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  • How to manually set color of Unity Panel?

    - by JamesTheAwesomeDude
    I was just wondering if there's a way to set the color of the Unity panel manually, as opposed to having it derived from smooshing all the colors of the wallpaper together. (the launcher on the left side of the screen that comes default in Ubuntu is the Unity Panel, right? If not, please correct me on my terminology.) The reason I want this is because I have this cool wallpaper I found on DeviantArt, and I used GIMP to make Dawn, Dusk, and Midnight versions of it. Then, I set them with a transition effect, so that the lighting changes over the course of the day. Unfortunately, the Unity Panel turns a sickly sewer green at night (it could also be said to look like radioactive barf.) Either way, I don't like my launcher thingy looking like that. I'd prefer to stay away from programs that let you customise the Unity Panel (I'm fine with using sudo nano to edit system config files,) but I would if it were the only option. Here are some screenshots, one with a grey-themed wallpaper, one with lots of red, and the hill at night, (the one that makes the unity panel look like radioactive barf.): http://imgur.com/a/0Gqcd

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  • Watch the Geminid Meteors Tonight

    - by Jason Fitzpatrick
    Tonight is the peak of the Geminid Meteor shower, if you don’t mind braving the cold and have a spot relatively free from light pollution to stretch out in you’ll be able to enjoy one of the more brilliant and busy meteor showers of the year. Sky and Telescope magazine reports on the Geminid Meteor shower: If it’s clear late Thursday night, December 13th, 2012, keep a lookout high overhead for the shooting stars of the Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids are usually one of the two best meteor showers of the year, often beating out the Perseids of August. And this year there’s no moonlight to interfere. Under a clear, dark sky, you may see at least one Geminid per minute on average from roughly 10 p.m. Thursday until dawn Friday morning. If you live under the artificial skyglow of light pollution your numbers will be less, but the brightest meteors will still shine through. Hit up the link below to read the full article and learn more about the Geminid Meteor shower. Secure Yourself by Using Two-Step Verification on These 16 Web Services How to Fix a Stuck Pixel on an LCD Monitor How to Factory Reset Your Android Phone or Tablet When It Won’t Boot

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  • How can I easily run different configurations in Eclipse?

    - by Roman
    I have an Java applications which I would like to run with different values of input parameters (specified in the command line). In "Run - Run Configurations" I have created different configurations corresponding to different values of the input arguments. I can run these configurations in the same way (throw "Run - Run Configurations"). But in these case I have to perform to many actions (clicks) to run a particular configuration. Is there a easier (faster) way to do that? For example I expect that I can do it throw "Run - Run as" but in the drop-dawn menu of the "Run as" I see "(Not Applicable)".

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  • How can I add a .jar to my build path in Eclipse?

    - by Roman
    I try to do it the following way: Right click on the name of the project. Click on Build Path in the drop dawn menu. Click on "Configure Build Path" And then I do not know what to do. Should I select "Source", "Projects", "Libraries", "Order and Export"? In "Libraries" I have "Add JARs..." and "Add External JARs...". What should I select? (I have already a .jar file in the lib folder of my project.) ADDED: If I click on "Add JARs" in the "Libraries" tab, I see the "lib" sub-folder but if I go there I do not see my .jar file there (and I know that it is there).

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  • When done is not done

    - by Tony Davis
    Most developers and DBAs will know what it’s like to be asked to do "a quick tidy up" on a project that, on closer inspection, turns out to be a barely working prototype: as the cynical programmer says, "when you’re told that a project is 90% done, prepare for the next 90%". It is easy to convince a layperson that an application is complete just by using test data, and sticking to the workflow that the development team has implemented and tested. The application is ‘done’ only in the sense that the anticipated paths through the software features, using known data, are fully supported. Reality often strikes only when testers reveal its strange and erratic behavior in response to behavior from the end user that strays from the "ideal". The problem is this: how do we measure progress, accurately and objectively? Development methods such as Scrum or Kanban, when implemented rigorously, can mitigate these problems for developers, to some extent. They force a team to progress one small, but complete feature at a time, to find out how long it really takes for this feature to be "done done"; in other words done to the point where its performance and scalability is understood, it is tested for all conceivable edge cases and doesn’t break…it is ready for prime time. At that point, the team has a much more realistic idea of how long it will take them to really complete all the remaining features, and so how far away the end is. However, it is when software crosses team boundaries that we feel the limitations of such techniques. No matter how well drilled the development team is, problems will still arise if they don’t deploy frequently to a production environment. If they work feverishly for months on end before finally tossing the finished piece of software over the fence for the DBA to deploy to the "real world" then once again will dawn the realization that "done done" is still out of reach, as the DBA uncovers poorly code transactions, un-scalable queries, inefficient caching, and so on. By deploying regularly, end users will also have a much earlier opportunity to tell you how far what you implemented strayed from what they wanted. If you have a tale to tell, anonymized of course, of a "quick polish" project that turned out to be anything but, and what the major problems were, please do share it. Cheers, Tony.

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  • Desktop Fun: Happy New Year Wallpaper Collection [Bonus Edition]

    - by Asian Angel
    As this year draws to a close, it is a time to reflect back on what we have done this year and to look forward to the new one. To help commemorate the event we have put together a bonus size edition of Happy New Year wallpapers for your desktops. Extra Note: We made a special effort to find wallpapers for this collection without the year “printed” on them, thus allowing for reuse as desired and/or needed beyond the 2010 – 2011 holiday. Note: Click on the picture to see the full-size image—these wallpapers vary in size so you may need to crop, stretch, or place them on a colored background in order to best match them to your screen’s resolution. For more New Year’s desktop goodness be sure to check out our Happy New Year icon & font packs collection (link at bottom)! Note: This wallpaper will need to be placed on a larger white background in order to increase the height. Note: This wallpaper will need to be placed on a larger background in order to increase the width and height. Note: This wallpaper comes in multiple sizes and will need to be downloaded as a zip file. Note: This wallpaper comes in multiple sizes and will need to be downloaded as a zip file. Note: The download size for the original version of this wallpaper is 15 MB. Note: The download size for the original version of this wallpaper is 15 MB. More Happy New Year Fun Desktop Fun: Happy New Year Icon and Font Packs For more wallpapers be certain to see our great collections in the Desktop Fun section. Latest Features How-To Geek ETC How to Use the Avira Rescue CD to Clean Your Infected PC The Complete List of iPad Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials Is Your Desktop Printer More Expensive Than Printing Services? 20 OS X Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Know HTG Explains: Which Linux File System Should You Choose? HTG Explains: Why Does Photo Paper Improve Print Quality? The Outdoor Lights Scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [Video] The Famous Home Alone Pizza Delivery Scene [Classic Video] Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Theme for Windows 7 Cardinal and Rabbit Sharing a Tree on a Cold Winter Morning Wallpaper An Alternate Star Wars Christmas Special [Video] Sunset in a Tropical Paradise Wallpaper

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  • TDD - Red-Light-Green_Light:: A critical view

    - by Renso
    Subject: The concept of red-light-green-light for TDD/BDD style testing has been around since the dawn of time (well almost). Having written thousands of tests using this approach I find myself questioning the validity of the principle The issue: False positive or a valid test strategy that can be trusted? A critical view: I agree that the red-green-light concept has some validity, but who has ever written 2000 tests for a system that goes through a ton of chnages due to the organic nature fo the application and does not have to change, delete or restructure their existing tests? If you asnwer to the latter question is" "Yes I had a situation(s) where I had to refactor my code and it caused me to have to rewrite/change/delete my existing tests", read on, else press CTRL+ALT+Del :-) Once a test has been written, failed the test (red light), and then you comlpete your code and now get the green light for the last test, the test for that functionality is now in green light mode. It can never return to red light again as long as the test exists, even if the test itself is not changed, and only the code it tests is changed to fail the test. Why you ask? because the reason for the initial red-light when you created the test is not guaranteed to have triggered the initial red-light result for the same reasons it is now failing after a code change has been made. Furthermore, when the same test is changed to compile correctly in case of a compile-breaking code change, the green-light once again has been invalidated. Why? Because there is no guarantee that the test code fix is in the same green-light state as it was when it first ran successfully. To make matters worse, if you fix a compile-breaking test without going through the red-light-green-light test process, your test fix is essentially useless and very dangerous as it now provides you with a false-positive at best. Thinking your code has passed all tests and that it works correctly is far worse than not having any tests at all, well at least for that part of the system that the test-code represents. What to do? My recommendation is to delete the tests affected, and re-create them from scratch. I have to agree. Hard to do and justify if it has a significant impact on project deadlines. What do you think?

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  • Ctrl + 1 and Ctrl + 2 key combinations don't work

    - by musicfreak
    I noticed back in August (when I got StarCraft 2) that the key combinations Ctrl + 1 and Ctrl + 2 didn't work. I thought this was weird because Ctrl + 3 and all the other combinations worked fine (including Shift + 1, etc), so I didn't think much of it; I just shrugged it off as a SC2 bug. Now, 4 months later, I decided to play a completely unrelated game--Dawn of War 2--and noticed the same thing: those two specific key combinations don't work. To make sure I wasn't going insane, I tried it in Chrome and a couple other applications, and alas, it didn't work. I remember playing strategy games over the summer before StarCraft 2 and it worked fine. Any idea as to what went wrong? My keyboard, a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 1000 (I know, insert Microsoft joke here), is a little over a year old, so I'm going to assume it's not dying until proven otherwise. Things I've tried ActiveHotkeys says the key combination is not a global hotkey. Tried another keyboard--still doesn't work. The key combinations do work in a virtual machine (tried with both Windows and Ubuntu as guests).

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  • How do you enable view source in ie8 when it gets magically diabled

    - by Tim Meers
    I have multiple computers that all seem to have View Source disabled from the content menu when you right click on a web page. Now I know it's not that the web page is some how disabling it, I'm pretty sure thats not even possible. But alas I have at least 3 machines in my office (not on AD) that have this problem. I have also worked on clients computers that have this same issue. It's down right maddening! I tried to Google for it, but it just shows results from the dawn of IE6 in all of it's "glory" with a bug where if the cache was full it would be disabled. But this is not the case in IE8. Any body have a clue why this is happening, or a fix for it? Maybe a reg setting? Update: So I got a little closer to solving it, but there was still an issue on one computer where it allowed it not is HTTP, but not in HTTPS. One other computer works correctly in both. I Found these two keys missing in the registry: [-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\View Source Editor] [-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\View Source Editor]

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  • Today's Links (6/29/2011)

    - by Bob Rhubart
    Event-Driven SOA: Events meet Services | Guido Schmutz Oracle ACE Director Guido Schmutz shows you how to achieve extreme loose coupling within a Service-Oriented Architecture by using event-driven interactions. Misconceptions About Software Architecture | Sanjeev Kumar A concise, to-the-point, and informative article by Sanjeev Kumar. Good Leaders Acknowledge What Can't Be Done - Jeffrey Pfeffer - Harvard Business Review "None of us likes to admit to bad decisions," says Jeffrey Pfeffer. "But imagine how much harder that is for someone who has been chosen to lead a large organization precisely because he or she is thought to have the power to see the future more clearly and chart a wise course." Suboptimal Thinking within Enterprise Architecture | James McGovern McGovern says: "We need to remember that enterprises live and thrive beyond just the current person at the helm." Boundaryless Information Flow | Richard Veryard "If all the boundaries are removed or porous, then the (extended) enterprise or ecosystem becomes like a giant sponge, in which all information permeates the whole," Veryard says. "Some people may think that's a good idea, but it's not what I'd call loose coupling." Coming to a City Near You: Oracle Business Analytics Summits | Rob Reynolds This series of events includes a Technology and Architecture track. New Date for Implementation of Sun Hands-On Course Requirement (Oracle Certification) As announced on the Oracle Certification website, Java Architect, Java Developer, Solaris System Administrator and Solaris Security Administrator certification tracks will include a new mandatory course attendance requirement. VirtualBox 4.0.10 is now available for download | Bob Netherton Netherton shares information on the new release. Updated Technical Best Practices whitepaper | Anthony Shorten The Technical Best Practices whitepaper has been updated with the latest advice. "New advice includes new installation advice, advanced settings, new security settings and advice for both Oracle WebLogic and IBM WebSphere installations," says Shorten. Kscope 11 ADF, AIA and Business Rules | Peter Paul van de Beek Whitehorses Solution Architect Peter Paul van de Beek shares his impressions of KScope11 presentations by Markus Eisele, Sten Vesterli, and Edwin Biemond. Amazon AWS for the learning experience | Andrej Koelewijn "Using AWS changes your expectations how your internal data center should operate," says Koelewijn. BPMN is dead, long live BPEL! (SOA Partner Community Blog) Jürgen Kress shares information -- including a long list of speakers -- for the SOA & BPM Integration Days 2011 conference, October 12th & 13th 2011 in Düsseldorf. InfoQ: HTML5 and the Dawn of Rich Mobile Web Applications James Pearce introduces cross-platform web apps development using HTML5 and web frameworks, such as jQTouch, jQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, PhoneGap, outlining what makes a good framework. InfoQ: Interview and Book Excerpt: CMMI for Development "Frameworks like TOGAF are used to define an architecture that aligns IT assets and resources to support key business needs and processes of key stakeholders," says SEI's Mike Konrad. "But the individual application systems, capabilities, services, networks, and other IT assets and infrastructure still need to be acquired, developed, or sustained." InfoQ: Architecting a Cloud-Scale Identity Fabric | Eric Olden "The most cited reason for not moving to the cloud is concern about security," says Olden. "In particular, managing user identity and access in the cloud is a tough problem to solve and a big security concern for organizations."

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  • How to Set Up Your Enterprise Social Organization

    - by Mike Stiles
    The rush for business organizations to establish, grow, and adopt social was driven out of necessity and inevitability. The result, however, was a sudden, booming social presence creating touch points with customers, partners and influencers, but without any corporate social organization or structure in place to effectively manage it. Even today, many business leaders remain uncertain as to how to corral this social media thing so that it makes sense for their enterprise. Imagine their panic when they hear one of the most beneficial approaches to corporate use of social involves giving up at least some hierarchical control and empowering employees to publicly engage customers. And beyond that, they should also be empowered, regardless of their corporate status, to engage and collaborate internally, spurring “off the grid” innovation. An HBR blog points out that traditionally, enterprise organizations function from the top down, and employees work end-to-end, structured around business processes. But the social enterprise opens up structures that up to now have not exactly been embraced by turf-protecting executives and managers. The blog asks, “What if leaders could create a future where customers, associates and suppliers are no longer seen as objects in the system but as valued sources of innovation, ideas and energy?” What if indeed? The social enterprise activates internal resources without the usual obsession with position. It is the dawn of mass collaboration. That does not, however, mean this mass collaboration has to lead to uncontrolled chaos. In an extended interview with Oracle, Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang and Oracle SVP Reggie Bradford paint a complete picture of today’s social enterprise, including internal organizational structures Altimeter Group has seen emerge. One sign of a mature social enterprise is the establishing of a social Center of Excellence (CoE), which serves as a hub for high-level social strategy, training and education, research, measurement and accountability, and vendor selection. This CoE is led by a corporate Social Strategist, most likely from a Marketing or Corporate Communications background. Reporting to them are the Community Managers, the front lines of customer interaction and engagement; business unit liaisons that coordinate the enterprise; and social media campaign/product managers, social analysts, and developers. With content rising as the defining factor for social success, Altimeter also sees a Content Strategist position emerging. Across the enterprise, Altimeter has seen 5 organizational patterns. Watching the video will give you the pros and cons of each. Decentralized - Anyone can do anything at any time on any social channel. Centralized – One central groups controls all social communication for the company. Hub and Spoke – A centralized group, but business units can operate their own social under the hub’s guidance and execution. Most enterprises are using this model. Dandelion – Each business unit develops their own social strategy & staff, has its own ability to deploy, and its own ability to engage under the central policies of the CoE. Honeycomb – Every employee can do social, but as opposed to the decentralized model, it’s coordinated and monitored on one platform. The average enterprise has a whopping 178 social accounts, nearly ¼ of which are usually semi-idle and need to be scrapped. The last thing any C-suite needs is to cope with fragmented technologies, solutions and platforms. It’s neither scalable nor strategic. The prepared, effective social enterprise has a technology partner that can quickly and holistically integrate emerging platforms and technologies, such that whatever internal social command structure you’ve set up can continue efficiently executing strategy without skipping a beat. @mikestiles

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  • How to Set Up Your Enterprise Social Organization?

    - by Richard Lefebvre
    By Mike Stiles on Dec 04, 2012 The rush for business organizations to establish, grow, and adopt social was driven out of necessity and inevitability. The result, however, was a sudden, booming social presence creating touch points with customers, partners and influencers, but without any corporate social organization or structure in place to effectively manage it. Even today, many business leaders remain uncertain as to how to corral this social media thing so that it makes sense for their enterprise. Imagine their panic when they hear one of the most beneficial approaches to corporate use of social involves giving up at least some hierarchical control and empowering employees to publicly engage customers. And beyond that, they should also be empowered, regardless of their corporate status, to engage and collaborate internally, spurring “off the grid” innovation. An HBR blog points out that traditionally, enterprise organizations function from the top down, and employees work end-to-end, structured around business processes. But the social enterprise opens up structures that up to now have not exactly been embraced by turf-protecting executives and managers. The blog asks, “What if leaders could create a future where customers, associates and suppliers are no longer seen as objects in the system but as valued sources of innovation, ideas and energy?” What if indeed? The social enterprise activates internal resources without the usual obsession with position. It is the dawn of mass collaboration. That does not, however, mean this mass collaboration has to lead to uncontrolled chaos. In an extended interview with Oracle, Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang and Oracle SVP Reggie Bradford paint a complete picture of today’s social enterprise, including internal organizational structures Altimeter Group has seen emerge. One sign of a mature social enterprise is the establishing of a social Center of Excellence (CoE), which serves as a hub for high-level social strategy, training and education, research, measurement and accountability, and vendor selection. This CoE is led by a corporate Social Strategist, most likely from a Marketing or Corporate Communications background. Reporting to them are the Community Managers, the front lines of customer interaction and engagement; business unit liaisons that coordinate the enterprise; and social media campaign/product managers, social analysts, and developers. With content rising as the defining factor for social success, Altimeter also sees a Content Strategist position emerging. Across the enterprise, Altimeter has seen 5 organizational patterns. Watching the video will give you the pros and cons of each. Decentralized - Anyone can do anything at any time on any social channel. Centralized – One central groups controls all social communication for the company. Hub and Spoke – A centralized group, but business units can operate their own social under the hub’s guidance and execution. Most enterprises are using this model. Dandelion – Each business unit develops their own social strategy & staff, has its own ability to deploy, and its own ability to engage under the central policies of the CoE. Honeycomb – Every employee can do social, but as opposed to the decentralized model, it’s coordinated and monitored on one platform. The average enterprise has a whopping 178 social accounts, nearly ¼ of which are usually semi-idle and need to be scrapped. The last thing any C-suite needs is to cope with fragmented technologies, solutions and platforms. It’s neither scalable nor strategic. The prepared, effective social enterprise has a technology partner that can quickly and holistically integrate emerging platforms and technologies, such that whatever internal social command structure you’ve set up can continue efficiently executing strategy without skipping a beat. @mikestiles

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  • Hosted Monitoring

    - by Grant Fritchey
    The concept of using services to take the place of writing a lot of your own code goes way, way back in computing history. The fundamentals of the concept go back to the dawn of computing with places like IBM hosting time-shares for computing power that you could rent for short periods of time. But things really took off with the building of the Web. Now, all the growth with virtual machines, hosted machines, hosted services from vendors like Amazon and Microsoft, the need to keep all of your software locally on physical boxes is just going the way of the dodo. There will likely always be some pieces of software that you keep on machines on your property or on your person, but the concept of keeping fundamental services locally is going away. As someone put it to me once, if you were starting a business right now, would you bother setting up an Exchange server to manage your email or would you just go to one of the external mail services for everything? For most of us (who are not Exchange admins) the answer is pretty easy. With all this momentum to having external services manage more and more of the infrastructure that’s not business unique, why would you burn up a server and license instance setting up monitoring for your SQL Servers? Of course, some of you are dealing with hyper-sensitive data that might require, through law or treaty, that you lock it down and never expose it to the intertubes, but most of us are not. So, what if someone else took on the basic hassle of setting up monitoring on your systems? That’s what we’re working on here at Red Gate. Right now it’s a private test, but we’re growing it and developing it and it’ll be going to a public beta, probably (hopefully) this year. I’m running it on my machines right now. The concept is pretty simple. You put a relay on your server, poke a hole in your firewall for it, and we start monitoring your server using SQL Monitor. It’s actually shocking how easy it is to get going. You still have to adjust your alerting thresholds, but that’s a standard part of alerting. Your pain threshold and my pain threshold for any given alert may be different. But from there, we do all the heavy lifting, keeping your data online and available, providing you with access to the information about how your servers are behaving, everything. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really excited by this. I think we’re getting to a place where we can really help the small and medium sized businesses get a monitoring solution in place, quickly and easily. All you crazy busy, and possibly accidental, DBAs and system admins finally can set up monitoring without taking all the time to configure systems, run installs, and all the rest. You just have to tweak your alerts and you’re ready to run. If you are interested in checking it out, you can apply for the closed beta through the Monitor web page.

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  • In Python epoll can I avoid the errno.EWOULDBLOCK, errno.EAGAIN ?

    - by davyzhang
    I wrote a epoll wrapper in python, It works fine but recently I found the performance is not not ideal for large package sending. I look down into the code and found there's actually a LOT of error Traceback (most recent call last): File "/Users/dawn/Documents/workspace/work/dev/server/sandbox/single_point/tcp_epoll.py", line 231, in send_now num_bytes = self.sock.send(self.response) error: [Errno 35] Resource temporarily unavailable and previously silent it as the document said, so my sending function was done this way: def send_now(self): '''send message at once''' st = time.time() times = 0 while self.response != '': try: num_bytes = self.sock.send(self.response) l.info('msg wrote %s %d : %r size %r',self.ip,self.port,self.response[:num_bytes],num_bytes) self.response = self.response[num_bytes:] except socket.error,e: if e[0] in (errno.EWOULDBLOCK,errno.EAGAIN): #here I printed it, but I silent it in normal days #print 'would block, again %r',tb.format_exc() break else: l.warning('%r %r socket error %r',self.ip,self.port,tb.format_exc()) #must break or cause dead loop break except: #other exceptions l.warning('%r %r msg write error %r',self.ip,self.port,tb.format_exc()) break times += 1 et = time.time() I googled it, and says it caused by temporarily network buffer run out So how can I manually and efficiently detect this error instead it goes to exception phase? Because it cause to much time to rasie/handle the exception.

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  • Dealing with "Coder's Block" (or blank form syndrome)

    - by robsoft
    I know this is the sort of somewhat open-ended question that we're discouraged from asking, but there are lots of open-ended questions around already, and this is something quite relevant to me right now. Do you ever get those times when you're about to start work on a new function/feature of an established system, and you get "coder's block"?. It's like a mental freeze at the sight of a large, completely unpopulated dialog, or an empty code file with just the stub reference headers etc. Do you ever have that 'ulp' moment that seems to sap all your momentum and leave you wide open to distractions (surfing the web for inspiration, checking out 'crackoverflow' etc)? Not that I'd wish it on anyone, but hopefully some of you do, and hopefully some of you can suggest tips or strategies for overcoming the situation, regaining your momentum and becoming productive again. I usually try to reduce what I'm about to do down to absurdly small steps, in the hope that as the job becomes just a series of 'doh' tasks, I'll kickstart myself into working through them. However sometimes, particularly when a deadline is looming, I'll get overwhelmed by this approach as I realise I probably don't have enough time to do all of those tiny steps properly. Those are the darkest moments, (often literally) just before dawn! This situation can be particularly crippling if you mostly work alone, too. Any thoughts or suggestions? Any methods that you found helpful yourself?

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  • 2 Mutually exclusive RadioButton "Lists"

    - by user72603
    I think this has to be THE most frustrating thing I've ever done in web forms. Yet one would think it would be the easiest of all things in the world to do. That is this: I need 2 separate lists of radiobuttons on my .aspx page. One set allows a customer to select an option. The other set does also but for a different purpose. But only one set can have a selected radiobutton. Ok I've tried this using 2 asp.net Radiobuttonlists controls on the same page. Got around the nasty bug with GroupName (asp.net assigns the control's uniqueID which prevents the groupname from ever working because now, 2 radiobuttonlists can't have the same groupname for all their radiobuttons because each radiobuttonlist has a different uniqueID thus the bug assigns the unique ID as the name attribute when the buttons are rendered. since the name sets are different, they are not mutually exclusive). Anyway, so I created that custom RadioButtonListcontrol and fixed that groupname problem. But when ended up happening is when I went to put 2 instances of my new custom radiobuttonlist control on my .aspx page, all was swell until I noticed that every time I checked for radiobuttonlist1.SelectedValue or radiobuttonlist2.SelectedValue (did not matter which I was checking) the value always spit back string.empty and i was not able to figure out why (see http://forums.asp.net/t/1401117.aspx). Ok onto the third try tonight and into the break of dawn (no sleep). I tried to instead just scrap trying to use 2 custom radiobuttonlists altogether because of that string.empty issue and try to spit out 2 sets of radiobuttonlists via using 2 asp.net repeaters and a standard input HTML tag inside. Got that working. Ok but the 2 lists still are not mutually exclusive. I can select a value in the first set of radiobuttons from repeater1 and same goes for repeater2. I cannot for the life of me get the "sets" to be mutually exclusive sets of radiobuttons.

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  • Jquery + Prototype Question

    - by mikeyhill
    I recently inherited a site which is botched in all sorts of ways. I'm more of a php guy and initially the js was working just fine. I made no changes to the javascript or the any of the include files but after making a few content edits I'm getting errors from firebug. a.dispatchEvent is not a function emptyFunction()protot...ects.js (line 2) emptyFunction()protot...ects.js (line 2) fireContentLoadedEvent()protot...ects.js (line 2) [Break on this error] var Prototype={Version:'1.6.0.2',Brows...pe,Enumerable);Element.addMethods(); protot...ects.js (line 2) this.m_eTarget.setStyle is not a function [Break on this error] this.m_eTarget.setStyle( { position: 'relative', overflow:'hidden'} ); protot...ects.js (line 43) uncaught exception: [Exception... "Component returned failure code: 0x80070057 (NS_ERROR_ILLEGAL_VALUE)" nsresult: "0x80070057 (NS_ERROR_ILLEGAL_VALUE)" location: "JS frame :: js/prototype_effects.js :: anonymous :: line 2" data: no] Googling around I found several posts that sometimes jquery+prototype don't play well and rearranging the scripts could fix this issue, however being that I didn't touch these sections I'm not sure where I even need to begin to debug. The previous developer incorporated a head.inc file which loads up prototype, scriptaculous and then many of the pages are in a sub-template loading up jquery for functions like lightbox. The site is temp housed at http://dawn.mikeyhill.com Any help is appreciated.

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  • Setting environment variables in OS X

    - by Percival Ulysses
    Despite the warning that questions that can be answered are preferred, this question is more a request for comments. I apologize for this, but I feel that it is valuable nonetheless. The problem to set up environment variables such that they are available for GUI applications has been around since the dawn of Mac OS X. The solution with ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist never satisfied me because it was not reliable, and bash style globbing wasn't available. Another solution is the use of Login Hooks with a suitable shell script, but these are deprecated. The Apple approved way for such functionality as provided by login hooks is the use of Launch Agents. I provided a launch agent that is located in /Library/LaunchAgents/: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>Label</key> <string>user.conf.launchd</string> <key>Program</key> <string>/Users/Shared/conflaunchd.sh</string> <key>ProgramArguments</key> <array> <string>~/.conf.launchd</string> </array> <key>EnableGlobbing</key> <true/> <key>RunAtLoad</key> <true/> <key>LimitLoadToSessionType</key> <array> <string>Aqua</string> <string>StandardIO</string> </array> </dict> </plist> The real work is done in the shell script /Users/Shared/conflaunchd.sh, which reads ~/.conf.launchd and feeds it to launchctl: #! /bin/bash #filename="$1" filename="$HOME/.conf.launchd" if [ ! -r "$filename" ]; then exit fi eval $(/usr/libexec/path_helper -s) while read line; do # skip lines that only contain whitespace or a comment if [ ! -n "$line" -o `expr "$line" : '#'` -gt 0 ]; then continue; fi eval launchctl $line done <"$filename" exit 0 Notice the call of path_helper to get PATH set up right. Finally, ~/.conf.launchd looks like that setenv PATH ~/Applications:"${PATH}" setenv TEXINPUTS .:~/Documents/texmf//: setenv BIBINPUTS .:~/Documents/texmf/bibtex//: setenv BSTINPUTS .:~/Documents/texmf/bibtex//: # Locale setenv LANG en_US.UTF-8 These are launchctl commands, see its manpage for further information. Works fine for me (I should mention that I'm still a Snow Leopard guy), GUI applications such as texstudio can see my local texmf tree. Things that can be improved: The shell script has a #filename="$1" in it. This is not accidental, as the file name should be feeded to the script by the launch agent as an argument, but that doesn't work. It is possible to put the script in the launch agent itsself. I am not sure how secure this solution is, as it uses eval with user provided strings. It should be mentioned that Apple intended a somewhat similar approach by putting stuff in ~/launchd.conf, but it is currently unsupported as to this date and OS (see the manpage of launchd.conf). I guess that things like globbing would not work as they do in this proposal. Finally, I would mention the sources I used as information on Launch Agents, but StackExchange doesn't let me [1], [2], [3]. Again, I am sorry that this is not a real question, I still hope it is useful.

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  • Week in Geek: New Security Flaw Confirmed for Internet Explorer Edition

    - by Asian Angel
    This week we learned how to use a PC to stay entertained while traveling for the holidays, create quality photo prints with free software, share links between any browser and any smartphone, create perfect Christmas photos using How-To Geek’s 10 best how-to photo guides, and had fun decorating Firefox with a collection of Holiday 2010 Personas themes. Photo by Repoort. Random Geek Links Photo by Asian Angel. Critical 0-Day Flaw Affects All Internet Explorer Versions, Microsoft Warns Microsoft has confirmed a zero-day vulnerability affecting all supported versions of Internet Explorer, including IE8, IE7 and IE6. Note: Article contains link to Microsoft Security Advisory detailing two work-arounds until a security update is released. Hackers targeting human rights, indie media groups Hackers are increasingly hitting the Web sites of human rights and independent media groups in an attempt to silence them, says a new study released this week by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. OpenBSD: audits give no indication of back doors So far, the analyses of OpenBSD’s crypto and IPSec code have not provided any indication that the system contains back doors for listening to encrypted VPN connections. But the developers have already found two bugs during their current audits. Sophos: Beware Facebook’s new facial-recognition feature Facebook’s new facial recognition software might result in undesirable photos of users being circulated online, warned a security expert, who urged users to keep abreast with the social network’s privacy settings to prevent the abovementioned scenario from becoming a reality. Microsoft withdraws flawed Outlook update Microsoft has withdrawn update KB2412171 for Outlook 2007, released last Patch Tuesday, after a number of user complaints. Skype: Millions still without service Skype was still working to right itself going into the holiday weekend from a major outage that began this past Wednesday. Mozilla improves sync setup and WebGL in Firefox 4 beta 8 Firefox 4.0 beta 8 brings better support for WebGL and introduces an improved setup process for Firefox Sync that simplifies the steps for configuring the synchronization service across multiple devices. Chrome OS the litmus test for cloud The success or failure of Google’s browser-oriented Chrome OS will be the litmus test to decide if the cloud is capable of addressing user needs for content and services, according to a new Ovum report released Monday. FCC Net neutrality rules reach mobile apps The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally released its long-expected regulations on Thursday and the related explanations total a whopping 194 pages. One new item that was not previously disclosed: mobile wireless providers can’t block “applications that compete with the provider’s” own voice or video telephony services. KDE and the Document Foundation join Open Invention Network The KDE e.V. and the Document Foundation (TDF) have both joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) as licensees, expanding the organization’s roster of supporters. Report: SEC looks into Hurd’s ousting from HP The scandal surrounding Mark Hurd’s departure from the world’s largest technology company in August has officially drawn attention from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Report: Google requests delay of new Google TVs Google TV is apparently encountering a bit of static that has resulted in a programming change. Geek Video of the Week This week we have a double dose of geeky video goodness for you with the original Mac vs PC video and the trailer for the sequel. Photo courtesy of Peacer. Mac vs PC Photo courtesy of Peacer. Mac vs PC 2 Trailer Random TinyHacker Links Awesome Tools To Extract Audio From Video Here’s a list of really useful, and free tools to rip audio from videos. Getting Your iPhone Out of Recovery Mode Is your iPhone stuck in recovery mode? This tutorial will help you get it out of that state. Google Shared Spaces Quickly create a shared space and collaborate with friends online. McAfee Internet Security 2011 – Upgrade not worthy of a version change McAfee has released their 2011 version of security products. And as this review details, the upgrades are minimal when compared to their 2010 products. For more information, check out the review. 200 Countries Plotted Hans Rosling’s famous lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport’s commentator’s style to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. Now he explores stats in a way he has never done before – using augmented reality animation. Super User Questions Enjoy looking through this week’s batch of popular questions and answers from Super User. How to restore windows 7 to a known working state every time it boots? Is there an easy way to mass-transfer all files between two computers? Coffee spilled inside computer, damaged hard drive Computer does not boot after ram upgrade Keyboard not detected when trying to install Ubuntu 10.10 How-To Geek Weekly Article Recap Have you had a super busy week while preparing for the holiday weekend? Then here is your chance to get caught up on your reading with our five hottest articles for the week. Ask How-To Geek: Rescuing an Infected PC, Installing Bloat-free iTunes, and Taming a Crazy Trackpad How to Use the Avira Rescue CD to Clean Your Infected PC Eight Geektacular Christmas Projects for Your Day Off VirtualBox 4.0 Rocks Extensions and a Simplified GUI Ask the Readers: How Many Monitors Do You Use with Your Computer? One Year Ago on How-To Geek Here are more great articles from one year ago for you to read and enjoy during the holiday break. Enjoy Distraction-Free Writing with WriteMonkey Shutter is a State of Art Screenshot Tool for Ubuntu Get Hex & RGB Color Codes the Easy Way Find User Scripts for Your Favorite Websites the Easy Way Access Your Unsorted Bookmarks the Easy Way (Firefox) The Geek Note That “wraps” things up for this week and we hope that everyone enjoys the rest of their holiday break! Found a great tip during the break? Then be sure to send it in to us at [email protected] Photo by ArSiSa7. Latest Features How-To Geek ETC How to Use the Avira Rescue CD to Clean Your Infected PC The Complete List of iPad Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials Is Your Desktop Printer More Expensive Than Printing Services? 20 OS X Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Know HTG Explains: Which Linux File System Should You Choose? HTG Explains: Why Does Photo Paper Improve Print Quality? Simon’s Cat Explores the Christmas Tree! [Video] The Outdoor Lights Scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [Video] The Famous Home Alone Pizza Delivery Scene [Classic Video] Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Theme for Windows 7 Cardinal and Rabbit Sharing a Tree on a Cold Winter Morning Wallpaper An Alternate Star Wars Christmas Special [Video]

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  • The DOS DEBUG Environment

    - by MarkPearl
    Today I thought I would go back in time and have a look at the DEBUG command that has been available since the beginning of dawn in DOS, MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows. up to today I always knew it was there, but had no clue on how to use it so for those that are interested this might be a great geek party trick to pull out when you want the awe the younger generation and want to show them what “real” programming is about. But wait, you will have to do it relatively quickly as it seems like DEBUG was finally dumped from the Windows group in Windows 7. Not to worry, pull out that Windows XP box which will get you even more geek points and you can still poke DEBUG a bit. So, for those that are interested and want to find out a bit about the history of DEBUG read the wiki link here. That all put aside, lets get our hands dirty.. How to Start DEBUG in Windows Make sure your version of Windows supports DEBUG. Open up a console window Make a directory where you want to play with debug – in my instance I called it C221 Enter the directory and type Debug You will get a response with a – as illustrated in the image below…   The commands available in DEBUG There are several commands available in DEBUG. The most common ones are A (Assemble) R (Register) T (Trace) G (Go) D (Dump or Display) U (Unassemble) E (Enter) P (Proceed) N (Name) L (Load) W (Write) H (Hexadecimal) I (Input) O (Output) Q (Quit) I am not going to cover all these commands, but what I will do is go through a few of them briefly. A is for Assemble Command (to write code) The A command translates assembly language statements into machine code. It is quite useful for writing small assembly programs. Below I have written a very basic assembly program. The code typed out is as follows mov ax,0015 mov cx,0023 sub cx,ax mov [120],al mov cl,[120]A nop R is for Register (to jump to a point in memory) The r command turns out to be one of the most frequent commands you will use in DEBUG. It allows you to view the contents of registers and to change their values. It can be used with the following combinations… R – Displays the contents of all the registers R f – Displays the flags register R register_name – Displays the contents of a specific register All three methods are illustrated in the image above T is for Trace (To execute a program step by step) The t command allows us to execute the program step by step. Before we can trace the program we need to point back to the beginning of the program. We do this by typing in r ip, which moves us back to memory point 100. We then type trace which executes the first line of code (line 100) (As shown in the image below starting from the red arrow). You can see from the above image that the register AX now contains 0015 as per our instruction mov ax,0015 You can also see that the IP points to line 0103 which has the MOV CX,0023 command If we type t again it will now execute the second line of the program which moves 23 in the cx register. Again, we can see that the line of code was executed and that the CX register now holds the value of 23. What I would like to highlight now is the section underlined in red. These are the status flags. The ones we are going to look at now are 1st (NV), 4th (PL), 5th (NZ) & 8th (NC) NV means no overflow, the alternate would be OV PL means that the sign of the previous arithmetic operation was Plus, the alternate would be NG (Negative) NZ means that the results of the previous arithmetic operation operation was Not Zero, the alternate would be ZR NC means that No final Carry resulted from the previous arithmetic operation. CY means that there was a final Carry. We could now follow this process of entering the t command until the entire program is executed line by line. G is for Go (To execute a program up to a certain line number) So we have looked at executing a program line by line, which is fine if your program is minuscule BUT totally unpractical if we have any decent sized program. A quicker way to run some lines of code is to use the G command. The ‘g’ command executes a program up to a certain specified point. It can be used in connection with the the reset IP command. You would set your initial point and then run the G command with the line you want to end on. P is for Proceed (Similar to trace but slightly more streamlined) Another command similar to trace is the proceed command. All that the p command does is if it is called and it encounters a CALL, INT or LOOP command it terminates the program execution. In the example below I modified our example program to include an int 20 at the end of it as illustrated in the image below… Then when executing the code when I encountered the int 20 command I typed the P command and the program terminated normally (illustrated below). D is for Dump (or for those more polite Display) So, we have all these assembly lines of code, but if you have ever opened up an exe or com file in a text/hex editor, it looks nothing like assembly code. The D command is a way that we can see what our code looks like in memory (or in a hex editor). If we examined the image above, we can see that Debug is storing our assembly code with each instruction following immediately after the previous one. For instance in memory address 110 we have int and 111 we have 20. If we examine the dump of memory we can see at memory point 110 CD is stored and at memory point 111 20 is stored. U is for Unassemble (or Convert Machine code to Assembly Code) So up to now we have gone through a bunch of commands, but probably one of the most useful is the U command. Let’s say we don’t understand machine code so well and so instead we want to see it in its equivalent assembly code. We can type the U command followed by the start memory point, followed by the end memory point and it will show us the assembly code equivalent of the machine code. E is for a bunch of things… The E command can be used for a bunch of things… One example is to enter data or machine code instructions directly into memory. It can also be used to display the contents of memory locations. I am not going to worry to much about it in this post. N / L / W is for Name, Load & Write So we have written out assembly code in debug, and now we want to save it to disk, or write it as a com file or load it. This is where the N, L & W command come in handy. The n command is used to give a name to the executable program file and is pretty simple to use. The w command is a bit trickier. It saves to disk all the memory between point bx and point cx so you need to specify the bx memory address and the cx memory address for it to write your code. Let’s look at an example illustrated below. You do this by calling the r command followed by the either bx or cx. We can then go to the directory where we were working and will see the new file with the name we specified. The L command is relatively simple. You would first specify the name of the file you would like to load using the N command, and then call the L command. Q is for Quit The last command that I am going to write about in this post is the Q command. Simply put, calling the Q command exits DEBUG. Commands we did not Cover Out of the standard DEBUG commands we covered A, T, G, D, U, E, P, R, N, L & W. The ones we did not cover were H, I & O – I might make mention of these in a later post, but for the basics they are not really needed. Some Useful Resources Please note this post is based on the COS2213 handouts for UNISA A Guide to DEBUG - http://mirror.href.com/thestarman/asm/debug/debug.htm#NT

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  • Does Test Driven Development (TDD) improve Quality and Correctness? (Part 1)

    - by David V. Corbin
    Since the dawn of the computer age, various methodologies have been introduced to improve quality and reduce cost. In this posting, I will by sharing my experiences with Test Driven Development; both its benefits and limitations. To start this topic, we need to agree on what TDD is. The first is to define each of the three words as used in this context. Test - An item or action which measures something in some quantifiable form. Driven - The primary motivation or focus of a series of activities (process) Development - All phases of a software project/product from concept through delivery. The above are very simple definitions that result in the following: "TDD is a process where the primary focus is on measuring and quantifying all aspects of the creation of a (software) product." There are many places where TDD is used outside of software development, even though it is not known by this name. Consider the (conventional) education process that most of us grew up on. The focus was to get the best grades as measured by different tests. Many of these tests measured rote memorization and not understanding of the subject matter. The result of this that many people graduated with high scores but without "quality and correctness" in their ability to utilize the subject matter (of course, the flip side is true where certain people DID understand the material but were not very good at taking this type of test). Returning to software development, let us look at some common scenarios. While these items are generally applicable regardless of platform, language and tools; the remainder of this post will utilize Microsoft Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server (TFS) for examples. It should be realized that everyone does at least some aspect of TDD. At the most rudimentary level, getting a program to compile involves a "pass/fail" measurement (is the syntax valid) that drives their ability to proceed further (run the program). Other developers may create "Unit Tests" in the belief that having a test for every method/property of a class and good code coverage is the goal of TDD. These items may be helpful and even important, but really only address a small aspect of the overall effort. To see TDD in a bigger view, lets identify the various activities that are part of the Software Development LifeCycle. These are going to be presented in a Waterfall style for simplicity, but each item also occurs within Iterative methodologies such as Agile/Scrum. the key ones here are: Requirements Gathering Architecture Design Implementation Quality Assurance Can each of these items be subjected to a process which establishes metrics (quantified metrics) that reflect both the quality and correctness of each item? It should be clear that conventional Unit Tests do not apply to all of these items; at best they can verify that a local aspect (e.g. a Class/Method) of implementation matches the (test writers perspective of) the appropriate design document. So what can we do? For each of area, the goal is to create tests that are quantifiable and durable. The ability to quantify the measurements (beyond a simple pass/fail) is critical to tracking progress(eventually measuring the level of success that has been achieved) and for providing clear information on what items need to be addressed (along with the appropriate time to address them - in varying levels of detail) . Durability is important so that the test can be reapplied (ideally in an automated fashion) over the entire cycle. Returning for a moment back to our "education example", one must also be careful of how the tests are organized and how the measurements are taken. If a test is in a multiple choice format, there is a significant statistical probability that a correct answer might be the result of a random guess. Also, in many situations, having the student simply provide a final answer can obscure many important elements. For example, on a math test, having the student simply provide a numeric answer (rather than showing the methodology) may result in a complete mismatch between the process and the result. It is hard to determine which is worse: The student who makes a simple arithmetric error at one step of a long process (resulting in a wrong answer) or The student who (without providing the "workflow") uses a completely invalid approach, yet still comes up with the right number. The "Wrong Process"/"Right Answer" is probably the single biggest problem in software development. Even very simple items can suffer from this. As an example consider the following code for a "straight line" calculation....Is it correct? (for Integral Points)         int Solve(int m, int b, int x) { return m * x + b; }   Most people would respond "Yes". But let's take the question one step further... Is it correct for all possible values of m,b,x??? (no fair if you cheated by being focused on the bolded text!)  Without additional information regarding constrains on "the possible values of m,b,x" the answer must be NO, there is the risk of overflow/wraparound that will produce an incorrect result! To properly answer this question (i.e. Test the Code), one MUST be able to backtrack from the implementation through the design, and architecture all the way back to the requirements. And the requirement itself must be tested against the stakeholder(s). It is only when the bounding conditions are defined that it is possible to determine if the code is "Correct" and has "Quality". Yet, how many of us (myself included) have written such code without even thinking about it. In many canses we (think we) "know" what the bounds are, and that the code will be correct. As we all know, requirements change, "code reuse" causes implementations to be applied to different scenarios, etc. This leads directly to the types of system failures that plague so many projects. This approach to TDD is much more holistic than ones which start by focusing on the details. The fundamental concepts still apply: Each item should be tested. The test should be defined/implemented before (or concurrent with) the definition/implementation of the actual item. We also add concepts that expand the scope and alter the style by recognizing: There are many things beside "lines of code" that benefit from testing (measuring/evaluating in a formal way) Correctness and Quality can not be solely measured by "correct results" In the future parts, we will examine in greater detail some of the techniques that can be applied to each of these areas....

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  • Source-control 'wet-work'?

    - by Phil Factor
    When a design or creative work is flawed beyond remedy, it is often best to destroy it and start again. The other day, I lost the code to a long and intricate SQL batch I was working on. I’d thought it was impossible, but it happened. With all the technology around that is designed to prevent this occurring, this sort of accident has become a rare event.  If it weren’t for a deranged laptop, and my distraction, the code wouldn’t have been lost this time.  As always, I sighed, had a soothing cup of tea, and typed it all in again.  The new code I hastily tapped in  was much better: I’d held in my head the essence of how the code should work rather than the details: I now knew for certain  the start point, the end, and how it should be achieved. Instantly the detritus of half-baked thoughts fell away and I was able to write logical code that performed better.  Because I could work so quickly, I was able to hold the details of all the columns and variables in my head, and the dynamics of the flow of data. It was, in fact, easier and quicker to start from scratch rather than tidy up and refactor the existing code with its inevitable fumbling and half-baked ideas. What a shame that technology is now so good that developers rarely experience the cleansing shock of losing one’s code and having to rewrite it from scratch.  If you’ve never accidentally lost  your code, then it is worth doing it deliberately once for the experience. Creative people have, until Technology mistakenly prevented it, torn up their drafts or sketches, threw them in the bin, and started again from scratch.  Leonardo’s obsessive reworking of the Mona Lisa was renowned because it was so unusual:  Most artists have been utterly ruthless in destroying work that didn’t quite make it. Authors are particularly keen on writing afresh, and the results are generally positive. Lawrence of Arabia actually lost the entire 250,000 word manuscript of ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by accidentally leaving it on a train at Reading station, before rewriting a much better version.  Now, any writer or artist is seduced by technology into altering or refining their work rather than casting it dramatically in the bin or setting a light to it on a bonfire, and rewriting it from the blank page.  It is easy to pick away at a flawed work, but the real creative process is far more brutal. Once, many years ago whilst running a software house that supplied commercial software to local businesses, I’d been supervising an accounting system for a farming cooperative. No packaged system met their needs, and it was all hand-cut code.  For us, it represented a breakthrough as it was for a government organisation, and success would guarantee more contracts. As you’ve probably guessed, the code got mangled in a disk crash just a week before the deadline for delivery, and the many backups all proved to be entirely corrupted by a faulty tape drive.  There were some fragments left on individual machines, but they were all of different versions.  The developers were in despair.  Strangely, I managed to re-write the bulk of a three-month project in a manic and caffeine-soaked weekend.  Sure, that elegant universally-applicable input-form routine was‘nt quite so elegant, but it didn’t really need to be as we knew what forms it needed to support.  Yes, the code lacked architectural elegance and reusability. By dawn on Monday, the application passed its integration tests. The developers rose to the occasion after I’d collapsed, and tidied up what I’d done, though they were reproachful that some of the style and elegance had gone out of the application. By the delivery date, we were able to install it. It was a smaller, faster application than the beta they’d seen and the user-interface had a new, rather Spartan, appearance that we swore was done to conform to the latest in user-interface guidelines. (we switched to Helvetica font to look more ‘Bauhaus’ ). The client was so delighted that he forgave the new bugs that had crept in. I still have the disk that crashed, up in the attic. In IT, we have had mixed experiences from complete re-writes. Lotus 123 never really recovered from a complete rewrite from assembler into C, Borland made the mistake with Arago and Quattro Pro  and Netscape’s complete rewrite of their Navigator 4 browser was a white-knuckle ride. In all cases, the decision to rewrite was a result of extreme circumstances where no other course of action seemed possible.   The rewrite didn’t come out of the blue. I prefer to remember the rewrite of Minix by young Linus Torvalds, or the rewrite of Bitkeeper by a slightly older Linus.  The rewrite of CP/M didn’t do too badly either, did it? Come to think of it, the guy who decided to rewrite the windowing system of the Xerox Star never regretted the decision. I’ll agree that one should often resist calls for a rewrite. One of the worst habits of the more inexperienced programmer is to denigrate whatever code he or she inherits, and then call loudly for a complete rewrite. They are buoyed up by the mistaken belief that they can do better. This, however, is a different psychological phenomenon, more related to the idea of some motorcyclists that they are operating on infinite lives, or the occasional squaddies that if they charge the machine-guns determinedly enough all will be well. Grim experience brings out the humility in any experienced programmer.  I’m referring to quite different circumstances here. Where a team knows the requirements perfectly, are of one mind on methodology and coding standards, and they already have a solution, then what is wrong with considering  a complete rewrite? Rewrites are so painful in the early stages, until that point where one realises the payoff, that even I quail at the thought. One needs a natural disaster to push one over the edge. The trouble is that source-control systems, and disaster recovery systems, are just too good nowadays.   If I were to lose this draft of this very blog post, I know I’d rewrite it much better. However, if you read this, you’ll know I didn’t have the nerve to delete it and start again.  There was a time that one prayed that unreliable hardware would deliver you from an unmaintainable mess of a codebase, but now technology has made us almost entirely immune to such a merciful act of God. An old friend of mine with long experience in the software industry has long had the idea of the ‘source-control wet-work’,  where one hires a malicious hacker in some wild eastern country to hack into one’s own  source control system to destroy all trace of the source to an application. Alas, backup systems are just too good to make this any more than a pipedream. Somehow, it would be difficult to promote the idea. As an alternative, could one construct a source control system that, on doing all the code-quality metrics, would systematically destroy all trace of source code that failed the quality test? Alas, I can’t see many managers buying into the idea. In reading the full story of the near-loss of Toy Story 2, it set me thinking. It turned out that the lucky restoration of the code wasn’t the happy ending one first imagined it to be, because they eventually came to the conclusion that the plot was fundamentally flawed and it all had to be rewritten anyway.  Was this an early  case of the ‘source-control wet-job’?’ It is very hard nowadays to do a rapid U-turn in a development project because we are far too prone to cling to our existing source-code.

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  • Source-control 'wet-work'?

    - by Phil Factor
    When a design or creative work is flawed beyond remedy, it is often best to destroy it and start again. The other day, I lost the code to a long and intricate SQL batch I was working on. I’d thought it was impossible, but it happened. With all the technology around that is designed to prevent this occurring, this sort of accident has become a rare event.  If it weren’t for a deranged laptop, and my distraction, the code wouldn’t have been lost this time.  As always, I sighed, had a soothing cup of tea, and typed it all in again.  The new code I hastily tapped in  was much better: I’d held in my head the essence of how the code should work rather than the details: I now knew for certain  the start point, the end, and how it should be achieved. Instantly the detritus of half-baked thoughts fell away and I was able to write logical code that performed better.  Because I could work so quickly, I was able to hold the details of all the columns and variables in my head, and the dynamics of the flow of data. It was, in fact, easier and quicker to start from scratch rather than tidy up and refactor the existing code with its inevitable fumbling and half-baked ideas. What a shame that technology is now so good that developers rarely experience the cleansing shock of losing one’s code and having to rewrite it from scratch.  If you’ve never accidentally lost  your code, then it is worth doing it deliberately once for the experience. Creative people have, until Technology mistakenly prevented it, torn up their drafts or sketches, threw them in the bin, and started again from scratch.  Leonardo’s obsessive reworking of the Mona Lisa was renowned because it was so unusual:  Most artists have been utterly ruthless in destroying work that didn’t quite make it. Authors are particularly keen on writing afresh, and the results are generally positive. Lawrence of Arabia actually lost the entire 250,000 word manuscript of ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by accidentally leaving it on a train at Reading station, before rewriting a much better version.  Now, any writer or artist is seduced by technology into altering or refining their work rather than casting it dramatically in the bin or setting a light to it on a bonfire, and rewriting it from the blank page.  It is easy to pick away at a flawed work, but the real creative process is far more brutal. Once, many years ago whilst running a software house that supplied commercial software to local businesses, I’d been supervising an accounting system for a farming cooperative. No packaged system met their needs, and it was all hand-cut code.  For us, it represented a breakthrough as it was for a government organisation, and success would guarantee more contracts. As you’ve probably guessed, the code got mangled in a disk crash just a week before the deadline for delivery, and the many backups all proved to be entirely corrupted by a faulty tape drive.  There were some fragments left on individual machines, but they were all of different versions.  The developers were in despair.  Strangely, I managed to re-write the bulk of a three-month project in a manic and caffeine-soaked weekend.  Sure, that elegant universally-applicable input-form routine was‘nt quite so elegant, but it didn’t really need to be as we knew what forms it needed to support.  Yes, the code lacked architectural elegance and reusability. By dawn on Monday, the application passed its integration tests. The developers rose to the occasion after I’d collapsed, and tidied up what I’d done, though they were reproachful that some of the style and elegance had gone out of the application. By the delivery date, we were able to install it. It was a smaller, faster application than the beta they’d seen and the user-interface had a new, rather Spartan, appearance that we swore was done to conform to the latest in user-interface guidelines. (we switched to Helvetica font to look more ‘Bauhaus’ ). The client was so delighted that he forgave the new bugs that had crept in. I still have the disk that crashed, up in the attic. In IT, we have had mixed experiences from complete re-writes. Lotus 123 never really recovered from a complete rewrite from assembler into C, Borland made the mistake with Arago and Quattro Pro  and Netscape’s complete rewrite of their Navigator 4 browser was a white-knuckle ride. In all cases, the decision to rewrite was a result of extreme circumstances where no other course of action seemed possible.   The rewrite didn’t come out of the blue. I prefer to remember the rewrite of Minix by young Linus Torvalds, or the rewrite of Bitkeeper by a slightly older Linus.  The rewrite of CP/M didn’t do too badly either, did it? Come to think of it, the guy who decided to rewrite the windowing system of the Xerox Star never regretted the decision. I’ll agree that one should often resist calls for a rewrite. One of the worst habits of the more inexperienced programmer is to denigrate whatever code he or she inherits, and then call loudly for a complete rewrite. They are buoyed up by the mistaken belief that they can do better. This, however, is a different psychological phenomenon, more related to the idea of some motorcyclists that they are operating on infinite lives, or the occasional squaddies that if they charge the machine-guns determinedly enough all will be well. Grim experience brings out the humility in any experienced programmer.  I’m referring to quite different circumstances here. Where a team knows the requirements perfectly, are of one mind on methodology and coding standards, and they already have a solution, then what is wrong with considering  a complete rewrite? Rewrites are so painful in the early stages, until that point where one realises the payoff, that even I quail at the thought. One needs a natural disaster to push one over the edge. The trouble is that source-control systems, and disaster recovery systems, are just too good nowadays.   If I were to lose this draft of this very blog post, I know I’d rewrite it much better. However, if you read this, you’ll know I didn’t have the nerve to delete it and start again.  There was a time that one prayed that unreliable hardware would deliver you from an unmaintainable mess of a codebase, but now technology has made us almost entirely immune to such a merciful act of God. An old friend of mine with long experience in the software industry has long had the idea of the ‘source-control wet-work’,  where one hires a malicious hacker in some wild eastern country to hack into one’s own  source control system to destroy all trace of the source to an application. Alas, backup systems are just too good to make this any more than a pipedream. Somehow, it would be difficult to promote the idea. As an alternative, could one construct a source control system that, on doing all the code-quality metrics, would systematically destroy all trace of source code that failed the quality test? Alas, I can’t see many managers buying into the idea. In reading the full story of the near-loss of Toy Story 2, it set me thinking. It turned out that the lucky restoration of the code wasn’t the happy ending one first imagined it to be, because they eventually came to the conclusion that the plot was fundamentally flawed and it all had to be rewritten anyway.  Was this an early  case of the ‘source-control wet-job’?’ It is very hard nowadays to do a rapid U-turn in a development project because we are far too prone to cling to our existing source-code.

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