Friday, February 23, 2007

StatSVN - Ruby vs. Java and "Developer Of The Month"

I'm a big fan of SVN, and I know it's in very common use throughout the development community, so I thought I'd give a shout out to an interesting project that extracts some fascinating SVN stats and draws lots of pretty pictures - StatSVN

We've now added a StatSVN task to our build scripts, and the figures it kicks out are just great - once you start looking, you can lose yourself in there for ages....

To give some random samples:

  • As of three days ago, there were 75130 lines of code in the Sonar trunk, of which Craig has contributed 33.6%, myself 32.1% and Jan 22.2%. As Jan has mostly been working on the Ruby On Rails interface, and Craig and I have mostly been writing the Java backend, what does this say about the relative expressive efficiency and productivity of each language?

  • Craig took "Developer Of The Month" for February, with 5286 lines, taking over from me in January with 7546 lines.

  • Over 80% of my changes are additions, with under 20% being updates. Craig is more or less the same, with a few percent more modifications - probably due to fixing my occasional "EVIL" quick hacks...

  • By far and away the most commits overall get done between 4pm and 5pm, but personally, I do three times as many commits between 2pm and 3pm than any other hour. Probably because I keep saying to myself got to finish this before I go to lunch...

  • Jan has not done a single commit before 12 noon :-) However, he's the only person to have committed between 1am and 2am!

  • I do a huge number of commits on a Monday (400+), followed by successively fewer every day until Friday (~60). Does this mean I'm fresher and more enthusiastic after the weekend, or is it that when I start the week, I go for the easiest tasks first, and ramp up towards the more difficult tasks as I go on? On the other hand, overall the most commits are done on a Friday, followed by Tuesday

You can also measure some metrics around files, rather than developers:

  • Overall, across all file types, we have an average of around 40 lines of code per file

  • 58.7% of the files in the repository are .java, but they contribute 73.3% of the total lines of code

  • On average, each .rhtml template is just 26.6 lines of code

  • The most amended file in the whole repository is the Rakefile!

I could go on for hours....but it's nearly 2pm and I need to commit some code, dammit! So install StatSVN on your repository and have a play yourself. It's fun.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Roy Orbison In Clingfilm In Print!

(ahem) Allow me to explain that title.... A few years back, myself and some of the Freeserve guys stumbled across the cringe-inducingly hysterical Ulli's Roy Orbison In Clingfilm site, a pastiche of Slash Fiction consisting of a selection of stories involving Roy Orbison turning up unexpectedly, and by increasingly unlikely chains of events, ending up wrapped in clingfilm.

If you haven't read it, and you fancy skirting that fine line between weeing yourself laughing and feeling unaccountably disturbed, go have a look now, and then come back... go on, it's ok, I'll wait...

Back? Good. I'll continue.

"Ulrich Haarb├╝rste" is a nom-de-guerre of Michael Kelly, whose Page of Misery is a veritable treasure trove of warped, cynical, misanthropic comedy gold, and has been the source of several viral emails that you might have had at some point ( French Intellectuals In Afghanistan, anyone? ).

Anyway, when we discovered the delights of Roy Orbison In Clingfilm, I felt so inspired that I set the first story to music, using the Microsoft Agent control to read the text in a Steven Hawking stylee, and using various Cubase plugins (e.g. Voice Designer) to change the pitch and formants of the voices for Roy and Ulli. It was quite a fun experiment, and once I was done, I sent a copy to Michael. He loved it - and so did a growing number of people - if you Google for "Al Davidson Roy Orbison In Cling Film" it turns up in a surprising number of playlists...

So I'm genuinely chuffed to hear that Michael Kelly has produced a Roy Orbison In Clingfilm book! You can buy it HERE - go on, you know you want to, it'll make a delightful coffee table discussion piece, guaranteed to break the ice at parties, and scare off the neighbours' children too!

I should just add that I'm not getting any referral kickbacks off this - I just think the esteemed Mr Kelly's talent deserves all the exposure it can get, and I hope he gets showered with riches and future publication contracts from his book. Tell your friends. And after the week I've had, a bit of warped humour is exactly what I need. Tell the world! Lets see if we can get Roy Orbison In Clingfilm into some best seller lists!

PS - To celebrate the occasion, I moved the song from its previous home onto a more permanent home at, along with a couple of other self-indulgent noodly guitar instrumentals. I keep meaning to finish off the hundreds of tunes-in-progress I've got kicking around on my hard drive and upload those too, but somehow there's never quite enough time...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Icing On The Cake

Did someone break a mirror or something?

I spent the weekend clearing up after the burglary and running around like a blue-arsed fly, getting locks replaced and notifying the insurance company, getting some alarms and setting them up, trying and failing to get someone to come and replace the back door with its now-gaping-hole-where-the-catflap-used-to-be, and ending up hacking together a temporary repair with two plastic chopping boards and big tube of superglue (I kid you not!), and was finally starting to feel secure in my own home again.

So I made a conscious decision to try and relax on Sunday evening. I put my feet up, had a couple of beers, settled into the sofa for a wind-down in front of the TV followed by an early night, when about nine o' clock the phone rang. It was the tenant from one of Lisa's parents' flats.

"Can you ask him to call us urgently?" she said. "There's been an explosion!"

Lisa's parents own the whole building, and rent out the bottom floor to a restaurant, and the two flats above it to private tenants. We used to live in the first floor flat.

As it happens, the restauranteurs had been having some renovation work done, and there'd been a gas leak in the kitchen.... and on Sunday night, it went BOOM. Quite loudly, apparently. The police were round, and needed to get the landlord's details. One of the tenants in the first floor flat was hurt and had to go to hospital. The guy who'd been doing the renovation work has disappeared back to Morocco, and can't be contacted.

I'd already had a couple of beers, so I couldn't drive anywhere that night. So I dashed round there 7am the next morning to take a look at the first floor flat - the gas had obviously gone up the middle of the wall between the kitchen and bathroom, and when it ignited, it blew out that wall on both sides. The kitchen units were wrecked, and there's damage to the wall and ceiling.

Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something?

At least I've still got my guitars - I feel a country song coming on...!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Curse Continues....

Every time Lise goes away without me, something bad happens - we joke about it, but I'm not really in the mood for laughing right now. She's currently in Malaysia with her family, eating superhuman quantities of food and visiting relatives, and me..? Well, I got back from work yesterday to discover we'd been burgled.

I knew something was strange as soon as I got back from work about 8pm, because I couldn't get in. My key was turning in the Yale lock, but it wasn't opening. I had to knock on the neighbour's door and ask them to let me through into their back garden, so that I could get into our garden and see if I'd left a window unlocked anywhere, although I was sure I hadn't.

At this point I thought I'd just managed to lock myself out somehow, or something had gone wrong with the lock... I fitted it myself, so it's perfectly possible that I messed it up somehow - I inherited lots of things from my Dad, including a tall slim build, a stubbornly-resilient head of hair and an overpowering love of guitars, but sadly his skill with DIY completely passed me by.

So, bumbling about in the back garden with my neighbour, I tried the back door, and it was open. "Yay for my lax security!" I cried, big slightly-embarrased grin with the neighbour, gaw-blimey-what-a-muppet-I-am-guvnor, forget-me-own-head-if-it-wasnt-screwed-on expression on my face as I went inside. And it was as soon as I walked into the kitchen that I realised what had happened.

It looks like they kicked in the catflap in the back door, then managed to get to the key, which was in the lock - either with a very long thin arm, or some bent coat-hanger kind of contraption, I don't know. But I'm sure that's how they got in. I figure they must have then gone straight through to the front door and flipped the deadlock switch - so they wouldn't be disturbed if I came home early and tried to let myself in through the front door.

The bastards had torn everything off the shelves and emptied every box onto the floor, in every room, evidently looking for money or small items they could fence quickly, like jewellery. They tore all our clothes out of the cupboards and drawers, went through everything, and trampled lots of back-garden mud into our beautiful fluffy white deep-pile bedroom carpets in the process.

Luckily, they didn't steal much. They must have been in and out within a few minutes. They took :
  • a Nikon Coolpix 6MP digital camera
  • possibly an old Sony Ericcson mobile, but most importantly
  • Lisa's Dad's Toshiba laptop.
  • possiby some of Lisa's jewellery.

Anyone who's seen me present at a London CFUG will probably remember the laptop - it's HUGE (17"), shiny and red, and weighs an absolute ton. So if by any chance you see it cropping up on eBay or in your local Cash Converters, email me.

It could have been far worse, of course. They didn't take:
  • any of my guitar collection
  • my main PC
  • the TV, DVD player, X-box, etc
  • my passport - phew! - despite all my paperwork living in orderly, clearly-labelled box files
  • Lisa's treasured Jimmy Choo shoes
  • any of the climbing/mountaineering equipment, despite going through it all
  • my stupidly expensive mountaineering watch, which I bought with my leaving present (gift vouchers) from Headshift

(Sadly they didn't even take the all-in-one printer that I ordered online ages ago, without realising what a huge great monstrous carbuncle it was going to be, and have regretted buying ever since)

And they didn't leave any nasty surprises on the carpet / up the wall / etc. When I got burgled back in Bridlington (by a guy who I thought was my best friend at the time) they left a nice big turd in the middle of the carpet, and killed the cat in the process. When my mum got burgled a few years ago, they smeared shit up the walls and left what I'll just call a "deposit" in her underwear drawer. I'm thankful that they didn't do any of that in our flat.

It must be a sign of the times that I was far more worried about them stealing my identity and information than my posessions. They now know my name, what I look like, where I live and where I work. I'm still worried about what was on the laptop. Did I have any banking information on there? Did Lise? Too late to check now. Hopefully if they didn't steal my passport, they're not sharp enough to realise what they have, and they'll just format the disk before flogging it on - but you just don't know, do you - and that's going to worry me.

Things like this make you realise, in fact, that when someone breaks in and steals your stuff, it's just stuff - and stuff doesn't actually matter that much. Stuff can be replaced. Mess can be tidied up - it took me until 2:30am this morning, but I cleared it all up. What matters is people, and I'm just grateful that Lise wasn't here when they came, and that she didn't get the huge shock I did when I walked in, and that she didn't have to see the mess they made of our beautiful home.

What gets me, though, is that feeling of being violated. "An Englishman's home is his castle" as the saying goes, and my castle feels...soiled. Fuckers.

I've now got a fun-packed day to look forward to today. The police were too busy to come round last night, so they're coming this morning, probably just to take my particulars and give me a crime number for the insurance. I'm sure they've got more urgent priorities, like trying to stop fifteen-year-olds shooting each other, which seems to be the preferred pastime-du-jour. I've got to file the insurance claim, get the locks changed, and try to get the back door replaced, if I can.

And I also have to tell Lise, and her Dad, over a dodgy mobile phone reception and an 8hr time difference, and I just know that it's going to break her heart. It;s going to ruin the remaining week of her holiday, and she's going to worry herself sick every day until she comes home.

So let this be a cautionary tale. Never leave your key in the lock! And if you, like me, keep looking at your door or windows and thinking "hmm, really ought to get round to getting that properly fixed-up at some point..." then get round to it TODAY! OK? Ok...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

DevNotes On AJAX

As a long-time user of the FLiP methodology, there have been many times where I've created a prototype and used Hal Helms' DevNotes as a plonk-and-play way of capturing clients' thoughts and feedback.

It's a nifty little tool that does the job it sets out to do - but since it was released way back when, teh intarweb has moved on, and I've had a few niggly things that I had to work around when using it :

  • it's rendered using "old-school" HTML, with things like FONT tags

  • sometimes you can get conflicts between the DevNotes form submissions and parameters that the containing prototype app requires

  • the dependency on cfx_make_tree.dll didn't play nicely with a non-Windows OS

So, while noodling around over the weekend recently, I decided to give it a bit of a facelift. One thing led to another, and it ended up as a pretty major update. So laydeez and gennullmun, allow me to present....(drum roll)

DevNotes On AJAX!

Main Changes:

  • Removed dependence on CFX_Make_Tree.dll,
    replaced with udfMakeTree.cfm from, by Michael Dinowitz
  • Ported to be based on Ajax requests,
    de-coupling the DevNotes requests from the Prototype page requests, and allowing people to stay on the same Prototype page while adding notes
  • Added RSS syndication of notes.
  • Prefixed all request variables and JS functions with DEVNOTES
    to prevent any potential conflicts with the containing app
    Required parameters in the containing app are now:

    // these fields required for DevNotes
    request.DEVNOTES.devAppName = "UniqueAppname";
    request.DEVNOTES.attributeToKeyOn = "page";
    request.DEVNOTES.DevNotesDSN = "YourDSNName";
    request.DEVNOTES.devnotesRSSTitle = "Title for the RSS feed";
    request.DEVNOTES.DevNotesRSSDescription = "Description for the RSS feed";

  • Updated HTML to be more semantic and standards-based.
    Admittedly it might not be 100% XHTML-compliant, but I don't really have time to check it on that - be my guest...
  • Introduced CSS styling
    and grayscale mini icons from Brand Spanking New
  • Re-factored the code into a fusebox3-stylee app structure.

Example usage:

Extract the archive into a subfolder called "DevNotes" under the root of your prototype app.

Make sure that the following variables are set up somewhere in your app - fbx_settings.cfm is usually the best place :

// these fields required for DevNotes
request.DEVNOTES.devAppName = "UniqueAppname";
request.DEVNOTES.attributeToKeyOn = "page";
request.DEVNOTES.DevNotesDSN = "YourDSNName";
request.DEVNOTES.devnotesRSSTitle = "Title for the RSS feed";
request.DEVNOTES.DevNotesRSSDescription = "Description for the RSS feed";

Then in your prototype's LAYOUT file, just add
<cfinclude template="../DevNotes/DevNotes.cfm" />
(replace the path as necessary)

NOTE: don't put this in OnRequestEnd.cfm, as it will get triggered for each AJAX request and land you in an infinite recursive loop! The layout file is the best place for it, as it's display-generating code.

Usual usage policy : you can do what you like with this code, so long as
a) you maintain the attribution comments
b) you accept that it's provided entirely as-is, with no warranty of any sort
c) you don't violate any terms in the other code that it includes (see credits within the code)
and most importantly
d) you don't have too much of a go at me for not commenting it particularly well!

Enjoy !

DevNotes On AJAX

We Have A New Paperweight

New Paperweight
Originally uploaded by Dr Snooks.
We scooped a TrampoGong last night - the Oracle Partner Innovation Award for 2006. Yaaaay! Although, after sampling the varied delights of the hospitality bar, it's hard to tell whether the award or the coffee was more appreciated first thing this morning....

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oracle, Sonar and Schnow, oh my

'ello, yes, I am still alive... bleh - been busy busy busy recently, it's been quite a week or two....

We had our first major deployment of Sonar to get out, so none of us got home until after midnight until Thursday. Eventually got it done, though, to huge relief and slaps on the back all round, thanks to some Herculean efforts from everyone on the team.

After a week like that, I needed to get right away from it all, so a weekend in the mountains of Scotland for some ice climbing was just the job. I learned quite a lot over that weekend -

- supporting my 12-and-a-half-stone on four tiny metal spikes sticking out of my toes gets pretty damn painful on the calves after four hours or so
- just because the weather is gorgeous right now, doesn't mean that it's not going to be bloody grim soon
- and many more

I got back to work yesterday, with just one day to recover before tonight's extravaganza at the Oracle Partner Innovation Awards - we've been nominated for the "Hottest Tech Prospect In The UK" award, so we're off to meet 'n' greet 'n' press the flesh with the industry bigwigs.

...which was nice...

Hopefully some point soon I'll be able to get back to some technical posts on this 'ere blog, as I have a couple of goodies to impart (even one CF-related, shock, horror) and I'll post them as soon as I get chance to package them up.