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Smoke Alarms, Car Alarms, and Monitoring

Dan Slimmon (Exosite)
Mission City Ballroom B4
Average rating: ****.
(4.24, 17 ratings)

Nobody likes false negatives. When your Nagios probes fail to detect a problem, it can hurt your sales, your reputation, and even your ego (especially your ego). The solution: tune the thresholds. Right? You can handle a couple spurious late-night pages if it means you’ll reliably detect real failures.

Dan will argue that – while easy – exchanging false negatives for false positives does more harm than good. Borrowing the medical concepts of specificity and sensitivity, he will show how deceptive this tradeoff can be. He’ll also make the case that putting in the extra effort to minimize both types of falsehoods is necessary and healthy. When the alarm goes off, you shouldn’t have to spend precious minutes sniffing for smoke.

Photo of Dan Slimmon

Dan Slimmon


Dan is in charge of ops for the Minneapolis-based machine-to-machine engineering firm Exosite. He’s responsible for developing the infrastructure that drives Exosite’s data platform toward ever-greater performance and reliability.

Before moving to the Midwest, Dan managed the operations team at Blue State Digital, whose SaaS online marketing platform is leveraged by hundreds of political campaigns and nonprofits.

Making frequent use of statistical methods and data visualization, Dan evangelizes for ubiquitous measurement in software development, infrastructure design, and really everything a business does.