Ryan Blunden is a DevOps developer and instructor and has taught Docker and Kubernetes courses for Accelebrate. He also teaches Python and AWS. When teaching a class, Ryan likes to make sure his students truly understand the material and walk away knowing the benefit of the technology.
We asked Ryan to share more about his experience, background, favorite technologies, why he loves Python, and what he enjoys about teaching. Here's what we found.
For the entire video interview, visit https://youtu.be/9oG4UeJVIEc
Accelebrate: Tell us a little about yourself.
Accelebrate: Any favorite languages?
Ryan: I try to stay open. I love Python. It is very low noise. What is important to me is: Does the language get in the way of doing what I need to do? What I enjoy about different languages is that they each have their own quirks, styles, qualities and variables. Different languages give you different ways to do the same thing.
Accelebrate: What drew you to programming?
Ryan: I did a bachelor degree in Multimedia around 2000, when 3D programming and web applications were growing. What I loved about programming was that a system can take input and give the user a completely custom experience. I really enjoy the process of building something that provides value.
Accelebrate: Tell us a little bit more about Python.
Ryan: What is interesting about Python at the moment is the push to get from Python version 2 to 3. There have been 6 variations of Python. 3.6 has finally hit the sweet spot for developers and library maintainers where it finally feels like it's ready for primetime. It's going to be really great to have the whole community shifting to use the same version again. I also like using Python inside Docker. For instance, when I am embedding the AWS CLI. The Ajax CLI is also written in Python.
Accelebrate: Do you have any tips and tricks for Pythonista's?
Ryan: Python is easy to get stuff done with as a language. It is important to know how to use Python well. One of the best things about writing Python code is that if it is done well, my code and yours will look the same. It should all look and feel the same. There is a really good book called "Learn Python the Hard Way" which I recommend to people who are new to programming. Start watching the Python conference videos or find an open source project on GitHub. That is where I learned the most.
Accelebrate: Do you have any favorite Python or technical blogs in general?
Ryan: Technical resources are hard. There is so much information out there. I tend to search more now. If you know what you're looking for and are picky about where you get your information from, the search will be much better. If I want to take a look at what is happening within the Kubernetes community and see what is relevant and what is coming up, the first place I'll go is the Google Cloud blog. They also have a lot of information about parts of the Kubernetes stack. There are so many good conferences and I don't have enough time to go to them all. I will go to a conference website agenda and try to pick up on their theme. The best way to keep up is to take a big picture look and try to figure out where things are trending towards.
Accelebrate: What do you like most about being a technical trainer?
Ryan: Becoming a technical trainer is really about sharing for me. It started out with being a champion for writing documentation at companies that I worked for. It was all about taking the knowledge and recording it internally in a way that anyone could learn from it, including a total beginner. The first course I taught was on iOS development when I was at LinkedIn in 2012. I wanted to experience teaching how to do mobile development on a different platform. I started to enjoy the challenge of speaking, learning how to present a topic so that it is interesting, engaging, and real-world, production quality advice.
Accelebrate: What are some of the most frequently asked questions in your Python classes?
Ryan: Python questions are usually things like: What is the best library for scraping web pages? Or: What is the best library for reading a CSV file and then putting that data into a database? Most of the people I teach are using Python for business purposes. They need to take a huge amount of data and use to it to provide business value.
Accelebrate: What about frequently asked questions in other classes you teach, such as Docker and AWS?
Ryan: With AWS, the question that people ask most is how to best deploy an application. Knowing how to glue everything together with automation is the really tricky thing.
The main thing that people want to understand about Docker is: What are the real advantages over virtual machines? Is Docker overhyped, or is it genuinely worth using? I like to take a step back and look at what a container is and why it came into existence in the first place. This is more interesting and makes it easier to learn about.
Accelebrate: How do you go about the process of answering tool-related questions during your consulting projects?
Ryan: It is different every time. It depends on the organization, the team, and what they're migrating from. There are a lot of variables. I recommend keeping things as simple as possible and to only change one thing at a time. What I frequently tell clients who are considering using something like Docker or Kubernetes is, why don't you take the virtual machines that you're using at the moment, but instead of using a configuration management tool to configure each of those instances to run your installation, install Docker and run that instead. That way you can get really good at running Docker in production before making a huge overall shift.
Accelebrate: If I were a student in your AWS course, what would be the biggest things for me to avoid?
Ryan: You've got to be very careful about knowing what is going on. There are a lot of AWS tutorials, wizards, and templates out there to help you get started. They may not be enough to help you get it work in production. I ask students to take the time to understand networking fundamentals before trying to get an application to work. It is way better to really understand the basics well, rather than trying to learn 12 technologies at once. The trainer role to me offers a curation process and doesn't just explain things.
Accelebrate: What advice do you have for kids or teenagers who want to get into the technology sector when they grow up?
Ryan: Nowadays, there are some many different ways to build software. I would ask questions about what they enjoy doing. People need to understand what it is they enjoy doing, and the types of activities that they gravitate towards. This can help focus on the best technology or role that suits their interests.
Accelebrate: Is there anything else readers should know about you?
Ryan: I Every course I teach, I spend a fair bit of time to get to know people and what they have really come to learn. I don't just want to say hey, here's a bunch of commands. I want to get into the why, the benefits, the value of what they will be learning about. I always try to take it one level deeper, so that people not only come out knowing more, but are actually smarter. I give ways to actually think about what they are doing as engineers or solutions architects. I try to give people as much value as possible
Accelebrate: Thank you so much for your time Ryan. It was great talking with you and we look forward to working with you at Accelebrate.
Ryan: Thank you, Julie. I look forward to working with you all.
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