How to Build a Stratum 1 NTP Server Using A Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Model B was released in 2012 and, since then, a number of useful applications regarding this device have ensued. However, one particular application that is seldom overlooked when dealing with the Raspberry Pi is its ability to be used as a Stratum 1 NTP server and allow you to synchronize clocks across networks like the Internet. For me, this useful trick has actually made my entire office far more efficient. 

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Five-Day Sprint Process meets Raleigh Innovators Program – Part 5 of 5

My Experience

When I heard that HR would be exploring changes to our employee review process, I made a mental note to follow up on that later in the year. I’d only ever been an end user of this process. I didn’t know what an annual review should look like, but I could see the same room for improvement that Red Hatters voiced on internal mailing lists and at the water cooler. I work in IT, not HR, but am passionate about building up people, morale, and community in my workspace. I’d even poked around HR and considered transferring departments. So, you can imagine how excited I felt when I was offered a spot on this project team out of the blue. I got to step into the world of HR full-time for three months and have a greater impact on the 11,000+ people of this company on a larger scale than I ever imagined.

I had a lot to learn

We all did. That was the beauty of it for all of us. It was like a sudden baptism into a completely new field. I didn’t know a 9-box from a shoebox. We researched best practices from trusted resources like Gallup, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, etc. We interviewed people from other companies known as pioneers in this space. Trends have shifted from one daunting annual performance review to a series of ongoing conversations.  Rather than a two-way channel between the boss and employee, companies are moving to a 360 feedback model with input from peers and customers.

The underground was busy- with best practices

What’s awesome is that this is already happening at Red Hat. Throughout our real life crash course in HR, we were talking with Red Hatters. Many had enhanced our existing process with additional conversation points and documentation. Peer feedback loops were already in place. One interviewee told us he wouldn’t need our prototype because his peers are already fully committed to their peer feedback system.  What an awesome challenge for my project team! We learned that groups across the company are already bought into industry best practices and that we just needed to align them with a process, which supports that energy.

Our motley crew rocked

Our team came from three different departments, and all of us had very different roles. We each brought a unique perspective to our conversations and decisions. My specialty was UX.  Others were software development, marketing, and employment branding. Whether it was corporate impact or reporting, our backgrounds were apparent during the discussion. The group was stronger because of the different lenses we brought into our analysis of each decision. We learned how engineers commonly like to receive feedback. We learned what managers do behind the scenes to use our reviews in their strategic workforce planning. We learned about prototype software. This kind of cross-discipline approach to a challenge is rare but wonderful. It’s an effective way to approach well-rounded problem-solving. Had any one of these departments solely owned this Innovators Project, the product would have been limited to the vision of our disciplines. By coming together with open minds, we understood the people of our company on a completely new level and made a better solution as a result.

It is clear why each of us was chosen for this project. We have been through the current process and experienced its challenges. We know Red Hat’s employees and culture.  Each person chosen for this team was insightful, hard working, and cared deeply about the problem we were solving. We are the kind of people who lose sleep over a merely passable job; we have to do a great job. We differed personally and professionally. From hedgehogs to trendsetters to toddlers, we probably wouldn’t have bonded if we’d met as strangers at a party. Yet, we quickly became a tight group where we were free to be our individual selves.

I digress

Our part of the project has ended (ideation and socialization). Efforts are underway in HR to bring our new process to life. I can’t wait to see the official implementation of this work and know that I made a difference in the well-being of people across Red Hat.

This project was an amazing opportunity for me. I am grateful to have been chosen to work at the corporate level to have such a direct impact on every person at this company. The Google Ventures Five-Day Sprint Process was revolutionary to me. I see how this approach generates depth and creative thinking that we can’t replicate on our own.


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Five-Day Sprint Process meets Raleigh Innovators Program – Part 4 of 5

A 5-day sprint in 45 minutes

Yes, that’s ridiculous.  The concept of a five-day sprint is crazy enough, but to attempt it in 45 minutes is just plain nuts.

In this series, I wrote about what it was like to participate in the five-day process.  After further study, I seized the opportunity to evangelize it to the technical communication community outside of Red Hat.

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Five-Day Sprint Process meets Raleigh Innovators Program – Part 3 of 5

5 Tips for a Successful 5-Day Sprint

The Google Ventures five-day sprint process is amazing, but any project can suffer due to human factors.  The way we complete tasks, creatively brainstorm, interact with each other, and feel motivated can become pain points in any project.  While SPRINT: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days wards off potential challenge points specific to this sprint methodology, here are my additional recommendations:

1. Fall completely off the grid.  To do this process and your project justice, do not try to multitask or even work on a different project at the end of the day.  This process takes every ounce of mental energy throughout the whole week.  Pour yourself into it.  Get lost in it.  If possible, even put up a team out of office message for the whole week and don’t open your email.  Make the necessary adjustments and block off extra time next week to catch up on email.

2. Have clear, accessible channels to decision makers.  Unless you are part of a small startup, it is likely that you will ultimately have to “sell” your proposed product or solution to upper leadership.  Do yourself a favor and engage them regularly during the project.  Use their feedback as a litmus test for the feasibility of your ideas.

OR

3. None at all. The best yet riskiest approach is to provide the task and context of the problem and set the team free to solve it.  The most innovative ideas come about when there is no contextual restriction or thought inhibition.  A solution can always be reigned in to be applied realistically, but the team has to feel comfortable to truly be innovative.  The good news is that a well-chosen team cares greatly about finding the right creative solution, so the result won’t likely be from left field.

4. Establish clear roles.  In addition to the roles described in the book, make sure you have basic roles for project success.  Since this is a project, you should, after all, have a project manager.  I also advise adding a logistics coordinator.  This person could join in on all of the decision-making processes, but when it comes time to divide and conquer tasks, they get work on the logistics.  Someone has to network with and schedule user interviews.  There will likely be a need to communicate with stakeholders.  Let this person handle it while you code the next prototype.

5. Own a meeting space.  Your team needs a moderately sized room with table and open space for collaborating.  It should be all yours, no exceptions.  The walls and whiteboards will be covered with ideas that will be referenced periodically.  In addition, time is so precious that you can’t afford to wander the building in search of a space or the latest room booking.


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Five-Day Sprint Process meets Raleigh Innovators Program – Part 2 of 5

Project Methodologies Go Head-to-head and Walk Away IAR

The Meet Cute

When we began the Google Ventures 5-Day Sprint Cycle, our team quickly realized that we had to blend it with Red Hat’s Open Decision-Making Framework (ODF).  The Sprint process already called for 5 individual customer interviews per sprint.  That meant 5 per week to get just enough of a trend to adjust plans for the next sprint.  We started with that, which was great, but Red Hat currently has 11,000 employees.  We need more buy-in for company-wide acceptance.  Transparent, collaborative decision-making is key to how Red Hat does work the open source way.  At first, it seemed like a big challenge to blend the five-day process with our existing framework.  They seemed so different, and we had a tight deadline.  What we learned, was quite the opposite.  Both methodologies rely on frequent user engagement, but ODF is a five-day sprint on steroids.  We amped up our efforts to engage the whole company.

The Courtship

We did a company-wide survey to get mass participation in the conversation.  We set up space on our Intranet for anyone at Red Hat to engage in the conversation by leaving comments on our blogs, findings, and the topic of the week discussion questions.  We did expert interviews in and outside of Red Hat.  We added a monthly Customer Advisory Council comprised of 40+ employees across departments, geos, and roles, who had expressed passion on the topic before they even knew there would be a project about it. Their direction helped shape future phases of the project and provide clarity for inconclusive parts of our discovery process. We also did a deep dive survey with this council, the Primes (an internal peer feedback group), and a list of other folks who raised their hands to help.  

The Relationship

Our conclusion is that the two processes don’t go against each other.  The Open Decision-Making Framework supplements and reinforces the Google Venture Five-Day Sprint Process.  It’s day five of the sprint cycle on steroids.  Adding these extra feedback loops did take more time.  Our five-day sprints couldn’t stay within a five-day window.  The fifth day of the process added about another week to the sprint cycle, but with it came the socialization of ideas that is critical to Red Hat’s culture.

The Future

For your development project, adding open decision-making doesn’t have to be such a drastic undertaking.  The main goal is to get a stratified, cross-discipline, representation of your user base.  That could be a couple of focus groups, a survey, or chatting up folks at the water cooler.  Stick to the five basic sprint interviews and add the feedback channels that make sense for your organization. Encourage volunteers to relay information between you and their networks to broaden your project’s feedback and buy-in.  Take advantage of their ability to spread the word while bringing you exponential feedback with little effort from you!

Your users will tell you what they want- and what they don’t.  Invite them into your development cycle with a blend of these two methodologies, and you’ll deliver a product they’re willing to buy.


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Five-Day Sprint Process meets Raleigh Innovators Program – Part 1 of 5

Hi, Red Hat Developers!  I’m new to the Red Hat Developers blog and wanted to give you a quick introduction before diving into the Innovators Program and how you can use some of the theories and processes in your day to day.  I’m a Red Hatter and I specialize in UX and knowledge management for internal support at Red Hat.  Basically, I make sure Red Hat employees and the teams that support them get everything they need out of our internal support portal.  This ranges from customer surveys to web form design to knowledge management.  Most recently, I took a three-month hiatus from this role to participate in the Raleigh Innovators Program.

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October 2016 ISO C Meeting Report

Trip Report: October 2016 WG14 Meeting

In October 2016, I attended the WG14 (C language committee) meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The meeting was hosted by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). We had 25 representatives from 18 organizations in attendance, including CERT, Cisco, IBM, INRIA, Intel, LDRA, Oracle, Perennial, Plum Hall, Siemens, and the University of Cambridge. It was a productive four days spent on two major areas:

  • Work on C11 defect reports aimed at the upcoming C11 Technical Corrigendum (TC) expected to be finalized in 2017. This will be the last revision of C11 to be published. The next revision of C will be a “major” version that is for the time being referred to as C2X.
  • Review of proposals for the next revision of C, C2X. To meet the TC 2017 schedule some C11 defects will have to be deferred to C2X. The C2X charter is in N2086.

Below is a list of some of the interesting C2X proposals the group discussed.

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Leap second – "I Belong to You"

Recently, I was working on a research topic for Red Hat Insights which is a hosted service designed to help people proactively identify and resolve technical issues of Red Hat products. During that time a Chinese romantic comedy film;  “I Belonged to You” was released. On hearing the name, I thought to myself, “that title couldn’t be any better for this post”. Just like the film goes, “I’m only a passerby in your world”. So did the leap second! And soon another leap second is coming – let’s cherish it this time. These little moments in time can be incredibly challenging, and also incredibly interesting. But, before we start talking about leap seconds, let’s introduce some background about time itself.

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Getting Started with Microsoft SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Microsoft announced SQL Server on Linux public preview, so now you can try SQL Server on your Red Hat Enterprise Linux server. I’ll describe how to start SQL Server on RHEL.

Install and connect with CLI on RHEL

Microsoft publishes a step-by-step document how to Install SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s only 7 steps to install and run.

# systemctl status mssql-server
● mssql-server.service - Microsoft(R) SQL Server(R) Database Engine
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/mssql-server.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Wed 2016-11-16 20:59:33 EST; 1 weeks 1 days ago
 Main PID: 77982 (sqlservr)
   Memory: 753.6M
   CGroup: /system.slice/mssql-server.service
           ├─77982 /opt/mssql/bin/sqlservr
           └─77997 /opt/mssql/bin/sqlservr

Now you can connect to SQL Server on RHEL. At first, let’s connect with sqlcmd. You should have to install SQL Server tools even if you run sqlcmd on the same host as you installed mssql-server package with following the document. First connect to local SQL Server instance.

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Kompose Up for OpenShift and Kubernetes

Introduction

Kompose is a tool to convert from higher level abstractions of application definitions into more detailed Kubernetes artifacts. These artifacts can then be used to bring up the application in a Kubernetes cluster. What higher level application abstraction should kompose use?

One of the most popular application definition formats for developers is the docker-compose.yml format for use with docker-compose that communicates with the docker daemon to bring up the application. Since this format has gained some traction we decided to make it the initial focus of Kompose to support converting this format to Kubernetes. So, where you would choose docker-compose to bring up the application in docker, you can use kompose to bring up the same application in Kubernetes, if that is your preferred platform.

How Did We Get Here?

At Red Hat, we had initially started on a project similar to Kompose, called Henge. We soon found Kompose and realized we had a lot of overlap in our goals so we decided to jump on board with the folks at Skippbox and Google who were already working on it.

TL;DR We have been working hard with the Kompose and Kubernetes communities. Kompose is now a part of the Kuberetes Incubator and we also have added support in Kompose for getting up and running into your target environment in one command:

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For more information about Red Hat OpenShift and other related topics, visit: OpenShift, OpenShift Online.