Monday, 27 April 2009

ACCU 2009: The aftermath

The ACCU conference is without doubt, the technical highlight of my year. A chance to put down the tools for a while, and spend time with other like-minded developers who care about crafting great code.

ACCU 2009 was last week. I'm now recovering! Every year the conference induces brain overload, and sleep deprivation. I never fail to learn exciting new stuff, to be encouraged to think new thoughts, and to meet interesting fellow developers.

I'm not going to provide an enormous writeup of this year's event here. There are many people who have done such a thing already in their blogs. If you didn't go, then no doubt they'll make very interesting reading.

This year, I learnt that going to bed before 4am does help with the delivery of your session the next day! Perhaps I was not as animated as usual, but I trust my session on Living with Legacy Code was useful.

It's a great technical conference, but it has a wonderful social aspect, too. This year spaces drunk tabs under the table (well, around it, at least) to settle an old score that a game of squash simple couldn't answer: which is God's One True Way To Format. And over the course of the event much money was raised for Bletchly Park, a suitable and very worthy cause.

My thanks go to the dedicated team of conference organisers and administrators, to every speaker, and to the delegates who made the event another incredible success. If you missed it this year, I highly recommend booking a place at next year's conference. I have no idea what the programme will look like, but I already know it'll be good.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Subversion, KDiff3, and Cygwin

Recently I've been doing work in a Windows environment, which is a bit of a culture shock for this Linux/Mac weenie.

As ever, I installed cygwin early on to make my life bearable. I'm not sure how I'd navigate without vim, grep and ctags. Are there actually any IDEs with genuinely useful code navigation?.

To make subversion usage the mirror of my Linux setup, I installed the excellent Windows port of kdiff3. My usual trick is to set a simple svn alias that involves kdiff3 when I need it. Something like:
alias sd="svn diff --diff-cmd kdiff3 -x ' -qall '"
(The nasty -x parameter is a workaround for some problematic kdiff3 invocations on Linux.)

However, the same trick did not always work under cygwin. From time to time, kdiff3 would complain that it could not find a file.

It turns out that this is a subtle problem where cygwin sometimes tries to convert filenames to DOS format before passing them to kdiff3.exe. When it does this, it fails and creates hybrid half-DOS/half-unix filenames. Handy.

The trick to make it work is to create a little kdiff3 wrapper script and use that, rather than kdiff3 directly. The magic rune you need to incant in the script is cygpath.


LEFT=`cygpath -d ${6}`
RIGHT=`cygpath -d ${7}`
/cygdrive/c/Program\ Files/KDiff3/kdiff3.exe $LEFT $RIGHT -L1 "$LEFT_NAME" -L2 "$RIGHT_NAME"

Monday, 20 April 2009

Speaking: Journeys (The loss of a child)

A few weeks ago I spoke at Cambridge Community Church with my wife in a talk entitled Journeys. We spoke about a particularly hard time in our life: seven years ago when we lost our beautiful 12 week old baby girl in a car crash.

Perhaps this is a slightly unusual (and somber) topic for this blog, but if you're interested in our deeply personal and unashamedly Christian viewpoint on the loss of a child, and the importance of our faith, the support of friends, and the church family then you can hear the pair of us speak here. We begin speaking about 24 minutes in.

In the talk we mentioned the song I played at Jess' thanksgiving service, and a few people have subsequently asked about it. If you'd like to listen, there's a rough version of it available to listen to on MySpace here.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Writing: Beautiful Architecture reviews

O'Reilly's Beautiful Architecture book has been out for a while now and has met some good reviews. May I draw your attention, for example, to the following review in the On Ruby blog, which gives an honourable mention to my chapter, A Tale of Two Systems:
Like most anthologies it has some chapters that different people will like or not. To me, some of the real winners are: Peter Goodliffe's "A Tale of Two Systems", ...
A little appreciation goes a long way :-)

Remember that all proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to charity.