Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Clean Inbox

It has been years since email has been my primary office communication tool. With the availability of Skype, Yammer, Slack, and then Teams, I have been able to turn my Outlook into just a calendaring system. 

How do you get out from under your email pile?

1. I had to COMMIT to an alternative. I chose the alternative and went with it exclusively. Nowadays, my go-to is Teams because it's available in my org and everyone has it here, but you can pick your own poison. 

2. When people send me emails directly or as part of a thread, if possible, I send my responses in Teams and move the conversation.

3. Never....and I mean NEVER.....subscribe to alerting via email. Not for Amazon order delivery, not for updates from some vendor, not for any of the things you might monitor at work. Being an IT guy, when I see people's Inboxes and see 1000s of unread messages, almost inevitably they are things like alerts from the applications or systems they monitor. Exactly what is the point to the alerting if they go into a folder that never gets read? Just a waste.

4. Have an email address you can just use for subscriptions or on marketing things. I use a Gmail account. I can log into it when I need something like a link emailed to me, but by and large, it's just a dumping ground. 

5. Remember that your email is probably stored forever by your company, even if you delete it from your Inbox and your Deleted Items folders. Do not worry that you'll delete something and cause problems down the road. Trust me on this: YOU WILL NOT LOSE ANYTHING. And you don't need to keep every reply or forward on a 10-email thread to 20 people anyway.

6. This is the most important: Process your email! If you don't need it, delete it! If it's something from a mailer you can unsubscribe from, unsubscribe. If you need to respond, do it right then and delete (or I suppose you can archive) the original. Whatever you do, get it OUT of your Inbox.

I have only the following folders, and this is from my actual Outlook email client. "Benefits" I use for correspondence around my benefits at work (insurance, 401k, etc.) That stuff is pretty important sometimes. "ODM" happens to be the project I'm on right now. "Training" is for things like links to certifications, renewal reminders, etc...only my own personal work training.  Finally, there's the Archive that I believe is built into Outlook, but if not, it's definitely on Office 365 online. That's where anything else goes, like my old project folders that I'm not working with anymore (though I will delete them after a couple months.)

Hope this helps someone! Get crackin' and get out of email!

Monday, April 5, 2021


Hiking is fun. That's really all there is to say here. Caesars Creek, OH, is a great park to visit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Learning a little bit of Python through the EdX class "Python Basics for Data Science."  Why, you ask? 
  1. I find data science to be interesting and it's never too late to learn something new.
  2. Jenny is working on some similar coursework and I thought it would make sense to be at least conversant in it.
First impressions:
  1. Nice that it's free and so widely available.
  2. Syntax is pretty straightforward.
  3. Being interpreted means that I don't have to futz too much to make it run.
  4. The tabbing requirements for loops and branching is ANNOYING!  Why not use {}'s like Java or C#? 

Friday, March 19, 2021

WSL 2 and VPN

Just posting this here because it solved my problems using WSL 2 and Cisco AnyConnect. Nothing more to add...just follow these instructions.

Workaround for WSL2 network broken on VPN (github.com)

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Such a Silly Little Thing

Scott Hanselman posted a little TikTok the other day that I saw via his Twitter (@shanselman). He encouraged people to make their mouse pointer bigger and turn it bright-ass green. I thought that was the silliest little thing, but I followed suit. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but it's making all the difference in the world. 

In Win10, just search "Change  Pointer Size" and open the applet that comes up. You can adjust the cursor to whatever size you want, and you can change the color right there. I just bumped it up to a size 2 and made the color the first high-vis green/yellow option. With the higher resolutions we normally use today on such big screens, this little change makes it so much easier to track across all those pixels.

Monday, March 15, 2021

My Old Mustard Sweatshirt

Is there anything in the world as comforting as your old favorite sweatshirt? I got this old thing at the Gap Factory Store around 15 years ago for like $4. I used to wear it every day for at least 6 months of the year, then I got "free" hoodie at CodeMash that replaced it. Put this baby on today and it was like I was sliding into my favorite slippers. Check out the elbows!

My youngest has adopted this as "her jacket" and wears it to school just about every day now. I'm claiming it only for the day, as they are home, and she'll take it back tomorrow.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

"DevOps" vs. Managing Kubernetes

Everywhere I've done DevOps, and for every job I've interviewed for in the field, there is an overwhelming bend toward doing all work via CI/CD pipelines with scripting. This is by design, and it represents most of what people think of when it comes to "DevOps". If you were to apply for a DevOps job and talk about using a web site or some sort of client app to manage your infrastructure, I don't think you'd ever get beyond the first meeting. 

Take, for instance, Azure deployments.  You can certainly use the Azure portal to do just about everything. Microsoft publishes loads of documentation on how to deploy, manage, and monitor your systems with the portal. They also provide similar docs for the Azure CLI and Azure PowerShell, giving folks the basics of what they need to do to script out the work. 

Similarly, one of the main technologies that DevOps practitioners swear by is Kubernetes (k8s). I cannot envision a standard IT shop going down the k8s path without having some DevOps Engineer preaching it to them, as it's not a simple system at all. Everything configured with text files. Everything managed via command line with "kubectl". Requirements for all types of open source apps to monitor it. It is just hard.

Where I struggle, though, is that management of your k8s system is STILL being taught to just be run by some tech from his/her laptop. There are all kinds of features that allow you to do blue/green or canary deployments. You can gently scale up or down your pods to accommodate heavy traffic times. You can configure all kinds of traffic shaping to route to different versions of the same application running under different pods. Very slick stuff! 

But ALL of that stuff is taught to engineers using kubectl! That, my friends, is no different than using any other management utility on your local machine to take care of your systems. Sure, you can script out the commands and run them via some pipeline, but that removes so much of the flexibility of using kubectl locally that I do not believe it's really viable.

In other words, don't believe all of the automation hype around k8s. If you want k8s, have at it, but for the love of God, don't tie your engineers' hands by making them use some pipeline to manage everything. Accept that they need to use kubectl locally so they can actually do their jobs effectively. 

Clean Inbox

It has been years since email has been my primary office communication tool. With the availability of Skype, Yammer, Slack, and then Teams, ...