Becoming a Better Programmer… Step One, Build a Course

Often a programmer sits back and reflects on, “how can I get better at my job?” A number of months ago I found myself sitting with that same reflection. One of the many ideas that popped into my head was to put together focused material around a topic. Training material, a blog series or something else. I wasn’t sure just yet what it would be, but I knew that was one of the many things I wanted to do. Fast forward a few months.

Fellow Tier 3 coder Richard Seroter, who I’d known for some time via his blog “Richard Seroter’s Architecture Musings” and I had a conversation about what we do, respectively, to keep our skills honed in tech. He brought up he’d be putting together material for Pluralsight for a while now and enjoyed that. It struck me as something I’d like to do too, considering my past reflection, so he made an intro. The rest is history!

Pluralsight Author, Achievement Reached

I’m now a Pluralsight Author (my author’s page) with my first course on Riak Fundamentals. I’m now working on a second course, on Docker Fundamentals. I’ve got a lot more in the queue after that too, so I hope to keep producing a lot of material on everything from the big languages these days like Javascript, Java, Ruby and C# to lesser knowns like Erlang, Go and maybe some others to boot.

For now, check out my Riak Fundamentals Course and some of the other great material that Pluralsight has available. They’ve just acquired TekPub, Peepcode and a number of other companies too, so when you subscribe you don’t just get all the Pluralsight material but also access to all the material at these excellent course creating companies! In the coming days and weeks I’ll have some reviews of other courses I enjoyed. As always, enjoy, subscribe to my blog, subscribe to Pluralsight and cheers!


Junction Two Weeks Bi-weekly Review : Issue #005

First the bad news, then the good news! That’s the appropriate way to present it right?

Schedule Break on Junction (The bad news)

I’m taking a break on Junction for a few weeks to get some other projects off the ground. In a few weeks the plan is to swing back around to Junction and make some changes to the project, which might be pretty big changes, but I’ll leave those as a surprise for now. So right now there isn’t a whole lot of functional code base that is working, partly because Windows 8 and all has left me a little devoid of urgency. If somebody out there really wants to see Windows 8 have a Riak user interface and management tool let me know, maybe we can work out some new urgency on the project! 😉

JavaScript, Go, Training and Orchestrations (The good news)

Over the next few months I’m working on putting together a lot of content for several great companies. One you might have guessed if you’ve read the last few blog entries, “PIE’s Third Class, You Better Keep an Eye on These Companies…” and “, Stop Dealing With the Database Infrastructure!” specifically, is some content around what is doing. That’ll be coming up real soon, but more about that later.

I’ve just wrapped up my first Pluralsight course that will be available on Riak. I’ll be diving back into working on a course around Docker & Vagrant in the coming days. I’ll be posting some of the work as I go along, of course not the whole thing, but an idea of what the material will be.

There’s also a few more, undisclosed so far, companies I’ll be putting together some content for. Prospectively some content teams even, so if you’re interested in contributing (or working on as a paid consultant) ping me. I might just have some interesting work for you.

So with all that, I’ll have more updates, more coding mischievousness and content coming up in the days and months ahead. Cheers! -Adron

Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday on Friday Bi-weekly Review : Issue #003

…and another update on Junction.

The review slipped past me this week. A little food poisoning will do that to a person. But I’m kicking again.

A Quick Summary

The RSS/News Feed section of the app has been built and put into action. So if you pull the latest code and run the application, navigate into the news section you’ll get the Basho Blog feed. This definitely needs cleaned up a bit from the UI perspective but the main elements are there.

Next steps are…

One of the things the team is aiming to knock out next is to get some MVVM (Mode View ViewModel) architecture setup to build against versus what we’ve started with, which is just the basic skeleton of things thrown together. It works, but it’ll be nice to have some clean architecture behind the application to work with.

I’m aiming to put together a blog entry on troubleshooting the build server for Junction and also the how-to on setting up the RSS/News Feed Reader section of the app in the coming week also. Subscribe to keep up with the latest in Junction news and also all the other tidbits on the blog. Cheers!

Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday Bi-weekly Review : Issue #001

So every two weeks I intend to provide an update for the Junction Project. Who might have joined, what was worked on, where we are and generally any other bits of news related to the project. This is the first “Junction Two Weeks on Tuesday Review” so enjoy!  🙂

  • Two weeks ago today I wrote the entry “Introducing Junction” to kick off the project. Everything is hosted on github via github pages at and the git repository at The video in which I described at a high level each of the sections of the application is located here:
  • Clive Boulton @cliveb, Jared Wray @jaredwray, Kristen Mozian @kmozian and OJ Reeves @OJ joined the project to help out.
  • Issues, as stories and tasks were added to get started with the project. Here’s a first draft of the things we’re all working on. If you’d like to jump in, feel free to ping me and I’ll add you to the project, you can submit a PR (Pull Request) or talk to me about organizing a hackathon to help move the project forward.

Github Issues – Working Items

The easiest way to view these is to log into the Huboard Kanban Board and give a look see of what is in progress and who’s working on what. Currently I’ve outlined the big items that we’re working on and would love a fellow coder to jump in on. If you’re interested, ping me @adron or just jump into the issues list on Github (or view by milestone – i.e. functional area) and comment on the issue you want to dive into, I’ll add you so you can get started!

For the “Call the Doctor (Administration and Maintenance)” part of the application there are a number of questions to answer. How should we connect to Riak to ensure a secure SSH connection? Should we even use SSH? Is there another way to connect to the Riak Cluster for a secure way to administer the cluster?

In the “Golfing With Your Data (Query, Put, Deletes, Etc. Handling the CRUD)” one could dive into creating a functional query space to pull data out of a Riak Cluster. A lot of UI work needs to be done in this space, so if you’re up for putting together some awesome windows 8 interfaces, I’d love to hear from you!

Review Summary

At this point we’re moving forward. We’re always looking forward to new participants so reach out if you’re up for helping out!  So until the next two weeks are up, see ya at the Junction!

Riak Developer Guidance

The “Client Round Robin Anti-Pattern”

One of the features that is often available in Riak Client software (including the CorrguatedIron .NET Client, the riak-js client and others) is the ability to send requests to the Riak Cluster through a round robin style approach. What this means is each IP, of each node within the Riak Cluster is entered into a config file for the client. The client then goes through that list to send off requests to read, write or delete data in the database.

The client being responsible and knowledgeable about the data tier of the application in an architecture is an immediate red flag! The concept around SoC (Separation of Concerns) dictates that

“SoC is a principle for separating a computer program into distinct sections, such that each section addresses a separate concern.

Having the client provide a network tier layer to round robin communication with the database leaves us in a scenario that should be separated into individual concerns. Below is some basic guidance on eliminating this SoC issue.

  • Client ONLY sends and receives communication: The client, especially in the situation with a distributed system like Riak should only be dealing with sending and receiving information from the cluster or a facade that provides an interface for that cluster.
  • Another layer should deal with the network communication and division of nodes and node communication. Ideally, in the case or Riak, and most distributed systems this should be dealt with at the network device layer (router).
  • The network device (router) layer would ideally be able to have (through software likely) a way to automate the failure, inclusion or exclusion of nodes with the cluster system. If a node goes down, the network device should handle the immediate cessation of communication with that node from all clients, routing the communication accordingly to an active node.
  • The node itself needs to maintain a continual information state available to the network. Ideally the network state would identify any addition or removal of a node and if possible the immediate failure of a node. Of course it isn’t always possible to be informed of a failure, but the first line of defense should start within the cluster itself among the nodes.

The Anti-Pattern

Having the client handle all of these parts of the functional architecture leads to a number of problems, not merely that the guidance of the SoC concept is broken. With the client attempting to track and be aware of the individual nodes in the cluster, it sets the client with a huge responsibility.

Take for instance the riak-js client. If a node goes down the client will need to be aware of which node has gone down. For a few seconds (yes, you have to wait entire seconds at this level) the node will be gone and the client won’t know it is down. The client would just have to reasonably wait. When the communication times out, the client would then have to have the responsibility of marking that particular node as down. At this point the client must track which node it is in some type of data repository local to the client. The client must also set a time or some way to identify when the node comes back up. Several questions start to come up such as;

  • Does the client do an arbitrary test to determine when the node comes back up?
  • When the node comes back up is it considered alive or damaged?
  • How would the client manage the IP (or identifier) of the node that has gone down?
  • How long would the client store that the node is down?

The list of questions can get long pretty quick, thus the bad karma of not following a good practice around separating your concerns appropriately! One has to be careful, a god class might be right around the corner otherwise! That’s it for this quick journey into some distributed database usage guidelines. Until next, happy data sciencing.  😉

Riak in a .NET World

Jeremiah's Demo Works, IT WORKS IT WORKS!

Jeremiah’s Demo Works, IT WORKS IT WORKS!

A few days ago Troy Howard, Jeremiah Peschka and I all traveled via Amtrak Cascades up to Seattle. The mission was simple, Jeremiah was presenting “Riak in a .NET World”, I was handling logistics and Troy was handling video.

So I took the video that Troy shot, I edited it, put together some soundtrack to it and let Jeremiah’s big data magic shine. He covers the basics around RDBMSes, SQL Server in this case but easily it applies to any RDBMS in large part. These basics bring us up to where and why an architecture needs to shift from an RDBMS solution to a distributed solution like Riak. After stepping through some of the key reasons to move to Riak, Jeremiah walks through a live demo of using CorrugatedIron, the .NET Client for Riak (Github repo). During the walk through he covers the specific characteristics of how CorrugatedIron interacts with Riak through indexs, buckets and during puts and pulls of data.

Toward the end of the video Joseph Blomstedt @jtuple, Troy Howard @thoward37, Jeremiah Peschka @peschkaj, Clive Boulton @iC and Richard Turner @bitcrazed. Also note, I’ve enabled download for this specific video since it is actually a large video (1.08GB total). So you may want to download and watch it if you don’t have a super reliable high speed internet connection.

Also for more on Jeremiah’s work check out  and contact him at

Introducing Junction

Today I’ve officially kicked off a new project from my notebook of projects based around building a Riak admin, data manipulation, reporting and news tool for Windows 8. If you want to jump right to the project, here’s the Github Pages Site, the Github Junction Repo and eventually I’ll have it listed in the Windows 8 Store for download. Yes, it’ll be free as in beer, it’ll all be Apache 2.0 Licensed and the project is open to contributors and others that want to jump into things. There’s also a quick intro for how I setup the “Windows 8 Logos, Badges & Splash Screens of Riak“.

So now that I’ve provided the links, here’s a quick intro to each of the application sections, what this application is for, where the workflow for contributions will be and what the next steps are. Trust me, I roll easy, I’ll be working as hard as I can to make pull requests easy peasy, keep the issues down to workable contributions and the whole “this is a good OSS project”.

Riak Junction Application rocking on the Windows 8 desktop with a full tile!

Riak Junction Application rocking on the Windows 8 desktop with a full tile!

Juncture Divisions

The juncture application should be split into several key components, or application divisions of functionality. I’ve broken each out with a basic description. If you just want to watch a video where I outline each division, play the video below for a quick 5 minute intro to the application and the idea behind it all.

A quick run through of the first sample UI.

Call the Doctor! (Administration & Maintenance)

This part of the application would provide an interface for all the general administration and maintenance needs around individual nodes and around the overall cluster of nodes. The ability to add, remove and generally administer everything that is available via the riak-admin command line interface.

Time Travel That Data (Performance Benchmarking)

This section of the application will provide the ability to benchmark the timing of data in and out of a cluster. In addition it should show standard benchmarking similar to that which is offered with the basho_bench project.

Love of the Data (Reporting)

This division of the application would be focused on reporting. I’m not sure what exactly that would entail, but something with charts, graphs and pulling together trending points of some sort. If you have ideas and want to work on this part of the application, weigh in!

Golfing With Your Data (Query, Put, Deletes, Etc. Handling the CRUD)

The application will have an interface to provide access to add and remove data, as well as viewing the data that is available within a cluster. The primary means for implementing this part of the application will be with the CorrugatedIron Project. It’s a library available via Nuget that @peschkaj and @TheColonial have put together.

News! News! News! (News…  RSS Feed Reader)

The idea is that this will provide a quick and easy way to get familiar with Windows 8 dev and the project overall. I’m aiming to eat the Basho blog feed and provide it as key highlights for the application with future abilities around mining other RSS feeds or such and having those fed into a ??  Riak Cluster? Again, everything is open to change, addition or removal! So jump into the project and let me know your thoughts.

Cheers & Happy Hacking!