June 22, 2005

Code Complete!

PeerBackup is now code complete. That doesn't actually mean that it's finished, unfortunately, just that I've finished implementing everything I think I need to implement.

Now it's time to sort through the bugs that I know about, spend some time testing to (no doubt) find some more, and fix the ones that need fixing.

So not finished, but the second most important milestone (obviously shipping is the most important!) reached.

Let the alpha testing commence.

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June 18, 2005

Neil and Kuljit's Wedding

Coming soon: The Tale of the Best Man and the Lost Speech.

"East meets West" said the faux film poster invitations. And it was. But with a huge helping of pure Neil and Kuljit. I don't think I've been to a more personal wedding. Kuljit and her sisters, the bridesmaids, were in saris, and had had their hands tatooed with henna. Neil and I, his best man, were in tails.

The party started on the way to the wedding. All bar the bridal party boarded our open-top Routemaster London bus, and sipped champagne as it took us to Avenue House, via a brief stop at Alexandra Palace for some photos.

It was a civil ceremony, but there was still much rejoicing in the musical tradition. You aren't allowed to have anything with religious wording at a civil ceremony, but that was okay, because the guests all joined in renditions of the Beatles' Love Me Do and All You Need Is Love.

After the usual photo shoot in the lovely grounds, we sat down for a absolutely fantastic three-course Indian feast. Then it was time for the speeches. I wasn't feeling particularly nervous, but then I'd had my panic the night before...

I still had the ending of my speech to write when I left home at Friday lunchtime. I knew roughly what I wanted to say, but hadn't actually written it.

After an afternoon spent helping out with last minute preparations for the big day, then some food and a drink with fellow guests staying at the hotel, I retired to my room and booted up my laptop. Only to find that Windows Offline Folders hadn't synchronized the speech onto my laptop!!! Not good. I have one of the most important speeches I'll ever give to do tomorrow, and the only copy of it is over fifty miles away in Cambridge.

If I'd had Internet access then it wouldn't have been a problem, but of course I didn't have the lead to connect my phone to my laptop (and haven't bought a Bluetooth dongle for my laptop yet), and the hotel didn't have WiFi. I guess I could drive back to Cambridge... Or maybe go round to Kuljit's in the morning and use her Internet connection...

I decided to see how much of the speech I could remember, and luckily, I managed to recreate it without access to the original. After all that, actually giving the speech was almost the easy part!

With the speeches over, my main responsibilities were finished. I still had a few announcements to make as toastmaster - cutting the cake, the first dance... but for what seemed like the first time all day I didn't have something else I needed to do. Until I started sorting out taxis for people at the end of the night.

Not that my tasks during the day were arduous, or things I was worried about, or that I didn't enjoy. Far from it, it was just rather hectic. I didn't realise until I finally got to bed, and started to unwind, just how emotionally charged a day it had been. Just a wonderful day and I was honoured to play such a part in it.

My photos are available here.

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links for 2005-06-18

UPDATE: Fixed URL for the Reboot audio link.

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June 17, 2005

Neil's Stag

As usual, it takes the imminent arrival of the actual wedding for me to find time to post about the stag do, which was a couple of weeks back over the weekend of the 28th May.

The proceedings started like this...

And the weekend ended like this...

But fear not! All is not what it seems.

The build-up to the weekend started on the Friday evening - Neil, Dixon and I headed into Rusholme for a curry, and then wound up in Withington for a few drinks, but not too many - the big day was to come.

First thing Saturday, we headed over to Knutsford to Delta Force Paintball. Upon arrival, our convoy of Integrale and Nissan 350Z caused a bit of a stir with the guys at the gate, but I'm sure that was overshadowed moments later by the guy arriving in his Ferrari.

We then proceeded to spend far too much on paintballs, as we seemed to get through them at a rate of knots. Excellent fun, as usual, although Neil found that he seemed to attract more fire once the marshalls had discovered he was on his stag do and so kitted him out in a fluorescent jacket.

Once we'd finished trying to get Neil as many bruises as possible, we headed back to Manchester to our hotel on Piccadilly. Showered and changed, we then headed over to the Frog and Bucket comedy club, via a few bars, and met up with the guys who hadn't made it to the paintballing.

The only comedian I'd heard of, Richard Herring, unfortunately had a terrible night, as you can read here. We weren't the stag do that he incorrectly picked on, as there was another one there too - but that gave headline act Alex Boardman plenty of victims as he delivered a hilarious set that was a better fit with the audience.

We didn't stay at the comedy club for their "legendary classic disco" but headed to The Printworks and spent the rest of the night partying in the Norwegian Blue bar till it closed.

On Sunday, we took a detour on our route home to call into St. Helens so we could visit the notable absentee from the weekend and owner of the broken leg pictured above. Stocky has done a pretty good job of smashing his leg playing rugby just a few weeks before the stag do, so had to miss out on that, and the wedding. At least we could give him a taste of the evening with some poor quality footage of some poor quality dancing that I'd captured on my phone the night before...

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June 16, 2005

links for 2005-06-16

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June 15, 2005

The Kilts Have Arrived

In case you hadn't noticed, I've filled in the write-up for McFilter: Mr. and Dr. Wood's Wedding, with photos and everything.

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Interval Training The Most Productive Approach For Death Marches?

Crunch Mode or, as I've more often used, the Death March is that seemingly endless slog at the end of a project when the deadline is looming and there's just too much work to fit into the remaining time.

It's a pretty common occurrence in software projects, as plans and timescales are usually optimistic and no-one likes to disappoint the customer by cutting features or slipping the ship date. "If we just put some extra hours in for these last few weeks..."

The only problem is that death marches tend to last longer than anyone expects, or wants. And they're rather demoralising.

The underlying problem is the difficulty in measuring the productivity of software engineers - so although the gut feel when in the middle of a death march is that productivity is suffering, it's hard to prove when defending a decision to slip the end date or cut functionality.

Hopefully, "Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons" will help managers defend against extended crunch periods as it provides links to an assortment of research into discovering that 40-hour weeks are optimal for productivity in the medium- to long-term (anything more than a month or so).

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June 11, 2005

links for 2005-06-11

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June 08, 2005

links for 2005-06-08

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June 07, 2005

Smithers, Release The Bins!

I see that the moving sculpture of bins and benches at the Junction is due to be unveiled (or is that unleashed?) on Thursday.

I'll keep an eye out next time I go to the cinema and let you know what I think of them.

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June 05, 2005

Mr. and Dr. Wood's Wedding

This space soon to be filled by men in kilts.

Something old... being an usher; I'm starting to get the hang of that now, what with it being the third time I've done it. Admittedly, the job was made much easier by the level of planning that had been done for me - I was furnished with two sides of A4 of instructions, plus a guest list, and a seating plan and spare copies of the directions from church to reception which include photos taken en route for you to check that you're going the right way!

Something new... wearing a kilt. I was a little apprehensive about doing so, mainly because I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, it seemed well received; none of the Scots present challenged my right to wear one; and I quite enjoyed it. It just took a little while to get used to sitting down in it correctly without getting it crumpled under me or unwittingly displaying what was under it.

Something borrowed... the kilt. Well, hired, but that's pretty much the same thing. From the very helpful, if a little hard to find (the shop is a tiny converted house, so quite easy to miss) Stuart Tailors on Chesterton Road in Cambridge. A much better selection of tartans to hire than the three that Moss Bros offer!

Something blue... the tartan of the kilt. Although not quite as blue as I'd have liked. Unfortunately, the McEwen isn't amongst the thirty or so tartans offered for hire by Stuart Tailors. The kilt I hired was the Hunting Stewart tartan, which was the closest match to the dress McEwen but it doesn't have quite as much blue in the weave.

Karl, Malcolm's housemate and one-man-ceilidh-band extraordinaire is a fellow clansman, and his kilt is the family tartan - he's third from right in the pictures of all the kilts in attendance.

It was a lovely day. The exchanging of vows seemed to lift the clouds and brought out the sun in time for the photos. The speeches were entertaining, Malcolm's in particular was superb; I'd like to hear more from the best man as to why the chaplin had to put Malcolm to bed though... And as mentioned, Karl's ceilidh provided for suitably energetic celebrating long into the evening.

There are a few photos over in my photo album, but I'll leave you with one of the happy couple...

The Happy Couple
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June 04, 2005

Malcolm's Stag

It must be June; my diary is awash with weddings. Which means that there's also been a run of stag events.

The weekend before last was Malcolm's turn to celebrate his last days of freedom. We spent a most entertaining day over at WildTracks karting and quad-biking, and then in the evening we headed out, via the excellent Kingston Arms, to the Curry Queen on Mill Road for a curry (surprise, surprise) and a few beers (ditto) before adjourning to the Cambridge Blue at which point the groom-to-be declined all attempts to get him extremely drunk, settling for just plain drunk instead :-)

Half-way through the karting the rain started. So after a dry practice session, where I'd worked out the lines through all the corners such that I only had to brake for two of them, we were then thrown into the lottery of a wet race... Slick tyres and wet tarmac make for an interesting combination, rendering the steering wheel virtually useless so very sharp braking and/or power oversteer were needed to make it round corners. Quite challenging conditions really, and although I felt as though I was balancing near the limit of being quick without spinning I was passed by James and so ended up finishing in second place.

I think the torrential downpour over lunch actually improved conditions for the quad-biking, although it did make it much messier! We were taken in what could be loosely termed a procession round a suitably muddy, rutted, off-road track. It was like going out driving in the snow - lots of fun sliding around but with less worrying about hitting things.

All in all, a really fun day, and a suitably active precursor to the evening's consumption...

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June 03, 2005

Black Or Blue And Red?

Just throwing this snippet of information into the google mix as it doesn't seem to be there at the minute...

If you want to recharge the air-conditioning on your Lancia Delta Integrale Evo, you need to know which kind of coolant (or gas) it's filled with.

In the engine bay, there are two pipes running down the passenger side of the engine to the air-con unit - one with lagging, and one without. Each pipe has a small plastic cap sticking out of it. If both caps are black, then it's filled with R12 (nasty old-fashioned coolant which is bad for you and the environment or something) and if one is blue and the other red it's filled with R134 (the newer, safer, friendlier coolant).

Of course, mine is filled with the old nasty stuff, so it's going to be harder to get to a point where I'm impervious to the outside temperature again...

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June 02, 2005


A while ago, after listening to the Wired Rip. Sample. Mash. Share. CD I downloaded a load of My Morning Jacket tracks from Soulseek because I'd quite liked the track One Big Holiday and wondered if I'd like any of their other stuff.

I liked their stuff enough that Mahgeetah was listed in the top 5 songs I don't yet own (as an aside, I've since bought Cake's Fashion Nugget and Maxi Geil & Playcolt's A Message To My Audience which ticks off another two of the tracks).

So I was quite pleased to see My Morning Jacket's It Still Moves album on sale for a fiver today in Fopp. And even happier to see that track 1 is Mahgeetah. So I now own a copy. Only I can't listen to it. At least not on my computer. I hadn't noticed when I bought it, but it's copy protected.

So they're trying to prevent the very thing which caused me to buy a copy of their album, and have just caused me additional hassle before I can listen to it as I'll have to download the whole album again from Soulseek so I can add it to my collection... *DOH*!

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Testing... Testing... 1... 2... 3...

I can't believe it's been over three months since my last update on how the business is going! So much for making it a "regular" feature...

Anyway, as predicted, things have been mainly heads down coding, and it's all starting to come together quite nicely. For the past month or so I developed a test harness and have been doing lots of alpha testing.

Traditionally, alpha testing only starts once the product has reached "code complete", when all the features have been written, but haven't been fully tested. PeerBackup isn't quite at that point just yet, but getting the automated test harness up and running means that I can be testing whilst finishing off the last few bits and pieces (and whilst playing football, or eating, or sleeping...)

So I now have a couple of machines dedicated to thrashing the software non-stop, all day and all night, and which send me an email if they find any problems. The last couple of weeks have been spent fixing the problems that the testing threw up, and it feels good to get the level of confidence in the software now that it can stand up to such a pounding.

The next step will be to reach code complete, at which point the release will be in sight!

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