The day I ordered Reginald on Amazon and the weeks thereafter have solidified my belief that automation of everything is the most important thing one can do if you're looking for streamlined productivity. Reginald is an iRobot Roomba 800 series, and it's scary how much joy I derive from this little circular computer on wheels strapped to a vacuum cleaner.
Since January 12, 2017 (Reginald's birthday) it has run 55 cleaning jobs for a total of 51 hours and covered 20,100 square feet of area. Of those 55 jobs, it has failed on only two of them; both of which were due to my wife and I introducing new things into it's environment that it could not overcome. Like, for example, a squishy tall pile bath mat that entrapped the right wheel of a hapless Reginald who is simply making it's best attempt to clean all the things.
The bottom line? Reginald has recovered 51 hours of my time that I can use to focus on more important things. Things like my client relationships, projects I'm working on, and most importantly time with my family.
I remember when my wife and I first got married we carefully split the household chores into optimized chunks and spent every other Sunday furiously dusting, vacuuming, cooking, and, well you get the picture. One of my primary functions was to vacuum each room with our Dyson (the Ferrari of all vacuums), and I would plan out my route avoiding obstacles like furniture and dog toys. I would painstakingly vacuum under low furniture with the arm attachment, pause to unplug/replug when the cord reached it's total length, lug the giant vacuum up and down stairs, and among many other manual tasks, empty the bin when it filled up. It would take me about hour and a half to get through the whole area of our home.
Nevertheless, I was very keen on optimizing this problem by hand, and came up with all kinds of clever work arounds to reduce my time behind the Dyson. Now, with Reginald in the picture, we've installed a completely autonomous robot to handle the entire problem for us--which is especially welcome after an increase of square footage resulting from a move to a new abode (i.e. a higher workload). In addition, we can run Reginald as many times as we want and get close to the same coverage--a nirvana of vacuuming idempotency--cleaning our floors more with each pass. And, possibly the best part, we can schedule runs during times when none of us are at home--essentially reclaiming dead space in our home schedules to asynchronously do something productive.
So, how does this have anything to do with DevOps or Software Engineering? Simple. Automate all the things. Seriously. If something as mundane as a vacuuming robot can increase my quality of life and save me 51 hours over the course of two months how much more important is it to automate everything in our software environment? When we're heads down doing what we do best we often lose the comprehensive view required to perceive trends and macro optimizations around us. We hit local maxima of productivity and never realize that our potential is two or three times greater. When optimizing the problem by hand there are several parallels to engineering work arounds, half-optimizations, and hacks. It wasn't until I invested in fully automating the problem did I recover a worthwhile reward.
I challenge all of you to go find something novel right now you can automate in your environment, and I double dog dare you to measure it. You might be surprised at what you recover in the long run.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.