration and testing code from a behavioral, test driven development or other approaches. This workshop we don’t have anyone to teach, but we’d (ok, so I really really would love to attend a workshop on this) really like to find somebody who would be willing to teach a workshop of this sort, with a focus on Javascript as the language. On that same topic however, if you’re into Java, Erlang, Scala, Haskell or others and would like to teach a TDD, BDD or related testing workshop please get in touch with me. We will work on making that happen! Ping me at adron at composite code dot com. 😉

Workshop: Intro to Databases & Data

(Relational, Key/Value, Distributed, Graph, Event Series, etc.)

This is a course I’ll lead and others will work with me on to put something extra useful together. We will then teach the workshop as a group, kind of a team paired programming teaching workshop. If there is anything in particular that you’d like to learn about, any questions that you have about data and usage in applications or otherwise add your two cents on this blog entries comments. Over the next month we’ll be putting together the material and have the course available sometime early this year. So if you’d like to attend, jump in at any time with the conversation or just keep a read here and I’ll have more information about the course as we get it put together.

Let’s Make pdxbridge.js Happen!

The pdxbridge.js project is all about determining if a bridge in Portland is up or down. Right now there are  several bridges that matter, that are on this list;

If we add other information to track about the bridges we might add the other 3 that exist and the new bridge that is being built. however the five listed are the only bridges that have a raised and lowered state, and in one case the Steel Bridge has a lowered, partially raised and fully raised state. As shown on the pdxbridge.js badge I threw together (shown above).

To get involved with pdxbridge.js go add your input on this issue I started to discuss our first meet, plan and hack.

2013 Dies, 2014 Lives… To a New Year!

My feelings on new years resolutions is pretty dry. Namely, I think they’re rather stupid. The main reason being this, if one is only checking their life, place and accomplishments once a year they’re forgetting most of them and remembering little if any accomplishments. It reminds me of the hierarchical nonsense of western European derived management culture. Something that is horribly out of space, time and element in today’s world. It has really shown it’s age but refuses to let go and disappear.

But, in humor of the past, to humor the age old hierarchical notions of the past, present and future. He’s my cheers to 2013 as it dies and my cheers to 2014 and what may come. First, what’s been done. As I was saying, I’m not a fan of wait a whole year to review things, and I’ve done plenty of reviewing over the last year. That’s include making hard decisions and kicking some serious ass. I’ve made huge changes, not just in my life, but in the direction I’m heading in my career (if you’d even call what I do a career, there isn’t exactly a defined path).

Accomplishments

I haven’t worked for a company in 4 months. I’d want to stop doing that for many months and strike out and try something of my own. Run a startup, build a startup, work as a purely individual contractor and contributor or something. Something were I wasn’t collecting a set pay check by a set company that could at whim do whatever it wanted with me, the project and such. I wanted a truly greenfield effort and a greenfield gig. So what did I do?

Beer

I sat on my porch for 2 months, enjoyed the waning summer and drank a few beers. Amazing and tasty brews from local brewers in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and a few other locations. Most of them, from right here in the beer capital of the world Portland, Oregon. I spent a few evening just hanging out with friends, fellow coders, metal heads and musicians at heart at Bailey’s Tap Room. A lot of hanging out there, but it went further then that. I jammed with a multitude of street musicians, hoodie donned and pulled to. It was very enjoyable.

During all of this time I didn’t really throw a lick of code. I didn’t implement anything. I didn’t even really think that much about stuff. I read a few things here and there and did study a little bit. But mostly I just did a lot of hanging out, sitting, chilling and introspecting about what I wanted to do next.

The Changes: Change #1 a Calendar

After that 2 months of getting all fat and happy. Just enjoying life and pondering all that is the first big change happened. It’s kind of stupid, but it is a huge change for me. I updated my calendar to actually reflect what the hell I’m doing. I’ve made a point in the last 2 plus months to keep it up to date too. It’s amazing how much easier the day to day is when the calendar is up to date. It seems like a small thing. Something of the “well no shit Sherlock” category of obvious. But it has indeed shifted the way I work and the way I stay organized for the better.

The Changes: Change #2 Fukkit, OS-X & All the OSs it must be. Windows is officially dead to me.

With the last few months at Basho I’d bought an X1 Carbon, using mostly with Ubuntu but also having Windows 8 loaded on it. Windows 8 I grew to not just dislike, but loathed the horridness of so many things. It was Windows 7, with a nasty UI and stupid UX thrown on top. It took decades of UI know how and turned everything upside down.

So I killed it. I killed it dead. Ubuntu was the only US for me at that point but I wanted more. I wanted a high res screen (minimum of 1920×1080 work space at least) that I could do video editing and video rendering on. The Ubuntu and Carbon wasn’t cutting it for that. I wanted to be able to write OS-X, iOS, Windows or whatever code I wanted being able to switch between whichever OS on an efficient OS. The only one that enables all of that is OS-X with VMware Fusion loaded on it (or maybe Parallels or such). So I said to myself, screw it, get back on board that Apple wagon. I still had a Mac Book Air, but it wouldn’t cut it for all the needs, so I upgraded to a Mac Book Pro Retina with 16GB RAM and an i7. This sucker screams and does every single things I want. Change #2, easy, just plunked down a giant chunk of money and it was done. Whew.

The Changes: Change #3 Hedge My Work Decision, Then Decide on Something.

The final decision of this year was the biggest I’ve made in some time. I started doing some contract writing for blogs, all while checking into a few cool companies around Portland. I also started discussions with Aaron Gray about a prospective business. While looking at becoming the Vice President of Engineering for one company with an exciting product, writing blog entries and working with startups to help determine their paths, and looking at just doing simple contract work building out some large scale systems something came up.

Aaron and I decided to kick off Deconstructed.io. Yup, I’m co-founding a startup with Aaron Gray. Do you know him? Follow him on the tweetersphere @agray.

The Changes: Change #4 Yup, I’ve changed my blog theme again. It’s not a big deal, but it should be much more readable.

Happy new year to all, keep kicking ass and putting up the good fight.   \m/  \m/