So here I am in Dallas TX, at the annual LISA conference for systems administrators. It’s been a great conference so far, even though I haven’t gotten out of the hotel since I arrived on Sunday evening. Heck, I haven’t gotten off the lobby/2nd/3rd floor zone!
I love it when I can do all my teaching early in a conference and then just relax and enjoy myself. I did two half-day sessions on Monday, and both went really well– interested and involved participants, and compliments afterwards. I started off with my tried and true favorite Practical Project Management, that I ‘ve been teaching and refining for several years now. I estimate that I’ve trained over 200 IS professionals in project management at this point, with typical class sizes of 45 – 50, and in one case, 89 or 90 attendees. This year we didn’t do the advanced class, Project Troubleshooting, although we had a great session of that in June at the Usenix Annual Technical Conference.
The afternoon tutorial was a fairly new class that I developed in 2005, Problem-Solving for IT Professionals. We had a really spirited class discussion, and I was pointed to a great resource after class, a book (and Wikipedia entry about the book) called How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method, by Gregor Polya. It has a set of rules for generalizing problems, and looks useful in building more problem-solving processes. In the class I teach generalized processes, which I hesitate to call “patterns” as they’re not sufficiently rigorously expressed yet, such as server-client interactions, and introduce modified process taskflow diagrams that aid in debugging. It’s possible to debug applications that you have never seen before if you have a strong understanding of fundamental patterns of design and interaction in computer applications and systems.
Right now I’m liveblogging from the Advanced Topics Workshop. I’d been a regular at this workshop since 1996, but had missed the last couple of years due to scheduling conflicts (read: being scheduled to teach!). We’ve had an exhilarating day of sharing experiences, technology to watch out for, and learning what we’ve all been up to for the past year or so. Tomorrow are the keynote speeches, a quick tour of the vendor exhibits, and a book signing session from 12:30pm – 2pm at the conference bookstore. Then it’s back on a plane, back home to Sunnyvale!