Xamarin and I Are Hella Busy Hacking This Week

This week, along with the normal duties of getting everything from SSL working to code slung for account management to intellectual property (what is that exactly ūüėģ )… ¬†this week is going to get hella busy. Here’s a few of the¬†public events and training that I’ll be attending this week along with the normal bike n’ hacking n’ gettin’ shit done.

Shared Code Projects, PCL and Xamarin on 7/8/14 @

Intel JFCC Auditorium
2111 N.E. 25th Ave
Hillsboro, OR

James Montemagno ¬†from Xamarin is coming to learn us the deets on how¬†to create common core code that can run on any or all common platforms. Find out the differences between shared code project, portable class libraries, and simple file linking to share more code on iOS, Android, and Windows. This should be pretty kick ass¬†to help kick OrchestrateExecutive off the ground. There’s a little more info here for the event:¬†http://www.padnug.org/.

Database Stuff that aint RDBMS on 7/10/14 @

I’ll @adron be presenting on database types, what’s available out there outside of the relational and RDBMS world. How to resolve various problems with alternate data solutions for better results, better performance and ways to leap around the hurdles that are sometimes faced with RDBMS use. ¬†More info here:¬†http://www.meetup.com/ssdevelopers/events/176032122/

Xamarin Hands-on-Lab/Hackathon on 7/12/14 @

Montgomery Park

Kelly White¬†@mckhendry¬†has put together a hands-on-lab and hackathon, just a few days later hosting a¬†hand-on-lab working with Xamarin to build apps. I’m going to hit up this event too (then go ride a 100+ kilometer bike ride, anybody up for the ride, ping me?) and sling some code on¬†OrchestrateExecutive.¬†Also¬†a little more info here for the event:¬†http://www.padnug.org/.

There’s more, but these are the top few meets I’ll be attending over the next two weeks. Happy hacking!

A Recap Of My Top 4 Tech Article Reads From Pocket

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the¬†number of articles that are in my pocket. I’ve got articles on livability, transit, cycling, auto¬†issues, node.js, java, javascript, coding practices, software craftsmanship, feminism, heavy metal, death metal, black metal, jazz, progressive jazz, fusion jazz, NASA news, space discoveries, space research, Star Trek news, Star Wars news, information on sci-fi books and a slight spattering of politics and some other just interesting nonsensical stuff.

Here's a shot of Pocket on OS-X with an article about Seattle's Tech Advantage over many American cities being rooted in urban density. Which, I'd also argue, gives Seattle a unique advantage (And is a serious pain point for Microsoft's misstep into the suburbs decades ago)
Here’s a shot of Pocket on OS-X with an article about Seattle’s Tech Advantage over many American cities being rooted in urban density. Which, I’d also argue, gives Seattle a unique advantage (And is a serious pain point for Microsoft’s misstep into the suburbs decades ago)

I’ve taken the time to sort through this list of articles, pick out the top technical articles and get this down to a manageable level again. In the process I’ve created this list of solid articles that I’ve now officially read or found useful in some way and present it here for you dear reader. Enjoy, I hope they’re useful to you too.

Article Recon, The Top

  1. Zef Hemel wrote up a piece titled “Docker: Using Linux Containers to Support Portable Application Deployment“. In the article Zef delves into a number of things that are key to understanding Docker and the notion of portland application deployment. Other topics covered include isolation, security, reproducing deployments and resource constraints. The article closes with an example of ¬†application containers and their respective deployment.
  2. 7 Javascript Basics Many Developers Aren’t Using (Properly) albeit slightly useful, I found this one more entertaining. It does give some small insight to the scope of oddities that JavaScript has and how one can easily miss the basics in JavaScript.
  3. Even though the article is from late last year, “The Premature Return to SQL” is a good read. As Alex Popescu ¬†¬†states it, “This pisses me off. A lot.” I too find myself pissed off a lot at the naive understanding and decisions making around SQL or alternate options. It’s almost as if some people decide to just flip a coin to make these determinations with zero insight into what they’re actually attempting to do.
  4. The article “No Deadlines for You! Software Dev Without¬†Estimates, Specs or Other Lies” is spectacular in laying out how bullshit specs and estimates are. They’re almost entirely wasted effort on the developers part. In my own opinion it is often a failure (and yeah, I’ve been in management and leadership too, and removed these issues) of management to understand in the slightest what is actually being built or how it is being built. A lack of vision on behalf of the project is a sure fire sign that the original estimates are already completely off, the design and build out of whatever it is will likely be wrong and a host of other issues. Building software isn’t a bridge, it’s more like a painting, you decide as you go. There is no paint by numbers in software development.

Anyway, that’s my list from the 50+ tech articles that were in my Pocket app.¬†Maybe on day I can get disciplined enough to keep the list limited to really good reads and I’ll start putting together a “My Top Pocket Reads this Month” blog entries? That sounds like it could be useful. Until then, happy coding.

Going Live, Data & Pricing @ Orchestrate

Over the last few months while working on the prototype around Deconstructed I’ve been using the Orchestrate service offering exclusively. With their service around key value and graph store easily accessible via API it was a no brainer to get started building ASAP. Today, that service goes full beta! You can get the full lowdown at the Orchestrate site.

You might recall that I mentioned Orchestrate a while back when they lept into the PIE Class a few months ago. So here’s a few quick thoughts on the release and what Orchestrate is.

The basic premise is Orchestrate provides full-text search, time ordered events, graph, key value storage and a lot more. All of these capabilities are offered via an API that create a product that’s extremely easy to get started. Think about what you’d need to do to get full-text search against a key value setup. Really think about it. Yeah? That’s a lot of steps. With Orchestrate you just sign up and start using it. Think about setting up a graph store and managing it on production systems. Yeah? Lot’s of work once it gets used. Again, just sign up, it’s all there, the graph to the key value to the event series and more. All the NoSQL juice you need located in a single service so you’re not fighting and maintaining multiple databases, nodes or whatever you’re working with.

Sing up. Use.

I will copy one thing from the press release….

  • Ad hoc search queries with Lucene
  • Event and time-ordered storage for activity feeds, sensor data
  • Create and query graph relationships
  • Easy to understand pricing
  • Data export at will – no lock-in
  • Standards compliant data security protocols
  • Daily data backups
  • Bulk data loading
  • Daily and hourly usage monitoring
  • A single, simple interface – JSON data in/out
  • Designed to complement existing databases and MBaaS services
  • Client libraries for Java, Node.js, and Go. More on the way!

Using Orchestrate

There are quotes in the press release, but I’ve got a few myself. I’m working to build out a prototype service that I and Aaron Gray will be releasing soon. Our startup is called Deconstructed, but more on that later. Without Orchestrate my dev cycle would be longer each day, as I battle with maintaining the data sources that I need. Without it I would have spent another 2-3 weeks setting up and staging nosql database technology. All things I didn’t really need to do. I needed to focus on the service, the value that we’ll soon bring to our customers.

It really boils down to this, and don’t get me wrong, I’m a total data nerd. But when it comes to building a product or service, the last thing I want to do is fight with managing the data anymore than I have to. That notion inspired me to write “Sorry Database Nerds, Nobody Actually Gives a Shit” which still holds true. I can’t think of a single business that wants to sit around and grok how an index works in a key value or what the spline of text-search queries is going to be.

Pricing

Pricing is sweet, for many that want to try it out things are free. Prices go up a bit more from there, but if you fall into the pricing you’re doing some business and ought to be rolling in a few bucks eh!

The interesting thing to me about pricing is that they’ve structured it around MOp, which stands for MegaOps. More specifically that’s one million API calls or one million operations.

Summary

If you write code, even a little or if you manage data you should do yourself the service and check out what Orchestrate has built. It’s a solid investment of time. I’ll have a lot more on Orchestrate and how we’re using the service for Deconstructed and more on using the service with JavaScript in the coming months. Keep your eyes peeled and I might even have some Dart and C# magic thrown in there to boot! Check em’ out, until later, happy hacking.

Sorry Database Nerds, Nobody Actually Gives a Shit…

So I’ve been in more than a few conversations about data structures, various academic conversations and other notions about where and how data should be stored. I’ve been on projects and managed projects that involve teams of people determining how to manage data so that other people can just not manage data. They want to focus on business use and not the data mechanisms underneath. The root of everything around databases really boils down to a single thing – how can we store X and retrieve X – nobody actually trying to get business done or change the world is going to dig into the data storage mechanisms if they don’t have to. To summarize,

nobody actually gives a shit…

At least nobody does until the database breaks, or somebody has to be hired to manage or tune queries or something or some other problem comes up. In the ideal world we could just put data into the ether and have it come back when we ask for it. Unfortunately we have to keep caring for where the data is, how it’s stored, the schema (even in schema-less, you still need to know the schema of the data at some point, it’s just another abstraction to push off dealing with the database), how to backup, recover, data gravity, proximity and a host of other concerns. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just work on our app or business? Wouldn’t it be nice to just, well, focus on things we actually give a shit about?

Managed Data Systems!

The whole *aaS and PaaS World has been pushing to simplify operations to the point that the primary, if not the only concern, is the business itself. This is a pretty big step in many ways, but holds a lot of hope and promise around fixing the data gravity, proximity, management and related concerns. One provider of services that has an interesting start around the NoSQL realm is Orchestrate.io. I’ll have more about them in the future, as I’ll actually be working on hacking on some code against their platform. They’re currently solving a number of the mentioned issues. Which is great, a solid starting point that takes us past the draconian nature of the old approach to NoSQL and Relational Databases in general.

There has been some others, such as Mongo Labs or such, that have created a sort of DBaaS. This however doesn’t fill the gap that Orchestrate.io is filling. So far almost every *aaS database or other solution has merely been a single type of database that a developer can just throw data at in a single kind of way. Not really flexible, and really only abstracting some manual work, but not providing much additional value add around using the actual data. Orchestrate.io is bridging these together with search, replication and other features to provide a platform on which multiple options are available via the API. Key value, geo, time series and others are all coming together for them nicely. Having all the options actually creates a real value add, versus just provide one single way to do one thing.

Intelligent Data Systems?

After checking out and interviewing Orchestrate.io recently I’ve stumbled into a few other ideas. It would be perfect for them to implement or for the open source community to take a stab at.¬†What would happen if the systems storing the data knew where to put things? What would be the case for providing an intelligent indexing policy or architecture at the schema design decision layer, the area where a person usually must intervene? Could it be done?

A decision tier that scans and makes decisions on the data to revamp the way it is stored against a key value, geo, time series or other method. Could it be done in real time? Would it have to go through some type of processing system? The options around implementing something like this are numerous, but this just leaves a lot of space for providing value add around the data to reduce the complexity of this decision making.

Imagine you have key value data, that needs to be associative based on graph principles, that you must store in a highly available system with pertinent real-time data provided based on those graph relations. A decision layer, to create an intelligent data system, could monitor the data and determine the frequent query paths against the data. If the data is growing old it could move data from real-time to archival via the key value. Other decisions could be made to push up data segments into a cache tier or some other mechanism to provide realtime graph connections to client queries. These are all decisions that would need to be made by somebody working on the data, but could be put into a set of rules to allow for re-allocation of the data via automated mechanisms into better storage options. Why keep old data that isn’t queried in the active in memory graph store, push it to the distributed key store. Why keep the graph data on drive when it can be in memory with correlated keys in a key value in memory store, backed by an on drive key value? All valid decisions, all becoming better understood day by day. It’s about time some of this decision process started to be automated.

What are your thoughts? Pro-intelligent data systems or anti-intelligent data systems? Think it’ll work or is it the wrong approach? Maybe the system should approach some other zenith or axiom point to become truly abstracted and transparent?

Conference Recap – The awe inspiring quality & number of conferences in Cascadia!

Rails 2013 Conf (April 29th-May 1st)

The Rails 2013 Conference kicked off for me, with a short bike ride through town to the conference center. The Portland conference center is one of the most connected conference centers I’ve seen; light rail, streetcar, bus, bicycle boulevards, trails & of course pedestrian access is all available. I personally have no idea if you can drive to it, but I hear there is parking & such for drivers.

Streetcars
Streetcars

Rails Conf however clearly places itself in the category of a conference of people that give a shit! This is evident in so many things among the community, from the inclusive nature creating one of the most diverse groups of developers to the fact they handed out 7 day transit passes upon picking up your Rails Conf Pass!

Bikes!
Bikes!

The keynote was by DHH (obviously right?). He laid out where the Rails stack is, some roadmap topics & drew out how much the community had grown. Overall, Rails is now in the state of maintain and grow the ideal. Considering its inclusive nature I hope to see it continue to grow and to increase options out there for people getting into software development.

Railsconf 2013
Railsconf 2013

I also met a number of people while at the conference. One person I ran into again was Travis, who lives out yonder in Jacksonville, Florida and works with Hashrocket. Travis & I, besides the pure metal, have Jacksonville as common stomping ground. Last year I’d met him while the Hash Rocket Crew were in town. We discussed Portland, where to go and how to get there, plus what Hashrocket has been up to in regards to use around Mongo, other databases and how Ruby on Rails was treating them. The conclusion, all good on the dev front!

One of these days though, the Hashrocket crew is just gonna have to move to Portland. Sorry Jacksonville, we’ll visit one day. ūüėČ

For the later half of the conferene I actually dove out and headed down for some client discussions in the country of Southern California. Nathan Aschbacher headed up Basho attendance at the conference from this point on. Which reminds me, I’ve gotta get a sitrep with Nathan…

RICON East (May 13th & 14th)

RICON East
RICON East

Ok, so I didn’t actually attend RICON East (sad face), I had far too many things to handle over here in Portlandia – but I watched over 1/3rd of the talks via the 1080p live stream. The basic idea of the RICON Conferences, is a conference series focused on distributed systems. Riak is of course a distributed database, falling into that category, but RICON is by no means merely about Riak at all. At RICON the talks range from competing products to acedemic heavy hitting talks about how, where and why distributed systems are the future of computing. They may touch on things you may be familiar with such as;

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • Existing databases and how they may fit into the fabric of distributed systems (such as Postgresql)
  • How to scale distributed across AWS Cloud Services, Azure or other cloud providers
RICON East
RICON East

As the videos are posted online I’ll be providing some blog entries around the talks. It will however be extremely difficult to choose the first to review, just as RICON back in October of 2012, every single talk was far above the modicum of the median!

Two immediate two talks that stand out was Christopher Meiklejohn’s @cmeik talk, doing a bit o’ proofs and all, in realtime off the cuff and all. It was merely a 5 minute lightnight talk, but holy shit this guy can roll through and hand off intelligence via a talk so fast in blew my mind!

The other talk was Kyle’s, AKA @aphry, who went through network partitions with databases. Basically destroying any comfort you might have with your database being effective at getting reads in a partition event. Kyle knows his stuff, that is without doubt.

There are many others, so subscribe keep reading and I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks.

Node PDX 2013 (May 16th & 17th)

Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!
Horse_js and other characters, planning some JavaScript hacking!

Holy moley we did it, again! Thanks to EVERYBODY out there in the community for helping us pull together another kick ass Node PDX event! That’s two years in a row now! My fellow cohort of Troy Howard @thoward37 and Luc Perkins @lucperkins had hustled like some crazed worker bees to get everything together and ready – as always a lot always comes together the last minute and we don’t get a wink of sleep until its all done and everybody has had a good time!

Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!
Node PDX Sticker Selection was WICKED COOL!

Node PDX, it’s pretty self descriptive. It’s a one Node.js conference that also includes topics on hardware, javascript on the client side and a host of other topics. It’s also Portland specific. We have Portland Local Roasted Coffee (thanks Ristretto for the pour over & Coava for the custom roast!), Portland Beer (thanks brew capital of the world!), Portland Food (thanks Nicolas’!), Portland DJs (thanks Monika Mhz!), Portland Bands and tons of Portland wierdness all over the place. It’s always a good time! We get the notion at Node PDX, with all the Portlandia spread all over it’s one of the reasons that 8-12 people move to and get hired in Portland after this conference every year (it might become a larger range, as there are a few people planning to make the move in the coming months!).

A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!
A wide angle view of Holocene where Node PDX magic happened!

The talks this year increased in number, but maintained a solid range of topics. We had a node.js disco talk, client side JavaScript, sensors and node.js, and even heard about people’s personal stories of how they got into programming JavaScript. Excellent talks, and as with RICON, I’ll be posting a blog entry and adding a few penny thoughts of my own to each talk.

Polyglot Conference 2013 (May 24th Workshops, 25th Conference)

Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!
Tea & Chris kick off Polyglot Conference 2013!
A smiling crowd!
A smiling crowd!

Polyglot Conference was held in Vancouver again this year, with clear intent to expand to Portland and Seattle in the coming year or two. I’m super stoked about this and will definitely be looking to help out – if you’re interested in helping let me know and I’ll get you in contact with the entire crew that’s been handling things so far!

Polyglot Conference itself is a yearly conference held as an open spaces event. The way open space conferences work is described well on Wikipedia were it is referred to as Open Spaces Technology.

The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.
The crowds amass to order the chaos of tracks.

The biggest problem with this conference, is that it’s technically only one day. I hope that we can extend it to two days for next year – and hopefully even have the Seattle and Portland branches go with an extended two day itenerary.

A counting system...
A counting system…

This year the break out sessions that that I attended included “Dev Tools”, “How to Be a Better Programmer”, “Go (Language) Noises”, other great sessions and I threw down a session of my own on “Distributed Systems”. Overall, great time and great sessions! I had a blast and am looking forward to next year.

By the way, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this blog entry, but this is only THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER IN CASCADIA! I’ll have more coverage of these events and others coming up, the roadmap includes OS Bridge (where I’m also speaking) and Portland’s notorious OSCON.

Until the next conference, keep hacking on that next bad ass piece of software, cheers!