Top 5 Things to consider changing jobs

Again it’s the weekend and no one is reading these posts anyway so I figured I would try my
hand at a bait click type post. I have changed jobs, a lot through out my career. So while I could talk about putting together the perfect resume, or coping with interview questions I thought man there are some really basic things to consider when even thinking about making a career change.

Before we get into what these top 5 things are, it’s important to note that this is going to be different for everyone you need to first do some introspection and decide what is important to you. Also know that it’s dependent on where you are in your career I will try and address that a little here.

#1: Find something challenging This may sound like a no brainer but often time we get bored with our current job and really are looking for more of a challenge. So when you go looking for a new job be sure you aren’t just making a lateral move to do more of the same, otherwise you will be stuck in the same situation a year later and not have gained any new skills to market. I’ve done this before and really kicked myself for it. For those of you just starting out challenging is just getting your foot in the door, if you are fresh out of school or just trying to break into the job market the last thing you want to be is picky take the leap because for you the challenge will be starting to build your career and any job is the first step. Don’t confuse this with finding a gig that brings you passion, you need to find that passion in yourself for whatever you are doing. To me that’s more about the career path than just the job, I don’t need a company to inspire my passion I find it in what I am working on or trying to learn.

#2: Have a goal in mind – It’s easy to go looking for a new job but along with looking for a challenge you should have a career goal in mind. I actually have two sets of goals for my career a financial goal which has milestones of where I want to be earnings wise, this list rarely changes or fluctuates but I have taken steps backwards to take steps forward later.  I also have a skills goal list which changes sometimes weekly, this is where I keep up to date on industry trends and try and make determinations of where I see the industry I work in going and what technologies are going to win out. Everyone should have these lists and keep them written or digitally around you and review them often.

#3: Benefits The package you will be offered from an employer is negotiable on many fronts. Understanding that upfront is important because you can ask for more leave, or ask for signing bonuses etc. But you need to take into account the full cost of benefits before accepting or turning down a job. Account for the 401k vestment cycle and the corporate contributions, if there isn’t a 401K ask the HR rep what the retirement plan options available to you are, I don’t want to be paying for your old butts because you didn’t take advantage of what is essentially free money. Health, dental, vision are all common as well but knowing what you can expect to pay monthly and how much the company pays needs to be known so you can compare to your existing job. For you newbies the comparison doesn’t matter as much as knowing that you will have coverage. A lot of companies now have additional discount or employee programs that you can take part in all of that needs to be calculated to help you make your up or down vote on whether or not to accept. My wife and I used to have an agreement she would work for benefits and I would work for pay, but with the rise in premiums at her company we started looking far more closely at the packages I was receiving when I moved around, and now I carry insurance for the whole family.

#4: Work/Life Struggle – It’s not a balance it’s a struggle at the end of the day. If you are just starting off and don’t have a wife or kids you are good to go with putting in 60hr work weeks no problem. But as you get settled down it becomes more and more difficult with school activities, sports, date nights, family time it really is robbing Peter to pay Paul some days. Where I will go run a soccer practice from 6-7:30pm and then come home eat dinner and then sit down in the office for a few hours to catch up on work. When you are interviewing ask the question of what the expectations are for your work schedule. Ask what the social atmosphere of the office is and ask if they have programs for your kids.

#5: Don’t rush –  Honestly the worst thing you can do is rush to leave a company because you think you are done there. Take your time, look internally ask around if there are other opportunities for you or new challenges to take on. The one thing that I regret about moving around so much was that I never built up tenure at a single company or got to see the advantages that it grants you. My wife has been at the same company for 15 years and has more leave than she knows what to do with. If you rush you may end up in the same situation you are trying to leave or miss a marker that the place you are going isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Remember that every job has it’s own stinky, dirty, awful messes to go with it. Changing jobs often isn’t for the faint of heart so what worked for me may not work for everyone. But if you find a challenge you want to take on that meets your goals and inspires passion in you than go for it.

 

It’s Saturday so let’s talk soccer

The issue with VDM30in30 is you really have to plan out what you are going to blog about for 30 days. Then you have to assume that someone is going to read it and need to make sense of it.

I watched my stats for last year and my weekday posts had significant uptick in viewership but the weekend posts went largely ignored. So this time around I wanted to try something different and post about a non-technology subject on the weekends. This year I am not doing a large number of posts upfront and scheduling them instead I am writing them each the night or day before they need to go live. This adds some stress to be sure but hopefully not too much.

Saturdays for me are about time with my wife and kids and mostly about soccer during 3 out of 4 seasons of the year. As some of you know I coach 2 soccer teams a U13 and a U8 team for my daughter and son. I have played soccer my entire life and love the game. As the sport has grown in popularity I see more and more in the IT world talking about it and asking for drills for their kids.

So I figured this weekend we could take some time to talk soccer coaching! Today’s topic Offense:

It’s important when teaching young players to explain how a field is laid out. I start by describing how we divide a soccer field or pitch into 3rds horizontally. The defensive, midfield, and attacking 3rds.

The Defensive 3rd is where we want to clear the ball away from our goal, the midfield 3rd is the toughest area of the field and is important to win the ball and use controlled passing, the attacking third is all about playing the ball into the box and centering for shots on goal.

For young kids they all want to chase a ball around the field especially at U6-U9. To get them away from the herd mentality it’s good to explain the soccer field with the 3rds and then carve it up again for them vertically. With each wing zone being a 3rd and then a center 3rd for the striker.

Kids understand zones or bases from playing tag so reinforcing that message is easy when using fun drills like wall passing or just cross and shoot with 3 offensive players. Here are some of my favorites.

http://www.soccerxpert.com/soccerdrills/id1213.aspx

http://www.soccerxpert.com/soccerdrills/id1209.aspx

Something that coaches always ask and parents as well is how to work on aggressiveness. “My kid just doesn’t want to get after the ball”, or “they aren’t attacking enough”. Believe me if I had a cure for that I would be the greatest youth coach of all time. The answer is it comes to each kid in their own time. Sometimes it never comes because they are super sweet kids and overly kind (aka my daughter most games). But if you are coaching and need to get the kids to attack on offense more and challenge the ball. I love the 50/50 challenge there is a link below but essentially it’s two lines on either side of the goal 3 ft off the end line. The coach tosses the ball over the goal out onto the field the first two players in line charge out win the ball and each tries to score, an steal the ball from the other player. Play ends with a goal or out of bounds ball is played.

http://www.soccerxpert.com/soccerdrills/1v1-to-goal-team-competition.aspx

Finally a drill I run a lot is the run and cross. I believe firmly that youth soccer should play inside out to outside in. That means you never play a ball into the middle of your own goal always play out to the sidelines, and take the open sidelines to the corner in the attacking 3rd to play the ball into the box where the striker and far wing are waiting. I do this drill until players hate it but honestly its one of the best to teach soccer the way it’s meant to be played on the attack.

So let me know what you think about a non-tech post and if you have some favorite drills for your kids I am all ears.
 

AWS Storage Services

Storage storage storage, ugh it’s like I am unable to escape it in my career. I get it storage is in everything we do but I moved to a cloud company trying to get away. Oh well I guess if I am stuck at least I get to have a portfolio to talk about.

“Cloud storage, is a trap”, “Remember Hotel California by the Eagles, that’s what AWS Storage is”, and the list goes on. I’m not going to get into the FUD part of this save that for the actual customer meetings and let the competition have their hopes and dreams to help them sleep at night.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, just like in the world of on-prem storage it’s recommended that all data be encrypted. How do you do this? Well you can use the same encryption and keys that you use in your current data center model, you can use third party encryption, or you can use the Key Management Service (KMS) within AWS itself. Regardless of which you use all keys are owned by you the customer and AWS does not control your data encryption or the keys to decrypt your data under any circumstance.

Now that that’s out of the way what kind of storage do you have in your data center? Most likely you have some block, file, and object, and archive storage right? Well AWS has got you covered.

Simple Storage Service aka S3screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-4-25-47-pm
S3 is one of the first services available on AWS. S3 is object based storage, that is replicated across all
availability zones in a region.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-9-16-22-pmBut it can also be tied to cross region replication meaning your data can be replicated closer to the point of utilization or simply for disaster recovery purposes.

 

 

 

There are a couple of storage classes for S3 here is a quick chart to explain the difference, each comes with its own cost associated.

 

Standard Standard – IA Amazon Glacier
Designed for Durability 99.999999999% 99.999999999% 99.999999999%
Designed for Availability 99.99% 99.9% N/A
Availability SLA 99.9% 99% N/A
Minimum Object Size N/A 128KB* N/A
Minimum Storage Duration N/A 30 days 90 days
Retrieval Fee N/A per GB retrieved per GB retrieved**
First Byte Latency milliseconds milliseconds 4 hours
Storage Class object level object level object level
Lifecycle Transitions yes yes yes

 

S3 uses buckets and indexes to organize data off of keys. When you create an S3 bucket you give it a name, only use lower case and know that S3 names are screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-4-47-15-pmglobal so make it unique. Permission to buckets are handled via IAM and applied at the bucket level. You can put permissions on objects but if you have more restrictive permissions at the bucket level they will trump whatever you have at the object. S3 has some really great features as well, like logging to track object access, versioning which flags files at change and allows you to roll back to older copies, and lifecycle management. Lifecycle management lets you move objects across classes of S3 storage and even into Glacier which is AWS’ archival storage service, we will get to that in a moment.

Elastic Block Storage aka EBS

EBS is the block storage of the AWS world as the name implies. This one should be familiar for anyone coming from the VMware world. EBS can be used as root or secondary volumes for EC2 instances, or as a shared block volume shared across multiple instances (think web content shared across multiple web servers). EBS volumes can be snapshot, and snapshots can be restored from for point in time restoration.  EBS can also be added to Raid groups on an EC2 instance, check out the Linux guide or the Windows guide for help on how to configure Raid. You can also encrypt EBS volumes of course, see the guidance for that here.

Elastic File Storage aka EFS

This is the File Systems you are used to but now on the cloud. EFS is one of the newer storage services on AWS. Easy to mount to EC2 instances and replicated across availability zones. EFS automatically scales up and down.

So when do you use EBS vs EFS how about a handy chart?

Amazon EFS Amazon EBS PIOPS
Performance Per-operation latency Low, consistent Lowest, consistent
Throughput scale Multiple GBs per second Single GB per second
Characteristics Data
Availability/Durability
Stored redundantly across multiple AZs Stored redundantly in a single AZ
Access 1 to 1000s of EC2 instances, from multiple AZs, concurrently Single EC2 instance in a single AZ
Use Cases Big Data and analytics, media processing workflows, content management, web serving, home directories Boot volumes, transactional and NoSQL databases, data warehousing & ETL

 

Glacier

Glacier is archival storage with 99.999999999% durability, as discussed earlier this is where you lifecycle off S3 data for long term storage. Glacier is by far the cheapest of storage services offered by AWS but it comes with a caveat and that is the time for recovery and availability comes at a cost. There is a 5hr window for data to be available from Glacier. It’s archival storage so treat it as such. There is also a feature called Vault Lock with Glacier that allows you to set policies which turns Glacier storage into WORM capable. No not the awesome dance move from the 80’s Write Once Read Many meaning you can rest assured that the data will not change as such this solves many issues with auditing and can be used for storing logs etc for that purpose.

Storage Gateway

There is a lot that can be said here about Storage Gateway, this is one of the first on-prem offerings from AWS. Storage Gateway is deployed in your datacenter as either a Hyper-V or VMware VM. You get 3 options for configuration cached volume mode where the most used data has a local copy saving on data transfer rates. Stored volume mode this is where storage gateway is the local volume store and asynchronously backs up data to S3 via point in time snapshots. The last option is Virtual Tape Library (VTL) mode this will allow you to use your backup software to treat the storage gateway as a tape library storing data direct to S3 or to a Virtual Tape Shelf (VTS) backed by Glacier which looks like a standard iSCSI connection.

Snowball

I would be remised if I didn’t mention what Snowball is, imagine a world in which physics didn’t
exist. In that world you could push as much data as you wanted across any size pipe day or night, in this world I would also be granted the power of flight cause why not. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Now then back to reality where we live, how do we transfer massive amounts of data from on-premises to S3? The answer comes via FedEx as anyone with Prime already knows. A Snowball is a ruggedized storage appliance that you can order via your AWS console, you specify the bucket that you want the data transferred to, you can move up to 80 TB at a time. There are multiple connection types, and a slick E Ink shipping label that once your data is copied to the appliance flips over and is ready for pick-up from FedEx to be brought to the region of your choice and uploaded.

All of these solutions allow for and strongly encourage data encryption, so be smart and use an encryption key.