Hi there 👋

Welcome to the personal blog of Kevin Sookocheff. I love to teach, speak, and write about distributed systems, cloud computing, architecture, and systems engineering.

Increased virtualization performance with the AWS Nitro System

Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). EC2 is a web service that provides resizable, on-demand computing capacity — literally, servers in Amazon’s data centers — that you use to build and host your software. It’s important to understand that EC2 is a virtual computing environment. In a virtual environment, there is one physical server with all of the necessary hardware — CPU, memory, hard disk, network controller and more. This single physical server can host multiple operating systems and applications through a hypervisor that runs directly on top of the physical machine....

December 21, 2022 · 3 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Using Neovim as a Java IDE

I first learned Vim in university and, since then, it has been a welcome companion for the majority of my software engineering career. Working with Python and Go programs felt natural with Vim and I was always felt productive. Yet Java was always a different beast. Whenever an opportunity to work with Java came up, I would inevitably try Vim for a while, but fall back to IntelliJ and the IdeaVim plugin to take advantage of the rich language features a full-featured IDE can give you....

December 14, 2022 · 20 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Distributed System Models in the Real World

Practical distributed applications are deployed into varied environments and execute on a variety of different machines linked together over a variety of communication infrastructure. The physical machines themselves can differ in the number and speed of processors, the availability of random access and stable storage, and more. The communication infrastructure can differ in the available levels of latency, throughput, and reliability. Because of these differences, it is more practical to look at distributed algorithms from a higher-level perspective so that they are applicable to a wide range of environments....

September 20, 2022 · 28 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Write-ahead logging and the ARIES crash recovery algorithm

A central tenet of databases is that any committed data survives a crash or a failure. Write-ahead logging is a fundamental primitive that ensures all changes to data are first written safely to stable storage before being applied. Coupling that with some careful use of sequence numbers and we can guarantee that changes made to a database can survive system crashes. Motivation Let’s start with a simple transaction T1 that reads object A, and updates the value for A with a write....

August 26, 2022 · 21 min · Kevin Sookocheff

How to kill a process that is a using port on macOS

Every so often I get stuck with a running process that’s using a specific port, preventing me from running some new application that uses the same port. Then I’m left Googling for solutions or rebooting the machine to make progress. But not any more! I’m recording the solution for my future self (and of course for you, dear reader). > sudo lsof -i :<PortNumber> # returns list of processes using the port, with PID > kill -9 <PID> # kill the specific pid For example, you can find out what’s running on port number 8080 by running the command:...

June 29, 2022 · 1 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Progress is a lake, not a line

When people describe progress, they often describe it in terms of a linear progression taking us from primitive to advanced — an idea or invention occurs as a singular event, and somewhere further down the line of time a new idea or invention completely replaces it, relegating the old to the annals of history. This viewpoint is exemplified by traditional worldviews that organize all beings according to a chain of evolution, sometimes called the “great chain of being” (or scala naturae)....

June 1, 2022 · 3 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Why Systems Work So Well

In the book “Thinking in Systems”, Donella Meadows dedicates an entire chapter to explaining why functioning systems seem to work so well. In it, she recognizes three characteristics: resilience, self-organization, and hierarchy. Resilience We can use the standard definition from the Oxford English dictionary to describe resilience: re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ noun the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions” the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity....

May 11, 2022 · 3 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Java For The Experienced Beginner

Java was the first programming language I was taught at University, and the language I used for the first decade of my career. It continues to be a reliable companion throughout my software development career. Unfortunately, not having developed with Java professionally for several years, I’ve found there are many aspects of the modern Java language that I’m simply not familiar with. To rectify this, I’ve collected the major improvements to the language beginning with Java 8, combined with a short explanation of how they work and how to use them....

April 27, 2022 · 42 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Behaviour Parameterization

One of the core features of modern Java is lambda expressions. Introduced in Java 8, lambdas provide concise syntax allowing the deferred execution of a block of code. Put a different way, lambdas allow us to pass behaviour as a method parameter. When the method executes, the lambda expression is run. This capability is often referred to as behaviour parameterization. Behaviour parameterization can be achieved in a number of ways, of which lambda expressions are usually the most convenient, and they are definitely the most concise....

April 26, 2022 · 6 min · Kevin Sookocheff
Marching ants

What complex systems can teach us about building software

As a software system scales it becomes sufficiently large that the number of working parts, coupled with the number of working programmers making changes on it, makes the behaviour of the system extremely difficult to reason about. This complexity is exacerbated by the transition of many organizations towards a microservice architecture, as exemplified by the so-called “death star” architecture, where each point in the circumference of the circle represents a microservice and the lines between services represent their interactions....

March 9, 2022 · 13 min · Kevin Sookocheff