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How to improve your podcast skills, more travel tips, speaking at conferences
This week: Getting better at making podcasts by listening to them, more business travel tips, upcoming talks of mine, links, and random notes.
I’m at VMware Explore this week, I was at DevOpsDays Dallas last week. That’s right: two weeks of travel away from home. I don’t recommend that length of travel. Things start to get weird after about a week of work travel. On the other hand, it was nice to spend a weekend in Austin between the two.
The contrast between a small, volunteer-run conference like DevOpsDays and a big-ass “professional” one like VMworld will be fun to track.
However, it does mean I get to eat good food:
Sharpening the Podcasting Knife
I have been listing to the first episodes of the Blank Check podcast a lot, too much probably. These episodes (something like 30, spanning probably 40 hours?) are detailed discussions of the newer Star Wars films. They’re snarky, detailed.
I have little time now for audio listening, and so I should - well, could - be listening to something more productive for my life. But, they are so delightful, funny, and instructive in a way.
But, doing podcast (and little videos) is a major part of my career, just as much as conference talks and writing things. Listening to a novel, good podcast is instructive for my own. I think of some comment that Jerry Seinfeld made, that I have no idea where it came from: someone asked me of I like watching other stand-up comedians. Of course I do! That is, like, my whole deal: I love jokes and comedy!
This is good to apply to things like white papers, corporate web sites, webinars, and “marketing” material. You would except fiction authors to read a lot of fiction, and they do (usually such an insane amount that it seems like half of their job is just doing that, sitting and reading). In that same way, if you’re writing enterprise software marketing, doing whatever type of content, you’ll do it better if you read other people/companies’ content.
So, I think I’ll go listen to the next episode in the queue.
For the computer people out there, I have several talks1 coming up that you can watch for free:
Sep 8 - Escaping the Legacy Trap: How to modernize the applications that are holding you back - Marc Zottner and I are finally finished with our book on application modernization. This is an “executive” book, not about code. The goal is raise awareness and understanding of “legacy” among managers, and give them an idea of how to start putting together their strategy and plans to address it. It builds on the work Pivotal/VMware Tanzu has done with customers over the past 5+ years. Book out soon!
Sep 13 - How to Measure Developer Productivity with Metrics and More - we’ll go over some current, en vogue metrics and then discuss their use with some practitioners from GAIG, Kin + Carta, and Garmin. As we’ve been developing this, the part I’m most interested in is how metrics can make individual’s work-life better.
Oct 6 - Learn why Kubernetes is here to stay – State of Kubernetes 2022 - I’ll over our Kubernetes survey, giving my analysis of what it means. I did a blog post and some videos from back when we released it.
Register for each of those for free, and watch them live or in replays.
This run of Blank Check episodes was recording starting from before Trump was elected (but after winning the Republican nomination), through the first year of his presidency. This is an interesting time in most podcasts, if you have listened to conversational podcasts that long or ever gone back and listened to them. You have to keep the election in my mind when you listen to these episodes. From small asides and groans, to the rare monolog, you can remember what that time was like as things, uh, “evolved.”
Hearing a podcast evolve, define itself, figure itself out, and establish the common patterns, conventions, and “bits” is fun. And, again, if you work in these medium, you can learn a lot about the mechanics of a podcast, especially how you find the “voice” of the podcast.
Trying to capture how wide and open - big - Texas feels
Conference: SpringOne 2022
Our long-running SpringOne conference is coming up December 6th to 8th, in San Francisco. The talks are on all parts of application development and DevOps/SRE/etc. operations. You know, apps and kubernetes stuff.
Most of the talks are selected, but not listed yet. I’m giving one on the legacy trap book.
You can get $200 off if you register with the code COTE200.
More business travel tips
Anthony Bourdain on How to Fly Much advice around, of course, food. Turning away the airplane food is a good idea. On longer flights, brining some of your own food is probably a good idea - one I haven’t really figured out too well. That said the food in business class is just fine. Getting sleeping pills would be great, but how does one do that?
Beware the hotel breakfast buffet. Nicer hotels have huge, elaborate breakfasts. As you get more hotel status, they’re usually included for free, or you can get one in the hotel lounge. As with any buffet, it’s easy to eat too much. Also, the price of these is usually around $25, so you might feel like you need to take advantage of them. You can just have a yoghurt, a couple of eggs. The price of the buffet will make you think you need to eat a lot (and the fun of all the variety!), but, you don’t need to.
Also, you can usually ask the buffet people for a coffee to take away for free. Sometimes, there’s just coffee in the lobby. In fact, I’d if a hotel doesn’t give you free coffee, something is wrong with them.
De-clutter your hotel room. Less class hotels will have flyers and paper stand-up signs in the room. First thing, gather all of those and put them in a drawer to hide them away during your stay.
Software Defined Talk Episode 374: Is there no Dev in DevOps? - This week we discuss DevOpsDays Dallas, devs not wanting to do ops, Twitter Security issues and Apple playing the long game. Plus, some thoughts on Dr. Pepper and Burger King.
It stays the same, but gets better
Everyone is nervous before a giving a talk. What changes as you get better (or just more experienced) is that you look forward to it, you have fun. You want to do it like you want to eat a good meal. Eventually, the mechanics become habit. This doesn’t mean doing the prep work is easier, or toy avoid it - you still do all of that. It just seems less like tedious work, sometimes less like work, and more like just part of living your life.
But, everyone is still nervous before giving a talk. Feeling nervous doesn’t mean you’re going to do a bad job, that you’re lame or under-qualified. It almost means that you’re doing it right. Or, put a less clever way: it’s just normal.
Movies on the plane
The Green Knight - pretty good!
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - also pretty good. The other male lead actor is just great, such a fun actor in everything.
“If you ever work at Toyota [you’ll see that] the whole company works on Excel.” - Nigel Thurlow at DevOpsDays Dallas 2022
It’s crazy to think I did this video, like, eleven years ago.
Do the work needed to get something published, writing it, planning it, editing it, posting and promoting it, whatever it takes to ship.
Brandon on white-collar work news yo-yo-ing: “We are either all getting fired or getting pay raises.. It is so confusing.” Related: from 2017, Here’s the Average Tenure for Tech Workers in Silicon Valley’s Top 15 Companies.
Other people’s priorities are not your priorities: it costs nothing to send an email or DM asking you to do something you hadn’t planned for.
“Bottled water by the glass.”
As an expat, when you travel back to your home country, you want to stock up on things. For some reason, buying clothes is always high on our list - I think they’re cheaper in America? (Certainly not now with the Euro equally one USD!) If you go back frequently (two or more times a year), it’s better to just focus on the essentials instead of loading up on things. This mostly means food, and especially things like the cheap jug of maple syrup at CostCo.
Air fryers are fantastic. It’s like ten minutes or less to cook anything. (I mean, sometimes more, but whatever.) And then with things like tofu or potatoes, it’s a whole new world of crispy and quick.
People want to avoid the pain of withdrawal, so they got back to the addiction, even if it’s abusive. From here.
On the Delta flight to Detroit, I see water available in the galley. I ask the flight attendant sitting there if I can have a water. She says, “of course,” and being an American says, “the ones on the right are sparkling and the the right are actually water.” That is my people! “Actually water!”
In Dutch, you say two and twenty for “22.” In English, we sat “twenty two.” Dutch keeps this consistent in the teens with “8 teen.” We follow that teen thing in English, but then switch to putting the twenty first. What does French do? Anyhow - amazing!
I’m in-between books now. I have poked at five or so novels to find something that is easy to read and not depressing/negative. What I want are fun books like the ones Robin Sloan writes, or LaserWriter II.
Here’s what I’ve been trying out so far:
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - until reading Silverview kind of accidentally, I’d never read and John le Carré. Maybe they’re easy enough reading - I only worry that there will be too many plots and characters to keep up with.
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve read almost all of her non-fiction. I don’t know though: I’m not really into cancer/dying books and I want something lighter.
Cartographers - I’m working through the same I have for this. I think it might be a good fit.
The Secrets of Happy Families - while not on my “leisure books” list this is kind of interesting? As with so many self-help books, the key is actually do something(s) proactive instead of letting the dumb-chaos of the world direct your life. I am pretty desperate to find something better in this domain of my life.
Between the Woods and the Water - this is the second book in a series of a dude walking across Europe. It is sort of interesting, but gets repetitive after while and slow. I’ve been trying to get into this for months.
The Netanyahus - after enjoying The Sympathizer and it’s sequent I thought I’d check out some other Pulitzer Prize winners. This is an example of fun to read, but pretty depressing book. I don’t really need to add more depressing into my life.
American Chinese Food: Orange Chicken
You don’t realize how much you miss American Chinese food until it’s not available, like in The Netherlands. Also, you don’t realize how heavy and filling it is. So much food, so much good.
Relevant to your interests
Quiet quitting is a trend taking over TikTok and possibly your workplace - “pro-boss propaganda” - “meeting expectations” so you can meet expectations outside of work. The other angle here is that the whole point of capitalism is to make the most profit with the minimal expense. That is rarely applied to individuals, employees: what is the minim amount of work you can do for pay, even good pay. By the rules of business, if you do more than needed, you’re on the wrong end of the deal.
Sizing yourself - “You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.”
100 Rules — Personal Philosophy - You know, the usual list of mind-zingers, but always good to have more.
Haunted Liminal Places - The art-AI stuff seems to be a genuinely new, uh, “vector” for art. Like it’s something new that you can throw into creative, visual work to get ideas, inspiration…direction. It will evolve “art,” not replace it. What is that in computers? In “DevOps”? How do we peruse that? Charles would often get this kind of inspiration and wonderment. When I stopped coding, I couldn’t share it with him so much because I just wouldn’t understand, or I’d (accidentally?) be too cynical extracting the info from him (the old, “how is this new?” and “why not just do what we’ve been doing?”).
Diary, 1999 - “At that age, there is a kind of marriage between the logical act and the dramatic act. They consciously uncouple as you get older.”
An Oral History of Tim Curry’s Escape to the One Place Uncorrupted by Capitalism - “If something like that was in one of the main storylines, where you’re actually trying to pay attention to figure out what’s happening, I think that would have been distracting. But like, just a guy up in the corner?” Also: a huge amount of work goes into video games, and more with these cinematic ones. And then, just a few years later, it kind of vanishes from history? This must become especially true when you can’t easily install the software, or even get ahold of it.