Monday, 26 July 2010

Week in Review - 2010-29

I've installed WorldCommunityGrid on my media center, which is on 24*7 - may as well use that spare CPU time for good! I've been watching my ranking slowly get better, starting over 300,000 and now after 21 days of run time I'm ranked (by points) in the mid 200,000s. Along comes a friend of mine and in a very short time he's already broken through under 200,000! He has a quad core CPU (mine is a dual core), and I'm assuming thats the reason.

I find it strange that developer PCs never seem to get updated unless someone new joins the team - and they only get a new computer if one doesn't exist already. I've never worked anywhere where they've had a policy to update developer machines regularly. I think I'd have a policy of updating them every 12 to 18 months if it was up to me. The older machines can filter down to less power users, or perhaps the developer PCs could be rented. I would love a clean machine with a clean OS every 18 months, and I can have all of my required software set up in less than half an hour so a policy like this would be a huge productivity gain. We could have the latest hardware, so we wouldn't wait so long for builds and IDE's to do their thing:

  • Less time waiting for builds

  • Less time waiting for boots, reboots, applications to load

  • Less time waiting for IDEs to autocomplete, parse, validate, suggest

And a word to IT Managers - don't treat EVERYONE in the organisation as having the same requirements - give power users power machines. I could also go on to question WHY I'm forced to use Windows when every platform I ever deploy to is UNIX. But I'll save that for later.

I hit several bugs this week:

I've been involved in launching a new website at - built using Joomla! So I've been interested in doing some SEO - If I search Google and Yahoo for "pmw-ex3 shoulder mount" it appears within the first 2 pages. But Bing still hasn't updated its index - it still has the "parked domain" page from when the domain was registered. Its been a couple of weeks now, it'll be interesting to see when Bing does finally update.

I found some great reading on:

I really like OMG! Ubuntu! - I think it is a very well put together site, and shows off just how much you can do with a blog.

New Releases:

Monday, 19 July 2010

Week in Review - 2010-28

I finally got a new battery for my laptop - it only took 3 weeks rather than the estimated 6, so finally I'm back online - on the train. It's barely doing the job though, a new battery barely gets me to and from work - I obviously need to work closer to home! I'm running Ubuntu, Netbeans, Grails, and sometimes a 3G internet connection - so I guess it is working hard for what is sometimes more than a 2 hour round trip!

It will be interesting to see how the new battery lasts. I'm also thinking about getting a new laptop at the end of the year - my current laptop is over 2 years old, so technology wise it's out of date. The DELL Adamo looks interesting, with a SSD disk - I'd love to see how much difference that makes, otherwise I'd probably get an Inspiron 13z - I'm mainly interested in the smaller lighter models since I'm so mobile. Its nice to see laptops coming without DVD drives now - who needs them?

I found an interesting whitepaper on Agile Testing. It describes how different the testing role is in an Agile environment. Worth reading, but as always you never get the full picture from one source, so also check out StickyMinds, InfoQ and Pragmatic Programmers.

We've been having interesting debates at work about how to move forward towards being more Agile. I'm on a Scrum project at the moment and I am a lot happier now that the project management is sorted out, but we need to get better at our development practices. It seems so hard though, convincing others to buy into things that seem so reasonable - so much harder than it should be. And if the others aren't motivated how do you make progress by yourself? I've tried just doing it with the hope that it will motivate the others, but they just don't get excited about it like I do. I've got things to learn here, so if you have any advice or strategies please feel free to comment.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Week in Review - 2010-27

I've recently made updates to my grails plugins to ensure they work on Grails 1.3. I hadn't touched them for a while, so it took a bit of effort. I haven't had the opportunity to use Grails much lately, so I had to catch up on changes. One issue I have is that its impossible to know if anyone is actually using these plugins, and therefore are they worth maintaining?

I recently stumbled across - The Magazine for Agile Developers and Agile Testers. This is a downloadable PDF magazine, I think it only requires registration. Very interesting read, I recommend checking it out.

Another awesome read is "Scrum and XP from the Trenches" - - This describes how one team implemented agile and is a fantastic source of information.

I've been playing with Joomla lately, and I'm liking it so far. There is a bit of a learning curve, because it has a different paradigm than Wordpress - while Wordpress is very focussed on blogging, Joomla is more generic and takes a bit of getting used to. Hopefully it will prove to be flexible enough to meet my needs.

I was creating some images with GIMP, and I had an issue where the text I was adding was very chunky - it looked terrible. I googled around and found the answer here - switching the image mode to RGB fixed everything.

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