Book review: Accelerate

Book review of Accelerate: The Science Behind DevOps – Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren, PhD, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim.

If you have been at any programming or agile related conference within the last 8 months or so, you will probably have heard people recommend Accelerate. One of the reasons it is often recommended is that it explains the importance of DevOps for high performing tech organizations. This is not really anything new, but what Accelerate does, is base it on actual science, and not just anecdotes and opinions – something we see all too often in the tech field.

The findings of Accelerate is based upon the survey data collected through the yearly survey “State of DevOps” in the years 2014-2017. Those data clearly demonstrated that a high performing organization performed much better than a low performing organization, but they could also be used to explain what caused this differences in performance.

The book is split into 3 parts, a conclusion, and some appendixes. The first part explains the findings, the second part, the science used, and the third part is a case study contributed by Steve Bell and Karen Whitley Bell. I will go through each part separately below.

The first part of the book is called “What we found”, and what they found is certainly noteworthy. They looked at some key indicators of software delivery performance, and found that a high performance organization had the following performance compared to low performance organizations:

  • 46 times more frequent deployments
  • 440 faster lead time from commit to deploy
  • 170 times faster mean time to recover from downtime
  • 5 times lower change failure rate

These numbers are from page 10 of the book, and show a much greater difference than most would expect, no matter how big a proponent of DevOps.

The rest of the first part of the book goes through their other findings, which identifies “24 key capabilities that drive improvement in software delivery performance, and, in turn, organizational performance”. According to the authors, “[t]hese capabilities are easy to define, measure, and improve”.

I won’t include the list here, but many of them relate to DevOps practices and lean management practices, though there are a couple related other things, such as architecture. One thing I will mention, is that the findings indicate that while culture has an influence on the use of DevOps techniques, the use of DevOps techniques also have an influence on culture, which changes as a result of that.

None of the mentioned capabilities are new, but here we have, for the first time, evidence that they actually work, and help improve performance.

The second part of the book, “The Research”, goes into how the research was conducted, and why survey data was suitable for the research. It doesn’t include the actual data, which would have been nice, but I can understand why that isn’t the case (breach of confidentiality etc).

I can’t recall seeing a similar chapter in any other book on programming/systems development, and I highly applaud it. I also think it was a smart move to put it in the second part, rather than the first part, as most people will be more interested in the findings, rather than the methods behind finding them.

The third part of the book, the case study contributed by Steve Bell and Karen Whitley Bell, is called “Transformation”. They takes us to Ing Netherlands, a world-wide bank, where they have been involved in a cultural change, started and lead by the IT manager, enabling the organization to become high-performance.

To be honest, I find this part to be the weakest part of the book, both in content and in presentation, but it does provide a nice overview of practices on the team, management, and leadership level (it can be found online here).

All in all, the findings of the book should not be shocking to people who has worked with agile, DevOps etc., but it is nice to have a list of proven capabilities to focus on. It is also a useful tool when debating with management about these subjects.

I highly recommend the book to people working in any aspect of software engineering – be it as a programmer, a project manager, in a leadership position, or in any other capacity.

RIP Joe Armstrong, the author of Erlang

Sad news from the world of programming, Joe Armstrong, one of the authors of the Erlang language has died

I never worked much with Erlang, and have never met Joe Armstrong, but from everything I hear, he was a genuinely nice man.

If you want to know more about Erlang, and how it was used, you can watch Erlang the Movie.

To be honest, I highly doubt anyone outside the world of programming will get much out of that clip, but it is interesting to watch, since it shows what type of problems Erlang was developed to solve. It gives a view into the early days of digitizing telephony, which wasn’t that long ago, considered how long telephones and other forms of telecommunication has been around.

Reporting on the Mueller Report

The redacted Mueller Report came out yesterday, and there is already some great reporting on it, Let’s just say, that unlike what the Trump administration tried to spin it as, the report is pretty bad for Trump.

You can find a searchable version of the report here.

Lawfare has been busy with writing their first thoughts in What Mueller Found on Russia and on Obstruction: A First Analysis

“Really the best day since he got elected,” said Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, about a day on which 400 pages dropped into the public’s lap describing relentless presidential misconduct and serial engagements between his campaign and a foreign actor. The weeks-long lag between Attorney General William Barr’s announcement of Robert Mueller’s top-line findings and the release of the Mueller report itself created space for an alternate reality in which the document released today might give rise to such a statement. But the cries of vindication do not survive even the most cursory examination of the document itself.

No, Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no, he did not conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice. But Mueller emphatically did not find that there had been “no collusion” either. Indeed, he described in page after damning page a dramatic pattern of Russian outreach to figures close to the president, including to Trump’s campaign and his business; Mueller described receptivity to this outreach on the part of those figures; he described a positive eagerness on the part of the Trump campaign to benefit from illegal Russian activity and that of its cutouts; he described serial lies about it all. And he describes as well a pattern of behavior on the part of the president in his interactions with law enforcement that is simply incompatible with the president’s duty to “take care” that the laws are “faithfully executed”—a pattern Mueller explicitly declined to conclude did not obstruct justice.

The Mueller report is a document this country will be absorbing for months to come. Below is a first crack at analyzing the features that are most salient to us.

Politico has made a an annotated guide to the redacted Mueller report

The Justice Department on Thursday released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials and whether the president obstructed justice.

While the investigation did not find hard evidence of collusion, the report detailed numerous instances in which Trump tried to interfere with the probe.

We’re annotating the document in real time, pulling out the excerpts we find most interesting, and giving you the analysis you need to understand Mueller’s findings.

Andrew Torrez does a great job at looking at the Barr report summary, and how it holds up to the actual report over at Opening Arguments in the episode OA271: Dis-Barred (?) – The Mueller Report

Facebook takes a step in the right direction

It is no secret that social platforms have played a major part in the spread of right-wing ideology.

The social media companies are generally slow in doing anyting against this spreading, some times to such a degree that some people claim that they help spreaad right-wing stuff.
Now, Facebook have taken a step in the right direction.

Facebook said the decision was taken because it bans users who “proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence”.

“Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook. Under our dangerous individuals and organisations policy, we ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence,” Facebook said in a statement.

“The individuals and organisations we have banned today violate this policy, and they will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram. Posts and other content which expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned. Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our community standards.”

It is a move that has been slow in comming, but it is good that Facebook has finally taken it. Now, we just need for them to react to all the other far right-winged individuals and groups, and for the other social media, like Twitter, to do it as well.

Edit: I had forgotten to write “far” in front of right-winged in the last paragraph, making it seem like I was calling for a more extreme stance than I did.

Ola Bini arrested in Ecuador

Gizmodo reports on the arrest of programmer superstar Ola Bini by the Ecuadorean government:

Police in Ecuador have arrested Swedish programmer and digital privacy activist Ola Bini for allegedly trying to destabilize the Ecuadorian government by “collaborating” with WikiLeaks. Bini was arrested at Quito Airport in Ecuador on his way to Japan.

Ola Bini is a Swedish programmer with a truly impressive resume, and a frequent speaker at conferences. According to his own website, he has choose to focus on “privacy enhanching technologies”.

So far, it doesn’t seem like Ola Bini has been charged with anything, but the claims made by the Ecuadorian government are very serious.

The EFF has come out in defense of Ola Bini: The Ecuadorean Authorities Have No Reason to Detain Free Software Developer Ola Bini

I am entirely on the side of the EFF on this. I have met Ola Bini, and find it very doubtful that he would do anything like the things claimed by the Ecuadorian government. And even if he had, he should still be allowed proper due process, unlike how he has been treated so far, according to his lawyers.

There is a petition to get Ola Bini released, which you can sign here

I hate April’s Fool Day

When I was younger, I didn’t mind April 1st, and the April 1st jokes it brought with it, but that has changed since then – now I hate April 1st for all the fake news stories, the fake social media posts, and other nonsense it brings with it.

When I was a kid, newspapers and news broadcasts would have a fake story somewhere, which could be fun to figure out. This was before the internet though, so it was fairly limited what sort of harm it could do.

Now, the internet exist, and fake news can spread wide and far before they are debunked. People will share screenshots, headlines etc., which won’t be updated when the fake story is, keeping the fake news alive for months if not years.

Given how much fake stuff that already exists in the form of “satire” websites and outright fraudulent websites, there is absolutely no need for a special day to promote fake stories.

I already have to be critical of every new site I come across, so why would I want to also have to be overly skeptical of news stories from otherwise reliable sources, even if it is only for a day.

Let’s retire April’s Fool Day.

Copenhagen Skeptics in the Pub is starting up again

After having taken a break for a couple of months, Copenhagen Skeptics in the Pub is starting up again, and it already have a few events up. All of the events are in Danish, and it is free to participate, though the bar probably would appreciate it if you bought something to drink.

All links takes you to a facebook event.

Er vegansk kost skadelig for småbørns vækst og udvikling? happens on April 8th 19:30 at Heidis Bier Bar.

Myten om den hvide gud – Erobringen af Mexico happens on May 6th 19:30 at Heidis Bier Bar.

Bæredygtige byggematerialer i en global konkurrence – hvordan? happens on June 3rd 19:30 at Heidis Bier Bar.

More events are being planned.

Due to Facebook’s attempt to getting pages to pay for exposing their events, it seems like the events are seen by a lot less people, so if you are a Danish skeptic, please share the events, so other people might see them.

The Danish election is approaching

I don’t write much about Danish politics, but I hardly make any secret of the fact that I am not happy with the current Danish political situation, where there is a right-winged coalition government kept in power by a xenophobic far-right party (the Danish Peoples’ Party).

This might change soon, as the next Danish election is approaching fast – the exact date of it is unknown so far, but it has to be held no later than July 17th, and the smart money is that it is going to be held on the same date as the election for the EU parliament, May 26th.

Given the current polls, it looks like the current government and its allies will loose, and the next government will be based on a center-left coalition, led by the Social Democrats. How exactly the government is going to be put together is not clear yet, but it fairly clear that it will probably be the Social Democrats together with the Socialists Peoples’ Party and perhaps with the Danish Social Liberal Party, and with support from the red-green Unity Party and the Alternative, a center party with a green profile, but whose exact political profile is unclear to many of us.

The Social-Democrats have flirted with many of the xenophobic ideas of the current government, even leading some people to suggest that it could form a single-party government, getting support from the right side, especially the Danish Peoples’ Party, when it wants to toughen the already very restrictive Danish laws regarding refugees and immigration, and with the left side, when it wants to make economic policies.

Both the Unity Party and the Danish Social Liberal Party has said that they won’t support a Social-Democratic led government doing that, while the Alternative have indicated that they won’t find it acceptable. The Socialist Peoples’ Party has been very unclear on this subject, but seem to be willing to go along with the Social Democrats, no matter what path they choose.

So, currently, the situation is that there is a real chance of changing the politics in Denmark towards a more humane policy. This is done by vote for one of explicitly anti-xenophobic parties. This is the Unity Party (Enhedslisten) and the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale), and perhaps the Alternative (Alternativet) and the Socialist Peoples’ Party (SF).

Given the economic politics of the Unity Party, and the fact that they are officially anti-EU, I am not going to vote for them. Luckily, I have a much better fit in the case of the Danish Social Liberal Party, who have many great politicians and candidates. I don’t agree with them on everything, but I agree on the things that matter, especially their fight against xenophobic and inhumane laws.

The party has some really great candidates in Copenhagen, but I personally endorse Samira Nawa, who is second on the list (after Ida Auken). Samira Nawa runs on a platform of leaving the country a better place for the next generations, and focuses not only on immigration, but also on education, environment, and the treatment of children.

Podcast recommendations

A few months ago, I made a list of podcast recommendations, so I thought I’d bring an updated list of what I am currently listening to.

The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry – I mentioned it in my last post, but I have listened quite a bit more to it since then, and I still highly recommend it.

The Infinite Monkey Cage – Robin Ince, Brian Cox, and friends take on scientific subjects. There is one in-joke, where people ask Brian Cox whether it is true that “things can only get better”, which is a reference to a hit by the band D-REAM, which Brian Cox used to play guitar in.

Making History – A history podcast/radio show. The latest season was hosted by Tom Holland and Iszi Lawrence. It is not secret that I am a great fan of Iszi and her podcast The Z List Dead List, but even if I hadn’t already been a fan of her, I would have liked Making History.

In these Trump times, it can be hard to make sense of what is going on in the legal realm in the US. A great podcast to help you with that is Opening Arguments, where the two hosts, Andrew Torrez and Thomas Smith explains things. Andrew Torrez is a lawyer, who brings his expertice to the table, while Thomas Smith plays the role of the interviewer. The podcast has a liberal bend, as does reality, but will also take on legal nonsense from the left.

Monster Talk is another podcast I love. It is hosted by Blake Smith and Dr. Karen Stollznow, and describes itself as “a free audio podcast that critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.”

Year in movies

I just took a look at the feature films released in 2018 and ranked by popularity according to IMDb. It is an interesting list, in that it shows that superhero movies are still very dominant, and that there are a lot of releases that I have never heard about.

I have looked at the top-100 movies, and marked the list with following:
Normal text – movie I have heard about, and which I haven’t watched, but might watch
Blod text – movie I have watched (‘-‘ after the movie indicates I didn’t like it, ‘+’ indicates I liked it)
Italic text – movie I haven’t heard about
Strikethrough – movies I don’t want to watch
A * after a title indicates that I plan on watching that movie.

1. Aquaman (-)
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse *
3. Bumblebee
4. Bird Box
5. Mary Poppins Returns
6. Roma
7. Mortal Engines *
8. Creed II
9. The Mule
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I have only seen one movie in the top 10, and didn’t like it. The rest of the movies I either plan on watching, or are fine with watching. The ones I am least interested in watching are Creed II and the Mule (which i just read about on IMDb).

11. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
12. Venom *
13. Welcome to Marwen
14. Zero (III)
15. Bohemian Rhapsody *
16. A Simple Favor
17. Vice (I)
18. The House That Jack Built
19. Dumplin’
20. Bad Times at the El Royale
21. Grinchen
22. The Favourite
23. The Christmas Chronicles
24. Ralph Breaks the Internet *
25. Mary Queen of Scots

I am doing decidedly worse on the next 15. Here there were quite a few I hadn’t even heard about, and when looking at them, I have absolutely no interest in seeing them. I guess that the algorithms that pushes movies on me must be working.

26. The Predator *
27. Avengers: Infinity War (+)
28. A Star Is Born
29. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
30. Hunter Killer
31. Robin Hood (I)
32. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
33. White Boy Rick
34. First Man
35. Deadpool 2 (+)
36. Ready Player One (-)
37. Peppermint
38. Smallfoot
39. Crazy Rich Asians
40. Widows
41. The Sisters Brothers
42. Green Book
43. Holmes & Watson
44. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
45. Second Act
46. The Equalizer 2
47. Halloween (I)
48. The Meg
49. Blockers
50. Backtrace

There are a lot of movies in place 26 to 50 that I hadn’t heard about, and a lot of movies that I don’t particularly care to see, and a few that I actively don’t want to see. I will say that the only movie on the list that makes me angry is Blockers, which I hadn’t heard about before looking at this list. It is a movie about 3 fathers trying to block their daughters from loosing their viginity on prom night. There are so many things problematic with this premise, that I am not going into it, but it definitely makes for a movie that I won’t watch.

I have indicated that I don’t want to see The Meg, but I might do it as part of a bad movie night.

51. Andhadhun
52. BlacKkKlansman
53. Incredibles 2
54. Black Panther (+)
55. Cold War
56. Dragon Ball Super: Broly
57. A Quiet Place (+)
58. The Little Mermaid
59. The Nun
60. Instant Family
61. Ant-Man and the Wasp *
62. Under the Silver Lake
63. Destroyer
64. Hereditary
65. Mile 22
66. Outlaw King
67. Night School
68. Searching (III)
69. Vox Lux
70. Overlord
71. Solo: A Star Wars Story *
72. Tomb Raider (+)
73. Assassination Nation *
74. The Happytime Murders
75. The Guilty
76. Suspiria (I)
77. Johnny English Strikes Again
78. Ben Is Back
79. Ocean’s Eight
80. On the Basis of Sex *
81. Annihilation *
82. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (-)
83. K.G.F: Chapter 1
84. If Beale Street Could Talk
85. Colette (I) *
86. Alpha
87. The Possession of Hannah Grace
88. Christopher Robin
89. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms *
90. 2.0 *
91. Life Itself
92. Mandy (I)
93. Rampage (-)
94. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
95. Beautiful Boy
96. The Princess Switch
97. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
98. Sorry to Bother You
99. Red Sparrow
100. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Looking at this list, it is surprising to me how many I hadn’t heard about before, but I guess this is due to using the internet as my newssource, including for stuff like movie trailers.