Another week of learning – some fairly personal notes

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to learn all the time. A day to loved is a day not lived, a day not laughed is day not lived and a day not learned certainly for me also is a day not lived. There seem to be few professional fields where learning opportunities are so abundant and where learning is so rewarding. Rewarding both from the perspective of personal growth, fun and satisfaction as well as from the angle of recognition, career options and plain old cash. An intrinsic part of learning for me is also teaching – sharing my findings with others and in doing so come to a better understanding of the concepts myself.

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And fortunately I work at AMIS, a company where most also want to learn (and are willing to undergo my teaching) and teach (and making me learn new things). AMIS is part of an ecosystem called Conclusion where together with some 25 likeminded companies there are even more ways to learn and share knowledge as well as experience, enthusiasm and fun.

AMIS is one of the founding partners of the Red Expert Alliance (or REAL) – a collaboration between curious IT specialists in countries across the world (USA, Australia, Mexico, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands) that have a common background in Oracle technology and all are on a similar journey to cloud and cloud native technology and architecture concepts, Within REAL we have an open exchange of experience and knowledge, insights, best practices and sometimes even people.

Then there is the community at large – the Oracle, Java, Microsoft Azure, React, Node and other meetings of minds of software professionals. I participate, learn, share, grow and have fun while presenting on various events, absorbing teachings from other speakers and engaging in the discussions.

All in all, I count myself lucky. To be able to do what I like best: learn stuff. Well, yeah, and apply the knowledge I gather as well.

Last Week

I will not bother you with every last little detail of the last seven days. But I want to mention some of the things I learned (about) recently. First of all as note to myself. And to perhaps cause a spark of inspiration in some of you.

I am currently working my way through a React training. 38 hours of instructions and hands-on (ran at 1.5x speed), presented by Andrew Mead. It’s fun. And finally many pieces that I have seen in the past are now coming together. I am almost at a point where I think I can have a conversation with my colleagues who have been developing with React for several years now.

Yesterday I learned about PlayWright and Puppeteer – Node based tools that allow programmatic, headless access to web applications (through a server side, headless Chromium browser); this opens up many options for testing, health checking, screen scraping, RPA. I also learned about visual regression testing: PlayWight and Puppeteer can take screenshots of the web application. Tools such as Resemble.js, pixelmatch and Rembrandt.js can be used to compare screenshots and find meaningful regression between them. Headless Recorder is a Chrome Browser extension that can be used to record Puppeteer and PlayWright scripts while using a web site. I have to try that out!

In our weekly AMIS What’s Up, What’s New?! session, a colleague presented his early findings on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure CloudGuard and CloudAdvisor, free services on OCI to help improve security of your cloud resources and reduce cost of those resources. Thanks to Jeroen’s 30 min overview, I now have relevant insight in how to position and apply these tools. Next week two other colleagues will do a WUWN?! session on React (v17, Native, TypeScript) – status and roadmap.

Last week I presented at the virtual DOAG conference. One of my sessions was on Jupyter Notebooks, for data wrangling, analysis and visualization. I wrote a brief blog article on quickly running a JupyterLab environment, using a container image. A comment on this article suggested I take a look at the Google Collab site. This I did, and this proved an even easier way of working with Notebooks.

When taking walks, I have taken to listening to the BBC World Service’s podcast “13 minutes to the moon” – about the Apollo 11 moon landing and the program that led up to that flight and the technology that was developed for that flight. It is fascinating, not least because of the many references to early software development practices and because of the many parallels with software projects.

Yesterday, while discussing the roadmap for Internet of Things at a Dutch utilities company – one of my most interesting engagements in years – the open source project HayStack came up. A very brief investigating showed it is an attempt to normalize messages from devices in the IoT, across industries and protocols. It seems quite interesting, so I need to investigate further.

I listened to Sten Vesterli’s podcast last Friday, on making sure that you do not inadvertently get yourself in a vendor-lock-in situation when moving all your stuff into someone’s cloud. He raised some very valid points, that resonated with me. It took me back to a moment four years ago at the Oracle OpenWorld conference where I explained to an Oracle Product manager that I would choose a cloud vendor in part on the availability of a cloud exit strategy. (She did not understand what I was talking about, at all)

Within Conclusion, we have the Code Café Online – the successor to the live, physical event with pizzas and such. In the Code Café, colleagues present and demonstrate in 10-30 minute slots a tool, app, website, concept, cloud service that they are happy with and that they want to share. I have composed the agenda for our upcoming session – next Monday – with sections on MobaXTerm, Windows Terminal and Mentimeter. Perhaps Collab is a good topic for the mid December session.

With REAL (the Red Expert Alliance) we are starting a similar session. Working titles are The REAL tool shed and the REAL Coder’s Meetup. The jury is still out on that one. In this online mind meeting we will share thoughts and ideas across borders and oceans; that international interaction adds a certain je ne sais quoi.

Last week I presented to the Conclusion Architecture Board on my findings from the Gartner IT Symposium Xpo that I had attended the week before that. (normally in Barcelona – where I never attended – and this time in my living room). The main theme on this conference was “composable business” – which to me sounded like the application of microservice architecture concepts to the business at large. To increase a company’s resilience and agility – especially in uncertain times with black swan events. The crucial role of IT – and within IT of integration – were made very clear. Integration is what I have done for a large part in my work for close to two decades and it is a core proposition and expertise at AMIS; it is nice to see such confirmation we are on the right track.

Finally, for the AIOUG (All India Oracle User Group) Sangam20 event – in December – I will participate in a Rapid Fire session – a sort of relay presentation with four speakers and three handovers in 60 minutes. With some of my long time peer friends (Guido, Arturo and Sven) we will present on Cloud Native (application development).

Today for me is a day (mostly) off. Clearly a great day for learning new things!