Tuesday, February 20, 2007


There was someone on the radio yesterday morning talking about the expansion of the London Congestion Charging Zone, and arguing that it was pointless, and that it's wrong to charge people to use their own cars.
This is very much in line with the 1.5+ million people who've signed the petition against charging road users per road use.
The fundamental issue in this seems, to me, to be about whether it's your right to use your car as much as you god well like.
This is the mindset that the years of Thatcher rule has instilled in us, providing society that, without a car, you are nothing. This mindset pervades pretty much everything.
However, if we take the view that simply owning a car does not mean you have the right to drive it, then things like Congestion and Pay Per Use make a lot more sense. You have to buy your right to use your car. If the cost of ownership remained about the same, but the cost of using your car suddenly skyrocketed, you'd have to whether it was worth it everytime you got in your car. Similarly, if you consider using your car a priviledge, not a right, you spend more time considering every journey.
Obviously, all of this is completely pointless without a reliable public transport system, which is the one thing we don't have in this country.
I honestly thought I had a coherent thought about this before I wrote this.

Monday, February 19, 2007


If apt-get offers to remove openssh-server, don't let it - especially if that's only method of accessing that server*.
* I felt really stupid when I did that this morning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Hmm, something I read pointed to this intelligence test. I got 14 before I had to cheat (and yes, all the answers are on the internet, and quite easy to find). The test's creators say that a score of 14 = intelligent. I'm happy with that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Whisky Tasting Night

Well, it finally happened. I finally managed to spend a weekend with some of my friends from SDL (I worked there 2000-2001). Seeming as one of them is the two readers of my blog I feel like I'm talking to people who already know about it, but this is as much a document of my life as for anyone else.
I managed to take a 12 year old Aberlour, bought from the web, and a 14 year old Scapa, bought from Czerwik's in Brighouse.
We started off with Chris' Highland Park, which is one of the ones I remember most. We then had a Japanese one, and had a period on some Speyside ones. This included the Aberlour, which tasted quite mellow by comparison to some of the others, but was plenty drinkable.
Along with some of Bill's wonderful homebrew, the exact order of what followed eludes me, but I can say with certainty that I did enjoy it, and chanting "Tim Howson", playing digeridoo, and feeling utter dispair at the fact that Chris owns a telecaster that he just keeps hung on the wall, all made for a great evening.
Sunday was understandably mellow. We ended up walking around a fair bit of Sheffield trying to find somewhere to get some lunch. This was hampered by the fact that most places were full. We ended up going to a place called 543 (five four three, not five hundred and forty three). No vegan options, so I made do with chips and boiled brocolli, as I couldn't be assed fighting for a vegan dish. The other food looked real good.
It was nice to meet Chris' girlfriend, Liv (I'm shit with names, oh yes). She seemed nice, and didn't seem too disturbed by the fact Bill and I were acting very strangely.
Then I drove home, listening to a think about Guido Fawkes' blog.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Well, good news, in a wish it wasn't kind of way.
Henry went out yesterday morning and didn't come back last night, nor this morning. In fact, he hadn't come back this evening at 5:30pm either.
However, he's back now. Little git.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bridges and Tests

Last Friday, a lorry hit a railway bridge and I thought I wasn't going to get home (the bridge was between work and home). This is because they had to get a structural engineer to go and check the integrity of the bridge before they could let anymore trains go over it.
Bridges have been around for a long time, and the tools and techniques to test their integrity are well established.
Fortunately, the bridge was fine, and I got home around the normal time.
However, I thought this might may a good analogy for why it is important to create automated tests for your code (I'd prefer unit tests and integration tests, but other forms of testing are equally valid).
Consider your code as being the bridge.
The trains are analogous to the data that your code processes.
The tools and techniques used by the structural engineer are the tests (hopefully automated) that your code has to passed before being released.
And the lorry? Well, that's a change in the code, such as an additional feature, or a refactoring, or maybe even a bug fix.
So, the question is, after the lorry hits the bridge, would you be prepared to let the trains continue to run before you'd thoroughly tested it for integrity?
Or, in coding terms, after you've changed your code, should you be prepared to let your it process data before it's been thoroughly tested?
If you have automated, up-to-date tests in place, you can easily test your code (bridge?), and get the trains running (data processing) going as soon as possible.
Without them? Well, it's a long hard night in front of the monitor for you and your testing team*.

*In most places I've work, the coders are the testers, so it looks like another, long, lonely night at work for you.