Andy Gavin's blog

Developments in Configuration Management tools

Like many I cannot wait for a better configuration management tool. Possibly the most widely used tool up until recently was CVS (on UNIX at least) and the even worse SourceSafe (on windows). You cannot be overly critical of CVS--- to my mind anyway, it is a child of the eighties, and as so is more than a grandfather to most systems out there. Its popularity has remained because it's free and relatively easy/maintain. Also there is a large body of knowledge from people who have been using it for all these years. In the last few years Subversion has arrived as a CVS replacement--- why subversion should be considered a CVS replacement when no other is is anyone's guess. Little is similar to CVS. There are notable improvements like atomic commits and versioned directories. All make people who have used it not want to convert back to CVS. However, it looks like a product of the 90's. Current research and other systems are much better at handling change and are more suited the way modern teams work. There have been some interesting developments in recent years, that might mean that Subversion will either have to adapt or it will be supplanted by a newer system--- one more suitable to how development is performed now. Two of the most interesting developments are:


Wiki Patterns

I've worked in a number of places that use wikis to store project information. Often they can work well, at other times they seem to break and be completely useless. I notice there is now a Wikipatterns site documenting some of the patterns in wiki use. Most of these patterns originate or are documented in a form on but having this site helps establish a best practice. Looking at the history the site is less than a month old, hopefully it will turn into a useful resource for mentors who want


New Avalanche safety Design Concept wins Red Dot Design award

Avalanches are enormously dangerous. In the sixteen year period ending in 2001 over 82% of fatalities in avalanches were during recreational activity: skiing, climbing, snowboarding or snowmobiling.

The majority of victims that are buried are still alive. Little time is available to rescue buried victims, off-piste skiers carry avalanche equipment for this reason: the best chance of survival is for your buddy to dig you out. People die quickly buried in snow: research shows that in only half an hour chances of survival are decreased to 50%.

New aids for mountain enthusiasts are needed. A promising new design concept in the Red Dot design awards might be just the aid. It won first place in the Life Science category.


Amazing wildlife pictures


Get the best out your router

Recently I listened to a podcast about the samba project, which contained an intesting critism of the SMB2 protocol in vista (Floss Weekly:Jeremy Allison of Samba). The story went that Microsoft has made the protocol worse to try and create networking issues for non-microsoft machines. The additional traffic that it generates does nothing for the user, causing needless waste in resources.

The conversation also talked about how the GPL has forced companies to be more open than they would have once been. This reminds me off the story of the Linksys WRT54G Router.

iPod Video Resetting

My iPod has recently taken to resetting when I try to play some of my recently downloaded podcasts. When I attempt to play then it seems to crash, rebooting. I see the apple logo, but I don't hear anything of the podcast. I have discovered that if I turn off the Eq feature then all is well. This only happens on certain tracks, and is always at the beginning. It makes me wonder if there is a bad frame or two on the front that causes the equaliser to break.

There's something to look at later.


The Perils of TCP

I've recently been working in an environment supporting legacy webservices. What has surprised me here and elsewhere is how much or a black art TCP is. Seasoned system admins don't always know the weaknesses in the protocol, and often developers don't realise.

Send delays on small packets



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