ISO: The Theory of Everything

Just finished up a thought provoking and highly-entertaining treatment of concepts and ideas swirling around related to life, the universe and everything.

Unlike some reviewers of the book, I specifically appreciate that the author tries to synthesize the scientific world view with the religious world view. 

There are too many in life that think the world is so black and white, on both sides, thus being completely unwilling to give credence to what another might say or think across the divide.

The dichotomy reminds me of a couple maxims summarized by Covey and Bragg: 1) first seek to understand, then to be understood, and 2) science and religion are opposed as the thumb and forefinger – between the two you can grasp anything.

I came to similar a similar simulation theory ages ago (without much science knowledge to back it up, just through general observation and cognitive experiences), I’m glad to see we have some great thinkers spending significant clock-cycles on it.

Somewhere in our future is “The Theory of Everything”.  Keep seeking!

General thoughts on OpenSource Software

While having conversations with a couple friends the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that there might be value in writing down some of the ideas I have floating around in the big tin-can on my shoulders, as it relates to opensource software (oss).

Or, then again maybe not.

Regardless, I took a few minutes to jot down some thoughts. This list is by no means exhaustive, it’s just a quick brain dump around what comes to mind when I think about using oss in the enterprise.

Talent implications:

There are some definite and perhaps obvious implications to attracting talent when it comes to participating in the oss community.  First and foremost, it is an easy way for an organization to market itself, its culture, its people and its technology capabilities. Secondarily, in my mind, developers that engage with the oss community show an increased dedication and passion for ongoing learning and development outside of the 9×5. So participatory individuals definitely represent a type of individual I want to have in my organization.

Technology practices:

OSS can be fickle, as it involves many people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives agreeing to agree. 😊

When using oss, I would suggest setting up a company repository where oss and dependencies are curated and maintained as approved for corporate use. In addition, I would also recommend blocking teams from using external repositories, in order to manage and mitigate various risks based on company appetite.  JFrog Artifactory is one such example of a solution that can be used for a corporate repository.  

The link below gives a brief example of what can happen if you aren’t careful in how you manage the repository in the oss world.  😳

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/03/rage-quit-coder-unpublished-17-lines-of-javascript-and-broke-the-internet/

In addition, in order to maintain bench strength, autonomy, ensure continuity, and enforce corporate quality gates, it is also important to not become reliant on compiled binaries; as such, I would ensure the company has the toolchains and configurations to compile source code into binaries in a CI/CD type of model.

Security of open source:

On the upside, oss allows for easier identification and crowdsourced remediation of vulnerabilities; however, on the flip-side, it is easier for hackers to identify vulnerabilities, fingerprint companies using the oss, and subsequently exploit vulnerabilities, without disclosing them.

Thus, it is important to have a solid program in place for monitoring for emergent vulnerabilities and patching in a timely manner, especially for externally facing solutions. This also drives back to the discussion of having a centralized repository for curating approved oss.

Licensing models:

I’m not a legal expert by any means but know enough to state that careful considering needs to be made as it relates to the usage and mixing of different license models in the oss and proprietary world. 

As an example, some license models cannot be combined with others and some licenses like “copyleft” licenses are viral (to a greater or lesser degree) and may require disclosure of source even for derivative or combined works.

In addition, there are nuances and interpretations related to words like “propagate” or “distribute” when modifying oss.  As an example, using it on your internal corporate network may have different implications compared to embedding it into a website and having people remotely access it, which may also be viewed differently than using it in the mobile app and putting it in an app store.

Cost factors:

OSS has many cost factors, but I saved cost for last because it is tired to all the previous discussions. While the initial investment is often lower for an individual package, taking on maintenance and support for more complex oss packages will likely increase the TCO and have a negative impact on opportunity cost over time, as you will have teams that will need to continue to maintain and provide upkeep for what is likely to be a commodity for the organization – rather than focusing that same time slice on things that are of a competitive advantage.

Summary

A quick wrap up. I am a huge proponent of both the concepts and implementations of oss, however, I often see companies going down the route of oss because it is perceived to be “cheaper”. While, in some cases, that may be true, especially for smaller companies with very limited IT budget and a high tolerance for risk.

My advice is to think through the risk and exposure around the use of OSS for the company, and then compare what it would take for investments to make oss elevate to the same first class citizen as internally developed software. That’ll give you a head start on understanding the TCO and opportunity costs of using oss in the overall aggregate of your technology economy.

Finally – while I admit, I really haven’t read much of it, this looks like a great resource. https://opensource.org/faq

My hope is that you will find ways to manage the corporate risk, and still commit to engaging with, and supporting the OSS community!

As always, I am happy to learn from others, so if you have a perspective you’d like to share on oss – feel free to reach out to me and engage.

Geek Alert: When I’m bored…

I have to admit, I’m not one to go stir-crazy. I could be completely happy sitting around the house, as long as I have access to a computer, iPad, Instruments (like a Piano or Guitar), and/or Kindle.

I’ve spent a lot of my “extra” time going back and refreshing my programming skills, and recently someone @Work reminded me of PlantUML. I had completely forgotten about it!

With PlantUML you can program pictures. If you like to draw UML/Architecture type pictures to express ideas, I highly recommend you check it out.

So here I am, on a Sunday morning, doing another thing that I enjoy: brain teasers.

So – I had this brain teaser that I was staring at and I thought: Why don’t I draw it out. Which is where PlantUML comes into the picture. Here we go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (@Amanda says – you are so boring).

You live on an island, you are coming back from a trip to the store, you have in your inventory a duck, some seeds and a fox. You can only carry one item across on the boat at a time. You cannot leave the duck alone with the seeds or the fox alone with the duck, as they will eat each other. How do you get the Duck, the Seeds, and the Fox over to your island?

Enter PlantUML:

@startuml
Participant "Left Shore" as L
Participant "Boat" as B
Participant "Right Shore" as R

Rnote over R
Duck
Seeds
Fox
Endrnote

R->L: bring over duck

Rnote over L
Duck
Endrnote

Rnote over R
Seeds
Fox
Endrnote

L->R : go back for fox
R->L: Bring over Fox
Rnote over L
Fox
Endrnote

Rnote over L
Duck
Endrnote

L->R : bring back Duck

Rnote over R
Seeds
Endrnote

Rnote over R
Duck
Endrnote

R->L : bring over seeds

Rnote over L
Fox
Seeds
endrnote

rnote over R
duck
Endrnote

L->R : Go back for duck
R->L : Bring over Duck

Rnote over L
Duck
Seeds
Fox
Endrnote
@enduml

And here is your result:

You are welcome Internet.

Send help.. I think my marriage is in trouble!

So, I asked again what Amanda wants for Christmas, and she responds:

We’ve been married for almost 22 years, you should know what I want.

Danger, Will Robinson.

I can’t figure out what she is thinking day-to-day, and somehow I am now supposed to remember what she thought (or might have said) sometime this past year. It would have sounded something like this I’m sure: “Oh, that looks nice”.

She asks for more dogs and cats daily, but I have pointed out at every turn that either I or one of her myriad of animals will need to die first before that will happen.

I sought the advice of Amazon, and it wasn’t helpful at all. While I might not know what she DOES want, at least I know what she DOESN’T want when I see it.

I only have 119, 928,851 options to pick from.

Send good vibes, I don’t think Christmas is going to go well for me this year.

On critical thinking

Think it's not illegal, Yet.
Think, It’s not illegal, Yet.

Found this post on my Facebook page from back in July, 2012.

What’s sad is, while I thought it was an issue then, it has gotten even worse, and is reminiscent of discussions I find myself having daily.

July 14, 2012

From my vantage point we are experiencing the unprecedented death of critical thinking in the public school systems, in corporate America, and society as a whole.

It seems we no longer teach children to think critically, rather we teach them to be “yes men” (used in a gender neutral sense). We teach them to go with the flow, to not rock the boat.

In corporate America, we want to raise leaders, but we want those leaders to do what they’re told, and not ask questions. We want them to succumb to the collective “group think” of the masses. We discourage individualism, and punish innovation.

I have been so recently fed up with the lack of critical thought process in our world and the self-destructive nature of society that I picked up the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and have turned to it at least as another intellectual to commiserate with (I have thoroughly enjoyed some of her other books).

I thought I would leave you with a quote, and then ask you if you sit back and think about it, does this reflect your experience too?

“[you are a] brilliant child who has not seen enough of life to grasp the full measure of human stupidity. I’ve fought it all my life. I’m very tired. . . . Intelligence? It is such a rare, precarious spark that flashes for a moment somewhere among men, and vanishes. One cannot tell its nature, or its future . . . or its death. . . .”

Patient log: Day 10 at the Chiropractor

This morning I was reminded of a memory from facebook. I tried to laugh, but it hurt too much, and then I threw my back out in the violent aftermath of an unexpected sneeze. I hope I didn’t wake any of the cats. Maybe I am allergic to cats; I hope not though, I like living at home.

I wonder what sebastian is having for dinner tonight.

The Cat is King

Isn’t That Ironic

~8 hours ago, Amanda posts the attached facebook message.

~3 hours ago, I almost became a darwinian statistic while carrying a kitchen chair down the stairs, and subsequently stepping on a sleeping cat.

There isn’t much I detest more than cats, besides small bugs such as gnats and mosquitoes and biting flies. It’s ironic that one tried to end my life today. Probably even walked away pissed that I dared to step on it too.

Hopefully There is no permanent damage. I am pretty sure that I’ll return to breathing without pain. I will again get to stand erect, and my legs will eventually come out on the other side of numbness.

It is also ironic that I must have gotten extra points for falling down a flight of stairs: in over 2 years of owning this watch, I’ve never reached my stairs goal.

It so happens, that in one more stroke of pure irony, when exported from the security system, the video always makes a comedic pause at the exact moment I step on the cat.

The rest is a little too embarrassing to share, but to add to the ambiance, the following words went through my mind at that exact moment: valar morghulis.

#IsntItIronic

Keto and me

I am Italian by heritage – if you couldn’t figure out by the last name. I love pasta, bread, pizza and the plethora of carb sludge that American’s also love. The Americans, that by some studies, are listed as being almost 75% obese.

I recently bucked 40+ years of indoctrination, and went to a Keto diet. The hesitation stems from a fear of fat. I literally used to ‘blot’ my pizza to get as much of the oils off the top of the pizza as I could. My daily fat intake was usually much less than 20 grams a day. I have no idea what my carb intake was – I never tracked it.

While you can find a ‘study’ to support most anything nowadays, I was still stuck on the government recommended food-pyramid, but the more I researched, the more I began to realize that the significant number of studies that supported a low carb diet, also made sense, chemically.

So three months ago, I went into ketosis, and here I am, 35 pounds lighter, changing nothing but my eating habits. Is it sustainable or will it eventually kill me, I don’t know – but for now, I feel much better, and I know by way of losing 35 pounds I am healthier.

So, all that said, what’s the point: the US government released its updated recommendations, and they are still spreading the (mis)information that carbs should be your largest daily consumption. Why?

Economics.

The cost to produce and consume carbs is much lower than the alternatives. Watch Food Inc, or one of the similar documentaries, then read this opinion article, which is what triggered my post.

https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/419020-government-dietary-guidelines-are-plain-wrong-avoid-carbs-not-fat

The guidelines are very influential. In fact, their pro-carb message is precisely why schools serve kids doughnuts and pop tarts for breakfast. Is this what we want for our children? We must ensure the next guidelines reflect the best thinking in nutritional science.

Will there ever be a crises of conscious, and maybe there should be a documentary out there called “Economics Vs Health”?