VSHN.timer #13: Life Of A DevOps Team

Welcome to another VSHN.timer! Every Monday, 5 links related to Kubernetes, OpenShift, CI / CD, and DevOps; all stuff coming out of our own chat system, making us think, laugh, or simply work better.

In this edition we are going to talk about ethics, remote teams, writing skills, and career development in a modern, distributed DevOps team.

1. In a world almost entirely run by software, (to the point where software greets other software, see the tweet quoted below), engineers are the ones shaping the future with every system we put in production. The prime principle in Ethics, “Primum non Nocere” should be the one guiding our choices, helping us face trade-offs with open eyes through conscious choices. In this sense, this recent article by Andrew Marantz at the New Yorker is an eye opener. Internet is the new printing press, the tool shaping mankind in ways never before seen. We know we can endlessly disrupt markets and ideas thanks to the wonderful Von Neumann architecture; the question we should be asking is rather, should we?

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/09/30/the-dark-side-of-techno-utopianism

2. Working remotely is the next major paradigm shift in the information economy; one that will shake the foundations of work, leisure, trade, and productivity. Most DevOps teams already work remotely to a certain degree (home office, anyone?) thanks to a wise combination of tools such as Git, wikis, issue trackers, and cost-effective video communication systems. Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom come to mind, but are certainly not alone in the market. The problem, as always, is not technical; it is human. How do great teams communicate when they are not in the same location? What are the best practices that make effective remote meetings work better? This article by Chelsea Troy explains how the caucus problem makes remote meetings suck, and how to solve it with a meeting moderator. An enlightening read. And if you are a manager dealing with remote teams, LeeAnn Renninger has 11 questions to regularly ask your remote employees.

https://chelseatroy.com/2018/04/05/how-do-we-make-remote-meetings-not-suck/

3. In the ever-changing world of geographically dispersed DevOps teams, writing is a fundamental, yet vastly underrated, skill. Teams who collaborate through writing are stronger and more resilient. We at VSHN we write down everything all the time! Tickets and wiki pages, documentation websites and README files are there to help us work better together. The idea is not new: RFCs work exactly like that! This is why this article by Gergely Orosz is so important. Re-learning to write is required, and we need more of it. Joel Spolsky said it 19 years ago: “Writing is a muscle. The more you write, the more you’ll be able to write.” Get your copy of Zinsser’s On Writing Well and read it. You will thank us.

https://blog.pragmaticengineer.com/on-writing-well/

4. We have seen that the modern software world requires knowledge of ethics, social interaction, and writing skills. But do universities teach those skills? The truth is that most Computer Science departments focus on technical matters–and rightly so, for software is complex. But these days we need to shift the focus back to the so-called “social sciences.” David Deming, from the College of Arts and Sciences of Indiana State University, argues that there is a long-term benefit in liberal arts majors, compared to the short-term gains of STEM majors. Being able to evaluate the impact of our technical choices is a factor of incredible importance in our world today. We need to teach software skills to liberal arts majors, just as we need to teach social sciences to software engineers.

https://www.indstate.edu/cas/library/2019/09/engineers-sprint-ahead-don’t-underestimate-poets

5. And since working in a team means sharing secrets such as passwords, keys, and tokens, here is gopass: a tool based on Go and Git ready to help your team. It is compatible with pass, the standard Unix password manager, so it integrates nicely with existing mobile apps and browser plugins. The development team did not just port pass to Go, but actually enhanced several aspects of the original design. Moreover, they even wrote a document highlighting some security caveats to consider when using the tool. A nice addition to any team toolbox.

https://www.gopass.pw/

Does your organization work remotely? Do you write down specs, events, and documentation for the future? Do you have any best practices you would like to share with the community? Get in touch with us through the form at the bottom of this page, and see you next week for another edition of VSHN.timer.