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stuff about puters

Cassandra For Shared Media Libraries

A good friend of mine is working on a project which hosts media libraries in his cloud service. At the end of 2015, I integrated Cassandra into a big financial services platform. Cassandra is a great fit for my friend’s service. In this post, I will outline an appropriate Cassandra data model and along the way outline some of the killer features of Cassandra. Read the rest of this entry »

The End Of Agile Estimation: Lies, Damn Lies, And Burndown Charts

In my last couple of posts, I gave an example of a successful agile team that didn’t do estimates, then made the case that estimation is aligned to “wagile” ways of working. This post is going to make the case that the approach is fundamentally flawed when viewed as a measurement activity.

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The End Of Agile Estimation: Predictability Isn’t A Good Thing™

In the last post I gave an overview of large scale build which used Kanban and that shunned estimates. In this post I will get into why Agile estimation is not aligned to agile values. It is simply a hangover from waterfall days and is a “wagile” concept.  Read the rest of this entry »

The End Of Agile Estimation: Flying Without Estimates

In the past twelve months I have had the privilege of working across more than a half-dozen teams building digital services. It was interesting that only one of them was attempting to do estimates and it wasn’t clear to anyone, let alone them, exactly why they were attempting it. In this post I will sketch out how a successful large scale team abandoned estimations entirely.  Read the rest of this entry »

UPaxos: Unbounded Paxos Reconfigurations

The year 2016 turned out to be a bumper year for pragmatic Paxos discoveries. Hot on the heels of the FPaxos discovery of more flexible quorums comes Unbounded Pipelining in Dynamically Reconfigurable Paxos Clusters or “UPaxos”. This uses overlapping quorums between consecutive cluster configurations, and a leader “casting vote”, to enable cluster reconfigurations in a non-stop manner even when reconfiguration messages are lost. Read the rest of this entry »

Paxos Reconfiguration Stalls

In a previous post I covered using the Paxos engine itself to do cluster reconfiguration as per the 2001 Paxos Made Simple paper. In this post I will cover a problem with that technique know as pipeline stalls. This post is to set the scene for a new technical report published 2016 which fixes the problem with a state-of-the-art Paxos implementation called UPaxosRead the rest of this entry »

Just say NO to custom hardware for Paxos 

Today’s Morning Paper on “Just say NO to Paxos overhead: replacing consensus with network ordering” was a thrilling disappointment. It’s always with both excitement and trepidation I read about new developments in distributed consensus; is today the day that I learn that Paxos is obsolete? The NOPaxos paper (“network ordered Paxos”) reviewed at the link above has a title which suggests a breakthrough. Unfortunately, it has far less general applicability, and far higher economic cost to implement, than “vanilla” Paxos.

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Designing software for ease of extension and contraction

Today’s Morning Paper post is a must read for software engineers: “Designing software for ease of extension and contraction Parnas, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 1979″

“Agile” Isn’t A Helpful Description; Lets Call It “Rapid Feedback”

When the Agile Manifesto came out in 2001 I was working at a DotCom in the City Of London and missed the memo. In a small startup, with only a few developers, working directly for clients, there wasn’t much scope for any big process waterfall. Oh the good o’ days.  Me, the code, the client and the ‘puters in that order. Honour and glory were assured… Read the rest of this entry »

Failures In Distributed Databases

The “Morning Paper” blog has some fascinating insights into critical production failures in distributed data-intensive databases such as Cassandra and HBase. This reveals that simple testing can prevent most critical failures. In this blog post we take a quick look to see what an embeddable Paxos algorithm project such as Trex can learn from this study.  Read the rest of this entry »