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Hackers, the scourge of society.

During my sophomore year of school at the University of Southern California (USC), I was suspended for a semester for “computer hacking.” I haven’t told many people this story and my memory of it only resurfaced after reading through this recent Hacker News thread. If I were to walk up to a random stranger and tell them I got kicked out of school for hacking, they would think it was the coolest thing in the world.

I can promise you, it was not.

My freshman year of college was a bit different than most. I showed up to school with a computer that I had built myself, in a dorm that was only one of two places where you could get an ethernet connection (wired) in the entire university. I’d been spending all my time online at that point but most people still did not know what the internet was (the information superhighway). …


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Similar to The Five Stages of Grief , starting a new job is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I originally started writing this blog post three years ago, a year after joining my current company and never finished or published it! At the time, I’d wanted to capture my thoughts and had reached an inflection point and discovered some things about the journey and myself that might be worth sharing. This is my story but could honestly apply to any company and any person, especially in Technology.

Excitement

Looking for a new job is like dating. You have to have some idea of what you’re looking for, so you know when you’ve found it. As I searched for new opportunities, I developed a decision-making…


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An alternative title for this post might have been, “Why can’t anyone agree on a singular definition for Site Reliability Engineering (aka SRE)?” I’ve spent some of my career in this space and over time, have become very opinionated about my beliefs. The aim of this post is to share some of those beliefs with the hope that you walk away from reading this considering and/or understanding three things:

  • Production Engineering as a natural evolution of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE version 2.0)
  • Six core beliefs I have about Production Engineering aka The PE Principles
  • Production Engineering constantly evolves and will be exactly what it needs to be for the phase of growth that a company is…


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It hurts to even write this story, but it is one of those things I never want to forget.

I was watching the 2019 USC vs UCLA College Football Game when an announcement came on that the Director for ‘The Spirit of Troy’, the USC Trojan Marching Band was retiring after 50 years. I played in the TMB years ago and was present during part of the reign of Dr. Arthur C. Barnter and wow, do I have some stories to tell, including some from Band Camp!

I honestly thought Art would never retire. Also strange is that I call him Art although I don’t recall if that was too his face and I probably should have shown more respect given the PhD in Music and all. Regardless, I figured after that long at the helm that he’d never retire, and would probably die in the middle of a game, yelling at some unassuming freshman that they weren’t “driving the chair” hard enough! So what better way to show respect to the man, the dictator, the legend than to share my own story. …


I’ve been taking my Samsung Gear 360 Video Camera with me everywhere since I bought it. Over time, as I’ve used it more I’ve learned how and what are interesting videos to take. Specifically when you’re with family, it’s best to just mount the camera on a tripod and let it record for 30–60 second increments or more. The memory and joy comes from reliving the moment, and not necessarily heavy editing.

Prior to shooting this 30 second clip, I actually recorded about five minutes of raw footage of my family trying to take a Christmas Picture. It’s ridiculous in only the way that my family can be. After the success (of taking the picture) we had the idea to all gather around the 360 camera and do something Christmas-y. …


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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the massive British Airway’s Outage that took down their backend computer systems. This outage stranded 75,000 customers for over three days. If that wasn’t bad enough, now it looks like they’re placing the blame solely on the IT Person.

British Airways is doing what is typical of many tech companies; When a bad outage happens scapegoat the individual! Individuals are never the fault of an outage, the root cause is always the lack of a system, process or control. And now I’m going to tell you Five Whys.

If you really want to learn the root cause of a bad outage or situation, then I’m going to propose using The Five Whys. Wikipedia tells us that it is “is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular…


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iOS Surge Pricing Screenshot

Uber is a Marketplace that matches riders and drivers. In the same way that Ebay lets a seller offer an item, and multiple buyers bid on that item, Uber does the same thing when you request a ride. Instead of highest bid being the deciding factor, it is criteria like distance, direction, # of seats, and which driver clicks “accept” first (your ride request gets sent to multiple drivers).

Surge pricing is an attempt to deal with a constrained or limited resource on the Marketplace — drivers and cars. If Uber has 100 cars on the road and 200 people requesting rides, there is not enough “supply” to go around. …


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“Fake News.” I’ve been hearing this term thrown around alot lately. If you would have asked what I thought it meant a few months ago, I would have said satire websites, like The Onion or comedy television like The Daily Show.

Then the election happened and Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. This took many by surprise and in the weeks post-election I started hearing more and more about “Fake News” being a contributing factor to this unprecedented upset. Wait, what?!?

“Surely you’re not telling me that people couldn’t tell the difference between real news and satire and that’s why Hillary lost?!?”


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In the 1968 movie by Stanley Kubrick titled 2001, there is an Artificially Intelligent Computer by the name of HAL who pilots a spaceship full of astronauts on its way to Jupiter. HAL is sentient and without giving much away the astronauts on board decide that they need to shut him down. When HAL realizes what they are trying to do he utters this famous line:

I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

HAL realizes that Frank and Dave are trying to kill him. As with anything sentient self-preservation is #1. HAL decides that cannot be allowed. …


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If you’ve never been asked this question in an interview or answered it with your current manager then I feel sorry for you. I’m fond of both asking and answering this question because no matter where you are in your career it will force you to deal with an absolute truth — there are things that you should be doing right now to help you land your next job and you’re probably not doing any of them.

In the 90s there was a comedy show called In Living Color that featured a sketch about a West Indian Family by the name of the Headleys. Every member of the Headley Family had at least five jobs. They were known as the hardest working family in America. Whenever watching their latest misadventures the audience would wait for that episode’s payoff: the family matriarch would learn that someone only had one job and would freak out and run around hysterically in disbelief. …

About

sumbrymatic

Never trust a skinny cook

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