Bottleneck of Worry
Accepting failure, defeat, and discomfort to identifying and move beyond the mind-goblin that stops all work. Also: links!
Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words some of y’all have sent. I appreciate it!
If there’s a shortage, automation can help
I’ve told this story in a previous edition as an aside in talking about positive uses for The AI in education. It’s the basis of my optimism and excitement about things like ChatGPT. I wrote this to someone this week, so here it is again.
When I was in 1st grade (which I took twice because I was held back because of things like:) I just couldn’t figure out writing, starting it, knowing topics to pick. I had a teacher (they called it “special ed” back then) that spent time with me each week (maybe three times) and helped me come up with topics, wrote outlines for me, and would even write the whole (1st grade level) stories and essays we did. Gradually, I did those tasks on my own.
And, you know, I don’t like to brag, but I think we can all agree that I’m a good writer now. (Nevermind that I don’t do a second pass on most of this wastebook of a newsletter.)
Obviously, the teacher was a person and, thus, you know, not an AI - but the basics of what they were doing is exactly what you could do with ChatGPT. And given the expense and limited supply of gifted teachers who can do that, with some tweaking, you can imagine how ChatGPT could very cheaply scale up the benefits I got.
You’d want to add a new interface on-top of The AI stuff. It’s too open ended for this, but an app would be great.
I hosted a panel a few months ago on the topic of metrics for operations and development, you know, in the whole fancy digital transformation DevOps blah blah mode. The panelist were three people who'd thought-through, experimented with, and put various types of metrics in practice. Actual practitioners - real world examples! Anyhow, if you don’t want to watch the replay, there’s a great write-up of it here.
Relevant to yours interests
“The worldwide developer population grew by 2.3% in the last year to over 25.6 million.” From email promoting Evans Data Corp’s latest report on the topic “Worldwide Developer Population and Demographic Study,” this link, I think. I got this from a promo email.
The only thing worse than cloud pricing is the enterprisey alternatives - In complaining about the enterprise software sales process, we get some numbers for cloud stuff: “[Hey.com] spend[s] about three million dollars per year on renting hardware and services in the cloud” (see his breakdown of what they pay AWS in a Tweet); SUSE/Rancher bid $2m to run kubernetes on Hey.com’s private cloud; Hey.com asked for a discount down to $400,000/year, but SUSE just offered 3%, so the final bid was $1,940,000. It’s important to notice: this does not include hardware, networking, etc. Just the license(s) (and support) for the runtime software, kubernetes stuff.
Peak Podcast - “Just 38% of adults surveyed said they had listened to a podcast in the last month, down from 41% in 2021…. over 1 million new podcasts were started in 2020. Last year, the same database tracked only 217,000 new shows, an 80% drop.” // I’m biased bring an old school podcaster, but I split podcasts into two types: (1) the format of podcasts (mostly unprofessional and pro-am people sitting around talking about stuff, often on obscure/niche topics), and, (2) the channel (delivery mechanism) of podcasts. If you use #2 to deliver what would otherwise be radio shows or basic cable murder mystery shows, I don’t know if that’s really a “podcast.” The murder show one is tough: two British people talking about a murder seems like a podcast, someone monologging about a murder with ducked spooky music and excerpts from police interviews seems like a basic cable show. Really, this distinction doesn’t matter - and is rude to the creators! ANYHOW.
How Successful Women Sustain Career Momentum - “Look for every opportunity to learn. Knowledge is power. Be intentional about identifying what you need to learn, whether it’s a new product, a new automation tool, competitive information, or a new market, and how you will learn it. You want people to recognize that even if you don’t currently know a topic, you’re a learner and will pick it up it quickly.” // Just good advice on general.
The Importance of Ubiquitous Language - When working with other people, especially making software, come up with an agreed on list of words and definitions, like those glossaries in sci fi books. For example: “A shopping cart should be implemented as a list of items that are comprised of a product and quantity A customer is an authenticated user Once the customer checks out, the items in the shopping cart should be removed.”
Enterprise Restaurant Compute - Running kubernets in all Chick-fil-a restaurants, “2,500+ Kubernetes clusters.”
Golden Paths Start with a Shift Left - “shift left means adding a task earlier in the process of making software. In app dev, that should mean achieving an outcome earlier in the process. Unfortunately, since making its way into the modern development vernacular, shifting left has often resulted in teams shifting decisions to developers. This might seem like a subtle distinction, but shifting the wrong things left can create real problems.”
The Last Calendar You’ll Ever Need - “Come on! Religious grounds? Even the Vatican was okay with it!”
Hold on tight to garbage you love - ‘“The whole trip was this piece I was working on — my whole life became the work. There were the songs, but I also shot video and did audio journals, stuff I was thinking I might put out, too, but eventually decided to keep for myself. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t know what I was trying to record, and by the end of it, I was, like, I don’t know what the f**k I did for the last few months. But listening back, I was, like, ‘Oh this is cool. I think people will enjoy it.’ And if they don’t, it doesn’t really matter!”’
Amsterdam gets tap-in tap-out open loop contactless fare payments - I think you still pay the full fare instead of the discount you get with an OV card - I’ll have to check. But good progress. Being able to use your credit card (via Apple Pay) is a huge help for American tourists. Visa is even in there, which can be dicey versus MasterCard acceptance in Europe. // ‘The rollout is scheduled to be completed by 2024 with OVpay due to add support for discounted fares and season tickets “soon” and the existing prepaid OV-chipkaart transit card “slowly being replaced with a new one” that will “add new services”.’
On Organizational Structures and the Developer Experience - If you’re working on developer tools, you need a different org structure than working on public cloud services. // “The reality is that org structures that have been designed to iterate and produce services at scale are not likely to satisfactorily address gaps between the services that negatively impact developer experiences without at least some change. If there’s no appetite for that, progress is likely to be limited.”
Backstage Wrapped 2022 · Backstage Software Catalog and Developer Platform - It’s official, Backstage is a big deal: “Last year we celebrated 75 public adopters and today we have over 600 adopters, confirming the interest around Backstage across all the industries, sectors, and dimensions. Companies like Toyota North America, Deutsche Bank, Mercedes-Benz, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, LinkedIn, and many more joined the community this year and are actively contributing in growing the product and its maturity.”
Forrester study finds 228 percent ROI when modernizing applications on Azure PaaS - These studies are paid for (“commisioned”), but in my experience, that doesn’t mean they’re bogus. They’re good for happy-path planning, and definitely good for marketing. Here’s the summary: “A three year 228 percent return on investment (ROI), with a payback period of 15 months. A 50 percent increase in the speed of application development. A 40 percent reduction in app-dev related infrastructure costs.”
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Bottleneck of Worry
“Sorry I couldn’t make it. I’m stuck at home with donkey brains. It’s all good though.” Here.
I’m not going to say everyday, but most everyday there’s something I’m anxious about. It’s usually one thing and it invades my thoughts constantly, becoming a blocker for getting anything done because my mind keeps coming back to it and worrying.
This can go on for days - even a whole week!
Whatever this thing is usually shares two traits.
First, it’s a decision I have to make that’s uncomfortable. This usually means it’s something that has a chance of me “getting in trouble” - someone might get upset at me. It could also be a really boring task that he to get done. Or it could just be the usual bad vibes situation. Often, it involves having to talk and work with someone else to reach a decision, to do something.
Second, it’s usually quick and easy to do. It could just be a five minute call, a quick email, a small chat, or it could be a day of work putting together a presentation (which, to me, is “quick and easy”). A strong flavor on this second part is the old “it’s all in your head” gaslighting that life tends to do. Except, what’s the word for gaslightning when it’s true?
The problem is that this worry becomes a bottleneck for everything else. It prevents from doing anything - it drives procrastination, getting a cup of coffee, doing whatever mindless task I can to not think about the bottleneck worry.
I don’t catch myself as much as I’d like when I’m in this trap, but what I have to do is just deal with it. The one thought-technology I’ve developed over the years is to think “well, this is going to suck” and “this just some bullshit I have to do.”
The further mindset is going in already having accepted failure, disappointment.
Anyhow: an example would be helpful, wouldn’t it? Well, maybe next time. I’ll have to pay attention to the next one…that I want to talk about publicly :)
The Dutch make excellent bread - like it’s hard to describe to Americans how good their bread is. Building on that, they also make good sandwiches - they’re not like American sandwiches at all: there’s much of cheese, little meat. Anyhow: always eat Dutch sandwiches when you get the chance.
Security is the horror movie business model of emerging enterprise technologies: always a quick win retelling the same old stories in a new context. FinOps seems like this category for kubernetes too. This isn’t to say it’s a cheap trick.
My responsibility ends at putting the lunch box in the kid’s backpack. No thinking about it they ate the lunch or notX except for waste management. Not feeling bad about it or too responsible for making sure they actually eat it. Make the lunch, put the lunch in the backpack, and forget about it.
I wonder what Humanitec’s marketing budget is. In content they sure are doing a ton. What’s the efficiency ratio (or whatever) of it?
I bet “firstname.lastname@example.org” gets a lot of email.
An executive dinner needs at least one (two is good too) sales person at the table who can catalog and remember opportunities. Better they can filter excitement and interest into the question “will they actually buy anything from us?”
Our annual conference for developers, operations people, and anyone who’s looking to improve how their organization does software is coming up: SpringOne. There’s lot of programming, of course, and also a good overview of the platform engineering and developer tooling stuff we’ve been doing. It’s free to attend and there’s a whole bunch of other talks (including one from me) that will be trickled out over the weeks after the event.
It’d totally free to register and online, making it super simple to attend. Register now and tell me what you think of it.
Also, if you’re the Amsterdam area on January 25th, I’ll be hosting a watch party for our developer and operations conference, SpringOne. It’s free to attend and “you could win a Lego Technic McLaren F1 car. Refreshments and food will be provided!” I bet I don’t qualify for the Lego set. BOO! Register for it, and I’ll see you there.
Back to Amsterdam today, I’m writing this at BRU. After the executive dinner last night, I was given a fine bottle of champaign so I checked my bag. I don’t usually travel without my carry on bag and, as you may recall, I’m not into the whole “one bag” thing that many of my thought lords and ladies peers are. When you don’t have a carry on bag it means you can be late to board. Especially on these tiny flights like Amsterdam to Brussels, there’s not much room in the overhead bins, so getting on early is good.
When you have one bag, you can just put it under your seat. That’s kind of the whole deal!
One time, years ago, I was in a one bag phase and I’d have fun trying to be the last person to be on the plane. I’d purposefully just sit in the boarding area waiting. In DFW, late at night, I fell asleep waiting. Thankfully, the gate agent came over and woke me. I was the last person on though.