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2021.11.11

GitOps Lifestyle Conversion

I’m currently fascinated with GitLab’s handbooks. I heard of companies trying to be more open to the public, but the extent that GitLab is doing is unprecedented. They are documenting everything publicly. Most, if not all, internal processes are getting written for everyone to see.

  • How we admit new people? It’s there.
  • How and when do employees are bonuses? It’s there too.
  • What is the ERP used? It’s there.
  • In fact, what is the whole list of external software and service used? It’s there too.
  • The scripts used to manage their own site? They are there too.
  • Personal information, like employees’ actual salaries? Of course, they are not there.

Too much information? Maybe. But it’s definitively inspiring.

Another source of personal inspiration comes from a guy on Twitter: Keijiro Takahashi. This Japanese programmer does several mini-tools for himself but publishes everything on GitHub with minimalist licenses like MIT.

In contrast, I was checking my LinkedIn the other day when I decided to share my GitLab and GitHub accounts. There are so many projects over there. #ButNot. Most, almost all, were private! Many game prototypes, and small side projects. All locked. Some are live backups since are not been updated for ages. So I decided to do a couple of things:

  1. Open some of the closed projects
  2. Git-fy some of my personal and professional projects
  3. Documentation as code for my new company

The first is pretty straightforward. Mostly checking a box. Sometimes adding small README or LICENSE files. Few times making real changes.

The second is a new mindset: I have dozens of small projects, from games to personal scripts, that I’ve never used git to track changes. But not only I could get better control of it, but also I could share it with the world. You will see more and more projects popping up on my GitLab account page.

The third, follow partially GitLab’s way. I’m considering documenting most of the processes in git-like wikis. It will not only be good to share the knowledge with other employees and partners. It’s also good for tracking the business decisions that changed these processes. A rather clever approach.

2021.10.18

Certification and Credibility

Can you prove what you claim?

Do you fully trust the media, banks, or advertisements? I bet you don’t. And you shouldn’t. Not blindly. Trusting is a very delicate matter.

By living in a society you are required to trust other people. That’s the way to share the responsibilities. Each individual does a thing for another. You simply have to give a bit of trust in others. If not if we should trust, the problem lies in how.

Source of Trust

The primary source of trust is the individuals themselves. You gain trust by living and presenting reliable results. It takes time.

Governments, on the other hand, use the power of law to reinforce what they want to be believed. They issue money, and certificates, documents and they all MUST be accepted as they were the truth. What makes you believe that a $100 bill is worth the $100? Simple: the law says it so!

If you need to be trusted but do not have the time to gain it organically nor cannot “fabricate” the trust? The solution lies on an already trusted third party vouching, a…

Certification

Someone that you trust can vouch, and give their word, for another one. That works like a web of trust. I trust my mom, that trusts her old friend. So, I might trust her too.

Language and professional certifications are the most common form. Several institutes, for a very diverse range of fields, can issue a certificate saying that you are good as you claim. Proficiency in Mandarin? Project management? Someone can certify that you master it.

Double Agent

Certification agents must be impartial, and indifferent to your success derived from the certification, otherwise, they might be incentivized to lie for you. It breaks the whole point of the certification as source of the trust.

  • Accounting firms hired to validate a client company’s financial health might be interested in lying. The at-the-time famous Arthur Andersen participated in a giant fraud stating that its client’s, Enron, finances were ok. Enron bankrupted months later and AA was suited and had to split into two companies.
  • The 2008 financial crisis also can be attributed to rating companies, which stated that several risky bonds were good and risk-free. They help clients to sell them to others, profiting from lying.
  • Some colleges graduate their students even when they have really bad grades. Flooding the market with awful professionals, it becomes impossible to assert which one is good and which one is bad.

There are several good certification institutes. But these authorities have to be constantly monitored. Also, their processes have to be constantly certified, creating a big process of checks and balances.

It’s a worthwhile initiative for the whole of society.

This post was originally written on 2015-11-05. But was in draft mode by mistake for all these years.

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2021.09.05

Google Cloud Architect Certification

Less than a couple of months after I got certified as a Project Manager, I decided to invest in an area that I was not fully confident that I know the stuff: defining cloud architecture. I started to create, develop and manage cloud systems in just the past 5 years or so, and it evolved super rapidly.

So, applying for a such certification would require extra study on my part. There were areas that I definitively do not grasp, such as networking and many Kubernetes corners. I decided to go with my beloved Coursera. I did a couple of free and paid courses there and I love it. Also, it which was the official training platform for Google products and services. Google itself design the courses and its employees that teach them. So there is some comfort.

The course is very practical. They provide a demo but real user to allow students to act in a Google Cloud environment for real. So one interacts, creates, updates, and deletes real things. It’s a major factor. Hands-on baby!

I went to the examination and was much more relaxed. They were as much as professional as the PMI guys but more relaxed and humane. I passed.

I learned a lot for sure. It will help me in future and current projects. Even being Google Cloud-focused, it addressed many of the issues of a generic cloud architect in any provider.

I can assure you I can handle the job. From computing, serverless, storage, and, yes, networking, I’m pretty confident I can design a better pretty cost-efficient solution than before. In the evolving cloud business, as long I keep updated, it’s a new passion that I am so excited about.

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2021.03.14

Project Curva

For the last 9 years, I work as a planner and controller of a multinational Brazilian oil company. The team consolidates all the planning information of the whole company, analyses it, and reports to the company board of directors.

For all these years, I’ve struggled to deal with some basic business scenarios:

  • At the very end of the process, someone in the chain of information submits a last-minute update that cannot be ignored
  • The board decides to change the plan
  • The existence of multiple simultaneous plans, for optimistic and pessimistic scenarios
  • Changes in the organizational structure

The current information systems used or developed by the company are too restrictive to accommodate their business cases. The general solution is to create entire systems using dozens of spreadsheets. It is a patchwork of data, susceptible to data loss and zero control.

To address this, I decided to develop, on my own, a new system that is both flexible and powerful. The overall core propositions are:

  • Versioning: instead of overwriting data whenever there is a change request, the system should be able to preserve the existing data and generate another version. Both should be accessible, in other to allow comparison and auditing.
  • Branching: not only sequential versioning (v1, v2, v3), it should allow users to create multiple current versions. Creating scenarios of event temporary exercises should be effortless.
  • Multiple dimensions: for each unit (ie, a project in a list of projects), the user could insert the future CAPEX, OPEX, production, average cost, number of workers, or any arbitrary dimension. It’s all about capturing future series of values, regardless of the meaning.
  • Multiple Teams: in the same organization, users can create inner teams that deal with different aspects of the business. The system should allow to users set the list of units to control (projects, employees, buildings, or whatever), their dimensions of measurement, and then control the user access to all this information. It’s a decentralized way to create plans.
  • Spreadsheet as a first-class citizen: small companies might not use them much. But any mid-to-big companies use spreadsheets for everything. Importing and exporting system data as Excel/LibreOffice/Google Docs is a must.

With this feature set in mind, I started to create a spear time what is now temporally called Project Curva for the last 3 months. I will post more about it in the future: the used technology, the technical challenges, and some lessons learned.

A beta is due at the end of April 2021.

Update 2021-10-18

The project is called NiwPlan and can be checked on NiwPlan.com.

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2020.12.20

Project Management Certification

After months of studying, I could finally accomplish an old dream: be a certified project manager. I work with projects since the dawn of time. I create personal and professional projects often. Big and small. For myself, with teams, and for the company.

Despite liking dealing with processes, my goal was never to be in a process-driven career. Personally, the part I like the most about processes is their implementation or optimization projects!

And I genuinely try to enhance my abilities, by studying, researching, and training. I’m an agile advocate at my job long before it was a thing. Now they are all project-flying and agile-ing all major parts of the business processes.

But one thing is to know you are good at something. Another thing completely different is to convince someone about it. Here comes the certification program. PMI is the de-facto institution regarding project management. I read their main material many, many years ago and followed their general guidelines ever since. But the certification itself, nope.

Better later than never. I decided to finally apply for the certification exam. Here’s a motivational tip: first apply for an exam then start to study for it. It’s much more effective, psychologically speaking, to have a fixed deadline to be engaged and motivated. Studying for a “to be defined” date is prone to procrastination.

I bought an online course. The instructor was very clear: each exam has its quirks and style. He will exploit PMI’s style to deliver a laser-focused course with the only goal being to facilitate passing the exam. No philosophical discussions. No discussions at all. Just the pure content. Delivered with the precise method.

It was both effective and efficient. It took me just a week of classes and an extra one to review and consolidate the knowledge. PMI requires that one should have not only a previous experience in the field but also a minimum amount of formal education, so the classes could not be shorter even if possible.

I did the online exam. Man, it was equally scary. Some dude had to check our computer screen, I had to turn on the camera all time. And any movement or sound, I was called upon.

The questions were super generic. It’s the downside of being a generic Project Management certification. It was not about construction or software development. So the online course was right. After a couple of hours, exhausted (I had to do it after the business hour, so I was extra tired), I finished.

Days after, the good news: I did it! One old dream checked! And it’s on my Linkedin, of course!

Bruno MASSA