Sunday, April 21, 2013

Being Effected: Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 has been out for a long time now, but I'm a very slow player. I would love to spend days and days in front of my tv, enjoying the fictional worlds and adventures of these carefully created characters, but alas I have a job. And a family. And, you know...a life. So, it takes me longer than your average bear to complete a game. If you're a slowpoke like me and haven't completed ME3, be forewarned that I'm about to spoil the heck out of you.

I fell in love when I played Mass Effect 2. It took character customization—which I absolutely love to play with—to a whole new level. Plenty of games that came before allowed you to chose your sex and race, or perfect the arch of your eyebrow. ME was the first that I had played that also allowed you to control your character's sexuality. ME3 took it even further. I loved walking through the Citadel and hearing a female character talking about her wife and daughter, or having Cortez, the shuttle pilot for the Normandy, talk to me candidly about his husband. No judgment, no fanfare; it just was.

I was psyched to play ME3, despite hearing the grumblings of people who were dissatisfied with the ending, to put it mildly. I mean, I figured that the unhappiness probably meant that Shepard died. Of course people are going to be upset that a character they put countless hours into shaping, navigating, and saving would end up dead in the end. That despite all of the careful choices they made, the end was the same regardless. It didn't bother me initially, and I was intent on playing the last entry in the series and enjoying myself. As I got closer to the end though I grew nervous. There were all of these hints about the final decisions, and I came to find that it wasn't simply a matter of Shepard dying, but also of how Earth and the Normandy would fare. I finally buckled and checked out some spoilers over at IGN.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Phoenix Project

Amazon recently made this book, The Phoenix Project, available for free on the Kindle. I am only on chapter 7 and it has already made me laugh, grimace, and scowl. This is meant to be a sort've guide for making a working, agile, responsive and healthy DevOps/Systems Operations environment, but it's written as a novel, complete with first-person perspective.

You follow the journey of Bill Palmer who has just been handed a C-level position as VP of IT in the wake of the unexpected dismissal of both of his bosses, the former VP and CIO. Bill doesn't want the job; the company has a history of putting IT last, refusing budgets and resource allocation, and typically IT managers don't tend to last long. He gets the strong-arm from his CEO, who personally selected him, so he winds up taking the job. Within the first 3 days he gets hit with a critical payroll systems issue that stems from an unauthorized and untested change to a field in the database that holds payroll information; a looming and unrealistic deadline for rolling out the infrastructure for a new initiative that the CEO and Marketing folks have been selling to investors and clients without having a clue as to the actual operational requirements to pull it off; and a PCI audit that found 952 items that needed remediating...within a week. The guy has his hands full.

So far in reading this I have recognized every type of administrator, manager, and C-level person described thus far in my own experience in the technical job force. It's pretty amazing how spot on this novel is. It's a worthwhile read for anyone who has ever worked in Operations. I say Operations specifically because it is definitely told from the perspective of an Ops person. There's no hiding the bias against the IT security staff, or the Developers, or Marketing. The failures and weak points of Operations are also brought to light, but there has been a fair amount of tying in the other departments. I won't spoil it for you though. :)

This is a shorter post than normal but I wanted to highly recommend this book. Now I have to get back to it.