adrift on a cosmic ocean

Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.

  • It's 2015, and I'm still writing config management commands wrapped in for loops.
    Posted by Oliver on the 10th of April, 2015 in category Tech
    Warning: this is a bit of a rant. Today my team had to migrate our ElasticSearch cluster from one set of instances in our EC2 VPC, to a smaller set of physical machines in our regular datacenter (yes, it's actually cheaper). Both sets of machines/instances are Chef-controlled, which generally I don't have to worry about, but in this case it was important due to the ordering of steps in the…
  • MBTI and pair programming
    Posted by Oliver on the 27th of March, 2015 in category Thoughts
    I had a meeting this week where among other things we talked about our teams and team members and how things were doing, generally, in the sense of team health. Oh yeah, since I haven't explicitly called it out on this blog, for the last 9 months I've been an engineering manager and since the beginning of the year took on a second team. So I've got two teams of developers to manage currently…
  • Golang, testing and HTTP router package internals
    Posted by Oliver on the 18th of January, 2015 in category Tech
    We have an internal service that takes requests of the form something like /foo/{ID}/bar which basically is expected to generate data of the form "bar" about the ID entity within the collection "foo". Real clear! Because this service has a bunch of similar routes that have a resource identifier as part of the request path, we use the Gorilla Mux package . There are a lot of different approaches…
  • AWS AutoScaling group size metrics (or lack thereof)
    Posted by Oliver on the 17th of January, 2015 in category Tech
    One of the notably lacking metrics from CloudWatch has been the current and previous AutoScaling group sizes - in other words, how many nodes are in the cluster. I've worked around this by using the regular EC2 APIs, querying the current cluster size and the desired size and logging this to Graphite. However, it only gives you the current values - not anything in the past, which regular CloudWatch…
  • Getting Tough - The Race (Rudolstadt, 06.12.14)
    Posted by Oliver on the 7th of December, 2014 in category Health
    As I mentioned in my last post , I did Getting Tough - The Race in Rudolstadt yesterday. Check out that post for a link to a first-person-style video shot at last year's event. Having watched that video, and obsessively scoured the internet for photos and any other tidbits of information, I expected that I knew what I was getting myself into. I have to say first up, whoever "Iron Mike" (poster…
  • Getting back into fitness
    Posted by Oliver on the 30th of November, 2014 in category Health
    I've just created a new category on this blog - Health - and recategorised one of the older articles I wrote a while ago. Being a confirmed computer geek, fitness has never really been very high on my priority list until I got into kayaking when I was about 24 or so. I managed to keep that up for several years and ended up quite fit - completing a 111km kayaking marathon three times in…
  • Changing of the HTPC guard
    Posted by Oliver on the 30th of November, 2014 in category Tech
    Way back in 2010 I wrote about my acquisition of a Zotac HD-ID11 ZBox "home theatre PC". Since then it has served me fairly well, although I suspect I ran it too hot for the last year or two. After several Ubuntu and XBMC upgrades I noticed that it tended to idle pretty hot despite not really doing much most of the time, and was able to ignore this until it started restarting itself frequently…
  • The learning gap in deploying Javascript apps
    Posted by Oliver on the 17th of August, 2014 in category Tech
    I've recently been building a website for my wife using relatively modern tools - lots of client-side Javascript and relatively minimal CSS and HTML. A recent-ish email alerted me to the existence of a Berlin-based Famous framework meetup group , which initially made no sense to me, but after I checked out the actual framework website my interest was piqued. I've got next to no website building…
  • Fitness and stuff
    Posted by Oliver on the 10th of August, 2014 in category Health
    A friend drew my attention to the fact that it has been around three months since my last post on this blog. Sadly, life has gotten in the way of my more technical posts - there have been a lot of things going on preventing me from writing more frequently. Vacation, how busy I am at work with various new responsibilities and a lot of features to deliver, team-mates to train up, learning some new…
  • LZ* compression algorithms
    Posted by Oliver on the 25th of May, 2014 in category Tech
    While I was implementing a small, naive log aggregation tool I had a moment to consider the type of compression I wanted to use on the log files at rest. The main implication this has outside of the efficiency of compression and how much space the files will take up is how they can be used once stored. If you are using tools like gzip/gunzip with awk or other simple command-line tools, or even…
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