Stumped by DevOps? Experts share their views on how to do DevOps right

Avi Cavale, CEO of Shippable, speaking at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Back in the day, there were software development teams, and there were operations teams, and they might say hello to each other a few times a year at the company picnic. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time, as the expectations for how quickly software should be developed and running have changed quite a bit.

Now, teams are expected to collaborate more closely to deliver software when it is ready. This is called “DevOps,” and while Heptio’s Joe Beda is right that the meaning of this term is in the eye of the beholder, it’s a set of practices and strategies for increasing the velocity of software development while ensuring reliability and quality.

At our GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit, three engineering leaders with serious DevOps cred — Nell Shamrell-Harrington, senior software development engineer at Chef; Avi Cavale, CEO of Shippable; and Mitchell Hashimoto, co-founder and co-CTO of HashiCorp — explained to attendees how companies are employing DevOps inside their organizations, and how to make sure you’re not losing anything in the process of speeding up your development cycle.

Nathan Pierce of F5 Networks, which sponsored the DevOps tech track at the Cloud Tech Summit, also addressed the audience. Videos of their sessions follow below.

Nell Shamrell-Harrington, Chef

Shamrell-Harrington kicked things off, setting the table for the discussions to follow by walking attendees through the history of DevOps thinking and how it has changed the way people develop and deploy software. (Apologies for the audio this one: crank your speakers to hear a great overview of DevOps, just don’t forget to turn the sound down before the next one.)

Avi Cavale, Shippable

Cavale picked up right where Shamrell-Harrington left off, focusing on how to implement concepts like continuous integration and continuous delivery in your software development strategy. CI and CD, as they are known, bring an “assembly line” mentality to software development, where parts of the application can be worked on separately and assembled later to the point where applications are rolling out the door like Model Ts.

Nathan Pearce, F5 Networks

F5 Networks is focused on the infrastructure layer of this world, and Pearce shared some insights around how DevOps thinking works alongside the physical networking layer.

Mitchell Hashimoto, HashiCorp

One problem with increasing the velocity of software development is the strong possibility that you’ll ship something with a serious vulnerability. Hashimoto explained how to work proper security hygiene into cutting-edge DevOps practices, because security can easily be overlooked when the executives are breathing down your neck to get the project finished as soon as possible.

Seattle Mariners pitcher and Moose mascot stand up against internet bullies in new kids book

"Rise With King Felix #Mooselove"
“Rise With King Felix #Mooselove” will be given out at Sunday’s Seattle Mariners game. (Seattle Mariners and Comcast NBCUniversal Image)

Not content with just battling opponents on the baseball field, the Seattle Mariners are taking on internet bullies, too, with a new children’s book featuring the team’s star pitcher and their lovable mascot.

“Rise With King Felix #Mooselove,” written by Jarrett Mentink and illustrated by Patrick Carlson, was produced by the team in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal and will be distributed to kids 14 and under at Sunday’s game at Safeco Field in Seattle.

The book stars Felix Hernandez and the Mariner Moose and serves as a resource for parents and children who may encounter cyberbullying and are looking for a positive way to respond.

The Moose is the victim in the book. He gets bullied by a fictional mascot named The Titan, who posts an embarrassing photo of the Moose on the outfield video screen for all to see. Hernandez plays the part of the hero, standing up for his friend and taking down The Titan with the help of other Mariners players. Mariners fans also show their support, by letting everyone know there’s no haters allowed at Safeco.

Mariner Moose
The Moose is happily using his phone until he realizes someone is being mean to him online. (Seattle Mariners and Comcast NBCUniversal Image)

“The book’s storyline promotes being an ‘upstander’ versus a bystander in bullying situations,” said Amy Lynch, regional VP of Comcast in Washington. “Both we and the Mariners know that children today can be badly affected by bullying. We hope the tools and examples in this book can help children create positive outcomes.”

In an ever-connected world, especially for kids on social media, online bullying is a top safety concern. From mean texts to sharing photos and gossip, kids who are targeted can suffer anxiety and depression and are more likely to skip school and get poor grades.

“Anytime you can take an athlete that kids look up to and respect, and share that positive mes­sage via that athlete, I think it’s going to reach kids that otherwise might not be reached,” said Mentink, who has written nine children’s books on a variety of topics.

‘Fifth Element’ squared: 5 cool ideas from the high-tech, sci-fi visuals of ‘Valerian’

Valerian and Laureline
Valerian and Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) make off with a treasure taken from a virtual marketplace in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” (STX Entertainment)

Spoiler alert: We’re not giving away any major plot points, but if you want to see “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” before you read any reviews, stop reading now and come back later.

Does director Luc Besson’s latest movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” live up to his sci-fi cult classic, “The Fifth Element”? Mmm, no. But the visuals and fictional tech concepts are literally out of this world, and well worth seeing.

“Valerian” has been getting decidedly mixed opening reviews – mostly due to the plodding plot and what some have called the anti-chemistry between the two lead actors, Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline. (To be fair, “The Fifth Element” got similarly mixed reviews when it premiered 20 years ago.)

The visuals are over-the-top, but the problem with “Valerian” may well be that it takes itself too seriously. The heroes and the villains are too earnest, in contrast to the cartoonish baddies in “The Fifth Element.” Ironically, a new movie based on a comic-book classic isn’t comic-bookish enough.

The best way to experience the movie is to set your expectations accordingly, and then let the computer-generated visual effects wash over you for two hours. Here are some of my favorite moments, based on the visuals as well as what they say about technologies to come.

How the Alpha space station grows: The movie starts out with a real-world encounter – the Apollo-Soyuz meetup between Soviet and American spacefliers in 1975. The historic handshake between Alexey Leonov and Tom Stafford is re-enacted aboard the Alpha space station, first with the Chinese in 2020, then with a rainbow of other nations, and then with a parade of exotic aliens. It’s a great opening sequence, set to the tune of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Fun fact: Alpha was one of the proposed names for the International Space Station, but it never took. Reality check: the “Destiny module” you see later in the movie looks a lot like an Apollo spacecraft, and nothing like the Destiny module on the real-life space station.

Augmented-reality bazaars: Valerian and Laureline are dropped into a wide stretch of empty desert that’s transformed into a teeming bazaar when you put on glasses that look a lot like Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets. Visitors supposedly make their way through “the other dimension,” but it looks a lot like an augmented-reality environment where you can actually pick up virtual stuff and buy it. When you’re ready to bring your purchases out of the touristy bazaar, you put them through the augmented-realyt end of a “transmatter” device, and the real-world products come out the other side. That’s something to think about if you’re planning an augmented-reality shopping center for 3-D-printed goods. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s already an Amazon patent application for that.

Haptic mind control: One of the cleverest tricks for Valerian’s raid on the market is to have one of his commandos jack into the nervous system of a guard who’s manning a machine gun in a watchtower. The commando gets a virtual view of the scene through the eyes of the zombified guard, and makes arm gestures that are mirrored up in the tower, with hilarious (or deadly) effect. Military researchers haven’t yet perfected that kind of haptic remote control, and let’s hope they never do. But researchers have been experimenting with haptic belts, vests and other gizmos that can provide soldiers with tactile cues about how to proceed in a combat situation.

Shape-shifting for fun and profit: In one scene, Valerian is wowed by a shape-shifter’s bravura performance, morphing from one sex-siren fantasy into another. The singer-songwriter Rihanna’s big-screen cameo as shape-shifting Bubble wowed the critics, too. The New York Post’s one-star review of the movie was headlined, “Rihanna Is the Only Good Part of ‘Valerian.’” Her shape-shifting strip tease, and her struggle as Bubble to take on a different and challenging role, serve as metaphors for the actor’s art. The closest thing to it in the natural world is a color-shifting cephalopod – which Bubble resembles in her true form.

Illegal immigrants in space: The closest that “Valerian” comes to real-world commentary is when Bubble laments her status as an alien on the Alpha station. “What good is freedom when you’re an illegal immigrant, far from home?” she asks. If there’s any message to be gotten from “Valerian,” perhaps it’s the message that we’ll survive to embrace the full rainbow of nations in the year 2150 – and extend a hand to any true aliens that come our way.

This Week in Seattle: Income tax faces legal challenge, new distracted driving law, and more

This Week in Seattle is your weekly dispatch of need-to-know news from the Emerald City. (BigStock Image)

Seattle mayoral candidates debate, answer questions from tech industry

The top six candidates for Seattle mayor took the stage Monday in the race’s only televised debate, co-hosted by GeekWire, KING 5, KUOW, and CityClub. GeekWire separately opened up the discussion to each of the 21 candidates running, asking them six questions that we drafted with help from the tech community. The Washington Technology Industry Association also released an assessment of candidates based on tech policy issues this week. Ballots for the primary are due August 1. [GeekWire]


Seattle income tax faces first legal challenge

The Seattle City Council approves historic income tax on the wealthy. (Flickr Photo / SeattleCityCouncil)

Michael Kunath, an investment manager who lives in Magnolia, filed the first lawsuit against Seattle’s new income tax. He claims the city’s plan to levy a 2.25 percent tax on income over $250,000 breaks state law, which currently says local jurisdictions can’t tax net income. City lawmakers expected a legal challenge when they drafted the income tax proposal; it is intended to be a test case. Kunath’s suit probably won’t be the last legal challenge to the tax, which Mayor Ed Murray signed into law this week. [Q13]


New distracted driving law takes effect Sunday

Drivers in Washington state are encouraged to put their phones out of reach while driving. (Bigstock Photo / Jessmine)

Starting Sunday, you could be fined $136 for using your phone while driving. If you’re caught a second time, that bumps up to at least $272. The penalties are part of a new law that prohibits drivers from using their phones for anything — calling, texting, Snapchatting, etc.). There are a few exceptions: you can use one finger to answer or hang up a call and you can contact emergency services if needed. State law already prohibited calling and texting while driving but the new ordinance expands to all of the other things you might do on your phone. [GeekWire]


The day tripper’s guide to Seattle

Seattle Pike Place Market clock
Pike Place Market. (Photo by Erik Stuhaug / Seattle.gov Imagebank)

Everyone wants to visit Seattle in summer. When our soggy city dries out, visitors can truly appreciate the urban evergreens, mountain ridge horizons, and sparkling bodies of water. But helping out-of-towners experience all that Seattle has to offer isn’t an easy task. That’s why the Seattle Post-Intelligencer created a handy guide for Seattleites welcoming visitors, broken up into geographic chunks so you don’t find yourself trying to get from Pike Place market to the Ballard Locks during rush hour. [Seattle P.I.]


Lawmakers Olympia fails to pass $4B construction budget

The state Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (Photo via Flickr).

Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over a $4 billion capital budget broke down Thursday, the close of the state’s third special legislative session. The budget would have provided new funds for school construction, local water and sewage projects, and mental health facilities across Washington. The deal fell apart because of a dispute over a state Supreme Court decision that limits the use of domestic wells in some rural areas to protect existing water use rights. Gov. Jay Inslee said he will not call another overtime session without a realistic plan to pass a capital budget. [The Seattle Times]