Have you ever heard of “Warnock’s dilemma”?

Has it ever happened to you that you sent an email that included a proposal with a request for comments, and never received any replies?

Or you’ve prepared an article, shared the link to the draft document seeking feedback, and you’ve not gotten any reaction?

You may be asking yourself: “Did anybody actually read what I wrote? Do they agree or disagree with my proposal? Do they actually care?

How can you  tell?

The problem of interpreting a lack of response that you’re experiencing has been coined Warnock’s dilemma, and it’s a well-known phenomenon in distributed asynchronous communication (originally identified on mailing lists, but also applies to any other form of asynchronous communication):

The problem with no response is that there are five possible interpretations:

1. The post is correct, well-written information that needs no follow-up commentary. There’s nothing more to say except “Yeah, what he said.”
2. The post is complete and utter nonsense, and no one wants to waste the energy or bandwidth to even point this out.
3. No one read the post, for whatever reason.
4. No one understood the post, but won’t ask for clarification, for whatever reason.
5. No one cares about the post, for whatever reason.

— Bryan C. Warnock

I recently stumbled over this term after reading Florian Haas’ excellent blog post This Meeting Should Have Been an Email (which I highly encourage you to read if you’re looking for ways on how to collaborate more effectively in a distributed organization).

In his article, Florian makes a strong case for turning distributed organizations into asynchronous ones, by converting as much conversations as possible from phone calls, Slack discussions or video conferences into well-structured documents and then soliciting collaboration over these in written form instead.

While this approach resonates very well with me (and it’s something where I think many organizations could do much better), I believe there are two challenges that need to be overcome in this approach: reaching consensus on a contentious topic that triggers a long discussion thread and how to deal with the opposite: not getting any reactions at all.

I did raise my thoughts about the challenges in this type of communication to Florian. Especially if you’re trying to seek an agreement on something, silence is the weakest form of consensus. Because of this, we’re tempted to summon people in video calls to ensure we’re “on the same page” on a topic, trying to capture the non-verbal cues that indicate if you’re in agreement about something.

This question prompted him to summarize our discussion and his thoughts in a follow-up article: Warnock’s Dilemma, Objections, and Acknowledgements.

I think what he wrote matches my personal observations on this topic quite well and lists a number of useful suggestions on how to overcome this challenge. Thank you, Florian!

So when you’re seeking for feedback on something you’ve wrote, try to encourage reactions by including some very specific asks or provocative thoughts about what kind of input you’re seeking for.

If you have been requested to provide feedback or comments on some content, please do spend a short moment to at least acknowledge that you’ve read the document or email, even if you have nothing to add or comment!

This could be as simple as adding a reaction on a chat message (e.g. a “100%”, thumbs up or plus sign emoji), a “LGTM” comment on a Google doc or something similar. Anything helps! Your co-worker will appreciate it.

At least you’re giving the writer the virtual equivalent of a “nod”, which is tremendously helpful for them, as they no longer have to guess your reaction and draw their own conclusions.


Ceph Octopus Tech Talk Video now online

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Josh Durgin in a Ceph Tech Talk “What’s new in Octopus”, where we spoke about the key features and changes in the Ceph Octopus release (released in March). I took over the Ceph Dashboard part and gave a quick overview about the key highlights (starting at 5:48).

If you missed the live stream, the session has been recorded and is now available on YouTube. Enjoy!


Slides and Video of my Ceph Dashboard talk at FrOSCon 14

Last weekend, I attended FrOSCon 14 in St. Augustin, Germany. I gave a presentation about “Managing and Monitoring Ceph with the Ceph Dashboard”, where I gave an overview and update about our work on the Ceph Dashboard, including a live demo.

Sadly, my poor little laptop ran out of resources near the end of the demo, so I could not fully conclude my presentation. But I hope the session was still worthwhile!

If you haven’t been able to attend it, I just uploaded the slides and the video recording is also available already. I’d like to say a very big “Thank You” to the video crew that performs the video recordings and post-processing, I was very impressed by how quickly they published them! Enjoy!


Pictures from FOSDEM 2019

I finally got around to uploading my pictures from this year’s FOSDEM 2019 conference in Brussels, Belgium.

I spent most of my time in the Software-defined Storage DevRoom, where I also spoke about the latest developments in the Ceph Dashboard. I also collected all Ceph-related FOSDEM talks on the Ceph blog.


FOSDEM 2019-02, Brussels


List of FLOSS events in 2019

Spotted at FOSDEM; this is a quite an exhaustive list of conferences and events about free and open source software:


DevConf.CZ 2019 conference report

Last weekend, I traveled to the beautiful city of Brno in the Czech Republic, to attend at speak at the DevConf.CZ open source conference. I had submitted a talk about our ongoing work on the Ceph Manager Dashboard and was very happy that it got accepted, as I haven’t been to a DevConf before.

The conference took place in the lecture halls of the Faculty of Information Technology at Brno University of Technology, which provided a very nice venue with lots of rooms and infrastructure (the WiFi was a tad bit slow, but usable). Still, some talks were so popular that the rooms were full and the session chairs had to block others from entering (something that other conferences like FOSDEM also suffer from). Fortunately, many of the sessions were recorded, so there is an opportunity to watch them later.

The overall organization of the conference was excellent, the organizers had really thought of everything and it was a pleasure to attend this event from a speaker/participant point of view. There was a cloak room, badges that clearly indicated your preference of being photographed or your preferred level of engagement in conversations with other attendees. Food was also available in good variety (both free and several paid-for additional options provided by food trucks). The organizers had also set up a group chat on Telegram, which was used to spread information to all participants quickly.


My talk Ceph Management and Monitoring with the Dashboard was scheduled for Saturday, 16:00, so I had some time to attend other sessions before and afterwards.

The session schedule was packed and I had a tough time to choose which ones to attend. I ended up with attending the following sessions:

  • Growing Your Career: From Tactical to Strategic — The topic sounded interesting, but I only attended this panel discussion for about 20 minutes, as it was too painful for me to watch how a single lapel microphone was frequently handed over from one panelist to another one so they could be heard. Even a handheld mike would have been an improvement…
  • A Greybeard’s Worst Nightmare — in this session, Daniel Riek summarized the pains of packaging modern applications, the proliferation of custom solutions for distributing software and libraries and how they could be addressed in the modern world of container technologies. Good food for thought, it certainly resonated well with some experiences we have been going through in the openATTIC and Ceph Manager Dashboard project.
  • Open leadership: An invitation to all — this presentation resonated very well with me and I was able to capture a number of good ideas on how to improve my own skills. I liked the style of this session, which was more an open conversation than a head-on presentation. To my knowledge it wasn’t recorded, but the slides are worthwhile checking out.
  • Ceph data services in a hybrid cloud world — Sage Weil, founder and lead developer of the Ceph project talked about the challenges of syncing and moving data across multiple clouds and explained some of the existing and future solutions that Ceph brings to the table to resolve these. I found this session very insightful and it was interesting to learn more about the project’s future plans in this area. I guess our work on the Ceph Manager Dashboard isn’t finished any time soon!
  • Active/Active NFS Serving over CephFS — Jeff Layton gave a very detailed into his work on making it possible to set up NFS services based on NFS Ganesha with CephFS on the backend in a scalable way, this was very insightful (see his blog post for an example on how to set this up). Unfortunately his live demo failed during the presentation with processes getting stuck, but I actually saw the demo before his session and it certainly impressed me!

Unfortunately I could only attend the conference on Saturday, as I was traveling to and back from the event by train on Friday and Sunday. I wished I could have stayed for more! I will definitely plan to go back there some time.

I took a few pictures during the event, which can be found on Flickr :

DevConf.CZ, Brno (CZ), 2019-01-26

More pictures can also be found here and here.

In summary, I had a great time at DevConf.CZ and I can only highly recommend to plan on attending it if you get a chance!


Pictures from recent Ceph events

I finally got around to publishing a number of photo albums related to Ceph events that I attended in the past few months:

Ceph Day Ede, NL, 2017-09-20
Ceph Day Ede, NL, 2017-09-20

Ceph Day Darmstadt, DE, 2018-02-07
Ceph Day Darmstadt, DE, 2018-02-07

Cephalocon APAC 2018-03, Beijing, CN
Beijing, CN, 2018-03


Summarizing last year’s achievements and highlights

A while ago, I concluded my first year in the openATTIC-Team at it-novum. We’ve gone through a lot of changes and I am quite proud of what we’ve achieved so far. In many ways, we’re starting this project and product from scratch, and I’m excited to be able to contribute to this effort with my experience from past jobs, and to help shaping the future direction. I feel grateful for having a very enthusiastic and supportive team. It’s also quite satisfying to observe how the seeds that we planted slowly come to fruition, as the project begins to gain traction with a growing user base and developer community.

For more details on some of the key highlights, please see my blog post on the openATTIC blog.


Slides of my German talk “Flexibles Storage Management unter Linux mit OpenATTIC” now on SlideShare

Last week, I attended the 13. Kieler Open Source und Linux Tage (KieLux) in Kiel, Germany, to give a presentation (in German) about “Flexibles Storage Management unter Linux mit OpenATTIC. I had an audience of ~25-30 people, a video recording of the session (in 4K!) will be published shortly. I had a great time at KieLux and learned a lot in the other sessions I attended. It was also nice meeting new people and touching base with long-time acquaintances again. Thanks to the KieLux organizers for arranging this event and for inviting me!

My slide deck is now available from SlideShare. Enjoy!


Moving on

Today, I’ve started a new chapter in my career: I’ve left TeamDrive Systems after 1.5 years and joined it-novum in Fulda, where I will be responsible for their open source storage solution openATTIC as a Senior Product Manager in their infrastructure group.