Tag Archives: conference

DevOpsDays NZ 2016

I recently spoke at the inaugural DevOpsDays NZ in Wellington. The team whom put together the conference did an amazing job and it’s one of the few conferences that I’ve really enjoyed recently. If they put together a subsequent conference next year, I recommend attending if possible.

I presented about our DevOps practises and tooling at Fairfax Media / stuff.co.nz which you can find at the recording below:


Whilst the vast majority of the content of the conference was really good, the following were clear standouts to me that I recommend watching:

You can find these (and other) presentations from the conference on this Youtube page.

linux.conf.au 2014

I’ve just returned from my annual pilgrimage to linux.conf.au, which was held in Perth this year. It’s the first time I’ve been over to West Australia, it’s a whole 5 hour flight from Sydney –  longer than it takes to fly to New Zealand.

Perth’s climate is a very dry heat compared to Sydney, so although it was actually hotter than Sydney for most of the week, it didn’t feel quite as unpleasant – other than the final day which hit 45 degrees and was baking hot…

It’s also a very clean/tidy city, the well maintained nature was very noticeable with the city and gardens being immaculately trimmed – not sure if it’s always been like this, or if it’s a side effect of the mining wealth in the economy allowing the local government to afford it more effectively.

The towering metropolis of mining wealth.

The towering metropolis of mining wealth.

As usual, the conference ran for 5 full days and featured 4-5 concurrent streams of talks during the week. The quality was generally high as always, although I feel that content selection has shifted away from a lot of deep dive technical talks to more high level talks, and that OpenStack (whilst awesome) is taking up far too much of the conference and really deserves it’s own dedicated conference now.

I’ve prepared my personal shortlist of the talks I enjoyed most of all for anyone who wants to spend a bit of time watching some of the recorded sessions.


Interesting New(ish) Software

  1. RatticDB – A web-based password storage system written in Python written by friends in Melbourne. I’ve been trialling it and since then it’s growing in popularity and awareness, as well as getting security audits (and fixes) [video] [project homepage].
  2. MARS Light – This is an insanely awesome replacement for DRBD designed to address the issues of DRBD when replicating over slower long WAN links. Like DRBD, MARS Light is a block-level replication, so ideal for entire datacenter and VM replication. [video] [project homepage].
  3. Pettycoin – Proposal/design for an adjacent network to Bitcoin designed for microtransactions. It’s currently under development, but is an interesting idea. [video] [project homepage].
  4. Lua code in Mediawiki – the Mediawiki developers have added the ability for Wikipedia editors to write Lua code that is executed server side which is pretty insanely awesome when you think about how normally nobody wants to allow untrusted public the ability to remote execute code on systems. The developers have taken Lua and created a “safe” version that runs inside PHP with restrictions to make this possible. [video] [project homepage].
  5. OpenShift – RedHat did a demonstration on their hosted (and open source) PAAS platform, OpenShift. It’s a solution I’ve been looking at before, if you’re a developer whom doesn’t care about infrastructure management, it looks very attractive. [video] [project homepage].


Evolution of Linux

  1. D-Bus in the Kernel – Lennart Pottering (of Pulseaudio and SystemD fame) presented the efforts he’s been involved in to fix D-Bus’s shortcomings and move it into the kernel itself and have D-Bus as a proper high speed IPC solution for the Linux kernel. [video]
  2. The Six Stages of SystemD – Presentation by an engineer who has been moving systems to SystemD and the process he went through and his thoughts/experience with SystemD. Really showcases the value that moving to SystemD will bring to GNU/Linux distributions. [video]
  3. Development Tools & The UNIX Philosophy – Excellent talk by a Python developer on how we should stop accepting command-line only tools as being the “right” or “proper” UNIX-style tools. Some tools (eg debuggers) are just better suited for graphical interfaces, and that it still meets the UNIX philosophy of having one tool doing one thing well. I really like the argument he makes and have to agree, in some cases GUIs are just more suitable for some tasks. [video]


Walkthroughs and Warstories

  1. TCP Tuning for the Web – presented by one of the co-founders of Fastly showing the various techniques they use to improve the performance of TCP connections and handle issues such as DDOS attacks. Excellent talk by a very smart networking engineer. [video]
  2. Massive Scaling of Graphite – very interesting talk on the massive scaling issues involved to collect statistics with Graphite and some impressive and scary stats on the lifespans and abuse that SSDs will tolerate (which is nowhere near as much as they should!). [video]
  3. Maintaining Internal Forks – One of the FreeBSD developers spoke on how his company maintains an internal fork of FreeBSD (with various modifications for their storage product) and the challenges of keeping it synced with the current releases. Lots of common problems, such as pain of handling new upstream releases and re-merging changes. [video]
  4. Reverse engineering firmware – Mathew Garrett dug deep into vendor firmware configuration tools and explained how to reverse engineer their calls with various tools such as strace, IO and memory mapping tools. Well worth a watch purely for the fact that Matthew Garrett is an amazing speaker. [video]
  5. Android, The positronic brain – Interesting session on how to build native applications for Android devices, such as cross compiling daemons and how the internal structure of Android is laid out. [video]
  6. Rapid OpenStack Deployment – Double-length Tutorial/presentation on how to build OpenStack clusters. Very useful if you’re looking at building one. [video]
  7. Debian on AWS – Interesting talk on how the Debian project is using Amazon AWS for various serving projects and how they’re handling AMI builds. [video]
  8. A Web Page in Seven Syscalls – Excellent walk through on Varnish by one of the developers. Nothing too new for anyone who’s been using it, but a good explanation of how it works and what it’s used for. [video]


Other Cool Stuff

  1. Deploying software updates to ArduSat in orbit by Jonathan Oxer – Launching Arduino powered satelittes into orbit and updating them remotely to allow them to be used for educational and research purposes. What could possibly be more awesome than this? [video].
  2. HTTP/2.0 and you – Discussion of the emerging HTTP/2.0 standard. Interesting and important stuff for anyone working in the online space. [video]
  3. OpenStreetMap – Very interesting talk from the director of OpenStreetMap Team about how OpenStreetMap is used around disaster prone areas and getting the local community to assist with generating maps, which are being used by humanitarian teams to help with the disaster relief efforts. [video]
  4. Linux File Systems, Where did they come from? – A great look at the history and development cycles of the different filesytems in the Linux kernel – comparing ext1/2/3/4, XFS, ReiserFS, Btrfs and others. [video]
  5. A pseudo-random talk on entropy – Good explanation of the importance of entropy on Linux systems, but much more low level and about what tools there are for helping with it. Some cross-over with my own previous writings on this topic. [video]

Naturally there have been many other excellent talks – the above is just a selection of the ones that I got the most out from during the conference. Take a look at the full schedule to find other talks that might interest, almost all sessions got recorded during the conference.

linux.conf.au 2012

In a couple days I’ll be flying out to Melbourne, Australia for linux.conf.au 2012, the undisputed greatest week of the year, being held in Ballarat.

I’ve been attending this conference since 2006 in Dunedin and it’s continued to be an amazing eye opener in the world of technology, open source and amazing people – considering when I first attended the conference, straight out of high-school being the only person out of 500+ students interested in technology, to finding that there are hundreds of even more hard core geeks that me, was totally amazing.

I’ll be doing a bit of tripping around like I did last year (see category linux.conf.au) – this time I’ll be spending 2 days before the conference doing a road trip with my mate Chris, followed by another 2 days after the conference where I stay in the Melbourne CBD for  exploring the city in more detail.

Key dates:

  • 14th Jan – Early morning flight from Auckland to Melbourne, Roadtrip with Chris
  • 15th Jan – Roadtrip with Chris, arriving in Ballarat in the afternoon.
  • 16th Jan – Start of linux.conf.au :-D
  • 20th Jan – End of linux.conf.au :'(
  • 21st Jan – Melbourne CBD Adventures
  • 22nd Jan – Melbourne CBD Adventures
  • 23rd Jan – Melbourne CBD Adventures, afternoon flight back to Auckland.

If you’re in Melbourne and want to catch up, let me know via email, twitter or XMPP and I’ll be keen for coffee/beer/seedybar. :-)

LCA2011: Day 07

OK, technically there is no LCA day 07, but seeing as it was the last day in Brisbane I figured I could get away with it, without needing to create a separate heading. ;-)

Firstly, I found an awesome pic of me by Andrew McMillian aka Karora on Flickr which clearly demonstrates my need for a haircut:

Me at the Professional Delegates Networking Session (pic by karora)

I spent the morning catching up on sleep and then after packing, I headed into Brisbane Times Square to attend a Fedora meeting at the library.

After that, I headed back to Urbanest by walking from the library, across a bridge and then along southbank back to the accommodation.

Hai Gais! (pic by @chrisjrn on a very awesome high quality lens)

Photoshop the bottle & caption if you dare ;-) (pic via @chrisjrn)

I then caught the AirTrain with @chrisjrn and another guy to the Brisbane Airport – I have to say, I love the AirTrain – it’s fast, easy, comfortable and cheap to get to/from the airport or any station along the gold coast.

I'm on a train!!! (pic by @chrisjrn)

Fast train is fast!

Travelling in style!

Brisbane Airport is pretty decent, didn’t take long to get through security, although I got explosive tested *again* which I find somewhat amusing, since they test for explosives far more often than drugs and I’d bet good money as to which one 20-something European males typically carry….

Flight was delayed a little, but made it to Melbourne with 30mins to spare to connect to the Melbourne-Hobart flight.

One oddity from arriving in Hobart was the way they advertise their seal touristy things:

Baggage seal watches you get security scanned!

LCA2011: Day 06

Technically the conference finished yesterday, however I went along to the open day event today to visit some of the stalls and people from the conference.

After re-grouping at the conference venue, we hit the town for lunch and then proceeded to bar hop our way back to the conference accommodation at Urbanest.

Hello Lisa! ;-) (pic by @chrisjrn)

Tall towers are tall! (pic by @chrisjrn)

OMG I'm outside! What on earth is wrong with me?!!? (pic by @chrisjrn)

Cross the Brisbane river with Josh whilst cringing at the sun (pic via @chrisjrn)

I like a firm grip on shafts (pic via @chrisjrn)

OMG it's flexibus!

Yay, new Fedora sticker for my laptop. #fanboysqueeeee

Lurking in Brisbane CBD

It's an Ibis!

Hello Brisbane!

Good lord it's hideous! (picture of @chrisjrn) ;-)

It's a bridge!

Geeks at the pub

Geeks getting drunk ;-)

LCA2011: Day 05

OMG how did the conference go so fast?!! :'(

It's meeeeee! (pic: @chrisjrn)

Tridge and Linux-powered coffee roaster. Fuck yes.

For some reason we got given rubber duckies at the conference.... que hordes of geeks squeezing them to make sounds

I know too many people.... mention dinner and this what I end up with... too many people to fit onto the screen

Nom nom nom nom

LCA2011: Day 04

As usual, I’ve had no time to update my blog and so I’ll post more technical stuff later. Meanwhile, here are the pics from day 04 of the conference.

As can be expected of LCA, the day starts like any other – sleep deprived ;-)

Please tell me there's coffee *dying* (pic: @chrisjrn)

And of course, the early morning email reading/hacking session whilst waiting for the keynote:

I'm deep in thought whilst optimising corporate synergy (pic: @chrisjrn)

All the cool kids. (pic: @chrisjrn)

Tasty tasty breakfast from some hole-in-the-wall cafe off Grey St – kind of a weird way of serving scrambled eggs….. but was very tasty. :-)

Delicious, yet interesting method of serving breakfast. (at a random hole-in-the-wall cafe on Gray St)

Some dodgy twitter person. Think maybe @chrisjrn

Went along to lunch with a bunch of like-minded geeks:

Ewwwwww giant steak next to me! #militantvegetarian

Resturant is putting @LGnome on a diet or something.

Mmmmmm delicious vegetarian pizza.

Ended up catching public transport back to Urbanest to take a shower before the penguin dinner:

Wow! If only Wellington busses were this good!

And of course, the penguin dinner – although I didn’t stay as late as I would have normally, on account of me being insanely tired and needing to do washing or having to go commando the next day:

Conference dinner - note the vegetarian option isn't listed

Dinner buddies!

More LCA dinner buddies!

Nommy curry thingy

mmmmmmmm desert :-)

And of course, washing:

Finished the day with washing. Much excite!

As an amusing side story, I discovered one of the vending machines at Urbanest will convert change coins (eg 10c, 20c, 50c) into $1 coins by using the coin reject function. LIFE HACK WINS! ;-)

Till tomorrow’s post! :-)

LCA2011: Day 03

Very exciting day, lots of interesting talks and I got interviewed for a podcast about PHP – will post the details once it goes live.

More pics!

Linux geeks!

Brisbane is shiny!

Lurking in the dark :-P

Geeks on a warship at the Maritime Museum, trying to figure out the engine to enable us to declare war on Microsoft.

Professional delegates networking session.

If I need lube during the conference, I know where to find it! ;-)

Tweeting hard ;-)

LCA2011: Day 02

I’m running a little behind on these posts, a lack of free time for anything is one of the unfortunate side effects of a conference as awesome as linux.conf.au.

Been a large number of existing interesting talks today, I intend to blog separately at a later stage – prob next week whilst I’m recovering from all the excitement. ;-)

Meanwhile, pics!

It's happy Jethro! Clearly something is wrong since I'm not depressive and over stressed like normal :-/ (pic from @chrisjrn)

Ewww, is that a Mac??? (pic by @chrisjrn)

All the cool kids at LCA

South Bank isn't looking so fancy these days. :-(

LCA2011: Day 01

Monday (yesterday) was the first day of the conference, so much great content and stuff on I’m only just catching up with blogging about it now.

I was one of the afternoon presenters, with my Indefero Source Code and Project Management presentation. The videos are still getting processed, but my slides are now available as a PDF downloaded.

There’s some pictures taken of me doing my talk by @chrisjrn which make me look like a bossy dictator. Which is probably accurate. ;-)

Me looking excited at the conference introduction, whilst @LGnome works hard on his slides like a good boy. (pic: @chrisjrn)

I look a bit old, but I think that's the sunburn/dry skin :-/ (pic: @chrisjrn)

I am Jethro, hear me roar! (pic: @chrisjrn)

If you don't use this software, I will come to your workplace and hurt you. (pic: @chrisjrn)

Chris is taking  a large number of pictures during the conference, you can see them all on his flicker feed here.

Also, here’s some blurry camera phone pictures by me from the conference:

Some of the LCA crowd waiting for the conference to start.

South Bank busway, with train line in the background.

Geeks hit the town - lookout Brisbane!

OMG! It's taller than 2 stories!

It's a bridge!

Brisbane looks awesome at night. Especially when standing in the middle of the river.

Maybe I don't have enough chargers already..... there's also a laptop and another cellphone not yet pictured O_o