Friday, 14 October 2016

Weeks 5-6 at QA Consulting: DevOps (again), Puppet, Poker

Yes, this picture is actually relevant to this post. Sort of.

If you asked me to describe the past two weeks of training in one word, I'd probably throw my head back and groan loudly because I've been working all day and I'm far too tired to make that sort of mental effort. Ask me again after a few drinks and I might choose the word "exhausting". You see, I recently moved on to some more advanced DevOps, which will be my specialisation for the remainder of my training, and if the week spent learning about continuous integration gave us a taste of the subject then the past fortnight has been like trying to shovel a massive handful of DevOps into my mouth and swallow it whole.

Don't get the impression that I don't enjoy my work though. Yes, there is a steep learning curve, and there is an awful lot of bug-fixing involved, but DevOps is very rewarding when it (eventually) works. In case you don't know, DevOps is concerned with managing the software processes surrounding the core programming aspect, such as version control, building and deployment as well as organising the tools required to perform these tasks. So far we have been focusing mainly on Puppet, which is used to automatically set up various different pieces of DevOps-related software on multiple different machines at once. This has all been part of another group project, which presents challenges of its own -- trying to synchronise work between four people is rarely simple at the best of times, but somehow everyone in our group seems to have their own unique problems even if we're all using the same code. Puppet itself is fairly straightforward in terms of how it works; it's the installation scripts surrounding it that are the problem (thankfully this is unlikely to be too much of an issue in the future, as you can just download Puppet modules that other people have made).

Since there's been a lot of waiting around for these scripts to finish running (we use another tool called Vagrant to automatically set up Linux virtual machines and run the install scripts as soon as they launch), I've been passing the time by teaching myself some new programming languages. I started off with Ruby since a lot of the tools we've been using in DevOps are Ruby-based (including Puppet and Vagrant), and more recently I've been trying to wrap my head around Rails. I also refreshed my memory on things like CSS and JavaScript, and I finally got around to trying out jQuery, which somehow manages to make JavaScript actually tolerable.

Ever since we moved back into the QA offices, lunch breaks seem to have become the designated time for office poker games, and I've somehow gained a reputation as a notorious bluffer. I think it's because most of my poker knowledge comes from films, and as such I overestimate the psychological aspect of the game. If I have a good hand I bet conservatively, and if I have a terrible hand I bet massively in the hopes of making everyone else fold. Still, I suppose it's better to be known as a bluffer than as a cheater (not naming any names here).

Outside work I've been trying to keep up with swing dancing, which has been something of a mixed bag. The main problem was that for two weeks the local swing society was only able to book one room in their usual venue instead of two, and that meant the only classes on were for absolute beginners (not to mention the dance floor was much smaller). I'd spend the lessons either feeling like an idiot or silently raging at the way in which the lessons were taught. Thankfully normal arrangements seem to have resumed, and the most recent session was much, much better. On the whole though, I think I prefer Nottingham's swing scene to Manchester's.

Speaking of Nottingham, last weekend I went home to visit my family, and as soon as I stepped through the front door of the house my dogs leapt on top of me and attempted to lick me to death. I didn't manage to take any pictures of them, but here's an older one of Alfie eating some party hats:

You should see what he did to the birthday cake.

In lieu of a proper ending to this post, I will share an interesting fact I learned from one of my coworkers: if a Danish woman proposes to her boyfriend on the 29th of February and he declines, tradition dictates that he must buy her a dozen pair of gloves. (See, I told you that picture was relevant.)

- Sam

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