If Two Heads Are Better Than One…

…what about three?!

Just got an USB-DVI adapter…seems to work OK in my laptop.

let's see what happens over time…maybe my office will go up in flames ;-)

A new toy! What fun!
What a techno-weenie nerd I am!

Hmmm…already: one blue screen (my very first ever on Vista…really!)…let's hope things settle down.
Hmmmmmm…Vista won't show the Aero Theme any more (still, more desktop real-estate is probably worth this sacrifice)

Tags: Tools

I Need A Laugh


Q: Whats H2O4?
A: Drinking.


Q: How do kids in Huston, Texas learn to count?
A: ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one…ohhhhhhhh!

And my all-time favourite (that no-one else in the whole world seems to find funny):

Q: What's yellow and dangerous?
A: Shark-infested custard!

This is the result of a childhood that includes those quintessentially 'british' comics The Beano and The Dandy!

Thank-You Oracle

Thank you for the free (as in beer, which was also supplied :-)) workshop on Oracle Service Bus.

Thanks to Campbell James and Jon Gooding. Much appreciated, guys!

In these dire economic times, it is good to be able to keep abreast of the latest and greatest without having to put a mortgage on the cat.

It also makes good sense for Oracle, of course: "getting the word out" must be much harder in times of tight budgets.

I now have a clearer understanding of OSB's capabilities (I knew it when it was just "Liquid Data", all those years ago) and how to work with it in Weblogic Workshop. It is a powerful tool, that one can be quickly productive with.

What's not clear to me, however, is the future for the product, and indeed of much of Oracle's middleware product set.

Despite the best efforts of James and Jon I can't shake the feeling that now is not the time to jump into the Oracle waters. It seems to me that it would be best to wait until the various Oracle and BEA offerings have been merged into a coherent product set, with a clear direction.

I'm still wating for the axe to fall on JDeveloper (to take one example). I know that Oracle says it will 'always' be there but I can't help shake the feeling that they will eventually "jump ship" for Eclipse; they have the technology and experience, so it all comes down to money and supporting one (merged) product is cheaper than supporting two same-but-different ones.

On another (but related) topic: I am conflicted!

I am well aware of the persistent comparison between 'real' engineers, who use diagrams as a matter of course, and software 'engineers' who (it is often said) wouldn't know an engineering diagram if one got wrapped around their knees.

I too was once seduced by the idea of "drawing software" and even had a mild flirtation with CASE tools many years back.

Thus, part of me says: "Great! This is the way to move the industry forward; all those VB programmers will take to this like ducks to water and we'll be churning out bug-free software Real Soon Now."
The other part of me says: "Do I really need GUI tools. I mean what do they actually add to the equation? And what about the risks of RSI, I ask you!"

Case in point. What does this:

Add over this:

if (condition) 
  params = getParams();
  results = serviceCallout(params, request, response);

(yes. I know this is vague!)

I think that there is a difference between what the 'real' engineers need and our requirements: circuit layout diagrams, architectural drawings, etc. are inherently dimensional. Software is not. Visualiation is an extremely useful tool (take GUARD, for instance; or this little beauty) but I'm not sure that visualisation is what it is all about, here.

The cynic in me mutters "pretty pictures for pretty dumb managers", but I try and stifle that little voice…

My (sadly only for a brief time) ex-colleague 'K' makes the following very valid points:

One other thing to consider is that it throws two fingers up to object
orientedness (is that a word?). And that is what bothers me the most.
Also, how you track and manage change will be a nightmare. If you
change the type of variable, you have to dig deep into the diagram to
see it.

I didn't say it, but testing is also something that gnawed on my worry-bone…

April Fools(?)

Over on overclockers.com.au, they had this as their front page for a while:

It's a joke, of course.

For now.

Tags: Rant

Want To Hear Something Sad?

I was "chewin' the fat" a while ago with a colleague who said that he'd be happy to follow the waterfall method; it would be a great improvement over the waterwheel methodology he was enduring…

If you are a software developer with even a little experience, I'll bet you know exactly what he means…

Makes you wonder about why we turn up to work in the morning, doesn't it.

Sad..so sad.

Tags: Agile, Rant

Excellent Refcardz

Refcardz must be the worst-kept 'secret' on the 'net.

Tags: Tools

Revenge Of The BDoc?

I was contacted by Per Otto Bergum Christensen, the developer of BDoc, the "…open source project that extracts documentation from unit tests."

I mentioned BDoc in A Better Way? when I wrote about easyb, a while back.

Per Otto says:

You should check out the new version of BDoc, the new version of scenario support is quite differnt and cool. Testtables are also added, like the ones you find in fitnesse.

I had a look around, and I agree: the new Testtable feature really is a powerful addition to the tool and I applaud Per Otto for his work. It certainly moves the tool along nicely; in Per Otto's words:

My goal is to promote Test First and let BDoc be the catalyst for test names that describes behaviour.

I'm still not sure that I would use it when interacting with Domain Experts and Product Owners (which is what I found attractive about easyb…naieve fool that I am) but it does look much more powerful than the venerable JUnit.

I am still reeling from the fact that someone in Norway actually read something on my site!

Tags: Tools

Anyone For A Game Of Poker?

Planning Poker, that is…

Got my packs of Planning Poker cards today!

(image from Mountain Goat Software)

I like the Planning Poker technique, it is one of those things that, when you come first across it, impresses with its simplicity and utility.

An online version exists, if the low-tech, paper-based approach doesn't satisfy.

Tags: Agile

Internet Traffic Report

How are the packets flowing? Take a look-see:

The Internet Traffic Report monitors the flow of data around the world. It then displays a value between zero and 100. Higher values indicate faster and more reliable connections.

Tags: Tools

Welcome, World!

I was just browsing this site's web statistics.

The front-runner, the piece of content that the world most wants to see is (tadaaa!): Configuring the Squid Internet Proxy Server.

This is interesting because-while I am a competent and experienced *nix administrator-Linux is not really my core business. I consider myself a top-notch Java/J(2)EE/Enterprise Integration guy.

Strange that a paper I wrote in a day or so for a small vendor-promoted conference in 2002 should be so popular! It has always been thus, right from the time it was first foisted onto the world at large.

I have just reviewed it and it still seems relevant and accurate, so long may it reign.

I guess that no parent knows how their children will develop, and I am no different :-)

Here are some of the other old and new favourites on this site:

The Linux sudo tutorial has a curious little story associated with it: while I was preparing it (and all the materials that made up my two-day "Introduction to Linux" course courseware [for more about this course, see here, here and here; there are more courses available]) a young friend of mine asked me if he should study IT at University. My response: "Work through and proofread these tutorials for me and you will find out if you enjoy using the computer for doing more than just playing games." Poor guy ended up so bored that he went off and took Legal Studies instead! I feel so guilty for having foisted another lawyer-type on the world :-) The materials were fine, but learning about sudo just isn't the same as shooting down invading alien spaceships, it seems.