Days Notes, August, 2023

In a basket

I’ve been off the publishing grid for awhile, even off the consuming the Internet grid. This is a mix of partial vacation, taking care of some family things, an obsession with D&D, and the first break in my workaholic nature for…20…even 30 years?

It is time for a few new habits, rather than swirling around the old ones. The most counter-whatyoudthink is probably to start going into the office more. My work has an OK-good office in upper west Amsterdam. It is a 40 minute bike ride, each way. That amount of biking a day would both give me more exercise than I’ve ever had in my life and also more lazy-mindfulness time than the same.

The office lacks offices, which is the core problem with the anti-WFH people. One, I have a whole desk studio setup for all the videos and podcasts I do. There is no place for that at a regular white-collar office. Two, I bet if there were actually close-the-door offices at work, people would want to return. But open plan offices are shit. Everyone knows this, you don’t need to go selective-bias find some HBR article.

But that’s not for here. I have a whole screed in this for the newsletter someday.

The second change: when I say I’ve been “doing nothing,” what I mean is that I have not been publishing my own work. I have been spending a lot of time editing others, writing an MC script, and otherwise doing work that, I don’t know, helps others. I’m pretty sure I’m very good at editing and general content-creation, uh, “pedantry.” I always have been. There’s something in the weird mix of my skills at writing, narrative, speaking/podcasting, and then my total unwillingness to be confrontational, and then my taste that makes for comfortable, welcoming, but effective editing and shepherding. I don’t know. I should edit more people’s stuff.

After all, the Rhetoricians were my favorite. While Socrates and his crew were talking about some mystical bullshit of Truth, the Rhetoricians were getting shit done with words.

So, the days note. They are passing, and I’ve almost done enough of nothing to be ready to get back to doing more of something.

2023-07-07 day note

  1. Put out a newsletter today. The musings on using ChatGPT for school obscure the real treat: me goofing around at the expense of DevOps and Platform engineering.
  2. I also finished up a mostly polished draft of a webinar I’m giving next week. Working with Darran has been great. He knows his stuff and helps me think of new interesting things to say as well.
  3. I thought my mom was coming tomorrow for her summer stay with us, but it’s Sunday. It’s just one day, but it’s a bummer of a let down.
  4. We’ve lived in this new part of town for almost two years and never eaten at the four little restaurants in the neighborhood. We went to one today, I had a hamburger. It was good, by European standard. But, I was reminded again that I’m too old to eat a hamburger and fries anymore: I feel like a grease-soggy paper towel afterwards for hours. What are the new options? Mediterranean food seems good.
  5. Kim bought some humus from a market yesterday. It was (still is!) so good, so fresh and tasty. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat grocery store humus again.
  6. I’m slack-jaw-amazed at how many people have definitive, often condemning and Puritanically toned takes on Threads…what, just - checks calendar - 48 hours after it launching. At least the ChatGPT take circus took about a week or two to froth up into mob-madness.
  7. Fully aware of the irony: (I mean, Bluesky is toast now, right?)

2023-06-18 yesterday note


  1. For Father’s Day, Kim set me up with a nice hotel room that has a sauna in it. I think we’re developing a tradition of these parents days where the parent gets the day off. Sort of ironic, but fitting for the contemporary pro mental health vibe we all stew in.
  2. I was told to do no work, even my own projects. So I’ve been watching Batman: The Long Halloween. These Batman…cartoons?…have a guilty pleasure appeal that the live action ones don’t. They’re less…intense?…and more fun in that they go through a lot of characters.
  3. I’m not a bit comic book reader at all. When I was kid, I read a lot of GI Joe, Conan, and The Nam. I would buy whatever Sargent Slaughter I could find at the used book store. I guess I did read a lot of comics, just not the super hero ones. I tried getting into comics a few years ago, but it was time consuming…and so slow moving going through each panel. It seems like one of those retirement activities: when there’s nothing else to do, read a stack of comics.
  4. Related: I always try to figure out how to just start doing those things already. To engineer my schedule so that I can.
  5. I really like LumaFusion. I started using it during the pandemic when my daughter was born: a hell of a calendar combination! I was on paternal leave and I needed some projects to work on (see above!). So I’d make some silly videos, and I discovered that you could edit with one hand using LumaFusion, in my phone. So when I was holding and feeding the baby, I could do full video editing, exporting, and so forth. I use Descript mostly now, but LumaFusion feels better. New features since last I checked in on it: Noise removal in LumaFusion is pretty good. And multi-cam editing is fantastic.
  6. This guy is great. I love language, all parts of it (except grammar maybe - that feels like begrudgingly necessary handcuffs). I need to harness that to learn Dutch: I’ve missed out on a huge opportunity after living here for almost 5 years. Starting and maintains learning is so hard.

Second Half.

We went to the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

2023-06-15 yesterday note

Mila plats with MAGNA-TILES

“did some thinking, and suddenly it was gone 5”

  • Spent most of the day on the newsletter episode, using two analyst reports as an excuse to putter around platform engineering again. I didn’t do my work to lookup platform engineering definitions; a delightful effect is that I was sent two: from Donnie (such nice writing style!) and a definition from Gartner.
  • When I refer to analysts reports (Forrester, Gartner, IDC, 451 Reseach, etc., etc.) I reference the analyst shop as the author, e.g., “Gartner seems to be saying…” I feel bad each time I write this: there are actual people writing these reports. Sometimes I reference the people, especially in presentation footnotes. But, it’s a universal, industry style to just list the analyst shop name. In fact, when you get official permission from those shops to use their content (something you need to do when you’re a vendor, even if you’re quoting public material - I don’t know: it’s just the norms), they strip out the authors and just put the shop name. That tells you a lot about their business mode, style, and overall vibe.
  • As I mentioned in the newsletter, I like industry analyst work a lot. Having been one at two very different places (RedMonk and 451 Research), and consumed a lot of analyst material, briefed them, worked with them, and become friends with several analysts, I have a much more detailed view and experience with analyst shops than most people. Most of the negative impressions about industry analysts are just utter, uninformed bullshit. Like most things that get the drive-by, pearl-clutching treatment in our little tech world. (Wow! What a weird thing for me to feel the need to write!)
  • Booked my VMware Explore travel, to Las Vegas. So many happy RedMonk memories from there. One of the best: that time James Governor lost his shit about the PDF standard at dinner with Mark Cathcart as a rando hanger-on.
  • On-deck: I still need to finish my CF Day talk for next week. I’ve written and re-written the 20 minute presentation in my had many times over the past two weeks, and now I need to actually finalize it. I was thinking I could finally try a slideless format. That might be fun: would they think I hadn’t done the work? It’s only 20 minutes.
  • On-deck: I have a three part webinar series on “FSIs” - financial services institutions. Two things: here, you can see enterprise marketing in action. It’s on the topic of FSIs (banks, insurance companies, and associated companies), it will be emailed to people at FSIs, and we use the “FSI” insider term. Thankfully, I’ve teamed up with one of my co-workers who actually worked at several FSIs: he knows what he’s talking about, first hand! I’m looking forward to these…but I need to do the work. I figure I’ll sort of interview him for the first time about the topic at hand, then give a lightly tailored overview of what we provide there. I don’t usually “sell” out services, but I’m beginning to think that my way of presenting it (which largely ignores whatever the official story is and instead just goes over, well, what I think about them) is helpful.
  • On-deck, the foggy future: after these two things, I have ongoing conversations about new material, topics, “conversations” to start up, help people with, and architect/write.
  • I’ve lost much my ability to read books. They have to be super-high interesting/quality for me to read more than a few pages a day. Also, you know, I work all day, then family all day, and by the time I have time alone, mostly fall asleep.

2023-06-09 day note

  1. A lot of post-production video work today. Doing all the work after you film and then fully edit a video takes a long time. It’s pretty much the same time for any length of video. The most difficult part if promoting it across the four or five channels I have. I don’t even spend time hustling it to other people to post. Who knows. I put up my first “Quick Comment” one - an idea where I just make very short videos that start with one figure/number, idea, etc.
  2. My PlatformCon talk was broadcast today, and there’s two others I like. See the newsletter link below to find those.
  3. My newsletter episode today has a small pondering of “is platform engineering kind of a jerk to our old pal DevOps?” I go back and forth on this in my mind a lot. I think the answer is a smoothie of yes and ¯_(ツ)_/¯. I edited this down from a longer essay that started with commentary on the marketing geniuses behind PlatformCon. It seemed too cynical, like I was unmasking some secret cabal to BRING THE WHOLE THING DOWN. No, I genuinely think it was a great move. There was no guarantee that it’d work, but it did. Check out the last parts of a recent Cloud Cast to hear the marketing story behind PlatformCon.
  4. My wife is on a weekend trip with friends this weekend, so it’s just the three kids and I. The hardest part is making sure the dog goes on a walk. We have no yard (or “garden” as they say on this side of the Atlantic), so the dog has to go on a walk. My son hates doing it, and it’s an argument every time. My middle daughter is too young to walk the dog. The dog is nervous and anxious and doesn’t like other dogs. So, I end up walking the dog a lot. But then you have the three year old. Thankfully, my son can watch the youngest. But, you know: it’s a lot of hassle. The best dogs are other people’s dogs. Don’t ever get a dog. Or a cat. Fish probably. Snakes and lizards.
  5. I don’t really know the division between these day notes and my newsletter. At the moment, I also don’t care. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of energy making sure I don’t spend a lot of energy thinking about my information architecture, or, whatever.

2023-06-08 day note

  1. Today’s newsletter has just a few links, some quirky quotes, and a list of upcoming conferences I’ll be speaking at or attending.
  2. My newsletter crossed 600 subscribers this week. Fun! I’ve been trying to build up a more stable place to publish now that social media is FUCKING CRAZY and BLOGS ARE DEAD, and it’s working pretty well.
  3. I’ve been trying to come up with some new talks for awhile now. I’m drawing a blank - a form of writer’s block, I guess. I see so many other talks and I’m either just bored with them, or think they’re cheap TED-tricks. I like talks that give me tools to use after watching them, not just vibes or thoughts. I keep thinking I need to remember that I’m not the audience for my talks though. I see so many of those vibes and mindset talks from people I like who are in the same - I don’t know - “area” as I am. Maybe I just need to do that.
  4. I made two videos today, one that’s scheduled to post tomorrow. Making little videos is very satisfying. I’m good enough at it that it’s doable, still challenging, and involves a lot of creative choices. Also, they’re valuable for my work.
  5. Unlike podcasts (which I’ve listened to daily for, like, I don’t know, before they were called podcasts in the early 2000s), I don’t actually watch a lot of videos. I don’t like videos so much. I must have some weird production aesthetic, or a childish one. I use Descript to edit them, which means there’s a transcript (I don’t usually correct the transcript for the longer ones). It’s a pretty good video editors - Descript definitely fits to how an amateur video editor would think. For example, it’s all timeline based: you don’t build up buckets of clips that you then assemble together.

2023-06-07 day note

Mid-day, when I have time.

  1. Another webinar in the can: my analysis of our 2023 State of Kubernetes survey. I positioned it as input and guidance into doing your own Kubernetes stuff. My theory on Kubernetes is that everyone wants to do it - “it’s the future” - but very few apps are running in production. Gartner estimates that ‘by 2027, 25 percent of all enterprise applications will run in containers, an increase from fewer than 10 percent in 2021.'" If I wet-finger-in-the-wind it, what I get from that is that right now, in 2023, thee’s something like 12%, at best 15% of apps running in Kubernetes. That’s enough to be very meaningful, but it also means that we have many years of trial and error, discover, and benefits ahead. The 5 years of surveys we have are a good glimpse into what that will look like. Check out the talk. It’s a webinar, so you have to login, but, I mean: really, you want to see the talk, so just do it. You’ll get a copy of the actual survey and our paper on how to do platform engineering.
  2. I just took delivery of an ice machine. Ice at home is not a big thing in the Netherlands. Very few fridges have an ice maker and even restaurants can be very skimpy on their ice. I miss ice. The ice-pellet machines can’t be ordered here, so I’ve got a slightly weird one. Still, if it works well: just in time for Spring and Summer!
  3. We have a Software Defined Talk recording tonight. We record live/streaming on Wednesdays, post on Fridays. You can catch the stream on YouTube.

2023-06-05 day note

  1. I had two recordings today. One on the platform maturity model draft, a paper I got the chance to review early on. There’s a live stream of it up, and I’ll lightly edit it down to a podcast episode later this week.
  2. I also did a small panel (with two other people) talking about how US government agencies and groups get better at doing software. It’ll be broadcast in June 21st.
  3. Tomorrow I’ve got another recording on one of our products, and webinar on Wednesday.
  4. This can come off as a humble-brag, but I guess it’s sort of weird that I don’t think I do enough. Thinking about this recently, my theory is that this notion that I should be doing more work comes from all the ideas I have that I can’t ever get around to. It’s that there’s more, other things, that I want to do. Also, measuring the impact of what I do is difficult: sure, you can track page views, eyeballs for talks and podcasts…but you can’t answer the question “did people get a better idea of how to improve how they do software, and did it actually result in something?”
  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make my real life (not work) into a sort of creative project of its own. I am tuned to think in terms of deliverables, projects, and publishing. Regular life isn’t like that at all, and I wish I could better integrate those two experiences so I felt more present, more normal and myself on each. I’ve got two different selves (at least!) across work and real life. And then, at work I have multiple selves (“characters, I guess): my Software Defined Talk persona, my VMware podcasting persona, my solo video persona, and then the persona that I use on inward facing work. Plus the persona of me presenting at conferences, or talking with customers and on sales calls Switching between all those personas, maintaining them, and living them takes so much energy: it’d be cool if they were just one self.
  6. That Apple headset thing looks pretty great. I’d buy one and suffer through the dorkness of using it.
  7. I like that Apple doesn’t really care about social media: just very personal media, your inner circle of people that don’t broadcast about their lives. Of course, that’s not really how people behave (they use Facebook and whatever the kids are up to - people like broadcasting and most people like consuming it). That’s part of what makes the Apple lifestyle presented in their ads and presentation seem like kind of an alien world: an alternate reality that totally ignores the gritty, real part of life.
  8. I’ve been checking out the Detail suite of video recording and editing apps. They have a lot of promise but there’s a few key things missing. First, you can adjust the clips you’ve made. This means you have to do the edit right, or just go through the undo stack. Second, the timeline only zooms in a few levels. I like to make a lot of quick cuts, cutting out as much silence as possible, so I need to zoom super close. I had some weirdness with a project before I closed and reopened it as well: when I’d split a clip, the cut was a second or two before where I wanted to cut it. Their multi-cam editing looks pretty amazing, though, and if the auto-generated transcripts work well, it’s probably a low-end competitor for Descript.

2023-06-02 day note

  • Traveling back home, to Amsterdam, today.
  • Yesterday’s VMUG Belgium talk went fine. Since it was to VMware admin types, I positioned my platform talk as a glimpse of their future. Whenever the infrastructure changes, you can use new application architectures…and then that drives new types of infrastructure and management needs…and so forth. It means that the people building and running infrastructure need to update their tools and how they work. For “traditional” ops, that means shifting from a service delivery mindset to a (app dev) platform as a product.
  • I’ve been liking the Tetragrammaton podcast. It has a delightful, spegetti western kind of theme song. The conversations are interesting. The topics are usual a person’s craft, how they came to think of something, or as in this episode, a certain commentary or how to “just be.” I’m obviously a big podcast fan, and most of the interviews do one thing I like a lot: they model a way to think, and in this case, a way to experience just taking the dog on a walk, for example, or looking at trees. Owen Wilson is as super chill as you’d expect. On the other side of chill, but with the same “how to be” vibes, is this episode.
  • I’ll put links to things I’ve published this week (a couple podcasts, a live stream) in the newsletter (probably out tomorrow), maybe pulling in some of the asides from these daily notes as well.
  • I found several Garbage Chairs of Amsterdam in Brussels, so I’ll have a good queue over the next week. Here’s the first one:

Garbage Chair

2023-05-31 day note

  • The day’s not over yet, but I’ve got two but things coming up the rest of the evening and will probably want to zone out after them:
  • I’m hosting a fireside chat with Purnima Padmanabhan, the GM of our group at VMware (streamed in LinkedIn). She should be fun to talk with. And then I’ll go almost straight into this week’s Software Defined Talk (podcast here, watch here for the live stream).
  • I’ve got a kookie setup for this (see pictures below), using my road A/V kit. This is the second time I’ve used it and I think it’s almost perfect. It’s a Rode NTG shotgun mic, a SmallRig iPhone stand, and then using my iPhone with continuity camera as the camera. The “secret” to that whole thing is that you can use the Rode as a normal USB mic. Thus, you have a dual purpose mic: for doing videos out and above, and then just a desk mic.
  • What I really need to a separate tripod for the mic. What I have is OK, but I prefer to have the mic right up on my mouth. One day, if I get some new iPhone and an attachment to stick it to the back of my laptop, I think that’ll solve it.
  • I had a long discussion with two colleagues, separately, about “strategy” today. “Strategy” is such a situational context per company, level in company, and just your personal opinions. I don’t think the basics of strategy (your classic Michael Porter stuff) are really sufficient to be useful. In the same way that programmers don’t like to be told how to implement something, in strategy, you’re not supposed to get too specific. But, I think this is usually a huge mistake. If you’re setting corporate strategy, you should have at least one (if not many!) detailed ideas about how it would actually get done. You’ll have to delegate it to someone other group to actually do it, and, sure, they might change it…but you can’t send them off on an impossible task to “figure it out.”
  • The days are very long in northern Europe now. The sun comes up around 5:30am and doesn’t seem to go down until 9pm. In an adult daily life, this is mostly comical. But, that much light is really weird when you have kids that need to get to school. Getting them to start going to bed when it’s mostly daylight seems weird.
  • I suffer through all the too much thinking that Dave Briggs does about blogging and social media - all the content holes. I’ve managed to string together some actions in Drafts to accomplish most of the cross posting and reformatting that he worries about. Also, I’ve tried to really consolidate down my long form content to my newsletter, coupled with putting in a dump of links. I use and you can see I link-blog a lot here (that’s an action in Drafts). I roll those up (also in Drafts after using an action to convert the links to markdown) into one big chunk that I put in the newsletter. The bigger issue is, I think, that Twitter is all messed up - more accurately, that there are too many options to post to and you have to build back up your audience on those new platforms. I’m not really sure any of it is worth it. LinkedIn is actually the most solid, reliable one of all social things if you operate in the kind of “business, business, business” world that I do. Even then, I’m starting to think that most of my audience in LinkedIn are my co-works. That is fine for my own glory, but not great for promoting content among “buyers” of my company’s stuff.
  • I have a Drafts action to post to, of course. I’m using it to post this!
  • Connected: I’m pretty serious into the deleting Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, and LinkedIn apps on my phone. I found myself just loading the web pages, but then I caught myself. What I’ve started asking myself a lot if: sure, I will promote my stuff there, but am I ever happy after reading other posts on those sites? No, not really.

Travel Video Studio

I took the phone out to take the picture. Normally, the phone would be camped right under the mic.,, @cote,,