Friday Dec 08, 2006

Threadbare gimmick

I'm short of things to say. In the absence of any real content, I've updated my page so that you can see what music I'm listening to.

The chart is courtesy of last.fm.

Monday Jan 16, 2006

Interesting Websites

I've been really impressed today by two websites which a friend (thanks Nichole!) led me to.

Firstly, she told me about StumbleUpon. Basically, this is a way of finding websites that are useful in categories that you are interested in. Doesn't sound very special, but it's actually really good. I find the hardest think about using the web is summoning up the enthusiasm to work through all the dreck that's out there in search of the good stuff. Basically, StumbleUpon does a lot of that work for you and the more you use it, the more useful it gets. I'm impressed.

I'm even more impressed by one of the sites that I found using StumbleUpon, Pandora. This is (possibly) the best designed website I've ever seen. I love it. It's functional and minimalist. The purpose of the site is to help you find more music that you might like. It takes it's direction from a seed band or song that you provide. The only drawback is that to use it you must live in the USA. However, this is only validated by providing a valid US Zip Code, so I don't think that will deter too many international users. I'm listenting to some great tunes as I write this. If you like music, you must try this site out.

I think the best thing about both these sites is that, although they undoubtedly are using some fairly crafty technology to achieve their goal, both sites have put a lot of effort into presentation and ease of use. That's what helps them stand out.

Could it be that I'm finally beginning to see the point of social networking sites? I mean, both these sites seem to be a lot more useful and appealing to me than the likes of flikr, delicious, orkut, friendster, etc...

Thursday Aug 11, 2005

I'm back

Oh yes. I am.

Sunday May 01, 2005

Goodbye Sun

I've left Sun, so if you would like to continue to read my ramblings then you should look at my personal blog. I'm not sure that there will be much on it of interest, so no change there!

Wednesday Oct 27, 2004

Imperfect C++

When my life was less cluttered and I seemed to have more time to myself, I used to go cycling regularly with a group of friends in West Yorkshire. One of the group, Matthew, was a PhD student at the time and the brother-in-law of a very good friend of mine. Over time, Matthew became a friend and we used to enjoy cycling together across the hills and roads of Yorkshire.

Since that time Mathew has made several bad life choices. On finishing his PhD he pursued a career in Software Engineering, actually choosing to spend his time writing C++! He then compounded all this wrong thinking by leaving Yorkshire and emigrating to Australia, the homeland of his beautiful wife. Now he has written a book about C++.

What can I say? Such promise gone so badly wrong. ;-)

If you are unfortunate enough to have to work with C++ source for any reason, then I can only recommend that you go out and buy this book (I will declare my interest at this point and say that I did review the book.). I can't say that I agree with every sentiment in the book, but it's well written and you are sure to learn lots about C++ along the way.

I wonder whether Matthew has scored an own goal on behalf of the C++ community though. Although his book is brilliant and certainly does show many techniques which can be applied to make C++ more usable; most readers are likely to be deterred from consideration of the language due to the complexity of the techniques required.

Tuesday Aug 31, 2004

Cycling as a metaphor for Software Development

It has been brought to my attention that my postings to date on this blog are entirely too factual and completely lacking in opinion and speculation. In fact things are so bad that if I was to post one more useful or factual article the usability of the internet would cross a "utility event horizon". Beyond this point the proportion of the internet which is accurate or useful is dangerously high1, so high that people may actually have to believe what they read. I'm certain that's not an outcome any of us would like. I'm taking action to prevent this by publishing this whimsical piece of complete nonsense which I dreamed up when riding my bike earlier today.

Cycling is like developing software. Especially where I live, since I live in a valley surrounded by nasty, steep hills (the Pennines) and the prevailing winds are in my face. If you think about it, when you start a new project, the tasks you have to complete are like these hills. The nasty winds represent the opinions of other parties, often colleagues, who can't resist letting you know what a complete waste of time your project is.

If you can summon the enthusiasm to mount your bike and start to go up your hill, i.e. start your project, you'll soon find that hills and wind are only a small part of the challenges you'll need to overcome. Soon you'll notice the potholes in the road, designed to shake your teeth loose and permanently damage your expensive cycle. These represent the bugs and design flaws which you will inevitably encounter as you begin to convert your vision of a perfect piece of software into a imperfect reality. Of course, it's better to encounter these bugs when going uphill, since it's easier to avoid them now and there's even a chance they might be filled in before you begin your descent.

As you weave slowly up the hill, dodging the potholes and labouring in the wind, another obstacle presents itself: the maniac driving the white van. Inevitably an overweight, shaven headed yob who has no idea how much space he should leave between the side of his van and yourself. I think that this best represents competing projects from within your own organisation or from other vendors. They know their project will fix all that is wrong in the world, who needs your pathetic contribution? Best just to to smear it all over the road now before it can reach the top of the hill.

Next we have to understand the "false dawn". Often, when cycling uphill in unknown terrain, you will think you are close to the top of the hill only to find that when you cycle a little further there are still many miles to go before your reach the real crest of the hill. I'm sure that all software developers will have experienced this feeling: will the project never end?

If you are lucky you'll get to the top of the hill. Now it's time to cycle back home. This represents the completion of development on the project. You'll notice that the potholes are a lot more perilous now because you are going so fast. Just like the bugs and design flaws, almost certainly more painful when discovered by customers than when you or your colleagues find them.

There you have it. Cycling is the perfect metaphor for software development and I'm sure that we can all learn something from this thought.

There are many of features of cycling which I'm sure provide opportunities for comparison with software development, e.g. the weather, your equipment, etc... Feel free to comment if you want to extend the comparision or if you think I'm wrong. Just don't make your comments informative or useful.


1 I'm not sure exactly what this figure is but I suspect it's something like 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 %

Wednesday Jun 09, 2004

Introduction

I thought I'd better say a few words about who I am to get this ball rolling...

I'm a Staff Engineer and I work in the Solaris Engineering Organisation. I joined Sun in 1995 and I've worked in the kernel group since 2000.

I work in the area of Resource Management and I've worked on a number of projects which have enhanced the Resource Management capabilities of Solaris.

I aim to use this blog to write about Resource Management functionality in Solaris. I'd like to help to make it easy for people to use our features and this might be one way of achieving this. I may also put some entries in about other areas of Solaris, since there are so many cool new features in Solaris 10.

About

garypen

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