Cody Bunch Some Random IT Guy - OpenStack, DevOps, Cloud, Things

Speaker Notes & Slides - BOS VMUG 2016

This last week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Boston VMUG user conference as a part of both a community panel, as well as a talk on “Automation - You’re doing it wrong”. This post then includes the speaker notes for said session in raw form, as well as the similarly raw slides.

Slides

Notes


Automation - You’re doing it wrong

Automation has been a major topic at IT conferences more or less forever. Be it batch files, PowerShell, VCO (you know, before they renamed it). We’ve even had movements towards automating IT workloads at scale… DevOps, etc. In this talk, we aim, not to cover whatever is the latest and greatest in tactical tools for automation. Rather, our aim is to equip you with the mental models to help resolve some of the underlying issues that prevent IT teams from achieving the goal of having a more automated system, by approaching the problem with a different mindset.

  • Introductions
    • Who is Cody
    • About the space
  • Processes
    • The Credit Union
      • Standard Operating Procedure(s)
      • A Big Project
      • A Small shell script
      • What happened…
      • Lessons learned
    • The Roomba example:
      • “O2O” - Order to Online
      • The Whiteboard
      • Lessons learned
  • People
    • The Credit Union
      • The People
        • The “Mainframe Guy”
        • The “Operator”
        • The “Desktop Guy”
        • The “Web Guy”
  • Stop addressing first order tasks
    • Evolution of Automation
      • Mechanical Turks
      • Task Based
      • “DevOps” / Product Dev
    • Look at the whole system
    • Design an autonomous system
  • Buying Time
    • “If we are engineering processes and solutions that are not automatable, we continue having to staff humans to maintain the system. If we have to staff humans to do the work, we are feeding the machines with the blood, sweat, and tears of human beings. Think The Matrix with less special effects and more pissed off System Administrators” - Joseph Bironas, Google SRE

Updated vSensei Reading List

Apparently, these are useful. With that in mind, here is what I’ve been reading since the first of the year. Unlike the other lists, there isn’t much specific direction in this one.

The importance of being little - This one, spawned a bunch of my more recent twitter borne rants. If nothing else, it is amazing how similar life in the workplace is similar to the life of a preschooler, and unfortunately just as training in most cases.

4 Hour Work Week - This one gets an occasional re-read. If you can get past the Tim Ferrisness of it, there is some good “GO DO THE DAMN THING” advice in there.

Influence - Just wrapped this one up prior to going to a show. It was interesting to spot all the varied techniques in use, in a real setting.

Seeking Wisdom - Excellent read.

Profit First - This one came to me via a podcast recommendation. While I’m not sure I’d recommend it out right, the way it reads is very tele-salesy. The gist of it, is basically set your business up in a similar way to how you would your personal finances post David Ramsey class.

Buddhism Without Beliefs - I’m still processing this one, honestly, and it may get a second listen soon so I can better process the lessons contained within. It gets to the root of things like, ‘why mindfulness’ and ‘why meditation’, along with “meditation isn’t just sitting, it can also be bicycling, etc”.

Debt, the first 5,000 Years - A good little history of money that sheds some light on some of the stupider things we do to each other.

Elon Musk - Quick read on the behind the scenes of some of the most interesting BIG engineering going on today.

Unstoppable - A little preachy, but in a good way. Bill Bill Bill Bill… Bill Nye the Science Guy!

Inside of a Dog - Because being mindful isn’t just for people.

Kubernetes Up And Running - Well, damn this book is good. Accessible, working examples, good overview of k8s. Everything I’d want in a first book on the subject.

Hardware Startup - There was a phase early in the year where I thought I was cool, and would launch a kickstarter for something or other. This was the first book recommended, and while it hasn’t completely disabused me of the notion of a hardware startup, it pointed out HUGE gaps in my knowledge, that I am working to fill.

OpenStack Networking Essentials - One day, I hope to write as well as Denton. He takes and breaks down the complicated subject of the OpenStack Neutron project into the bare essentials of what you need to know. Then explains it in a way that is incredibly accessible. I was an editor of this volume

Troubleshooting OpenStack - Like the Neutron book above, Tony takes and makes a hard subject a bit easier, and lot more understandable. If you use OpenStack, you’ll want this book.

The Wahls Protcol - My wife has MS. I needed to know more. This got me a bit closer.

Docker Clustering on Raspberry Pi

The folks behind Hypriot have made getting Docker up and going on the Raspberry Pi a near on trivial task: Download the image, power it on. They’ve also done the same thing for Docker clustering, here. Which is great, until it isn’t.

That is, their clustering lab has a number of hard requirements around VLAN networking support. If you’ve got a plethora of dumb switches at home, this just wont do!

Have no fear, however, the combination of their image, and their clustering packages seem to be the magical combination.

Hardware bits to have

  • Some number of Raspberry Pi’s (I’ve got 3x rPI 2 for this, I think anything b+ will work)
  • At least one wifi dongle
  • An Ethernet switch

Let’s do this!

This process roughly breaks down like this:

Pull the image down from here. At the time of writing it was “Hector” 0.6.1

Use the Hypriot ‘flash’ script to load your SD card:

```flash –hostname Drekkar –ssid WiFi-Iron –password “$DAVE” /path/to/theimage.img.zip


Do this for each card you have. Once your cards are imaged, plug them in, boot the Pi's, and [find them on the network.](https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-Pi-Finder)

For this next trick, I used ssh and broadcast input in iTerm (TMUX works well too), to issue the following commands across all the nodes in my cluster:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install hypriot-cluster-lab


The prior commands will take a couple of minutes to complete. Once they do, pick a node to be 'master', and direct all input to it (rather than all the nodes). On that node, run the following:

sudo systemctl start cluster-start ```

Again, this will take a few minutes. Once finished, run the prior command on the rest of your cluster nodes. At this point, fetch a coffee, it’ll be a while.

Cool! You’ve now got a Docker Cluster running on Raspberry PI’s

To read more about what the Hypriot group has going on, and some exercises to do with said cluster, check out their git page here.

#vSensei 2016 Kick-Off

Ok, so I’m a bit late on this one, but here we are. It’s time to open up submissions for the #vSensei program H1 2016.

The form can be found here.

I encourage you to not only sign up, but to encourage others to as well.

Not sure what #vSensei is?

The Program

vSensei or #vSensei is an 1 on 1 mentorship program, currently in it’s second year. The program itself is designed to pair you with some of the best of the best in their respective areas, with the end goal being to help you up your game.

For the first half of 2016, the group of “vSensei” will pair up with you, dig into what makes you tick, what your goals are, and guide you along the way to knocking them out.

Selection Process

Because we have more mentors this time around, we’ll sort of make this up as we go. The gist is: SIGN UP HERE

Once we have your sign-up and close submissions. We’ll have a group think, and then send out emails to those selected.

What you need to bring to the program

  • Be willing to hustle, and hustle hard.
  • Be willing to make changes.
  • Don’t be an asshat
  • Have between 30m - 1h a week

About Us

For H1 2016, we have the following mentors available:

Scott Lowe

Scott Lowe is a blogger, speaker, best-selling author, and IT industry veteran. Currently, he works for VMware, Inc., on the NSX team. He focuses his time and efforts on open source, cloud computing, virtualization, networking, and related data center technologies. Scott regularly shares technical content and insight on his blog at http://expert.us12.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=43db53ffeb342c41ba20a7097&id=fabf44e9f1&e=f8eeeb843a.

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, the President, CEO, and principle consultant for AstroArch Consulting, Inc., graduated from Purdue University in 1988 with a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Since then, he has worked with programming graphics and other lower-level libraries on various UNIX platforms. When at Hewlett-Packard, Edward worked in the Virtualization, Linux, and High-Performance Technical Computing teams. Edward is very active on the VMware Communities Discussion Forums providing answers to security and configuration questions and is also one of the VMware Communities User Moderators and Guru. In addition, Edward has earned his LPI, RHCE and VCP certifications, and VMware vExpert designation. Edward is a very active analyst, writer, and blogger with in the virtualization space.

Jordan Rinke

CTO for Canada’s largest virtual network provider iTel Networks. One of the original OpenStack for Hyper-V developers. Part of the original Cloud Builders group at Rackspace, deployed the first non-NASA OpenStack Compute cluster. Helped build the first Canadian OpenStack installation. A rare lover of Microsoft, Linux, and Open source. Infrastructure engineer turned developer - with a keen understanding of both in mixed OS environments. His entire career has been about making massive infrastructure go faster. With startup experience and hyperscale experience he has an understanding of bootstrapping a service for dollars a month with a built in ability to scale as money permits, to orchestrating the migration of 5000vms and keeping an e-commerce site online with 20,000 concurrent users.

Trevor Roberts

Trevor Roberts, Jr. is the Senior Technical Marketing Manager for OpenStack at VMware and the lead author of the VMware Press Title, “DevOps for VMware Administrators”. He enjoys speaking to customers and partners about the benefits of using OpenStack with VMware technologies.

Trevor has the CCIE Data Center certification, and he is a VMware Certified Advanced Professional in the Data Center Design and Administration concentrations.

In his spare time, Trevor shares his insights on data center technologies at http://expert.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=43db53ffeb342c41ba20a7097&id=bac191e4a8&e=f8eeeb843a via the vBrownBag Professional OpenStack and Professional VMware podcasts, and on Twitter (@VMTrooper). His contributions to the IT community have garnered recognition by his designation as a VMware vExpert, Cisco Data Center Champion, and EMC Elect.

Cody Bunch

(That’s me)

Me, I do things. I’ve published a few books, I’ve worked with others to help them get down that path. I’ve spoken at some events, and again, have helped some others down that path. I helped start a podcast, which in turn has helped some folks take that next step. I also want to do more.

Summary

Go forth, sign up, spread the message.

So, you want to write a book

So, you want to write a book. Awesome! What follows here then, are the assorted ramblings of someone who has maybe written a few. Specifically, we will be talking about what it takes to get your first technical (and IT specifically) book out. Whilst geared towards first timers, maybe you’ll find some advice in here helpful on a second or third book as well.

Before we start

Take all of this with a grain of salt. Do some additional research, reach out and talk to folks (I’m almost always on twitter, skype, email, etc). Get a mentor (cough vSensei cough) and such. What follows here, are my experiences, across authoring or co-authoring 4 books and tech editing many others.

So you want to write a book?

Excellent! This first part of the post, will dig into a number of the most common questions. How hard is it, will I make money, who will publish me, and so on.

What is your motivation?

This one is huge, and it will come out in your writing. That is, if you are doing this as part of a publish or perish mandate, or ‘to get rich’, well… your writing will reflect this.

Not that it’s particularly bad, mind, just that, given the amount of time and energy you will be pouring into the book, examples, lab environment, diagrams, and other materials…

For me at least, I needed stronger stuff. Love what you do, love what you are writing about, and love the community of supporters, both current and future. Your writing will reflect this and you’ll experience much less fatigue / burn out.

What is the time investment?

This will vary from book to book and contract to contract. It will also vary based on how well you know the material, and a number of other factors.

In the four books I have been a part of, even as a co-author, you can count on it being a second job for the duration of the contract, + 3 months.

http://i2.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/018/489/nick-young-confused-face-300x256_nqlyaa.png

Yeah. This includes time spent writing, rewriting, editing, building and testing lab examples, then doing that again, building diagrams, examples, code, and more.

In the coediting sense, this could mean time waiting on getting access to the git repo you are all working from, or because of blocking tasks.

It is important to not underestimate this point. This will be A LOT of work and can(will) cause burnout, both in your personal and professional lives. Be careful not to burn too many bridges here, and discuss it with your family and workplace.

How much money will I make?

LOL!

tl;dr - It’s not a lot, maybe a few tanks of gas, or if you’re really lucky, enough to refresh the homelab when you’ve finished.

The longer version is, you’ll be paid in royalties that are contingent upon book sales. The average, at the time I am writing this post, is 15%. There are some publishers, like Pragmatic bookshelf that offer as high as 50%.

There is some wiggle room on this point as well. That is, if you are fairly well known, or the book is going to be on a super hot topic, or some combination of the two, you can push for more. The flip side to that, is that you be ready for criticism as well.

There are also advances that are worth noting here. That is, an advance will be used as an incentive to help you meed deadlines, and is a check the publisher will write you, in ‘advance’ of having sold any copies of the book. It’s worth paying attention to the fact that your advance counts against your royalties. That is, you will not see a royalty check until you have sold enough books to meet your advance.

Publisher? Self Published?

This is a personal choice really. Having only worked with publishers, I can’t vote one way or the other.

What does(should) a publisher bring to the table?

Depending on the publisher, you should expect:

  • An acquisition editor
  • A project manager
  • A development editor
  • Technical Editors
  • Marketing Support
  • Sales Channels

So, in order:

Acquisition Editor

This will likely be the first person you meet. They will take your idea, table of contents, and proposal, and give you some first pass feedback. Once that is solidified, they will then shop this proposal around internally at the publisher, as well as with experts in the field. Depending on the feedback received, they will either help you with the contract process, help you refine the proposal, or tell you ‘no’.

Project Manager

This is exactly what it says. Generally you meet your PM after the contract is in place. They will help decide deadlines and coordinate the various reviewers, and other launch activities.

Developmental Editor

Not every one write good. That’s where the developmental editor comes in. They will help you work on grammar, style, formatting, and importantly, helping decide what goes into and doesn’t fit in the book.

Technical Editors

Depending on the publisher and how new the topic area is, they will either supply some technical editors for your project from a pool of industry experts, or ask you to help source some. That, or some combination of both.

The role of the technical editors is to make sure that your writing is factually correct, and that your code examples work, make sense, and illustrate the concepts clearly and concisely.

Because this can take a while, particularly if the examples are broken, or don’t work on the myriad of platforms out there, tech editors generally get your content before everyone else.

Marketing Support

This is where promotions, discount codes, and all of that falls. The specific activities will be dependent on the project and publisher, but my include webinars, interviews, speaking engagements and so forth. Marketing support is also where you will request give-away copies for events.

It is worth noting here, that you are just as responsible for marketing, if not more so, than the publisher. You want it to be big? Get out there and hustle.

Sales Channels

This has changed some in the days of Internet book sales, but the publisher will help coordinate various channels where the book can be sold. Be that academics or book stores, translations, and the like.

What to expect

The process varies some, and what follows is my experience in working with publishers. There are several great posts on self-publishing around.

  • Idea
  • Brainstorming
  • Table of Contents
  • Market Research
  • Proposal
  • Contracting
  • Writing
  • Rewriting
  • Waiting
  • Published

Idea

Well, if you didn’t have an idea you wouldn’t be here, right? For me, I generally will chase a few criteria:

Are there books already? Do they cover the material? What about the docs and community? How difficult is $thing? Can I help simplify it?

Brainstorming

This sort of happens at the same time as the first part. What would be great to see in a book about $thing, what things should be left out, what approach should we take? Instructional? Story telling? What audience do we want to approach? That is, do we want to dissect packet dumps or introduce them to the idea of a packet?

Keep a notebook, whiteboard, etherpad, goog doc, or something around to record this.

Table of Contents

Now that you have a bunch of things written down. Walk away from it for a while, then come back and try to fit it into a ToC. The ToC in this case, will look much like the outlines you did with roman numerals from highschool writing class. These will correspond to your chapters, and headings. It will also help you wrap your head around how the book should flow.

Market Research

Yes, you should do this part before the ToC. For the most part, it’s an iterative process. Google, Amazon, Google scholar, the communities, vendor documentation, mailing list archives, and such, will all help feed into your understanding of what is out there and where your book fill fit. You will also want to understand addressable market size. Take the VCP for example, there are some thousands of VCP’s out there. If you are writing a study guide for the next version of the exam, that and then some is the addressable market.

Proposal

Most publishers will either have a web form, or a .doc file, or combination of the two, into which you will put your ToC, as well as the market research and a few variations of elevator pitch about your book into. At this step, if working with a publisher, you will want to find or make a direct connection to an acquisition editor, rather than just deal with an email box.

Contracting

If they like your proposal, you will start talking contracts at this stage. This is where you will negotiate copyright, royalties, first right of refusal, and deadlines.

While I have no experience in negotiating copyright, the last three points can be flexible, however, much like any negotiating, it can get hairy here. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself, however.

A note on “first right of refusal”. There is a clause (15 or 16 in most contracts that I’ve worked on), where the publisher demands the first right of refusal for updates, editions, and most importantly, any other works you are considering. It is up to you how you want to handle this point, but it rubbed me the wrong way.

Writing

This is the easy part. Really. It’s long, you will waste many a night staying up to meet a deadline, but then, you have a passion for the material, so the words will generally flow.

If they don’t, see the section on self-confidence and motivation.

Rewriting

This is where things get really draining. Rewriting will generally start once you have the first 3 or 4 chapters in to the publisher. At that point the tech editors, and likely some of the other editors will have seen, and made comments or corrections on your manuscript. Basically, while trying to meet one deadline, for possibly the hardest sections of the book, you will now have to address the feedback in a timely fashion.

Feedback can hurt. It can be cutting, and hard to hear. Understand, however, that everyone in this process wants to see your book in the market, and are trying to help you write the best book possible.

Waiting

So this isn’t exactly waiting, but, once you are done with writing and rewriting, there are a few more steps, where you will have to review proofs before they get sent off to print. You’ll need to be careful errors don’t creep in here, but there is largely nothing you can do to stop the presses at this point.

Published

OH Snap! Your mom found your book on Amazon, with no prompting and called you to congratulate you. How good does that feel? You’re done, mostly. The marketing bits never end, but dammit, when that first physical copy shows up at the house, and you are holding it in your hand… that feels so good. Go celebrate!

Self Confidence & Motivation

You are the expert, and what you are doing is important.

Read that again, and maybe a few more times.

Both self-confidence and motivation are super critical to have along the way. After your fourth or fifth consecutive all-nighter, you will wonder why you ever wanted to do anything. At all. Ever. Depression will set in, or some flavor of imposture syndrome. This will often be coupled with anger and sadness in equal measure.

This is all before the tech and grammar reviews start coming in. That is, when you see your work, that you’ve spent so much time to put out into the world, come back to you marked up like crazy… well, it can be crushing.

Having a good support system in family and friends, and the ability to work with the publisher to step aside for a few days will be critical to helping restore balance.

Do’s and Don’ts *

Here are some things that did not really fit well into the other areas.

  • Do not be afraid to do late stage revision. The publisher wants to get the book to market. Your job, is to get the right book to market.
  • Do use your voice. Yes, technical writing is formal. Yes, you should have proper guideposts in it. That said, there is no need for it to be dry and stilted.
  • Do not take that too far. That is, no F-Bombs, innuendo, and the like.
  • Do not use contractions. Your writing will be much clearer without them.
  • Do listen to your editors

Summary

This post isn’t comprehensive, and rambles at times, but should help you get an realistic idea of what all is involved in getting your first (or next) book out there. Ping me on twitter or at bunchc (at) professionalvmware . com if you have any questions, need a tech editor, or any other assistance in getting your idea into the world.

*This one broke me. After spending some time on google: “Style guides and usage books don’t agree. The Chicago Manual of Style and others recommend dos and don’ts. The Associated Press and others recommend do’s and don’ts. Eats, Shoots & Leaves recommends do’s and don’t’s” - Grammar Girl

#vSensei Newsletter, Vol 1

Over the last little while, I’ve been running a sort of Ad-Hoc mentorship program, which to my surprise, is now becoming a bit more serious. While still not formal by any-means, we now have a monthly newsletter. (In case you haven’t yet, you can sign up here for the vSensei newsletter.)

The plan at this stage then, is to publish the prior month’s newsletter as the current month goes live. That is, if you’re not a member, you can still find all but the most current newsletter on this site.

What follows then, is the Janurary edition of the newsletter for public consumption.


It’s an email newsletter Charlie Brown.

I suppose with that begins the vSensei newsletter.

What to Expect

This first one, I suspect, will be unlike those that follow. That is, this time around, one should do some expectation setting. That is, what can one expect from this newsletter, who we are, and all that.

What to Expect from the Newsletter

As stated prior, this time around, expect introductions and logistics. Going forward, I suspect we’ll send one of these monthly, and it’ll include various writings from one of the vSensei mentors in the program. These will cover a variety of “soft skill” areas: How to talk to bosses, Professional writing, transitions, and others.

The newsletter will also contain announcements of upcoming vSensei enrolments, webinars, live events, and the occasional survey.

What to expect from vSensei

Other than bad spelling, grammar, and terrible copy writing, the vSensei is a grass roots effort to build a mentorship practice within the IT practice. As explained to the first few rounds of folks, for the most part, I’m (and to a larger extent we’re) making this up as we go. That is, expect it to be organic, rough around the edges, and the like.

The “Big Picture”, is to eventually turn this into a large, pay it forward, style thing, whether that means ‘mastermind’ groups, or something that looks like an MLM scheme (or even if that’s the route it will go) remains to be seen. Your thoughts, ideas, wishes, wants, and dreams will go a long way to shaping that.

Introductions

So now the introductions! In no particular order:

Scott Lowe

Scott Lowe is a blogger, speaker, best-selling author, and IT industry veteran. Currently, he works for VMware, Inc., on the NSX team. He focuses his time and efforts on open source, cloud computing, virtualization, networking, and related data center technologies. Scott regularly shares technical content and insight on his blog at http://expert.us12.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=43db53ffeb342c41ba20a7097&id=fabf44e9f1&e=f8eeeb843a.

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, the President, CEO, and principle consultant for AstroArch Consulting, Inc., graduated from Purdue University in 1988 with a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Since then, he has worked with programming graphics and other lower-level libraries on various UNIX platforms. When at Hewlett-Packard, Edward worked in the Virtualization, Linux, and High-Performance Technical Computing teams. Edward is very active on the VMware Communities Discussion Forums providing answers to security and configuration questions and is also one of the VMware Communities User Moderators and Guru. In addition, Edward has earned his LPI, RHCE and VCP certifications, and VMware vExpert designation. Edward is a very active analyst, writer, and blogger with in the virtualization space.

Jordan Rinke

CTO for Canada’s largest virtual network provider iTel Networks. One of the original OpenStack for Hyper-V developers. Part of the original Cloud Builders group at Rackspace, deployed the first non-NASA OpenStack Compute cluster. Helped build the first Canadian OpenStack installation. A rare lover of Microsoft, Linux, and Open source. Infrastructure engineer turned developer - with a keen understanding of both in mixed OS environments. His entire career has been about making massive infrastructure go faster. With startup experience and hyperscale experience he has an understanding of bootstrapping a service for dollars a month with a built in ability to scale as money permits, to orchestrating the migration of 5000vms and keeping an e-commerce site online with 20,000 concurrent users.

Trevor Roberts

Trevor Roberts, Jr. is the Senior Technical Marketing Manager for OpenStack at VMware and the lead author of the VMware Press Title, “DevOps for VMware Administrators”. He enjoys speaking to customers and partners about the benefits of using OpenStack with VMware technologies.

Trevor has the CCIE Data Center certification, and he is a VMware Certified Advanced Professional in the Data Center Design and Administration concentrations.

In his spare time, Trevor shares his insights on data center technologies at http://expert.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=43db53ffeb342c41ba20a7097&id=bac191e4a8&e=f8eeeb843a via the vBrownBag Professional OpenStack and Professional VMware podcasts, and on Twitter (@VMTrooper). His contributions to the IT community have garnered recognition by his designation as a VMware vExpert, Cisco Data Center Champion, and EMC Elect.

Cody Bunch

(That’s me)

Me, I do things. I’ve published a few books, I’ve worked with others to help them get down that path. I’ve spoken at some events, and again, have helped some others down that path. I helped start a podcast, which in turn has helped some folks take that next step. I also want to do more.

Upcoming Events

  • 15/02/2016: Sign-ups for H1 2016 Open
  • 19/02/2016: Sign-ups for H1 2016 Close
  • 22/02/2016: Selected Mentees Notified

Next Issue

Next time around, we’ll have a guest post by a former (and ongoing) mentee, on selecting the value of, and selecting a mentorship program, as well as

Feedback

Questions? Comments? Want to tell us how much we suck (or don’t)? I think the quickest way is to reply to this email. Mailchimp should handle getting it to the right place. Failing that reach out on Twitter to @thevsensei

All the Books I Read in 2015

Having seen a few of these around, and hoping to inspire a few others to do the same, here is a list, including Amazon links, to most of the books I read in 2015 (I didn’t keep great track of things, sorry). Links are Kindle / ebook where appropriate. Another note, rather than pick one, or make a top list, books I particularly liked are listed in bold. I have also put the ‘work’ reads up top.

The Essential Drucker This was a helpful first step for me to understand what makes business tick. What makes managers do what they do, and why MBO, etc.

Rise Read this on a recommendation. Good, actionable, bits for advancing the things. Parts of this are what drive some of the #vSensei talks.

Trust me I’m Lying Very quick read, and sets you up to understand and question the motivation behind click-bait.

F**k Feelings At some point, #vSensei became much more real than I had anticipated. A lot of what was in this book helped me help others un-knot the things.

Do the Work This one was recommended to me by a mentee. It was a very quick read, and should help you get out of your own way.

Modern Guerilla Warfare Good stuff, and one I’m now going back through. There are some interesting parallels one can draw (if you squint just so) about office politics, small teams, and getting the things done.

Multiple Sclerosis: A Comprehensive Review Had to get up to speed on what’s changed in the last eight years, and quick. This one is thick, academic / scientific in style, but worth the time if MS is affecting you or a loved one.

The Wahls Protocol If you or someone you care about has MS, it’s worth the read. In short Dr. Wahls has updated the diet recommendations in Minding My Mitochondria. What I’m not fond of in this volume is the reliance on testimonial, however. That said, Dr. Wahls has ongoing clinical trials as well.

Twelve Tomorrows

Merlin’s Gun

California

The Bone Clocks

The Water Knife

The Art of War I find I reread this every few years.

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: a 21st Century Translation & Commentaryy

Cadillac Desert

Project-Based Homeschooling

Beacon 23

Slow Bullets

Deep Navigation

Blue Remembered Earth

On the Steel Breeze

Vassouras: A Brazilian Coffee Country

Pragmatism and Other Essays

Letters of William James, Vol. 1

Note Taking as a Professional Practice, Part 3 - Visual Note Taking

This post, is going to be more of a link dump than some of the others. It’s all about Visual Note Taking, a technique that I think is going to get added to the list of things to explore during this discovery process on note taking.

Note Taking as a Professional Practice Part 2 - Should you take notes?

Other tentative titles were “Why Take Notes” but hell if I’ll be seen asking why. Why why is a terribad question however, is the topic for another time.

So: Should you take notes?

The Case Against Notes

I don’t take notes.

Well, more correctly, like dieting, I don’t do it as often or as consistently as I should. There are a number of reasons:

  • Most anything I’d take notes on, ends up in a blog post, like this one.
  • I’m lazy
  • Also disorganized
  • My handwriting is crap. No really

Crap Hand Writing Exhibit one

Now, computer notes can help with a few of these things, and there have been large amounts of money spent on products to help you do just that. Things like remember the milk for tasks to Evernote and OneNote to any number of cloud back apps from the hipsteresque notebook companies, say mosaic from Baron Fig and the like.

Thing is, unless the practice is deliberate and consistent, it won’t become a habit. If it isn’t a habit, you can’t much gain the benefits. Further, as you dig in, there is some research that hints it’s may or may not be the note taking at all that does it. Rather, remembering what was happening while you were learning the bit of information, the music, how warm it was, the smell, your brain may be able to use that association to help recall. If that’s the case, well, should I take notes?

Some anecdotal links against notes:

The Case for Notes

The flip side of not taking notes, therefore, is taking notes. Note taking, and it’s various iterations, techniques, practices, and the like, have been explored extensively. That is, regardless of medium, there is some benefit to recall when taking notes. Be it for learning a new topic, making a task list, or logging some manner of data or design.

One learned how to take notes in school, practiced it, and depending on the teacher(s), you were graded on it too. That is, graded on your English class notes, and then again on the other format the Science teacher required. Then, of course there were engineering and higher math classes, etc etc.

The benefits of note taking have been studied, at length. I recommend the one on Juror note taking if you have a mild to sever case of insomnia.

Early in my IT career, I moved between a few styles of note taking. The first on something akin to book 1 in the earlier picture. That is, it was lined, had a sewn binding, and some signature counter signature blocks. I wasn’t doing much with said signature blocks, apparently they were a hold over from accounting. These books held task lists, customer details and other tidbits to get back to.

From there I moved into some flavor of Google Desktop searchable text files. These were great, as all I had to recall was a tiny bit, and my notes file, and with luck, solution would come up.

In turn, that sort of gave birth to professionalvmware.com’s early days. Field notes from the guy fixing ESX (it was still ESX then), when it blew up.

My anecdotal benefits abounded. When I was in the habit of note taking, recall was a bit easier.

Now some links FOR:

Conclusions

Well, here we are at the end of another long post. As my clock ticks past midnight, I’ve only discovered how much I don’t know about note taking. Therefore, I’ll leave you with what you’re likely expecting, do what works best for you. If like me, you find job or learning specific recall fading as you get older, or overburdened with other stimuli, give note taking a shot.

Chromic Disease Journal Template

While I want this to be another long rambling post, I’m not sure that’s not well suited this time around.

Disclaimer: This one goes a bit sideways from the usual #vSensei, or technical posts. However, I do a thing here, that I think might be useful to others, so… well that’s it.

When it comes to Multiple Sclerosis, or other chronic disorders, having a conversation with your doctor can be odd. IF you go monthly, quarterly, or every 6 months, remembering how you have faired, what things happened, and so forth, can be difficult. At least, it is for us. That is, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast today unless I write it down (even then, not really).

Given that, as the MS is back, keeping a journal or log of some sort is starting to be an important part of things for a number of reasons:

  • It lets us communicate more effectively with all the doctors.
  • It provides a quasi objective way to track if things are better or worse over time.
  • Recording non-quantifiable info: What “good thing”™ happened today, how you felt, etc, can help when and if the brain fog sets in.

The template is kept here. It’s a simple markdown file. My process is to copy it each time, date stamp it, add the relevant info, and save it.

It is lovingly adapted from The Wahls Diary, “The Wahls Protocol” pg. 80