Podding the Tunes

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I track a lot of podcasts as I find that they can be can be a great way to catch up with news and ideas or listen to interesting discussions. This is great when travelling (if you can block out the ambient noise with some good earphones) when sitting and working isn’t so easy (standing on a commuter train for example).

My podcasts come in a couple of categories, tech related, business / thought leadership – think Freakonomics, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Harvard Business Review, BBC Radio 4 documentaries and so on, and then music. The music podcasts are great fun because you can relate to what is being said in so many ways, the insight into the music you love, discovery of artists you’d not heard or considered, and a reminder of a song or album you’d not listened to for a while and get that jolt of ‘oh, yes I remember how wonderful that song is’ and you you end up roaming through (your) music from a different perspective.

I thought this would be something to share. Some of these are well known to any music fan, other less obvious …

  • Sound of Cinema – one of a couple of BBC programmes about music for film, this is the more ‘high brow’
  • Soundtracking with Edith Bowman – BBC Radio presenter and more interview based and more influenced by film promo circuit
  • Classic Album Sundays – Primarily recordings of the introductions to Classic Album Sunday events where an album is introduced. The ones I’ve heard are well researched and provide some interesting insights. Worth listening to then, playing the album afterwards
  • Life of a Song – A Financial Times podcast (yes FT does cover the arts). The presentation comes across as an attempt to be rather academic and high brow (which for me can irritate), but the content can be pretty interesting. This are fairly short podcasts
  • Mastertapes – An intermittent podcast, but really good. This takes the musician and really gets into the details of an album, the context in which it was recorded as a conversation. ~You could think of this as Radio version of the Classic Albums programmes.
  • Radio 4 on Music – A grouping for documentaries that Radio 4 make available. As a result the subject matter can be very diverse. But as you would expect from the BBC, production quality is very high and typically well researched.
  • Sound Opinions – A couple of well known music journals chat about news of the day, maybe recent releases and then a segment of the show focusing on a theme, such as the top 50 albums of the year.
  • Deezer Trailblazers – Interview with people that have had strong influence in the dance music scene from the founder of Mute Daniel Miller to Gary Numan.  If you know about the artist already, you’re not going to get nuggets of gold in terms of new insights, but the love of music and references to songs will get you spinning off into your collection at interesting tangents. The podcasts made available so far I think where first recorded about 2 years ago.
  • Cover Stories – this pod cast is relatively short and kind of takes its idea from a 7″ single (remember the vinyl 45?). Two halves with each half a chat about a song and the various cover versions. There is a cleverness in the simplicity of this podcast as this feels like you’re sat hanging out with friends chatting about a song.
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz – Not so much music in the conventional sense,  more about sound. The two parts of the THX Deep Note is fascinating (yes film again, but it is an iconic sound)

In addition to these some artists such as Counting Crows have their own podcasts. Perhaps another story for another day.

 

The Value of Synthetic Transactions for testing in a microservices environment

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Much has been made of what has become known as chaos engineering – the umbrella in which techniques such as Netflix’s famed chaos monkey (more here) resides. Collectively a set of techniques where parts of a system will be randomly or semi-randomly be disrupted in a manner reflecting component failure etc. to verify that system resilience holds true. As a strategy which could arguably be applied in a monolith world equally as it is typically used in a microservices context. The difference being the impact on a monolith will be potentially far greater. Regardless of monolith or microservice, this is typically a strategy when running at scale to confirm eveything is robust, and continues to be extremely robust. This kind of testing typically has to actually execute in a production environment as trying to simulate large scale systems is very difficult.

Alongside this, another form of testing/verification implemented in a production environment is the use of synthetic transactions. Whilst chaos engineering has a high profile, synthetic transactions are less so. But, as a strategy it is as equally important. Let me take you through why I say this, and the full potential of synthetic transactions if fully exploited.

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Oracle Podcasts – Beer & Pizza

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We have been fortunate enough to participate an ArchDev podcast about meetups – https://oracledevs.podbean.com/e/pizza-beer-and-dev-expertise-at-your-local-meet-up/

The podcast talks about the differences between the meet-ups and events such as conferences, what we try to get out of a meetup and the effort put into arranging them.

For more info about the meetup I help organise checkout out https://www.meetup.com/Oracle-Developer-Meetup-London/events/249256400/

We’d also like to thankyou Jurgen Kress and his team for all the behind the scenes work that means the London Dev Meetup events can happen and ensure all are suitable feed and watered.

Oracle Code London – Presentation & Periscope Interview

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Whilst in London Wednesday to present Microservices in a Monolith World at the Oracle Code London,  I also participated in an interview streamed via Periscope.  The interview can be seen at https://www.pscp.tv/w/1jMKgqBrwYyJL 

Not only was this interview captured, my entire presentation is available on YouTube …

Implementing Oracle API Platform Cloud Service

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After months of labour, the arrival of new family members for a couple of the authors the Implementing Oracle API Platform Cloud Service book as finally been published. The book has been included into Packt’s Expert series so, earns(?) the privilege of having photos of the authors on the cover.  The book can be purchased directly from Packt (go here) or from book retails such as Amazon (here).

 

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It has been an interesting experience. Whilst working as part of a team of four authors lightened the writing load, a lot more energy went into communication so things were lined up. If you want a challenge, why not read the book and try to work out who wrote which chapters!

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Documenting APIs on the Oracle API Platform

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The last week or two I have been working on a new API Platform utility to add to my existing tools (see here). This tool addresses the question of generating documentation.  Much as been said about API documentation and the quality of it, check out these articles :

If you look at these articles and others, there are some common themes, which are:

  • Document the URI / payload
  • Describe error handling
  • Describe contracts such as how many API calls
  • How the API is authenticated

Apiary covers the first theme to a first class standard,  and you will see Apiary called out for its ability to document APIs in a lot of articles. Well written API Blueprints will cover the bulk of the second bullet. But the other points tend to fall outside of a Blueprint and fit more the API Policies and their use.

Not everyone is so commited or enjoys writing documentation. The other driver for going beyond the use of Apiary is that some organizations feel the need to have a traditional word style document to capture/define an API’s contract in detail. With the API Platform the management portal enables an API to be published into the developer portal with the Apiary definition and a markdown file for further documentation.

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Praise for Microservice Patterns

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richardson-mp-meap-hiI’ve been reading Chris Richardson’s new book Mixroservice Patterns published by Manning (here or here). Whilst I haven’t finished the book yet, I have read enough to feel I can provide worthwhile observation.

The book is supported by Chris’ website microservices.io which provides the patterns and related content in summarised form – great for a memory jogger and quick reference, but doesn’t make a substitute for the book.

When it comes to the book, Chris’ writing is extremly engaging whilst economic with its language – no long passages when a short sentence can convey everything necessary (unlike this one for example 🙂 ). For example, in three short paragraphs is an explination as to why there is a tendancy for IT people to point at particular technologies or techniques as silver bullets. As a result is incredibly informative and points to sources that inform the thinking – such references can be as diverse as Sam Newman’s Building Microservices to the (real) architect Christopher Alexander and Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind).

The book is grounded in honest real world thinking being upfront and clearly pointing to when Microservices aren’t the right answer, to talking about the difficulties that can be expected in working with microservices. This won’t surprise anyone who has heard Chris speaking (here for example).

A recommended read.

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