Week notes (2017-12-11 – 2017-12-15)

Later than planned, due to the IT Services Christmas Party on Friday night (and a lack of planning).


Snow! Cycled to work regardless; made a video of it.

Spent most of the day playing with Docker and along with my line manager, attempted to dockerise our registration service so we can better play with it. Everything is more complicated than one would hope. In this case, my/our stumbling blocks were:

  • Packaging non-public software available from a password-protected VCS
  • Authentication
  • Bootstrapping a system that is part of the onboarding process for the ecosystem it lives in.

The first one was pre-empted by using the Debian-packaged version (in an IP-restricted Debian repo), but we really need to be building the Docker image from source so we can play with alterted versions.

I started dockerising a generic KDC. Should probably have checked whether there already was one, but I've got "learning" as my excuse.

Finally, I introduced my line manager to sshuttle, a tool to forward traffic destined for particular specified IP ranges through an SSH tunnel to appear to come from the remote machine. It's very handy if you happen to be in the wrong place relative to an IP-restricted firewall.


Line manager and I caught up with his line manager over coffee.

We had another meeting about the solution approach for IdM. I think we've convinced our Supreme Chief Architect — not their real title — that the IdM vendor space is to the middle/right of a data—authentication—access continuum (as shown in the TIER Reference Architecture), and that our pressing gap is towards the left.

Current thinking is that the Entity Registry component space only really has Internet2's COmanage in it, and we're not yet sure whether it would fit our needs (*handwave*).

Called at lunch to pick up our poorly four-year-old from pre-school. As ever, much perked up by the time I arrived. Missed a meeting with IAM people about COmanage.


No emails sent today. Hmmm. Is that good? Bad?

IAM team meeting. For a change of scenery I've been asked to look at fixing/improving the outbound integration from the team's Core User Directory (CUD) to our service desk tool (HEAT, in "The Cloud"). This is the start of a couple of days glaring at Java and Maven.

Spoke with Anna at UCISA about the dev.ac.uk conference planned for February and how she thought I could help (I'd organised an IAM unconference earlier in the year, and was previously involved in Dev8D). Anna hopes the conference will be the start of a programme of CPD opportunities and community-building efforts for developers in HE.

We're now two or three days after the snow, and until this point I'd been keeping off the cycling infrastructure (cycle lanes and shared-use paths) as they'd not been treated. On my way home the shared-use path down the side of the A40 near Water Eaton P&R looked mostly clear, so I tried using it. In retrospect, not a good idea, and I came close to coming off the path into the carriageway just as a car zoomed past. Put the video up on Twitter, and ooh, engagement. Now feeling that the pile-on it encouraged on the county council Twitter account wasn't particularly constructive or helpful. I also gave myself another thing to do: researching salting and clearing approaches for cycle infrastructure so it can be written up on the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain website. There's a lesson here about frustrated tweeting.


Like last Thursday, a work-from-home day, but I came in for a gathering.

Most of the morning was taken up reacquainting myself with CUD. In the afternoon Infrastructure Services had a post-restructuring gathering at the Clarendon Institute so we could all be introduced to the new teams. Everyone is lovely (but we knew that).


Work-from-home day, to ease child-ferrying.

The morning started with a Skype call planning for the dev.ac.uk conference. Progress! I have actions to trail it on various lists. We also are very aware that the responses to the expression of interest survey aren't very diverse, and more needs to be done. I need to do more research about under-represented groups in the HE developer space, and how we can be better at engaging them.

For the rest of the day I carried on plugging away at CUD — Eclipse errors now squelched; it runs! — before it was time to change for the Christmas party and head in to Oxford. It was all very respectable :-D.


Modulo contributing to dev.ac.uk planning, still not sure much has been "achieved".

Informal meetings with colleagues over coffee: 3