Some personal themes for 2023

Good riddance, 2022

This started out as me trying to write a “year in review” post, but to be honest I don’t have it in me. 2022 was a pretty difficult year for me, and I don’t terribly want to relive any part of it. Various family health issues loom large in that, but a ton of things went wrong.

Instead of looking back at all that, I want to spend some time thinking about how I want the New Year to go. Not in the form of specific goals, though I certainly have those (e.g., I’d love to get in more practice time at curling, and get a better grasp of programming in Rust). But this post is about some general themes I want to try and keep in mind moving forward.

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Adam’s weekly update, 2022-12-04

What’s new

This week was really intense from a work perspective. Not “bad intense”, but the kind of week where every day was spent with such a level of focus, that at 5 PM or so I found myself staring off into space and forgetting words. I think I got some good things accomplished, but my brain also felt like mush by the time the weekend came.

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happy living close (-ish) to the metal

For various reasons, I’ve been doing a little bit of career introspection lately. One of the interesting realizations to come out of this is that, despite in practice doing mostly software work, I’ve been happiest when my work involved a strong awareness of the hardware I was running on.

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The web services I self-host

Why self-host anything?

In a lot of ways, self-hosting web services is signing up for extra pain. Most useful web services are available in SaaS format these days, and most people don’t want to be a sysadmin just to use chat, email, or read the news.

In general, I decide to self-host a service if one of two things is true:

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Interesting links I clicked this week

I watched several really interesting talks from SRECon22 Americas this week, and in particular I’d like to highlight:

  • Principled Performance Analytics, Narayan Desai and Brent Bryan from Google. Some interesting thoughts on quantitative analysis of live performance data for monitoring and observability purposes, moving past simple percentile analysis.
  • The ‘Success’ in SRE is Silent, Casey Rosenthal from Interesting thoughts here on the visibility of reliability, qualitative analysis of systems, and why regulation and certification might not be the right thing for web systems.
  • Building and Running a Diversity-focused Pre-internship program for SRE, from Andrew Ryan at Facebook Meta. Some good lessons-learned here from an early-career internship-like program, in its first year.
  • Taking the 737 to the Max, Nickolas Means from Sym. A really interesting analysis of the Boeing 737 Max failures from both a technical and cultural perspective, complete with some graph tracing to understand failure modes.

I also ran across some other articles that I’ve been actively recommending and sharing with friends and colleagues, including:

  • Plato’s Dashboards, Fred Hebert at Honeycomb. This article has some great analysis of how easily-measurable metrics are often poor proxies for the information we’re actually interested in, and discussing qualitative research methods as a way to gain more insight.
  • The End of Roe Will Bring About A Sea Change In The Encryption Debate, Rianna Pfefferkorn from the Stanford Internet Observatory. You should absolutely go read this article, but to sum up: Law enforcement in states than ban abortion is now absolutely part of the threat model that encrypted messaging defends against. No one claiming to be a progressive should be arguing in favor of “exceptional access” or other law enforcement access to encryption.