Category Archives: Brainfart

Production releases – 0.875 per month

I’m coming up to four years with ThoughtWorks next month, and I’m in a reflective mood.  I did a quick count – since joining ThoughtWorks I’ve been involved in the delivery of forty-two (42) application releases into production (give or take one or two).  Some have been fun, some have been hard, some have been terrifying, others have been so regular and predictable that hardly anyone notices.

I’m sure that’s no great feat amongst my peers – but the reason it’s so astonishing to me is that in the five years prior to joining ThoughtWorks I had written lots of code (some great, some not so great), but not one line had ever made it to production.

Thank you ThoughtWorks.

Linux at work again!

For the past couple of months I’ve been working in a very nice workplace with a bunch of nice people and even better some of them run Linux on their desktops without any fear of the SOE-police coming to march them out of the building! I’m also working again with a chap who despite an unnatural love of emacs is a great help at solving any problems I face running Linux at work. So off I set to install Ubuntu Hardy on the client desktop – with their blessing!

I love Linux (and particularly Ubuntu) as a working environment. Most of the applications I’ve worked on in the last 10 years have been deployed on a flavour of unix, and despite doing a lot of Java I also do a lot of scripting and glue code, build and deployment tooling in particular. Working on Windows even with cygwin is just a world of pain.

Unfortunately I’m not able to avoid Microsoft Outlook *sigh*. I spend more time in meetings than I care to admit, and I regularly have to set up meetings with invitees and meeting room resources. Webmail doesn’t cut it. Evolution really doesn’t cut it for much more than reading mail – even sending mail it’s a bit flakey. Great effort, I really hope one day someone gets involved who can make it stable.

So what I and some others are doing is running VMWare Server under Ubuntu, booting the physical Windows partition from disk. When I installed Ubuntu I resized the existing single partition and left the client SOE Windows installation fully functional. It works incredibly well booted under VMWare once everything is loaded – we run Outlook 2007 which is slow as a dog even non-virtualized – and I’m never going to look back. The best part is if I ever NEED to I can boot the same partition directly.

It’s a little tricky getting VMWare Server to run on Ubuntu, as you have to apply a patch (vmware-any-any) to make it install. I followed the instructions here on howtoforge, and they worked on Hardy. I found I had to run twice – once when the patch is applied, and then once more to make it work properly.

Once VMWare is installed it is important to boot under Windows directly, and set up a new hardware profile for “virtual boot”. When you boot Windows under VMWare the first time, choose the virtual boot profile. It will detect a bunch of new VMWare hardware, which will then be associated with the virtual boot profile. This means when you boot directly for some reason later, you can choose the default boot profile and everything will work as it always did.

I’m stoked at how well this works. I have VMWare tools installed so that it gives focus to Windows when I move my mouse over the VMWare window (no Ctrl-Alt-Esc). Highly recommended.


Whenever I think I’ll write a blog post, I get as far as logging into my wordpress admin and it’s always the case that a new version of wordpress has been released and it nags me to upgrade.  Ooh I think and head off down a nice little alleyway of distraction.  I usually take a few minutes to remember my username/password for my hosting provider, upload and unpack files yada yada.  That normally takes care of my urge to write a blog post…

I’m frighteningly similar when it comes to writing code on my desktop machine at home – of course there are 227 incoming critical updates from ubuntu.  Or maybe I need to upgrade from Hefty to Iggy (or whatever).  Of course my Eclipse is 3 versions out of date, and I couldn’t possibly use that Java version (or ruby or pascal, or whatever it is I use these days).  By the time I get everything up to date I’ve usually forgotten what it was I came upstairs to work on anyway.

They’re my habits and I love them.


Bob Martin:

At the ER they put me in a room and gave me a dose of Morphine. Morphine is a very nice drug. It had the effect of filing the pain away in a convenient subdirectory where I could access it if I needed it, but was otherwise out of the way.

Brilliant description. I recently had a healthy diet of Morphine for a couple of days (followed by a few more days of oxynorm, which is similar). After my first dose of Morphine the emergency doctor came to see me and I couldn’t help grinning like a loony, despite the horror of my injury. Good stuff when you need it.

Mike wants a new job

Mike has posted his job requirements, as specified in a letter to recruiters. Nice idea.

If you are reading this post you probably work for a consulting company or a bank, so don’t bother offering Mike a job. If by any chance you work for a product company with an opening in your amazing team of talented and committed developers, then Mike is a seriously smart dude. Seriously.

If I didn’t work for a consulting company (geez) I’d be trying to hire him.

Another abandoned weblog…

And yet another embarrassed posting about not having written for …  well 12 months.  I hardly have time to get through my reading in the evenings after Jack goes to bed, much less write something intelligible.  I shall try to make amends, but I’m not promising anything.

What actually happens is that I occasionally get inspiration to write something in my blog, then realise that I SIMPLY CANNOT proceed until I upgrade to the latest version of wordpress.  No really.

Then of course I get distracted by wondering if I can find any traces of my old weblogs.  I love the wayback machine.

November 2002December 2002, November 2003

It’s only fragments but it seems SOOO long ago.  Of course I had a bit of a movable type weblog before then, but I can’t remember where it was – before I discovered cheap domain names and hosting.

Ahh memories… when talking about “extreme programming” made most of my colleagues look at me like I was a crazy Australian…