Monthly Archives: October 2010

Agile Ottawa: Nov 9 – Tips for a smoother running sprint

Location: Adobe’s offices on Preston St, just south of the 417

– Networking: 6:00-6:30pm
– Presentation: 6:30-8:00pm
– Heart & Crown afterward

Presenter: Steffan Surdek

Steffan is one of the co-authors of the IBM Press book “A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum”. I have read this book and it succinctly covers all the main topics you will need to address with Agile teams in multiple locations. I look forward to meeting Steffan and hearing his presentation.

November meeting details and outline of the presentation.

IPv6 lookup pain in Firefox

According to Google, Firefox has been slow for some people for several years, if they don’t set “network.dns.disableIPv6” to “true” in “about:config”.

Yup, this issue is still a problem for FireFox users. Mozilla has not decided to “check once” for an IPv6 DNS server and use only IPv4 for a while, like an hour, before checking again.

I may also have this problem on my other machine, which is running Ubuntu 9.04. This is on the Kitchen computer, and when my wife says it’s way too slow in Linux and she’s going to boot back into Windows, I had to find out why.

So when we get IPv6 in our house, I will have to switch back.
Aww, who am I kidding – that will be years from now and my 512MB RAM machine will be long gone.

Firefox sync << Xmarks, so far

I have used Xmarks for a couple of years. I track the same tech stuff at work as I do for my blog and personal research, so synchronizing is useful. With Xmarks about to disappear (not so likely now), I quickly installed Firefox Sync. It seemed to work, at first, but then one of my machines got into a state where all its bookmarks were gone, and it couldn’t get them back from the Firefox sync server.

I eventually fixed it, by configuring a different Firefox instance to push its bookmarks everywhere, then I was able to get the info onto the losing machine.

Xmarks is not perfect either. On my machines with 512MB RAM and one CPU, Xmarks ties down the machine completely while it syncs. Can’t do nuthin!

Too long is too bad

Long is good. Too long is too bad.

Steve McConnell tells us in Code Complete, that long variable names are good. I think it’s in the section on “Self-documenting code”.

In object oriented languages, you have the object name, the name of a possible sub-object, and the name of a particular field or item in the object, which all add up to a descriptive long name, but split into different parts.

Example: mypack.special-effect.color = chartreuse

However, I have been working in Gnu Make lately. Gnu Make recommends that you only use numbers, letters, and underscores in Make, as other characters may be used for other special purposes now or in the future. Now, in Gnu Make, you don’t have real objects. You do have “constructed variables”. By using recipes with wildcards in them, and constructing variable names with pattern substitution, you can get some of the same effect as objects. However, the variable names look kinda ugly.

Example: testset_special_effect_color = chartreuse

Its easy in make to get a few lines like the following. The intent here is to make a copy of one pseudo-object that will only be used when code coverage is in effect:

# Initial special effect setup
regression_mypack_special_effect_targets = \
  testset_chartreuse \
  testset_bland \
regression_mypack_special_exec = mypack_special_exec
# copy for code coverage
regression_mypack_special_effect_ccov_targets = \
regression_mypack_special_back_color_iterations := 4

My problem was that I copied the variable name wrong. In line 8, I wanted to make a copy of the list of targets, with the names modified to be the ccov version of the targets. The difference is nearly invisible in the middle of the long variable name.

Verbose, clear variable names are an important part of self documenting code. Monotonous names with only underscore separators make that hard. Yet another reason to avoid “make” for complex projects.

Ralph Langner discusses Stuxnet

Ralph Langner discusses the Stuxnet attack that hit the Iranian nuclear plants and accidentally hit lots of other places. I especially appreciated his comments on Symantec’s paper. He doesn’t appreciate their conclusions: “… few attackers will be capable of producing a similar threat.” etc.

News from Agile Ottawa meeting

Yup, it was a good meeting, and I took away an idea or two…

But what I am most excited to tell you about are future events:

And the ideas I took away are centered around Dmitry’s suggestion that Agile design decisions should be documented with light-weight tools, such as the development team’s existing issue tracker.

MS Phone 7 – Which way is up?

El Reg laughs at it:

  • No app store
  • Funny grouping of functionality
  • No ‘cut and paste’ functionality until next year

Paul Thurrott, on his Windows SuperSite, says it is “designed to address some head-scratching limitations in the iPhone and Android

  • Photo management works the way you do – you don’t have to buy and remember how to use several different apps
  • Doesn’t require a PC – no need to sync up
  • Apps are actually available now, in Zune 4.7 PC software. Seems to conflict with his “doesn’t require a PC” assertion
  • Games available at launch from EA. Sims, which hopefully means something better then the tiny games that come in “apps”

And so which way is up? Time will tell, or not.