Posts in Community

You Can Change the World

January 2nd, 2018 Posted by Community 0 thoughts on “You Can Change the World”

Last May I traveled to Uganda. I never thought I would ever go to Africa, but there I was boarding the airplane to fly 17 hours to the other side of the planet. I would be lying to you if I said I was excited  I was out of my comfort-zone, I didn’t know what to expect, and as one who usually has some level of control, I had none. It was all an unknown for me and required me to trust my daughter, my youngest child, who’d been to Uganda at least six times. I had to put myself out there knowing she had it all under control. Seven months later, I’m heading back.


Reflections on DevConf Poland

September 20th, 2017 Posted by Community, DevConf 0 thoughts on “Reflections on DevConf Poland”

I spent this past week in the beautiful city of Krakow, Poland for the spectacular DevConf Poland. Thinking this is a new conference is far from the truth, as the organizers have run DevDays since 2011, changing the name this year. From what I hear, they have not changed not the fantastic experience.

I was accepted to give my talk, Fending Off Zombies With OTP, and speaking at the conference was one of the best speaking experiences to date.


DevOpsDays 2017 -or- Why I Love This Community

May 31st, 2017 Posted by Community, DevOps, DevOpsDays 0 thoughts on “DevOpsDays 2017 -or- Why I Love This Community”

Some of the blog readers may know that I (Aaron) have been doing a bit of traveling lately. Some of the conferences I have been attending fall under the DevOpsDays heading. Recently, I was at DevOpsDays Toronto and earlier this year at DevOpsDays Seattle. I've gone to so many (and applied to speak at more) mostly because I love these events. What's awesome, what really makes them stand out, is that they're not just another lineup of Big Names pitching their brand of How To Do DevOps Correctly, but that the organizers push for local and locally relevant content that speaks to their communities directly.


Retrospective: DevOpsDays Rockies 2016

April 28th, 2016 Posted by Community, DevOps, DevOpsDays 0 thoughts on “Retrospective: DevOpsDays Rockies 2016”

I’ve been inaugurated with my first DevOps Days. It was a fantastic, exhausting weekend where I probably gained more perspective on the DevOps community in 2 days than most of my working career.

What’s a DevOps Day anyway?

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the DevOps Days conference, it’s sort of like an industry conference injected with extreme participation. The attendance is kept intentionally low (although we were at about 425 attendees) and a major focus of the event is the Open Space meeting. Even the Keynote Speakers are encouraged to be new voices in the community over the existing and previous-years’ speakers. This leads for an awesome overall message of “your voice matters.” The only downside is that you meet a ton of people and do a lot of brain-stretching in a short period of time; my introverted side was totally spent by Saturday morning.

Technology can’t fix a people problem

My first major takeaway from the convention was this: People are important. If you find yourself “Rubbing DevOps on it” but the rash just won’t go away, it’s not a technology problem, it’s a culture problem. I could repeat this over and over, but helping people is why I fell in love with technology. The primary motivating factor behind leaving my previous jobs has been a culture issue. It was never that I didn’t love the work, it was that I hated the way the organization’s culture permeated their workforce. Culture matters. Your people matter. If you focus on your people, your product will reflect that.

Automate your 💩

Secondly, it’s all about technical debt. This was a new term for me, personally, but the concept isn’t new. The idea focuses mainly on opportunity costs for any task. Every time you cut a corner, there’s work that you’re not doing that needs to be completed. This work can manifest suddenly as unplanned work when multiple band-aid fixes inevitably go wrong, or when something breaks and there’s not enough documentation and the on-call tech has to troubleshoot the entire issue from scratch. Except that tech doesn’t even have information about what the system is supposed to do. So it was crystalized like this for me:

  1. If you can automate it, automate it. If a human doesn’t have to be involved, why make the work for them? This task is important because it frees up man-hours for more important work.
  2. If you can’t automate it, you need documentation. For incidents, Minimum-Viable Runbooks are crucial. There should be no guessing what systems do and how to fix them at 3am.
  3. Any task that improved quality of life for your employees is critical. Getting paged after hours interrupts sleep and reduces quality of life. Removing unplanned work takes priority even if that means your planned feature release gets delayed.

DevOps CT: Challenge Accepted

All in all this was an awesome conference that greatly encouraged me to build a similar community in Connecticut. Dave and I have already begun by planning our first DevOps CT Meetup. So if you are interested in getting connected with the DevOps community, please sign up and join us in conversation. I would love to talk about all the pie-in-the-sky ideals and discuss all of the realistic challenges that we face daily when trying to affect real culture change in CT. It’s a huge challenge to take on major monolithic organizations like the insurance giants in Hartford, but I leave it to Barney Stinson to share my thoughts on this: “Challenge Accepted.”

Computers in Africa

August 3rd, 2015 Posted by Community 0 thoughts on “Computers in Africa”

Since 2009 I have been working with the Kampala Children’s Centre in Kampala, Uganda with the mission to provide resources through technology for the children at the center to have new opportunities for their futures.


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