The Goal and The DevOps Handbook (again) : My Reviews

The Goal

In my recent review of The Unicorn Project I mentioned several times how much I loved the The Phoenix Project. Some of the feedback was that I should take a look at The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. After all, The Phoenix Project is an adaptation of The Goal.

I had a credit on Audible, which I’ll explain later, so I gave it a whirl.

I don’t know if it was the writing, or the voice acting, but The Goal has so much more personality than The Phoenix Project. I can barely believe I’m saying this after the amount of praise I’ve given to The Phoenix Project over the years.

The Goal is centred around manufacturing. It’s about the productivity issues in a failing factory. Despite being part of the tech industry, I feel the focus on manufacturing actually makes it easier to follow. There’s something about picturing physical products that make things seem clearer to me. This, and the fact many of these concepts were born out of manufacturing, are no doubt why The Phoenix Project makes repeated references to manufacturing.

I realise some people will prefer The Phoenix Project, because it more closely resembles what they see in their own failing technology organisations, but I think I’ve changed my opinion, and I think The Goal is now my favourite of the two.

The DevOps Handbook (Again)

Another thing I mentioned in my review of The Unicorn Project, was how much I disliked The DevOps Handbook. That seemed to surprise some people. So much so, I started to doubt myself. I couldn’t bring myself to read it again, so I decided to sign up for Audible and get it as my free book. That way I could listen to it when driving to visit my family at weekends.

I was not wrong about this book. In the comments for The Unicorn Project review, I answered a question about my attitude to The DevOps Handbook with the following answer.

“I found it really boring. I guess I was hoping it would be more of a reference or teaching aid. I found it really dry and quite uninformative for the most part. It mostly felt like a bunch of people “bigging themselves up”. Like, “When I worked at X, things were terrible, and I turned it around by myself and now things are fuckin’ A!” Similar to this book, I think the important messages could be put across in a tiny fraction of the space.”

There are undoubtedly valuable messages in The DevOps Handbook, but my gosh they make you work hard to find them. If they removed all the dick-waving, there wouldn’t be much left.

Another thing I found annoying about it, was it didn’t feel like it really related to my circumstances. I work with a load of third party products that I can’t just scrap, much as I’d like to. I found myself thinking these people were probably just cherry-picking the good stuff to talk about, and forgetting the stuff that was harder to solve. I’ve written about this type of thing in this post.

The messages in the “good DevOps books” are universal. They help you understand your own problems and think your own way through to solving them. I don’t think The DevOps Handbook helps very much at all.

So that’s twice I’ve tried, and twice I’ve come to the same conclusion. Stick with The Goal and The Phoenix Project. There are better things to do with your time and money than wasting it on The DevOps Handbook and The Unicorn Project. That’s just my opinion though!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. By the time I had waded through The DevOps Handbook a second time I had already got a new credit for Audible, which is why I tried The Goal on Audible, rather than reading it. I’m glad I did.

PPS. There are a few cringeworthy gender stereotypes in The Goal, but remember when this was written…

The Shepherd’s Crown

The Shepherd’s Crown is the last book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I really don’t like the finality of how that sounds, which is probably why I’ve waited a long time to read this book.

Having complained about how the female lead character was used in The Unicorn Project, I figured it was time to read this book and see it done properly again.

I’m not going to include any full-on spoilers, but some things might give the game away, so don’t read this if you’ve not already read the book.

During the first sequence in the book I got a pretty good idea what was coming and I was like, “No. No. Nooooooooo!” I’m not going to say what it was, but it was a major kick in the gonads…

Tiffany Aching is a great character. It would be so easy for a lesser writer to make her a Mary Sue, but Pratchett keeps her multi-dimensional. Sometimes strong, clever, and at times ruthless. Sometimes self-doubting and almost naive.

As you would expect for this part of the disc (world), there are a number of familiar characters. It’s wrong to say any character in Discworld is “my favourite”, as it changes with each book, and sometime several times in a single book. This book contained several of my favourite characters. Some old and some new. 🙂 There was also a brief appearance by Horace, a Blue Lancre cheese made by Tiffany, who was known to eat mice, and as it turns out is capable of fighting alongside the Nac Mac Feegle. I’m ashamed to admit I had forgotten about him until he was mentioned in a scene.

This was quite an emotional roller coaster ride of a story. Partly because of the story itself and the characters involved. Partly because it was the last of a 41 book series, which I loved. Partly because of the reason for why it was the last book.

Oh well. Happy days!

Cheers

Tim…

For those that don’t know, here’s a little bit of history…

Despite having a degree and a PhD, I had somehow managed to remain pretty terrible at reading. I suspect a mild case of dyslexia maybe. In 2006, at the tender age of 37, I decided to force myself to start reading in an attempt to improve.

I started by reading The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. In 2007 I started to read the Discworld series and got hooked. I read all of the books (very slowly) that existed until I was done, then kept reading each new one as they arrived. I’ve dipped in and out of other things since then, but by far the majority of the books I’ve read in my life were part of this series. We are fast nearing the end of 2019, and that part of my reading life is now over. 🙁

For those that care, I am substantially better at reading now. Part of that is practice of course. Part of it is not beating myself up about being crap at reading anymore. Part of it is the additional confidence public speaking has given me. I’m still pretty terrible at reading out loud, but I’m less bothered by the mistakes now. 🙂

So for the part you played in that process, thanks Terry!

Raising Steam

Raising Steam is the 40th book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

I waited a long time before starting this book because I heard from several sources that it wasn’t very good and I didn’t want to ruin what has been an awesome 39 book series. I finally bit the bullet and I’m really glad I did because I really enjoyed it. Maybe some literary types can argue some difference between the earlier books and this one, but as far as I can see it’s the same Discworld stuff I’ve enjoyed all along.

Steam trains have come to Discword and most of the world has fallen under their spell. I used to love toy trains as a kid, so I could relate to this. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Skin Game

Skin Game by Jim Butcher is the 15th book in The Dresden Files series.

For a quick recap, Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire. Look him up in the Chicago Yellow Pages. Magic is real. Ghosts are real. Fairies are tall, so beautiful it’s almost painful to look at them, and are so divorced from mortals that they seem evil. All the gods you’ve ever heard of are real. All the things that go bump in the night are real too…

In this book Harry is forced to work with some of his enemies to pull a bank job with a difference!

I love Harry Dresden and I love The Dresden Files. The books are always fast and furious, sometimes a little predictable, but in a good way, and ultimately really fun. I think every book has also had moments that have been genuinely emotional and inspirational.

If you liked the previous books you will love this. If Harry Dresden is not your kind of guy, there is something wrong with you… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Inspirational Quotes : Skin Game

I’m reading Skin Game by Jim Butcher and a couple of things jumped out at me last night. First, one about interpreting facts.

“You have an array of facts in front of you that can fit any of several truths. You have to choose what you’re going to allow to drive your decisions about how to deal with those facts.”

The next one is about fear.

“… fear is a terrible, insidious thing… It taints and stains everything it touches. If you let fear start driving some of your decisions, sooner or later it will drive them all. I decided that I’m not going to be the kind of person who lives her life in fear…”

Nothing really new here, but occasionally your hear the right words at the right time and they hit you with extra meaning…

Cheers

Tim…

Untogether Lives

A little over a year ago, I wrote a review of a book called Girl 99 by Andrew P. Jones. I got an email from the author a few days ago to say his latest book, Untogether Lives, was released on Kindle, so I downloaded it straight away. Here’s what it’s all about.

Untogether Lives is a collection of fourteen stories that peek through the curtains of an eclectic cast, struggling to keep mind, body and the world around them together. From an amputee shoe thief, to an unlikely arsonist, to a sexually frustrated quadriplegic.

Predominantly dark and occasionally disturbing, these stories are not for the faint-hearted, but neither are they without humour. Not everyone in Untogether Lives gets a happy ending, and not everyone survives – but, hey, that’s life for you.

I loved it! It seems strange saying that when the subject matter is so dark, but it’s true. The writing style works really well for me. The content is very different to what I normally read, but it was good being taken out of my comfort zone. What really amazes me is the amount of connection I felt to some of the characters, even in the shorter stories. Despite the darkness, there is humour in there too. This book is definitely not for the sensitive souls out there, but I think it is a great collection of stories. I’m looking forward to the next book from the author!

Cheers

Tim…

The Rise of Endymion

The Rise of Endymion is the fourth book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

The Hyperion Cantos is essentially two stories. The first one split over the first two books and the second split over books three and four. The two stories are separated by about 300 years, but there are some links and even common characters. Throughout the books the characters and scenarios were consistently interesting, but the books themselves were not always so consistently good to read. The Rise of Endymion is a good example of that. There are some totally excellent sections of the book and some that could just do with being cut completely. There was a section describing the mountain ranges of a planet and I just found myself thinking, “WTF is the author expecting readers to think here? It’s a string of made up names for mountains that don’t exist. What a waste of words…”

Despite the issues, I was extremely interested to see how things turned out. Who lived, who died, did the Pax/Church get exposed and overthrown… In that sense, the book delivered very well.

On reflection, the series reminds me a lot of the Dune series. A combination of exceptional high points and some rather lacklustre sections that test your loyalty. 🙂 Both series are well worth the effort though…

Cheers

Tim…

Endymion

Endymion is the third book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

After finding the last book a little patchy at times, this one returned to the same sort of pacing and thrust that made me love the first book. This story picks up nearly 300 years after the last one ends. The daughter of one of the characters from the previous book entered one of the time tombs and appeared in Hyperion 274 years later. Since then things have changed throughout the former web worlds and the church has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. The last thing they need is a little girl, with the power to topple their stronghold on the galaxy, messing things up for them.

The timeline does jump around a little and there are always a couple of stories happening at the same time, but it is a lot more direct and easier to follow than the last book. I think this was helped by the fact I was able to read is in relatively few sittings. OK, they were spread over the best part of a month, but at least each time I picked it up I got through quite a few pages.

I’m really looking forward to the last book in the series. Fingers crossed it ends strongly…

Cheers

Tim…

The Fall of Hyperion

The Fall of Hyperion is the second book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

I’m not really sure what to say about The Fall of Hyperion. On the one hand, I was very interested to see what happened to the characters from the previous book. On the other hand, this book was much less focussed and quite disjointed at times. It didn’t help that it took me a long time to get through it, reading it in small snippets, rather than a few long sittings.

Despite my minor misgivings, I’ve already started the next book in the series and I’m keen to see how this plays out.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I’ve just checked the dates between this post and the one from the proceeding book. It took about 2 months to get through it. I’m sure that has a big factor on my perception of it.

Hyperion (Dan Simmons)…

Hyperion is the first in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons.

What a great Sci-Fi book! A group of seven travellers are on a pilgrimage to Hyperion. Six of the seven tell the stories of how they came to be there, with the sixth story kind-of linking things together. There is no real conclusion to the story as the next book carries on the story from the point the first one ends. It was definitely written as a series!

The timeline jumps around quite a bit through the book, but in a good way. It’s not done in a confusing way.

Definitely worth a look for any Sci-Fi readers out there.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I put the authors name in the title, for fear of confusing people into thinking this was about work. 🙂