• Faking Production – database access

    One of our services has been around for a while, a realy long time. It used to get developed in production, there is an awful lot of work involved in making the app self-contained, to where it could be brought up in a VM and run without access to production or some kinds of fake supporting environment. There’s lots of stuff hard coded in the app (like database server names/ip etc), and indeed, and there’s a lot of code designed to handle inaccessible database servers in some kind of graceful manor.
  • Windows 7 Essentials

    I’ve just rebuilt my laptop (a combination of McAfee Whole Disk Encryption slowing the current build down & a Crucial ReadSSD 128Gb that was too cheap to resist forced me to, honest guv), so it’s time to refresh & re-document the essential software list: Windows 7 Professional 64bit VistaSwitcher (better alt-tab) WindowSpace (snap windows to screen edges & other windows, extended keyboard support for moving/resizing) Launchy Thunderbird6 Lightning (required for work calendars) OBET Provider for Google Calendar (so I can see my personal calendar) Google Contacts (sync sync sync) Mail Redirect (bounce/redirect email to a ticketing system) Nostalgy (move/copy mail to different folders from the keyboard) Phoenity Shredder or Littlebird (the default theme is a bit slow, these are lighter and quicker) Hacked BlunderDelay & mailnews.
  • The New Toolbox

    In days gone by, any computer guy worth his salt had a collection of boot floppies, 5.25″ & 3.5″, containing a mix of MS-DOS, DR-DOS, Toms Root Boot & Norton tools. These days passed and the next set of essentials was boot cd-r, containing BartPE, RIPLinux, Knoppix etc. People quickly switched to carrying these tools USB sticks, smaller, easier to change, great when the dodgy PC you were trying to breathe life into supported USB booting.
  • WRR DNS with PowerDNS

    I had an interesting challenge in work recently, we have 3 data centres running our applications, currently the RR DNS system does what it’s supposed to, spreads the data round each of the 3 DCs evenly. This works fine when all of your data centres have a similar capacity. But ours don’t. This causes problem when your load/traffic gets to the point where one of the DCs can’t cope. Now, there are many expensive and complicated solutions to this, this how ever isn’t one of them, it’s quite simple, has it’s weaknesses, but as you’ll see it’s also quite elegant.
  • hat in the ring

    Well, I’ve just gone & thrown my hat in the ring to speak at BarCampBelfast, if anybody actually wants to here my proposed talk, it’ll be 5 slides I prepared for the first Mobile Monday Belfast, I prepared two sets, one business & one techie, Mobile Monday got the business slides 🙂
  • Resigned & Signed

    Today I resigned my post as Head of Technology for SLA Mobile and signed a contract with atg where I’ll be workin the eStara team.
  • Exchange to ICS

    I found this post Ryan Hadley a few days ago, which I got working with a little bit of time, I noticed that Thunderbird was displaying all-days events oddly, so I checked the VEVENT info being generated & tweaked to work correctly with Thunderbird/Lightening. I also dropped in the URL of the event in OWA & fixed it for situations where there are public & private names for the OWA/Exchange instance, handy when you want to go and amend an entry etc.
  • Bright Ideas III: Flexible Project Management

    There are lots of different ways of tracking a project (i.e. a list of tasks, dates, calendars, time frames, notes etc), with various tools (MS Project, Basecamp from 37Signals, Google Calendar, Horde and a gazillion other applications and online tools). But so far not all of them manage the ideal all of all of the information everywhere. I would love to have the information spread acoss my PDA (Palm, online & offline), Laptop(Outlook, Thunderbird, online & offline) & web-based online access.
  • Writing, Briefly

    My job seems to have morphed into writing a lot and not doing a lot1, while distracting myself from something I should have been doing, I stumbled on this: Writing, Briefly, from Paul Graham. A good read. Although I’d break stuff up more than he does/has in that article 🙂