Friday, 30 September 2016

Personal Blog Entry 2

Picking up where my last personal blog left off, finished the introductory week of DevOps on Friday with a very early finish at 1pm. This was so that the trainers could get away for a conference over the weekend. It was a Consultancy convention in Barcelona. Jealous that I'll have to wait a whole year for one I can go on. They even got to do a Hackathon! :o

Weekend: It's all fun and games till your healer sets you on fire

A portable Flux Capacitor! Isn't
Magiotech just amazing?

Finally got around to seeing Kubo at the cinema. Damn good film that met and exceeded my expectations. Always enjoy Studio Ghibli-esque animations. Original story too.

Speaking of bards, the DnD group had our first proper adventuring session. It was heaps of fun and I enjoyed playing a bumbling elf hacker named Dawn-Willow-Eustace-Eragon-Brook-Iris-Earthmore (or Dweebie for short :P ) Having L337 HAXX0R skillz in a fantasy setting is rather over-powered. Not that it is much of an advantage when your character is so incompetent they manage to get knocked out by the party's healer :D

To the Right is a (googled) artists conception of Dawn-Willow-etc's Hacking deck. I imagine it looks as old as this but grimier.

Why yes, our theatre DOES look like it's
wearing a hat
Week Three: Off to the theatre for Enterprise Architecture

Week was first week of studying Enterprise Architecture, a topic much more relevant to going into a company as a consultant. Finding out how a business works (and politely telling them all the things wrong with it) We were working  in the Lowry Theatre which is a rather nice place. Had lots of business terminology to learn and created dozens of diagrams. mapping the messy, complicated, ad-hoc rules of human organisations onto the much nicer structure of a computer program. Quite a tricky task involving mock interviews and avoiding all those pesky assumptions about business practises...

Big thing of the week was interviews with tutors pretending to be part of the business we were pretending to be consultants for. It was rather weird but I think our group did well, managing to deal with some of the more, 'eccentric', performances our tutors put on during interview.

My fondest memories of working in the Lowry will be those tea breaks, so many nice varieties and oh my, the biscuits, so good!

One last surprise at the end of the week was that last thing on Friday we were asked what specialisations we wanted to go into. Gareth wrote up the available specialisations on the board and, once he had explained what the hell a Mulesoft was, we made our choice by going to a corner of the room. Bit of a moot point for me as I had had my heart set on DevOps since first hearing about QA Consulting. Cloud development might have been interesting, a lighter, more fluffy and nebulous version of DevOps. Other option was Pega which I believe has strong ties into Enterprise Architecture.

Social time and drink(s)

Two mortal enemies fused into an unholy whole...
There were lots of social events (read: drinks) on this week with Dan, a fellow trainee (and our DM), having birthday drinks on Tuesday.
Then on Thursday we had another DnD session: we had planned to complete the first dungeon but events and inanimate objects conspired against us. Who knew arguments about tables and rope could get so heated?. :o Friday was the usual social evening with free drinks. Good fun, even if I ended up round at Dan's once more with most of the DnD group.

Because the week had been rather busy with work and socialising it was tough to get the technical blog completely finished on time. I got it submitted on Friday with most of the content there but it took a little bit more work to get all the web applets set up completely. Don't worry it's all finished now! Pretty pleased with the Bi-gram generation. Strong temptation to keep tinkering with it but next weeks technical blog will be on another topic :)

Weekend: Trip into town and museum-going
At the weekend had family come to visit so was busy doing things with them. Got lots of new useful things for the flat, went out for dinner and a chat with some family friends. Sunday was out at the Museum of Science and Industry. Brilliant place :D

Check out the rack on that Baby!

 There was a whole exhibit on Graphene which had information on some novel new uses being researched. Another cool exhibit was a replica of the very first stored program computer; the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental machine, affectionately known as the Baby. On the 50th anniversary of it's construction some computer enthusiasts created a working  replica of the machine which is now on display at the Museum.

It was a wonderful piece of kit with nothing but valves as logic components. The memory which could store a program? It is a Cathode Ray tube with a wire mesh across it! :D The code was easy to visualise as it was literally stored upon the screen display as an array of dots. The memory was only 1000 bits with values in 5 bit words. I got heaps of information from the exhibitor, including details of an online emulator. He was so impressed with my questions and interest that he suggested I volunteer to help out at the museum. I have to say I wouldn't mind doing that!

Week Four: Enterprise Architecture, the second half

Weekend ended up rather busy so I started the second week far too tired. We seem to have gotten through the most interesting parts of Enterprise Architecture and have just been working towards the final presentation and test. Few more lectures here and there which gives a little bit of a break from preparations. Alas this part of consultancy isn't something we can automate away :/

On Thursday there were some Welcome drinks to chat with other members of QA. Of course it was at the Dockyard, best bar in the Quays :D Nice of them to have a company tab on the bar but with exam and presentation looming nobody was really in the mood to drink to excess (perhaps according to the trainer's plan, sneaky!)

Finally Friday came around and we had a chance to prove ourselves. The exam was pretty solid, good thing I had revised well for it. The most stressful part actually was some eleventh hour tech troubles, obviously a practical example for why good Ops management and planning is essential!

Before the presentation the office had all the atmosphere of a funeral, I think the week-long wait  had been getting to all our nerves. The questioning after the presentations was brutally direct, just like real management. I feel my group handled it with aplomb though, we had some rather novel, well-thought out solutions. The mood lifted as each presentation was done though and I got to indulge in my annoying habit of asking questions at the end too :3

We were all in need of a drink (or several) after three hours of presentations. I was nodding off to sleep whilst still in the office, slept well that night. It's good to have a proper work-week routine, makes the weekends all the more sweeter.

Wrapping up

Flat: now with 100% more spaceship
Enterprise Architecture was interesting but I would really want to be given more training and the chance to work with an experienced team before undertaking it in the real world. Telling people that the way they do their jobs is wrong and what *you* think is best is not my strong point. Then again in the real world people are a little more complex than characters in a course exercise.

Anyway what I am really looking forward to is the specialisation training starting next week, this is where the properly challenging training should begin. Can't wait to be learning how to be a DevOps Puppet Master!

Oh and my flat is looking a little nicer now that I've unpacked all my goodies :)

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