My Son’s Choice Between Negativity and Taking Action


My son has felt negative about everything lately which has created for him a vicious cycle of disdain and despair. He is a lot like me, so whenever we learn a lesson about him, it usually has something to do with how I’m wired as well. He and I sat in bed a few nights ago and I walked him through this very basic method of how leaders have a choice to make: [Read more…]

Programming Ruby (Pickaxe) Book Review


When I started learning Chef in earnest I realized quickly that my need to know what was happening was leading me to need to dive into a book on Ruby and figure out what all the magic I was seeing in Chef was really about. Chef has an amazing way of being usable for those who don’t know much Ruby, but I’m the curious type that just needs to know.

I started out with The Ruby Programming Language but found it to be too much of a reference work that basically stated facts about the language instead of walking the reader through the learning process. I was delighted to find Programming Ruby to be exactly that. [Read more…]

The Lean Startup Cycle


When Herman Hauser created a team to create the ARM processor, now the processor that runs most of the mobile devices you know and love, he remarked*:

When we decided to do a microprocessor, in hindsight, I think I made two great decisions. I trusted the team and gave them two things that Intel and Motorola had never given their people: the first was no money and the second was no people. They had to keep it simple.

When you start a project the normal course of action is to try to get as many people as possible so you will be able to have enough resources to accomplish the goal. In Lean Enterprise, the authors advocate another way, what they call the Lean Startup Cycle: [Read more…]

Mission Command


In the past whenever I found myself micromanaged, I complained that I’m not in the military, and I should have freedom to operate in my best judgement to solve the problem. I viewed the military as a command and control environment where orders were specifically given and followed to the T. I then reasoned that this is not how successful organizations operate.

The excellent book Lean Enterprise has debunked this myth with a concept of Mission Command that I’d like to share with you. [Read more…]

Customizing Chef Book Review

Customizing Chef

When I was stuck trying to understand simple concepts about Chef, I bought two books: Learning Chef (read the review) and Customizing Chef by Jon Cowie.

Learning Chef gave me the basic concepts, but Customizing Chef gave me the deep understanding I needed to evaluate the tool for my large, complicated organization.

In the closed-source Microsoft world, you figure out what the thing can do and just accept it. The book opened my eyes that Chef allows me to use a skill (reading code) that I’ve built up for over ten years. This leads to a much deeper understanding of how it works than just “trust us this feature does X”.

[Read more…]

Learning Chef Book Review

Learning Chef

A couple of months ago I found myself drowning in the learning curve that was chef. I had great support from them, but I’m the type of person who needs to know a technology in order to appropriately evaluate it. I could tell that chef was a nice technology, but I didn’t know how.

I went through the tutorials but they weren’t adequate for me to understand the solution. Then I found the book Learning Chef. [Read more…]

Solving SSL Validation failure with knife


After I moved to a hosted version of the chef server, I started getting this problem with knife:

knife download environments
ERROR: SSL Validation failure connecting to host: - SSL_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=SSLv3 read server
certificate B: certificate verify failed
ERROR: OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError: SSL_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=SSLv3 read server certificate B: certificate verify

There are a couple of ways to fix this. [Read more…]

A Look Around


It’s been about six months since I started this blog and I thought it’s time for a retrospective. I’ve enjoye talking about issues and ideas that have really helped me find new insight and motivation for where I’d like to go.

If you haven’t noticed, I have had a bit of a content categorization problem that I’ve finally found the answer to. Let me explain. [Read more…]


morning routine

On the bad mornings, I begin by rolling over and checking my phone. I cycle through ESPN Dallas, WFAA, CNN, maybe even Drudge Report and look at my feedly feed, personal and work email. The work email in particular, since I work with Czechs who are well into their day, causes me to start thinking about work. My mind races to the world’s problems, the world’s drama, and problems I’ll need to solve in a couple of hours that began a half a world away. [Read more…]