It Just Keeps Getting Better

Tech employment pool drying up.

ONLY 16 per cent of senior managers in Australia's corporate sector expect to hire staff in the next 12 months and about a third intend to reduce their headcount, research shows.

I need to do more training…let me see:

Do you want fries with that!


Do you want fries with that?


Do you want fries with that?

Nope…wait a minute…

You want fries! With that?


Tags: Rant

A Forlorn Hope: An Open Letter To Australian Senator Steven Fielding

Australia, like many countries, has been having a political debate on Climate Change. In Australia we have two major parties and a few independents. In this situation, the independents hold the balance of power. One such independent-Senator Steven Fielding-has come out as a sceptic of climate change and has asked a number of questions regarding climate change that he says are both unanswered and unanswerable.

This prompted me to post the following to his forums (a scary place, it turn out!):

Dear Senator Fielding,

I commend you and your researchers to take up a subscription to New Scientist.

Careful reading of this magazine over a period of time will (I believe) give you a fair and balanced appreciation of the observations and effects that are now taking place on this planet, along with several proposed theories and mechanisms that are being put forward to attempt to explain these observations and effects.

I have been a subscriber to this magazine for many years and am truly frightened by what I have been reading. I believe that we MUST act to curb our greenhouse gas emmisions immediately. The consequences of failure are simply unthinkable.

Senator Fielding, please take the time to review New Scientist's coverage on Climate Change. I would like to suggest the following as helpful:

http://www.newscient … topic/climate-change
http://www.newscient … -climate-change.html
http://www.newscient … r-the-perplexed.html

If New Scientist is not for you, or you would like to review the material from additional sources, then perhaps you would like to review
the coverage of other publications, such as:

http://www.scientifi … g-and-climate-change … e-change-and-energy/

Senator Fielding: I believe that the time for doubting climate change is over. The Science is in. The remaining questions are: what can we do about this threat, and precisely what will happen to us if we don't respond appropriately.

Please do not take any action that might delay Australia's response to this threat.

I had to try!

I am guessing that he is probably more than a little playing to his gallery, rather than actually engaging with the topic itself…he is a representative of the rather right-wing "family first" group, after all (anyone remember One Nation? Family First is the spiritual heir…slightly more grown up but still a few bales short of a haystack).

Sen. Fielding has apparently made up his mind since I posted to his forum, and done what any good politician does when faced with the possibility of being proven wrong: he has moved the goalposts. Quote:

…Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

So now the science is not unanswerable but 'unconvincing'…as if he were qualified to judge! Still, by raising the spectre of job losses he manages to keep his constituency happy.

Sad. very sad.

This in a country that is increasingly wracked by drought and where the warning signs are right under one's nose!

Tags: Rant

CHere: A Cygwin 'Trick' To Remember

There has long been a "Command Prompt Here" facility in the Windows Explorer. Originally it was provided via a PowerToy, but it has since become a standard feature. Cygwin has also adopted this, and provides the chere utility to help set up Explorer context menu items:


chere -in -e "Open Bash Window Here"

The end result is:

I always forget this, so I'll put it here, where it can help me and perhaps also the rest of the blogosphere.

Tags: Tools

Brisbane CITCON 2009

I just attended Brisbane CITCON 2009.

To my surprise, I greatly enjoyed the event. Thanks to all concerned!

I said 'surprise': this is the first OpenSpace event I have ever been to. I expected (with a smidgin of dread) a Gen-Y look-at-me-aren't-I-clever-don't-tell-me-things-I-don't-already-know ego-fest. I found a group of passionate (mostly non-Gen-Y, it has to be said) cluey developers getting together to show&tell and discuss real issues, problems and solutions.

A couple of piccys. The first is of the collaboratively-produced topic board/conference schedule:

Living proof that the agile concept of "no centralised control" can work…

The second piccy is of the illustrious Dr. Paul King of ASERT, in his presentation groove(y):

And no conference could possibly be complete without a T-shirt:

There's a Flickr page.

For some reason, I had expected a Ruby love-in. I had expected to hear the fanboys raving about how Ruby was innovatively solving the problems of testing and CI. Half of me had been hoping to see/hear this. There was some nice stuff about Watir but nothing that changed my world-view (I'm actually a little disappointed…it's A Good Thing to have one's world-view shaken up a bit every now and then ;-)).

I confess to being a little surprised to not hearing a Hudson buzz; IMHO it's an excellent CI server. I was unsurprised to be hearing a wake up people!

In (sad) contrast to the Oracle Free Breakfast Session I had attended a few days previous, this free event was worth far more than I paid!

In summary: an excellent event. Recommended.

Can you see me?

Tags: Agile, Grails, Programming

Oracle Free Breakfast Session

On Wednesday I attended Oracle's free breakfast session: "Web 2.0 Technology Demo Session & Customer Case Study by Thiess."

Thank you, Oracle!

In hindsight, I don't think that I am a member of the target audience for this sort of presentation.

I'd hoped/expected to find out about things like AJAX/JSF2.0 and where JDeveloper/Netbeans/Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse 11g/… were going. I probably misread the announcement.

Nonetheless, I have to confess to sitting there thinking things like: "Surely everyone knows about Single Sign-On by now!" It is frustrating. I see a definite disconnect in the industry these days: on one hand, the actual technology and tools and techniques are improving quite dramatically. On the other hand, it seems to be getting harder and harder to actually get adoption of all the 'good stuff.'

Maybe there is so much 'good stuff' around that it is overwhelming?

(It could also be just another example of the fact that I am getting ever older and grumpier…)

I found Theiss' comment that they had actually bought into J. D. Edwards and had "sort of got Oracle by default" (paraphrasing) hilarious. Images of feet being shot went through my mind :-)

I've also written about all these vendor Mea Culpas before.

Tough crowd, eh!

Still, once again: thank you Oracle!

Jobs Train Wreck

A statistic from the UK job market (couldn't find similar for Oz):

(Chart taken from http://www.jobstats. … lary-rates/java-jobs)

What a train wreck!

'Thanks' go to Alex at Lexecorp for ruining my day!

Dilbert Considered Harmful

At least by this blogger, who says, in part:

Social objects - and by extension the practices and behaviours we adopt - all reinforce our identity (think of the places you know whose walls are festooned with Pirelli Calendar and Page 3 pictures). The 'Dilbert Shrine' is a sign of cynicism and mutual disrespect that's become institutionalized: the persistence of these objects in our environments affects the way we approach our work, our teams and our organizations.

Thinking back to the researcher/past colleague who pretty much went on strike until he got his own local cache of Dilbert comic strips makes me put aside my initial dismissive thought of this posting…there just may be something in it!

Gotta admire the associated Dilbert-oriented artwork ('lifted' from the above site), however:

Yet Another Useful Groovy Snippet

The question was: "What's the cleanest way to add variable size String of spaces?"

Here's my snippet:

def pad = { what, repeat -> what * repeat }

(0..9).each {
  println "${pad(' ', it)}Hello!" 

This gives:


This makes use of the fact that you can just multiply strings in Groovy.

Quite neat, IMHO!

Groovy has a built-in solution, which has slightly different behaviour:

(0..9).each {
  println "hello".padLeft(it, '_')



Unsurprisingly, a version making use of Apache Commons Lang StringUtils behaves exactly the same way:

import static org.apache.commons.lang.StringUtils.* 

(0..9).each {
  println leftPad('hello', it, '_')

Just for completeness: there's java.util.Formatter but unlike with C's printf function, one cannot specify a field's width via a variable.

Tags: Groovy, Programming

This Makes Me Sad

Been meaning to put this up for a LOOOOOONNNGGG time. Should be required watching for all participants in an agile project. I do mean all.

When Working Software Is Not Enough: A Story of Project Failure, presented by Mitch Lacey.

Sigh. So depressing.

Maybe having an Agile Maturity Model is actually A Good Idea.

Tags: Agile

Unix System Administration Courseware: Now DonationWare


I am opening up old courseware to the world on a "pay if you like it" or have it free basis.

This is a new thing for transentia!

My first offering is Unix System Administration.

I ran this course between 1999 and 2002. It was presented in the US (New York), around Australia and Macau.

The course was pitched at people who were intending to step into a Unix/Linux System Administration role and who (may) already have known a little bit about the OS.

It was promoted as a five-day course, to give plenty of hands-on time. There are quite a few exercises and we always started with a 'bare' machine and a RedHat Linux CD-ROM, so participants tended to need a fair bit of 'play' time; it wasn't all talking head stuff. One or twice I did it in 3 days; it was pretty rushed, but the customer gets what the customer wants!

Because it is not really my "core business" (which is: enterprise Java development) I didn't really give the material the care and feeding it needed and eventually stopped promoting and maintaining it.

Here's the 'blurb':

Users of the UNIX operating system who want to develop more in-depth administration skills, World-Wide Web site developers and administrators who are interested in hosting their site under UNIX, other IT personnel and consultants who need to understand UNIX system administration.

The popularity of the UNIX operating system has increased steadily over the last decade or so. The system's stability and scalability has led to it becoming the system of choice for enterprise-level applications such as hosting mail and World-Wide Web servers and providing database services. At the same time, the growing acceptance of popular, freely available derivations such as Linux and FreeBSD means that UNIX is reaching out to the desktop as never before.

The growth of UNIX means that skilled administrators are in great demand.

At the end of this course, the participant will have:

  • gained a working knowledge of UNIX configuration, maintenance and tuning
  • developed skills to enable him/her to automate many of the day-to-day aspects of running a UNIX system
  • developed skills sufficient to enable him/her to administer a UNIX-based user community
  • become aware of some of the various security issues surrounding UNIX
  • gained the ability to solve system-related problems as they occur
  • obtained an appreciation of the widespread UNIX administrator's community and of the resources that are available to support him/her

Sample Course Overview
The system administration course will cover the following topics.

Day 1

  • UNIX history, current status and future
  • versions of UNIX
  • UNIX architecture and design
  • UNIX administration features and foibles
  • the system administration task

Configuring the Kernel

  • why configure?
  • detecting, selecting and describing devices
  • system parameters
  • testing and recovery from errors
  • dynamic configuration

Examining the Bootup Process

  • stages
  • booting single-user
  • boot-time options and configuration scripts

Day 2
Adding Disks/Devices and Dealing With Filesystems

  • taking a hardware inventory
  • filesystem types
  • the UNIX view of devices
  • formatting disks
  • making a filesystem
  • checking filesystem integrity

User Management

  • UNIX user facilities
  • adding and removing users
  • accounts and groups

Accounting and Security

  • setuid and setgid executables
  • checking the security of an installation
  • UNIX accounting facilities
  • quota management

Day 3
Backing Up and Restoring Files

  • backup strategies
  • UNIX tools

Periodic Activity

  • UNIX's cron and at commands

Printer Management

  • installing local and remote printers
  • print queue management

Day 4
Monitoring and Maintaining a Unix System

  • syslog
  • CPU and memory performance
  • installing applications
  • man page maintenance

Automation of Administrative Tasks

  • writing shell scripts
  • PERL

Network Configuration

  • TCP configuration
  • NFS and NIS
  • PPP for dialup connections

Network Security

  • firewalls
  • S/Key authentication
  • TCP Wrappers
  • SSL
  • checking system integrity

Day 5
Interworking UNIX

  • file sharing with SAMBA

Hosting a World-Wide Web Server

  • Apache

The X Window System

  • client/Server architecture
  • system-level
  • user-level configuration


The course is now well and truly at End of Life.

I figure that it would be such a pity for it to end as a set of bits decaying away on my hard disk so I am opening it up to the world on as "as-is" basis:

Unix System Administration DonationWare 24 June
(MD5: f47907c2536ecebde62be6a3039d80f0; size: 9,152,758 bytes)

Some (unfortunately necessary) legalese:

  • This content is provided "as-is", with no guarantees.
  • Feel free to use it, but not to abuse it (to give a couple of examples: don't make hundreds of copies for friends; don't claim it as your own work).
  • I retain copyright, so "all rights reserved."


If you like it, or have any questions/comments, send me an email ( ).

If you find this material useful, please consider paying me a small amount: via PayPal.

Tags: DonationWare