Author: Kris Nova

So for those of you at home who don’t know the story of the mountain slides – every year I come out with an official Kris Nova Mountain Slide theme to use for technical public speaking.

This year for 2018, we have a Volcano theme as the majority of pictures are from volcanos around the pacific northwest!

Check out the public Google slides version HERE!

 

Download 2018 version!

Name Download
PowerPoint Slides  mountain-theme.pptx
 Background Images (16:9)  mountains.zip

Hey Everyone,

 

Me again.

 

Okay so I am on the plane and heading to Kubecon. I haven’t updated this blog in a while so I figured it was time for a good post. Also I have been thinking about engineering a solution to a problem I have had at Kubecon in the past.

 

Problem Statement

I am beyond busy at Kubecon, and rarely get enough time to spend with the folks I would like to.

Proposed Solution

I was thinking about setting up an office hours situation at Kubecon where folks could come and get some time to talk about whatever they want.

I have had folks come out as transgender, or homosexual to me at tech conferences. I have had folks want to talk about family, their career, advice on writing a book. Help with installing Kubernetes. Advice on CI/CD systems. Questions about their company. The list goes on and on!

To be clear I very much enjoyed all of these personal encounters. I think about them all the time, and still routinely talk to most of these people.

I was sad that I didn’t get more time with some folks as I was running around like a mad woman. So I wanted to be a little more structured this time.

So I am going to try to use calendly to help me stay organized at the conference and to book some time with people.

 

Here is how it works:

  1. Book time with me at the conference
  2. I find a small confidential corner of the conference for us to hang out at.
  3. I let you know via email where to meet me.
  4. We meet up and can talk about literally anything. This is your time ❤️
  5. I will stay as long as I can – so long as nobody else is waiting.
  6. Thats it.

You can book time with me here

 

 

 

FAQ:

 

Does this mean this is all I get?

Nope.

This is just a way to keep things structured, normal conference chaos rules still apply – I just give the folks who book time priority.

 

Can we really talk about anything?

100% yes. We can take selfies, bitch about tech, whatever.

 

How will I find you?

I will send you an email (you give me your email address when you sign up) that tells you what to do. Don’t worry if something happens or you can’t find me – we will re-schedule and make it work.

 

What if I can’t find you?

Don’t worry if something happens or you can’t find me – we will re-schedule and make it work.

 

Can I pick the place?

Yep – just let me know in the email! We can get food, booze, coffee, ice cream – whatever.

 

You can book time with me here

 

Okay – wow – it’s been a long time since I have blogged here…

 

❤️ Hi everyone! I missed you! ❤️

 

 

So due to some unforeseen circumstance in the past ~year or so… I was unable to continue contributing to my pride and joy Kubicorn! It’s been a real bummer, but I am glad to say that those days are officially behind me!

 

The good news? I am back! And we are working hard on making kubicorn even more amazing!

 

So without further delay, let’s start looking into what I wanted to update everyone about kubicorn.

 

 

 

 

What is kubicorn?

Kubicorn is a Kubernetes infrastructure management tool!

kubicorn attempts to solve managing kubernetes based infrastructure in a cloud native way. The project is supported by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)  and attempts to offer a few things unique to cloud native infrastructure:

  1. Modular components
  2. Vendorable library in Go
  3. A guarantee-less framework that is flexible and scalable
  4. A solid way to bootstrap and manage your infrastructure
  5. Software to manage infrastructure

 

These patterns are fundamental to understanding cloud native technologies, and (in my opinion) are the future of infrastructure management!

How do I know this? I literally wrote the book on it

TLDR; It’s a badass command line tool that goes from 0to kubernetes in just a few moments.

 

What’s new in kubicorn?

We have officially adopted the Kubernetes cluster API

The cluster API is an official working group in the Kubernetes community.

The pattern dictates that while bootstrapping a cluster, kubicorn will first create the Kubernetes control plane.

Then kubicorn will define the control plane itself, as well as the machines that will serve as the nodes (workhorses) of the Kubernetes cluster.

Finally, kubicornwill install a controller that will realize the machines defined in the previous step.

This allows for arbitrary clients to adjust the machine definition, without having to care how kubicorn will autoscale their cluster.

 

Autoscaling infrastructure, the kubernetes way!

So this is an official working group of Kubernetes, and more information can be found here!

We are currently working on building out this framework, and if you think it is a good idea (like we do) feel free to get involved.

We have a dope website

kubicorn.io

So many thanks to Ellen for her hard work in building out our fabulous site. If you would like to contribute please let us know!

We have moved to our own GitHub organization

Despite my attempts to keep the project as one of my pets, it’s just gotten too big. It has now moved to it’s own organization. We would love for YOU to get involved. Just open up an issue or contact Kris Nova if you would like to join.

We are just now starting on the controller

Writing the infrastructure controller is probably the most exciting thing to happen to the project yet.

We literally JUST started the repository. Get in now, while the getting is good!

We need help with the Dockerfile, with the idea behind the controller, and even with the code to make it so. If you wan’t to get involved, now is your chance!

We want your help

Seriously.

Our lead maintainer Marko started out as someone on the internet just like you. He is now a super admin of the project, and is a rock star at keeping up with the day-to-day work of kubicorn.

We would love to help you become a cloud native badass if you would like to contribute. Please join the slack channel and start talking to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course as always…

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

The SMTP protocol originated in 1982.

According to Wikipedia most large email providers have proprietary protocols for exchanging data, all of them use SMTP while delivering outside the scope of their know protocol.

I have put together a list of truths about email to bring to lite how utterly rude and lazy it is to send another human an email and have an expectation that they take your request sincerely.

 

Emails are idempotent

Ever tpoy in an email beofre?

I certainly have. Most communication standards today allow for updates to messages. Facebook, slack, Instagram, YouTube and many others all have an edit button next to your message.

In fact, there is a company called Twitter that explicitly does NOT allow editing of a message. This is controversial but is ultimately part of what makes Twitter so trustworthy.

There is a reasonable expectation that if a user is using Twitter, that they accept the fact that their messages are idempotent.

Why in the hell do we think it’s a good idea to send idempotent messages to other humans to organize our thoughts? Organizing thoughts is notoriously hard and complicated, and it would be great if we had the ability to edit a thought after having it.

Guess what? Humans change their minds some times. 

Imagine a text editor that didn’t let you use the backspace key.

There is a reason we no longer have typewriters…

Reasons for sending email

I would say 99% of the emails I receive fit into one of the following categories.

  1. Dead end content
  2. Convenience
  3. Request for action
  4. Scheduling

And if you think about it:

2 is really just an extension of 1 and 4 is really just an extension of 3

So to break it down even more granularly, here are really the 2 categories of email a person might receive

  1. Dead end content
  2. Request for action

Every email I have ever received in my life is genuinely in one of these two buckets.

Dead end content

This is content that does not require action on your end. Usually it is sent as a convenience, FYI, or just to help me sender feel better.

Ever get an email that just says thanks?

Ever get an email where the subject contains FYI?

There are so many reference emails that could hit your inbox that it takes large amounts of conscious effort to cipher through the noise. If you send these you should punch yourself in the face.

Imagine buying a book that was packaged like your inbox and instead of having chapters and a table of contents was just a pile of pages without any order. It would be hard to read the book, and would require a lot of effort just to abstract the story from the pages.

Furthermore what if some of the pages had requests for you to do something on them? And if you didn’t comply with the requests you would lose your job. Literally this is my inbox.

If you have something to say that does not require input or action from me it belongs on a web site, and not in my inbox. 

Request for action

This is probably the worst part of email. Humans actually do this, and I can’t understand why anyone thinks this is a rational thing to do.

Humans literally hide requests for action behind text blobs.

Hi Kris,

I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?

I was wondering if I could talk to you about my company BoringCorp. We are a successful startup from Silicon Valley and are on series F funding. Today is our 3 month anniversary in business. We were wondering if you would be interested in attending our inaugural company ball as a guest of honor? It would be an honor to have. I hope you are well.

Regards,

J

 

There is a large block of text above, but let me break it down what just happened.

  1. The sender sent a message with an expectation that I will respond to their request for attending their company ball.
  2.  The sender did not provide all the information I would need to correctly respond to their request.
  3. The sender has implied that the event is important to them, so I should treat the request also as important.
  4. The sender sent a lot of information, and most of it isn’t relevant to the request.
  5. The sender’s name probably starts with J.

So now not only do I have to invest time into deriving the request for action from the email, but the sender has burdened me with guilt if I do not comply with their request. Thanks.

In the year 2017 we have an entire industry built around best ways to organize thoughts and ideas. We have large agile platforms like Jira, Asana, and Trello that help user’s organize tasks. In fact, in most cases there is a reasonable expectation that you won’t even be able to generate work without minimal criteria.

Imagine a request for action that contained information like when, and where, and how to define success? Imagine if a user couldn’t even request action from you if it wasn’t delivered in a way that was meaningful to the person you are requesting action from? This is a reasonable expectation for other parts of the internet, but email just seems like forgive people for acting like complete asshats and requesting action via text blob.

Imagine a restaurant that didn’t serve you a meal but rather gave you a huge blob of junk with your food buried somewhere in the pile of junk. That would be crazy. That restaurant clearly would not be successful if compared to restaurants that spend time and effort preparing a lovely meal for you.

Because packaging is important. And email encourages users to NOT package well; because the interface for sending an email is just a giant text field just waiting to be filled with complete garbage instead of small discreet text fields that represent minimal criteria for the person requesting action.

Emails come with implications

hi,

are u coming?

J

This is a completely normal email for me to receive, and that is completely unreasonable.

Here is what just happened

  1. J has covered their ass

That’s it. Now if anything goes wrong it’s my fault because “Well I sent her an email about it…”

But I don’t even need to explain all the things wrong with this message. It’s just completely bullshit content. There is nothing concrete here, and J seems to think I can just imply information like

  • What would I be coming to?
  • Where is this place at?
  • When do I need to be at this place?
  • Is this meeting important to you, or important to me? Neither? Both?
  • Do I need to bring anything to the meeting?
  • Is this even a meeting?

Implying is bad, and usually humans get it wrong. Period.

As it turns out, J was asking if I would be coming to the meeting he scheduled via text blob. It is important to him that I come to his text blob meeting.

Meanwhile I am too busy getting shit done to deal with deciphering text blobs all day.

Emails are lazy

So it’s easy to just dump into a text field. Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require much thought.

Furthermore the act of sending an email is relatively safe, because the other person doesn’t have to respond immediately.

So sending an email is a way for a human to send some message, without having to concern themselves about how it was packaged.

Imagine if communication worked this way. Where you would just walk into a room and say whatever in the hell you wanted, and walked out with the expectation that whoever your message was intended for will receive and respond to your message.

If you send emails, you are lazy. 

If you want me to take action, we first need to have a discussion about how we will work with action requests moving forward. After we come up with a way for us to work together, we can begin to create viable action items.

If this sounds like too much work, consider how much time you spend deciphering bullshit from your inbox each day. I personally would be willing to trade time from me figuring out your bullshit, to you figuring out your own bullshit.

Be awesome.

Figure your bullshit out first, so I don’t have to.

 

Email clients are different.

Ever see an email that looks like this?

 

kris?

>

>

> >

> > >

> > > >

> > > > >

> > > > hi,

> > > > are you coming?

> > > >

> > > > J

Because my inbox is full of them.

It seems that ever piece of software in the world respects the golden rule except email clients.

It’s never okay to mutate data that is not yours

Email clients fucking love to mutate your data. We are gonna add colors, and characters, and tabs and spaces. We are gonna insert wingdings into your email. You name it, we are gonna do it.

So not only do I receive messages with vague text blobs that require effort on my end to understand, but chances are it’s not even the original bullshit text blob you sent anyway.

 

In conclusion

We need to figure out ways for humans to perform creating dead end content and requesting action that doesn’t involve email.

In the mean time, can you please for fucks sake be considerate of your messages to me?

I get upwards of 5 thousand messages a day, and the least you could do is spend a few seconds and make your message to me easily digestible.

And remember, if it’s dead end content then put it on Facebook, or Twitter. If I like it I will give you a 👍. But there is no reason to bundle that in with my other messages that may or may not be needing something from me.

 

 

 

10 Rules for writing an email that doesn’t suck

 

1. Start off the email by apologizing for using email.

Just get it out of the way, and admit you know what you are doing is evil. But please keep it short and sweet

Hi $name, sorry for sending you an email but $content?

 

2. Respect the subject

The subject of an email is an important as naming a function. It should be descriptive enough to explain what the email is about, and still let a reader know what to expect within the content of the email.

Furthermore, you should clearly define if your email is a request for action, or dead end content.

 

 

3. No more than 1 reply. Ever.

The rule is simple, it is only okay for one person to reply to any email once before the email is locked and nobody else can reply. If you feel like you need to send another message, draft a new email with a new meaningful subject.

 

4. Do one thing and do it well.

Yep. I Unix philosophy‘d you. Emails are only allowed to do one thing. If you combine multiple requests for action, or multiple sets of content in your email you are doing it wrong.

5. You get one sentence, use it wisely.

A complete sentence is used to express a complete thought. A single complete thought. Which means your email should never be longer than 1 sentence. If you are good, you can even combine that with your apology for using email.

Hi Kris, and I am so sorry for sending you an email, but I was wondering if you could attend our company ball [URL to more information about ball]?

 

6. End your sentence with proper punctuation.

Always make sure to use proper punctuation at the end of your sentence. In the case your email ends with a period . you should copy/paste the email into a Tweet or Facebook post and not send the email.

In the case your email ends with a question mark ? you should re-read your email to make sure it’s well crafted and check your subject to make sure it’s meaningful. Then you may press send.

7. No forwarding

Thats the rule, never forward email. If you forward email you are doing it wrong. You can copy/paste email content from one email to your personal blog. Then you can reference that blog from the next email you need to send.

8. No more than one recipient

If you send an email to more than one person, or ever hit reply all you should punch yourself in the face. If you expect each person you are sending a message to to respond to your message you need to demonstrate that you are willing to spend that much time on them. They get a personal email, or no deal.

9. Your signature must be smaller than 100 bytes

For your signature you get 3 choices

  1. Full legal name
  2. Preferred name
  3. Notable online handle

Your signature should never be more than 100 bytes.

10. No attachments

Ever. Never is it okay to attach anything to an email. You have two options for including media in your email:

  1. You may reference the media’s public URL
  2. You can opt out of using media.

Site Link
Twitter @krisnova
LinkedIn  kris-nova
GitHub  kris-nova

My contact information. This will make more sense later.

 

Like all good blog posts. This too started out as a tweet.

 

 

 

The conversation was regarding me changing my Twitter handle, and Justin was bringing up a great point. Which is that my Twitter handle is hard-coded all over the internet. My engineer brain instantly started to draft up solutions to this problem, as I realized this was the perfect use case for pointer pointers!

Pointers in Go

Now if you are new to pointers in Go don’t worry. Pointers are easy.

Just think of pointers as URLs!

Seriously, a URL is just a pointer to a web page. In this case the URL itself (say https://nivenly.com) is the address and whatever the web page returns is it’s value.

See? Pretty easy right. I told you pointers were no big deal.

Pointer Pointers

So in the case of changing my contact information, let’s take a look at how things are today.

Notice how in this model, if I need to revise my contact information I would need to go an update every page on the internet that has my contact information linked to it. If we had a pointer page we could safely hard code all the pages on the internet to one page that I control. Say a page on my blog for instance. Then if we needed to update anything all we need to do is update the pointer page.

 

In this model, we no longer need to make a change to the web page on the internet as it will also be pointing to the pointer page.

An example in Go

 

Below is a concrete example of pointer pointers in Go, using the use case from the tweet. Needing to change your twitter URL without changing the higher level implementation.

 


package main

import (
	"fmt"
)

type ContactInfo struct {

	Twitter string
	LinkedIn string
	GitHub string

}

func main() {
	
	// -----------------------------------------------------
	// First version of my contact information
	kris := &ContactInfo{
		Twitter: "https://twitter.com/kris__nova",
		LinkedIn: "https://linkedin.com/in/kris-nova/",
		GitHub: "https://github.com/kris-nova",
	}


	// -----------------------------------------------------
	// Assign my contact information as a pointer pointer
	myContactInfo := &kris
	fmt.Println(**myContactInfo)
	
	
	// -----------------------------------------------------
	// Second version of my contact information
	kris = &ContactInfo{
		Twitter: "https://twitter.com/krisnova",
		LinkedIn: "https://linkedin.com/in/kris-nova/",
		GitHub: "https://github.com/kris-nova",
	}
	
	
	
	// -----------------------------------------------------
	// Feel free to hard code myContactInfo anywhere and I 
	// can change it right from underneath you!
	fmt.Println(**myContactInfo)
}

Run it on the Go playground!

 

 

Cheersthanks!

 

 

 

I feel like half of my blog ideas come from Jessie’s twitter page… but after another one of her great tweets I had an idea.

 

 

Which was to make a proper theme for my mountain pictures for tech presentations.

And of course if you know anything about me, it’s that if I do something manually once, I have to automate it for my future self. So I started working on a new presentation, except this time spent the extra hour or so to put together a proper theme.

So feel free to use it! I took all the pictures myself, and even went through the process of giving you happy/sad slides so you can introduce conflict in your presentation.

Download 0.0.1

Name Download
PowerPoint Slides  nova-clouds-theme-0.0.1.pptx
 Background Images (16:9)  nova-clouds-images.tar.gz

Using with Microsoft PowerPoint

  1. Create a new copy of the presentation
  2. Open the presentation
  3. Begin using the default slide layouts

Using with Google Slides

  1. Create a new Google slides presentation
  2. Click the Theme... button on the top bar
  3. Click import theme and import the theme
  4. Begin using the default slide layouts

 

 

So hanging out at GothamGo this year has been inspirational! I have been able to rub elbows with the best of the best Go engineers in the world.

Last night I was introduced to what I think is..

..finally the solution to generics in Go!

The G Package

The Generics Package

So there is an Apache 2 open source licensed package that can be found on GitHub here. ‘

The package is clean, and elegant. So let’s take the package for a spin!

First things first, we need to install the G package. Luckily it using the Go idiomatic installation method go get.


go get github.com/StabbyCutyou/generics

Now we can import the package into our Go program.


import . "github.com/StabbyCutyou/generics"

The Implementation

We can now take ugly and non idiomatic (but flexible) Go code such as the following and implement a much more elegant solution for Generics.


func UglyUnIdiomaticQuoteGenericApproachUnquote(poorexcuse ...interface{}) []interface{}

with the G package now becomes the following


func Excellence(things ...G) []G

Backwards Compatibility

From the G package repository we can read a glorious compatibility statement:

G meets the standard of golang by matching its stance on backwards compatibility. Until a 2.0 release of generics, which may never happen, G will always be 100% Backwards compatible with it’s initial 1.0 release.

Behind The Scenes

The source code for G is simple and elegant, and I encourage all users to take a peak at what is going on behind the scenes. In my eyes it is a clean solution to Generics in Go, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the project.

I hope this helps.

Cheers.

So I am working on a Go speech today, and I got to a slide where I wanted to mention the C# programming language. Or more importantly, I wanted to mention how some internal teams at Microsoft are switching over from C# to Go!

The only problem with this slide is that I am supposed to be somewhat credible in what I say..

and I have never written a line of C# in my life.

Furthermore I run linux as my primary operating system. So of course I decided it would be a good idea to try to get a C# development environment up and and running on Archlinux. After a total of 10 seconds of searching Google I couldn’t find the step-by-step tutorial I wanted so naturally I am creating one.

So here goes…

 

Install VS Code

C# isn’t scary at all!

Download page for Linux

Tarball for Linux

Okay so you don’t need VS code, but the C# plugin is really legit. It feels like any other programming language!

But feel free to use any text editor you like. We are just going to be banging out a quick and dirty hello world.

If you plan on writing copious amounts of C# I strongly suggest you get VS code. It’s free and works fantastically on Linux.

Install Mono

(Seriously this is all you do)


sudo pacman -S mono

Write your hello world program

Create a new file called HelloWorld.cs anywhere on your file system.

HelloWorld.cs

// A Hello World! program in C#.
using System;
namespace HelloWorld
{
    class Hello 
    {
        static void Main() 
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Hello World!");

            // Keep the console window open in debug mode.
            Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");
            Console.ReadKey();
        }
    }
}

Thanks to the official Microsoft docs for the code snippet!

Compile

The mono mcs compiler works very similar to gcc and accepts an -out flag to specify the name of the executable.


mcs -out:helloexe HelloWorld.cs

Run

Then you can run your program!


mono hello.exe

What’s next?

I am going to do some benchmarking with C# and Go and explore some concurrency patterns between the two. Stay tuned for my findings!

Hey everyone!

So a huge thanks to Hashiconf for letting me come out and talk about this stuff in person! But for those of you who missed it, or want more information there is also this blog on the matter as well.

So this is just a quick technical follow up of the tool terraformctl that I used in my session to get Terraform up and running inside of Kubernetes as a controller!

What is terraformctl?

A command line tool and gRPC server that is pronounced Terraform Cuddle.

 

The GitHub repo can be found here!

 

It’s a philosophical example of how infrastructure engineers might start looking at running cloud native applications to manage infrastructure. The idea behind the tool is to introduce this new way of thinking, and not necessarily to be the concrete implementation you are working for. This idea is new, and therefore a lot of tooling is till being crafted. This is just a quick and dirty example of what it might look like.

Terraformctl follows a simple client/server pattern.

We use gRPC to define the protocol in which the client will communicate with the server.

The server is a program written in Golang that will handle incoming gRPC requests concurrently while running a control loop.

The incoming requests are cached to a mutex controlled shared point in memory.

The control loop reads from the shared memory.

Voila. Concurrent microservices in Go!

What is cloud native infrastructure?

Well it’s this crazy idea that we should start looking at managing cloud native infrastructure in the same way we manage traditional cloud native applications.

If we treat infrastructure as software then we have no reason to run the software in legacy or traditional ways when we can truly concur our software by running it in a cloud native way. I love this idea so much that I helped author a book on the subject! Feel free to check it out here!

The bottom line is that the new way of looking at the stack is to start thinking of the layers that were traditionally managed in other ways as layers that are now managed by discreet and happy applications. These applications can be ran in containers, and orchestrated in the same ways that all other applications can. So why not do that? YOLO.

What Terraformctl is not..

Terraformctl is not (and will never be) production ready.

It’s a demo tool, and it’s hacky. If you really want to expand on my work feel free to ping me, or just out right fork it. I don’t have time to maintain yet another open source project unfortunately.

Terraformctl is not designed to replace any enterprise solutions, it’s just a thought experiment. Solving these problems is extremely hard, so I just want more people to understand what is really going into these tools.

Furthermore there are a number of features not yet implemented in the code base, that the code base was structure for. Who knows, maybe one day I will get around to coding them. We will see.

If you really, really, really want to talk more about this project. Please email me at kris@nivenly.com.

 

 

So as I continue to find workarounds and fixes for running Archlinux on my Microsoft Surface Book I will post them..

Here is a great quick and dirty fix for the wifi issue.

Problem

After closing your Surface Pro, or sending your computer into a state of hibernation or suspension the WiFi agent quits working.

Solution

Found a handy dandy script that totally fixes the problem.


sudo wget -P /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep nivenly.com/surface-hib.sh