A Process Minimalist’s Guide To Retrospectives

David identifies themes from what we've discussed

Have you heard about Google’s Project Aristotle? It was a research project that aimed to find out what combination of personality types, skill sets, and backgrounds made up the most effective teams at Google. Are teams who hang out outside of work more effective? Do you group introverts with other introverts? Should teams share a preference for managerial style? Stuff like that.

(Bear with me—I promise this will tie back to retrospectives.)

So what did the researchers find out?

“We looked at 180 teams from all over the company,” Dubey said. “We had lots of data, but there was nothing showing that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.”

—Charles Duhigg, What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

And later in the article:

Most confounding of all, two teams might have nearly identical makeups, with overlapping memberships, but radically different levels of effectiveness. “At Google, we’re good at finding patterns,” Dubey said. “There weren’t strong patterns here.”

Did you catch that? Let that sink in for a minute.

Researchers at Google, who have access to more teams and more data than perhaps at any other company in history, and who are experts at finding patterns could not find any strong patterns in what combination of individuals make up an effective team. “The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.”

Continue reading

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Tech Talk: Implementing Two-Factor Authentication at Virginia Tech – A Case Study

Abstract:
Two-factor authentication is a way of replacing simple passwords (something you know) with, for example, something you know plus something you have, such as a cell phone, electronic key or security device.  Two-factor auth is being implemented at Virginia Tech because higher education is increasingly becoming a target for hackers. They are after intellectual property, personal information, and financial information; and the attacks are more sophisticated than in the past. The goal of Virginia Tech’s 2-Factor Authentication Program is to increase security surrounding online systems and applications by implementing 2-factor authentication for “everyone, everything.” 2-factor will be the default, and one-factor the exception. 40,000+ users are expected to enroll by Fall, 2016.

Where: Rackspace in the CRC, 1691 Innovation Dr, Blacksburg VA 24060  (map)
When: May 26th, 5:30pm
Cost: Free (RSVP here)

 

Speaker Bio:

Dunker_IMG_9190A graduate of Hollins University, Ms. Dunker began her IT career as a systems programmer at Virginia Tech in 1978.  With an extensive background in operating systems support, she became involved in efforts to secure the university’s information technology infrastructure as Director of Secure Enterprise Technology Initiatives (SETI) in 2003, earning the SANS GIAC Security Essentials Certification in 2004. Today, she directs Secure Identity Services and is responsible for setting direction for initiatives that include identity management and assurance, secure middleware and authentication, Enterprise Directory integration and support, PKI, and software development testing.

Mary chaired the InCommon Assurance Advisory Committee in 2012 and 2013. She has co-chaired the EDUCAUSE Higher Information Security Council Information Security Guide Editorial Board and the EDUCAUSE/Internet2 Security Task Force Effective Practices and Solutions Working Group.

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STEM Turns Technology Takers Into Technology Makers

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Here at Racksburg we’re big believers in exposing kids to STEM and  information technologies. Admittedly, we do this partly because making our region more attractive to seasoned technology experts with growing families is just good for business (as discussed in this previous blog post). However we also invest in STEM because exposing kids to IT/programming technologies helps transform their mind set from one of being mere consumers of new technology, into becoming more technology innovators, makers and creators. Something  we all need to strive to do in our communities and schools. Continue reading

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Securing a WordPress Server Being Used as a PingBot Attack Node

wp-targetSo I come in to work this morning and notice that one of my WordPress sites is having problems reliably coming up.  I had not received any alerts on my phone, but still, around 1/2 the time the main news-feed page wasn’t coming up. If you ever see a system that’s normally rock solid, suddenly running “a little funny”.. don’t put it off.  Jump on and do a bit of poking around. I did that today and this post is documenting what I found, what I learned and what I had to do to secure my system. Continue reading

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Rackspace sponsors Kids’ Tech University

By Annelise Rosmaita

kids-tech-2016-02-27On Saturday February 27, I went to Kids Tech University. It is an event at Virgina Tech that features interactive hands on activities and even some college type lectures for kids to get us interested in Science, Technlology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Rackspace is a corporate sponsor for the event.

The lecture was on cell life and cancer presented by Dr. Carla Finkielstein from the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences. It was very interesting. She showed videos of how cells duplicate and how cancer happens by cells duplicating uncontrollably. After the lecture, we got a Scientific Method and Kids’ Tech University packet on cell life, and an Aha-Album. Whenever you have a scientific, mathematics, engineering or technology aha! moment, you can jot it down in the album. Continue reading

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Behind The Scenes of Robert Scoble’s Tour of Blacksburg Tech Companies

Our regional tech community was honored to recently have internet blogger and technology futurist Robert Scoble come to town. While here he gave a “Beyond Mobile” technology talk for the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council and toured several of our region’s many technology success stories – or success stories in the making.
Aeroprobe Logo-01

First up in our technology tour was Aeroprobe, the well established aeronautical instrumentation and materials research lab located in the Falling Branch Corporate Park in Christiansburg. The company CEO Nanci Hardwick was our host and showed us the two hot areas of technical innovation that her company invented:

Aeroprobe_omniprobe0

  • Unique air flow measurement instrumentation for aerospace, automotive, and other airflow test industries
  • 3D deposition metal printing (using Additive Friction Stir Deposition technology)

IMG_20160125_101237_404_cAeroprobe is already well known in the industry for their cutting edge aerospace and innovative  air speed and turbulence detection probes, however their new innovative 3D additive metal printing technology yields almost all the advantages of caste and milled metal parts without all the time and expense of tooling parts out of block stock materials. Additionally, their technology can now also print very large custom parts that previously would have been unfeasible or impossible.  These advantages not only bring together a huge savings in time, costs and a new level of custom parts flexibility, but also introduces new areas of mixed metals research that could not even be explored until now. Continue reading

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Using the Cloud Office Control Panel API from PowerShell — 2016 Edition

PowerShell CloudIn a post from last year, Steven Swenson explained how to use the Invoke-RestMethod cmdlet in PowerShell to query the Cloud Office REST API.

Since that time, I published Invoke-RsCloudOfficeRequest, a PowerShell module that takes all the work out of interacting with the Rackspace Cloud Office REST API.  It handles:

  • Passing the authentication header
  • Encoding PowerShell input into the expected body format
  • Parsing error responses into a meaningful format
  • Unpaginating paged responses
  • Storing API credentials so you don’t have to type them in every time (Optional)

But enough talk, let’s learn how to use it. Continue reading

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RBTC and Rackspace Present Robert Scoble, “Beyond Mobile” Talk, Jan 25th

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Talk Summary:

Over the next decade we will look at our smartphone screens less and less as we use things like Magic Leap more and more. Augmented Reality is coming. Virtual Reality will take entertainment minutes away. Even if you use your mobile phone’s screen to watch a virtual reality event, it will be quite a different experience than staring down at a mobile phone in your hands.

Plus, you will look at, and interact with your world quite differently thanks to beacons, Internet of Things, new kinds of sensors and artificial intelligence systems to fuse data, analyze it, and present it in new ways.

Think this is science fiction? I’ll bring you a number of companies that are bringing futuristic technologies to you today, including in airports, football stadiums, and shopping malls.

We will talk about how cloud is everywhere in this new world and the trends that are soon to be hitting us, whether in self driving cars or augmented reality glasses, and how our businesses need to prepare now.

Continue reading

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titanfall1Last month Jon Shiring of Respawn Entertainment gave a Public Tech Talk about online game servers and system design, as well as what it took to create a popular (scalable) online multiplayer game in the cloud with Titanfall. Among the topics he covered:

  • Client vs datacenter hosted servers, bandwidth, server CPU, and why it matters
  • Cloud vs “bare metal” hosting for games
  • How Titanfall used the Azure cloud and Xbox Live Compute to exclusively power a AAA online game
  • How Respawn’s custom backend allows cloud servers to fluidly scale up and down
  • How Titanfall’s matchmaking works
  • The value of speed in updating an online game
  • Patching a live game with no scheduled downtime
  • How game certification on patches can create worse experiences, and how you can benefit by sidestepping certification

Please enjoy this video replay of the event and stay tuned to the Racksburg blog for news of upcoming events!

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Choosing an HTTP Status Code — Stop Making It Hard

What could be simpler than returning HTTP status codes? Did the page render? Great, return 200. Does the page not exist? That’s a 404. Do I want to redirect the user to another page? 302, or maybe 301.

Life is bliss, well… until someone tells you you’re not doing this REST thing. Next thing you know, you can’t sleep at night because you need to know if your new resource returns the RFC-compliant, Roy-Fielding-approved status code. Is it just a 200 here? Or should it really be a 204 No Content? No, definitely a 202 Accepted… or is that a 201 Created?

What complicates matters is that the official HTTP/1.1 guidelines — the RFC — was originally written in 1997. That’s the year you went surfing the cyberweb in Netscape Navigator on your 33.6kbps modem. It’s a little like trying to apply Sun Tzu’s Art of War to modern business strategy. Timeless advice, to be sure, but I haven’t yet figured out how The Five Ways to Attack With Fire are going to help me do market validation. Continue reading

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