Archive for Jessica

DevOps and finding your inner Brent



I’d like to thank Lars and the LADevops meet up group for having Gene Kim give a presentation in January. I’ve read his Visible Ops “Implementing ITIL in 4 steps” book, but I hadn’t read “The Phoenix Project“. I just finished it and wow, I could not put it down. It painfully describes every dysfunctional IT group and the problems they face.

One important takeaway and probably the most important, is the ability to see and control “Work In Progress” or WIP for short. This is just one part of the equation, but once you can see your WIP, it’s easier to identify the constraints. In the book, a guy named Brent seems to be both the problem and the solution to every project and process at the company. Devops says that any changes or improvements must be made at the constraint to be effective, so getting clear on who or what is your “Brent” should help you figure out how to ease that constraint.

On twitter this morning @byron_miller posted a blog about an alternate universe pondering what could happen if Brent was the recipient of all the coaching. I thought this was interesting because I see so many “Brents” in my consulting practice and it’s very rare that they get this kind of support, and I’ve often wondered whether they would be open to it or willing to be introspective about their role. Many times, Brent is a guy who is on a bit of a power trip and enjoys the fact that the company can’t do anything without him. Byron says this “Brent types can transform to be leaders. As leaders, we don’t need formality to express our desires, we need strategy, history, allies, solutions and we need to work with and through the gatekeepers to tell the DevOps story.”

“Remember, outcomes are what matter – not the process, not controls, or, for that matter, what work you complete.” The Phoenix Project.

I’d be curious how you view the Brent’s in your organization, or perhaps you are Brent. How do you see your role changing in the face of devops? Have you read this book?

TechEd | 2014

TechEd | 2014.

This year’s TechEd conference will be in Houston May 12-15. I’m really excited because this will be my first time speaking at this conference for IT pros. I will be talking about collaboration tools including Sharepoint and Yammer. Today they released the schedule builder and content catalogue, so please go take a look at start your schedule planning, as this is helpful to the organizers to know how much space to plan for each talk. I hope to see you there!

Blogging from your phone

One of the reasons I love WordPress so much is that it is incredibly easy to post a blog right from your phone. Once you know your settings and can get the configuration right it’s just very very easy to blog on the go. It’s very easy to attach a photo and you can do most of the formatting and hyperlinking that you would want to do as well.


Quick Network Scan app for IOS


One of my favorite tools for on the go network scans is Fing. This handy utility let you connect to a wireless network and in just a few seconds report all the devices that are on that wireless network. This comes in handy when you’re trying to figure out what IP address your Sonos has or your raspberry pi or a new printer that you’ve installed. If you create an account you can save the scans for comparison later. I especially like this when I’m going to see a new client as it gives me a sense of the current state of the network and all the devices on it.

Hacktech Hackathon

Last weekend, 2000 students from all over California descended on Santa Monica Place for the Hacktech hackathon. 
 It was exciting to see all the apps and hacks the students worked on over the 36 hour period. Among the many generous sponsors, Microsoft had several amazing prizes for the best use of Azure, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The developer evangelist team offered hands on help for building apps and using Azure. We saw an incredible Pinterest app that was coded entirely during the hackathon, it was beautiful and complete and the students were really proud of their work. I was also really happy to see so many women coders, many of whom were winners in the overall event. I think these events are important because participants come together and collaborate on projects, and collaboration skills are critical in the workplace, plus I think everyone had a lot of fun.

Were you there? I’l love to hear about your experience. 

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IT Pro Virtualization Camp

Last week I had the pleasure of assisting Jennelle Crothers with IT Pro virtualization camp. It was a very full day of information for IT pros where they learned the ins and outs of virtualization with Hyper V.

I saw several attendees get started on the hands-on-on labs immediately, and those were the most successful people as the labs were incredibly difficult and sometimes had to be scrapped and rebuilt.  I had to destroy my cluster and start over. My only wish is that Microsoft would make these labs available to IT pros for a couple of days after the event.

I strongly recommend attending one of these if they come to your area. The quality of information as well as the hands-on experience as well as getting to build something without worrying about breaking it was awesome.

Great news, they’re doing an online version of this content on December 11th

Acer c720 Chromebook Unboxing and Review

acer c720 box


A guest post by Jason DeVita  on the Acer Chromebook

follow him @wx13 and

The first Chromebooks were introduced a little over two years ago.  Chromebooks run Google’s ChromeOS, designed to be completely integrated with “the cloud.”  Since they first appeared, there has been a lot of discussion about the market for such a computer.  If you were to ask Google, they would probably tell you that chromebooks are revolutionary and that they will take over the computing world.  And if asked Microsoft, they would tell you that chromebooks are not “real” computers.  Obviously the truth lies somewhere in between, leading to the question: Who could benefit from buying a chromebook?

In order to understand Chromebook use-cases, it is necessary to understand a little about Chromebooks.  The idea behind ChromeOS is to create a cloud-centric operating system.  This differs from standard operating systems in that the majority of data is stored remotely and applications (which run in the browser) interact with that remote data.  This is not a new idea; the terminal/mainframe and thin-client/server model has been around for a while.  But this is the first time this has been marketed toward the general public.

acer c720 box

Random Number Generator

I love that I had a reason to use this random number generator back in April. It helped me schedule random posts for an event I was planning. Give it a try and use it with an excel sheet of tweets you’d like to schedule, and a tool like hoot suite that lets you upload.

Office 365 for non-profits –

Microsoft is doing a very cool thing by giving non-profits licenses for Office 365 E1 plan. So if you are a charitable organization, and just need per seat Exchange mailboxes, this seems like a great way to go. Setup is a breeze. Especially since the free Google Apps doesn’t offer Exchange Active Sync connections – i.e, your mailbox, calendar and contacts can’t sync nicely to your phone.

Managing Email

Okay, show of hands. Who hates email? Everyone? Yes me too. So what do we do about it? Keep bitching on twitter? I vote no.

Seriously, what is the problem with email? Too much? Lack of context? Silos of information? All of those things are true and I believe there’s a ton of room for innovation. We’ll look at a few services that are trying to fix email, and try to shed some light on the challenges and hopefully help you find a solution that will work for you.

Email as To-Do app

Email is not a to-do list, but the reality is that we often use it as such. But what happens when something is “below the fold”? If it doesn’t get handled in a day or so, it can easily fall off the radar. In some organizations, a tool like might be appropriate. It only shows you email you haven’t replied to. Once replied to, the email is hidden. What if you do reply, but forgot to cc your team? Instantly you’ve lost a contextual piece of the conversation and there isn’t a convenient way to resolve it unless you move to a more traditional ticketing/helpdesk type of solution. We’ve seen folks use a single email account, always cc it and use Gmail labels to help classify the conversations. See

sanebox (all email types)

mailstrom (webapp, supports all email types)

mailbox (iphone, gmail only)

podio, basecamp, sharepoint, teamworkpm,