SRE book review

I don’t normally buy paper books, which means that in the course of the last few years I’ve bought only one paper book even though I’ve read hundreds of books during that period of time. This book is the second one I’ve bought so far, which means a lot to me. Not mentioning that Google is providing it on the Internet free of charge.

For me, personally, this book is a basis on which a lot of my past assumptions could be argued as viable solutions with the scale of Google. This book is not revealing any Google’s secrets (do they really have any secrets?) But it’s a great start even if you don’t need the scale of Google but want to write robust and failure-resilient apps.

Technical solutions, dealing with the user facing issues, finding peers, on-call support, post-mortems, incident-tracking systems – this book has it all though, as chapters have been written by different people some aspects are more emphasized than the others. I wish some of the chapters had more gory production-based details than they do now.

My score is 5/5

Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books

How Linux Works book review

This book doesn’t claim to cover all Linux features, but definitely it covers some of the most important ones.

It’s easy to read, though it encompasses lots of useful information. I wish my first Linux book was like that.

The only complaint I had with it was that though its second edition has been recently issued and it wasn’t strictly specified on which Linux distribution should I run some of the commands from the book  I wasn’t able to try some of them due to that there were no such packages in the APT repository for reference Ubuntu Docker image I’ve been using.

This is definitely not a book I would recommend to a SysOps, unless he needs to quickly brush-up his skills. But if you’re a “superuser”, that’s the book you should definitely read to know what’s “inode” any why top&vmstat&iotop might be much more powerful than you’ve thought.

My score 4/5

Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books

Plans for 2017


  • Brush up (most probably by starting from the basics) my German language skills
  • Start tracking expenses, again
  • Pass a Polish language exam
  • Teach Kira how to ride a bicycle, finally
  • Run a marathon
  • Play 2 etudes with Kira
  • Draw a vector banner
  • Read 20 books
  • Technical

    • Learn Python
    • Learn either Rust or Go, presumably both
    • Improve my data skills, implement at least 2 data-concerned apps as side projects
    • Migrate this website to Jekyll
    • Teach my wife a programming language that has a lean learning curve to the level at which she could write her own scripts
    • Improve my TopCoder/HackerRank profile, finish reading at least 2 algorithms-related books throughout the year
    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on life

    Houston, seems like we have a clone situation here

    Kira & Adam

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on gif and life

    2016 Year Resolution


    • Read 12 books
    • Gave a talk regarding Akka Persistence
    • Went from a role in management to a technical developer/DevOps role


    Languages I’ve used and abused throughout the year:

  • Scala – 6/10 Nice language, though it needs too much attention in comparison with other languages I know and the code is less beautiful than in Clojure/Lisp, some parts are clunky
  • Javascript – 7/10 Easy to use, refreshed my knowledge of ES6 in a couple of hours, enormous ecosystem, ugly
  • Bash – 4/10 – After I’ve started to use bash more it has become a huge disappointment for me as its capabilities are very limited
  • Python – can’t really put a score for it since I haven’t really learned it. However, that didn’t stop me from using it. Nice language, but some parts are really lame and disputable.
  • Technologies:

  • React/Redux – 7/10 Nice framework, its ubiquitous usage of FP paradigms helps are lot to educate the newcomers. Though I find it less productive than Angular. Nevertheless, it was just this year’s JS framework that got most of the hype
  • Docker – 10/10 Initially, I was diminishing its importance due to its apparent simplicity and my shallow knowledge of it. But after I wrap by head around it and saw some of its features in integration with other products my mind was blown. It’s the technology of the year for me. I’m not going ever to install anything on a Vagrant machine myself since there’s Docker for Mac since this year.
  • AWS – 7/10 Worked with RDS, Dynamo, CloudFormation, S3 (Scala driver written by enthusiasts sucks), Route53, EC2, ECS, Elastic BeansTalk. I have no idea why would anyone build their own private cloud whatsoever since Amazon has most of the features you need, though at a price.
  • Couchbase – 6/10 Mongo-like in-memory database, works fast, search/aggregation/API is ugly.
  • PostgreSQL – 8/10 Solid as a rock, has rightfully claimed a space in my heart as a default relational DB I’d use for my projects. JSON integration works there. Makes MySql irrelevant.
  • Spark/AKKA – 8/10 Cool tech, though sometimes have unpredictable behavior due to inherited complexity from other technologies they’re built upon
  • SBT/AKKA.NET – 5/10 Both are having a steep learning curve, though after you’ve spent your time on learning them are nice. Unfortunately, there’re other tools/technologies much friendlier/productive for their users.
  • Mesos/Marathon – 8/10 Hard to understand, though unbelievably powerful. Gives you autoscaling/loadbalancing out of the box
  • Personal

    • Went to a swimming pool once per week
    • Taught my daughter swimming
    • Went to see 8 countries
    • Started to play piano
    • Learned a new foreign language – Polish
    • Bought an apartment
    • Went to see how my son was born
    • Rode a bicycle throughout the year
    • Swam in Adriatic Sea
    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on life

    Bash for beginner book review

    As my previous attempts to fully learn Bash had been short-living and sporadic I’ve decided that this time I’m going to fully master it in order to prevent myself from writing one-off scripts on high-level languages to do simple stuff that can be easily lifted by Bash.

    This book is a great introduction for those who are real new comers, though I thought of myself as of the same kind.

    Turns out that’s not the right book for me as it’s not focused on particular aspects I’m interested in (networking, IO). However, it’s nicely written and it will definitely help if you want to have a high-level view on the most important Bash features.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books

    Why would you need to play piano?

    That’s why.

    Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone (SnapMandz’ Candlelight Version)

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on stuff


    First, I need to confess. I know a half of a dozen of different languages, among them I use 3 of them on a daily basis. Even though I’ve started to learn most of them relatively early due to lack of practice and absence of communication with native speakers my accent is thick. I also do a lot of typical mistakes influenced by my native Slavic language (i.e. I miss the nouns most of the time when I use Germanic-based languages).

    But what has recently struck me is that if you know more that one foreign language and you use them day-to-day some tumbler in your head switches and suddenly you’re able to absorb new languages by means of pure anticipation and understanding of common principles that all languages are based upon.

    Interestingly, the same idea has struck my daughter who’s already multilingual even though she’s only 5. I wonder how many languages will she be able to speak whilst she’ll be my age.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on life

    Next year’s summer trip

    This year we were on the beautiful Adriatic coastline as well as we toured most of magnificent Italy, astonishing Croatia, and most importantly Slovenia that completely stole my heart as it’s the most beautiful country I’ve been so far.

    Next year the plan is to meet our peers in Bulgaria along with visiting the birthplace of Slavic culture in Greece, not to mention checking out Macedonian wine and probably Belgrade will look better while the sun is shining there.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on life and stuff

    True masterpiece

    Myself along with daughter Kira are fans of body art, therefore we don’t miss any opportunity that’s available to paint our bodies.

    Without any further ado, let me show the best example of the kid’s body art we’ve seen so far. It’s truly a masterpiece compared to all what we’ve experienced before.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on stuff

    AWS in Action book review

    I could barely reach the end of this book. I have hardly seen any book that was so boring to read. Most of the book’s CF examples didn’t work for me. Not to mention that some of the services this book is describing have evolved so much that this book will do you more harm than good if you’ll start using those services based on the book.

    Apart from the last 4 chapters I reckon that this book could help you quickly brush up your AWS skills.

    The last 4 chapters are still relevant. Even though I’d love to see more emphasis on Elastic BeansTalk, as well as it’s a great pity that though the authors have mentioned AWS Lambda&Gateway API that’d preferred to simply ignore it since it wasn’t available in all regions at the time.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books

    Track of the month: Agoria – Up All Night

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on music

    Track of the week: Beetamines & David Jach – How never

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on music

    Using docker book review



    As Docker continues to keep its pace as a constantly evolving technology, there’s no book that encompasses all aspects of it. In my opinion, this book came close to that. Though sometimes it doesn’t provide you all technical details it covers a lot of what you need to deal with Docker on a daily basis.

    I found the examples that come with the book are so  helpful that even sometimes I could even use them in order to improve some aspects of my daily routine.

    The book covers docker 1.8, which API hasn’t changed so much since the book has been written. But some of the networking APIs, docker compose has slightly changed which allows to give this book only 4 stars. Apart from that it’s not  a constantly updated book I can recommend it to anyone who considers Docker as a viable technology.

    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books and stuff

    Akka in Action book review

    I’ve started reading this book as a draft long before it was released. I’ve abandoned it for a while, but this fall it was finally released thus I no other excuse to finally finish reading it.

    I need to confess that’s not the first Akka book I’ve read so far. By no means this book covers all the aspects of Akka (which is enormously huge, albeit allows you to write full fledged applications based only on itself). But it is THE BOOK I would recommend you to read if you’re interested in Akka right now. The book has been recently updated to reflect the latest changes in  http, persistence and some other modules. Taking into account how quickly does akka keep its pace I would say that after a while without constant updates (which took this book 4 years to get finished) this book could get outdated.

    It has the bulk of the info you need to know about Akka to start working with it and get productive. Code that comes on its Github really works (which is rare for books’ code examples) and it can help you get your hands dirty in parts of the AKKA as quickly as possible.

    My score is 4/5(I recommend to start reading it right now until it’s too late)



    Author's profile picture Michael Koltsov on books and scala