Archive for August, 2003

Animals and Children

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

I really enjoy landscape photography. I really don’t like taking pictures of adults as there is a 50/50 chance that I will make them look terrible. And I don’t mean the picture won’t be perfect I mean that it will be awful. So bad, that sometimes it is difficult to recognise the people in the pictures. Recently, I have taken about two hundred pictures. I got the colour ones developed today and some of them are not bad. The pictures were taken at three different events: a wedding, a day out at a museum, and a day out at the Northern Ireland School of Falconry. I tried to only take pictures of birds and children but not surprisingly at the wedding I was expected to take pictures of the bridal party. Yet again I have managed to make a perfectly lovely bridesmaid look like a hag. This terrible picture means that I can’t give the bride pictures of the bridal party as I had intended. It seems I only took one picture of this particular bridesmaid and I couldn’t let anyone see that.

I also ran into problems at the Falconry centre. The guy in charge asked me to take a picture of someone holding an owl. He, like many other people, had this idea that if I could take pictures of birds I must be able to take pictures of anything. I took the pictures for him but I was dreading how these would turn out. Thankfully it was a child holding the bird and not an adult but I was still concerned. It didn’t seem to be the right time to explain that I specialise in a different type of photography. Having a decent camera means I run into this problem quite often. But then this is a common problem. If I tell people I work in computers they start telling me about the problems they have with their printers and the like when I don’t really know anything useful about hardware.

YAPC::Europe 2003 Talk

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

I’ve finally got round to putting up the slides from my talk at YAPC::Europe this year. They are not very exciting, as most of the information wasn’t on the slides, but at least one person from the audience asked for these. Hopefully I will get round to writing this up properly.

Hairy Pigs

Tuesday, August 12th, 2003

We had two talks at the meeting last night: Marty’s Kongoogo and Marc’s Fairy Tales . We didn’t get much technical content from these but they were both highly entertaining. Poor Marc finds it really difficult to talk at because people make fun of him so much. One of last night’s points of ridicule was Marc removing one of the famous phrases from the story of the three little pigs. He decided that it shouldn’t have the line “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” because pigs didn’t have beards. It was pointed out to him that it doesn’t mention beards just hair and that pigs really do have hair. As Marc wasn’t convinced by this I have found him a picture of a nice hairy pig. In the digression that occurred after this Marc managed to say something along the lines of I can see nothing kinky about pre-pubescent pigs. After this scary comment we decided to let him finish his talk in peace. Well until he got to the part about Goldilocks and the sticky messes.

Test-Driven Development

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

TDD (test-driven development) advocates say this approach has two major benefits.
First, because the tests embody specific uses of the yet-unwritten software, they will help tease out the design of the software, complementary to other techniques such as requirements specification and modeling. Second, the tests create a safety net, enabling the programmer to engage in the risky but necessary practice of refactoring — continuously reorganizing the code — without fear of breakage. One of XP’s tenets is that change is the only constant. As the business environment evolves, so do the requirements it imposes on software. Although software is in theory perfectly malleable, in practice we are often afraid to change it. TDD seeks to reduce that fear by controlling the risk associated with change.

- Jon Udel, Test before you leap into development

Day 3 at YAPC::Europe

Friday, August 1st, 2003

I didn’t get out of bed in time to hear the talks in the first session. I think that 9:00am is too early a starting time for the third day of a conference. Especially as everyone stays out so late in the evenings. So, the first talk I saw was Marty’s Perl6 ideas stolen from Japanese. I did say yesterday that it makes me really nervous to watch Marty speak but I knew that he wasn’t going to try and code during this one. I was a bit concerned about the talk as he had submitted a 20 minute talk which was given a 40 minute slot but it went really well. It was one of the best talks that I saw at the conference (though I could be a bit biased).

After this I went to see Jo Walsh speak on the Porn0graph. The questions asked at the end did make me wonder if I’d missed the point entirely but it seems that I hadn’t. I liked both the talk and the concept. After this I went to hear Elaine speak on the CPAN followed by Arthur speaking on Ponie.

I went to the start of Greg’s talk and then realised that we had forgotten to bring Dominus’ underwear. So, Marty and I rushed back to the hotel to get this and arrived back in time to see nearly all the lightning talks. There seemed to be about 16 of these which was far to many for one session. There is no doubt that the funniest of these was given by Philippe but my favourite one was given by Ettore Vecchione. I’m always interested in talks that demonstrate ways to improve systems. Ettore talked about his use of Win32::OLE and SpreadSheet::WriteExcel to automate a process which used to take the administrative staff, at the University he works at, 4 – 6 weeks to complete. Ettore managed to find a way to reduce this to 15 minutes. Excellent!

After this the auction took place. It was supposed to finish at 6pm but how anyone thought that Greg would be able to complete the auction in 45 minutes is beyond me. I did think that the auction was too long. The problem may be with the multiple items of books and T-shirts that get donated. These items are worth selling but seem to take up to much time. Greg had wanted to sell Marty’s hair and I’m quite glad that this didn’t go ahead. I’ve got used to the curls.