Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oh Please.. who do they think they are!

Men flashing fancy mobiles to pick up girls

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Overheard on christmas eve...

"You must know him, he's the one with the white beard."

No kidding.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Elves save Santa

Only in a local paper ... “When I phoned to report that Santa’s sleigh was on fire, I think the girl at the other end thought I’d gone mad." Read the whole thing here (its worth it!)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

For god sakes blogger...

Moan moan...
A) I can't upload images from firefox
B) You just created two copies of the same post.


Bouncé !

Found this image here and I couldn't resist it.

Mission, what mission?

How about this for meaningless twaddle..

"As the expectations of our customers develop we must be there to meet them. That means always staying one step ahead."

One of my bosses said that :-/

I think he should've run it past his wife first, Nikki wouldn't let me out of the house if she thought I was going to come out with stuff like that!

And finally the madness is over

Well this particular workplace madness is over at last.
Yesterday at around two-ish the High Heid Yin of SysDev came round pressing the flesh and schmoozing the troops as he made his decision for the Xmas decoration competition (posts passim).
Worse than that he had two "representatives" from "corporate communications" in tow, taking notes and photos..

.. dodgy!
However eventually a winner was announced and the trophy (see below) was presented.
I missed all of that though, because we'd gone out for our Team Xmas lunch. Well done everyone, but you're mad, every last one of you!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Xmas decorations...

Yes, yet more (see earlier) pictures of the lengths some people will go to to win a small
trophy (watch this space) these are from the CLASS Operations team...

Nice to see that not everyone is obsessed with working Rhona!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Disclaimer nonsense - adapted from an email I received

Statements in this blog that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements including, without limitation, statements regarding Danny's expectations, objectives, anticipations, plans, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward looking statements include risks and uncertainties such as any unforeseen event or any unforeseen system failures, and other risks. It is important to note that actual outcomes could differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements.

Cynicism is dead, long live over-enthusiasm!

Our department had an initiative to promote team building and morale, and to cut a long story short one of the things we thought would be fun(!) and help to achieve our goal would be to have a lighthearted occasional competition between teams. Small prize. Possibly some charitable activity, where we can work it in.
The inaugural event was to be for home made christmas decorations, Systems-Development having traditionally fallen, scrooge like, well below company standards in this annual nonsense.

Little did any of us imagine the heights of enthusiasm and the total lack of dignity or taste which the competitive spirit would evoke! Not content with making paper chains out of documentation (yes we *did* have some!) some of the teams have gone to extremes in their search for glory. So to record their efforts for posterity, before tomorrow's judging and awards ceremony, here are some photos...

The Front Line Support (FLS) Grotto:

The e-Business Services Winter Wonderland:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Colleagues hide their shame!

After blogging about my colleagues and a bit of silly nonsense that they got up to last week, this morning saw a request to "take down" the post. I'm happy to spare their blushes.
Pictured are ColleagueX, ColleagueY, and ColleagueZ, viewing my blog with shame in their hearts! ;-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This book changed my life

Update, stardate May 2011 : Its still a great book, and I know that after I read it my writing became easier to understand and more accurate. Those rocket scientists know a thing or two..

The original link has changed find it here now instead:

NASA SP-7084; Grammar, Punctuation, and Capitalization; A Handbook for Technical Writers and Editors

Original post, stardate December '06:

Well honestly no. But it is worth reading if you write for a living.
Write like a rocket scientist...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mailet API

TSS carried this thread about James 2.3.0
Some people have commented about the Mailet API.
I'm currently working on a fork of James (in the James server/sandbox) just for the purpose of examining some proposed Mailet API changes, anyone who's interested in this API should subscribe to and join the debate.

James 2.3.0 released

The James team have release v2.3.0 here

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Metal vsConcrete - Demolition II

Got in to work this morning to find the Big Machine across the road tearing into the top floor with much noise and dust. So I took some pictures, of which this is the most dramatic. I should probably upload the others to flickr, but I'm generally too lazy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who put the "C" in ICT... and why on earth?

The Greatest Lover In the World and I were talking the other night about how crap the www really is. Don't flame me yet, read on...
I'd just spent time time at work using a spreadsheet, and I'd forgotten what a fantastic thing the spreadsheet is. You can put stuff wherever you want, and generally run riot, the inventors of Visi Calc gave us the ultimately usable playground for arithmetic. If you're into IT archeology you can download visicalc from here.
What has happened since? Well the "C" was added to IT to make it ICT, and the internet was invented, bringing us the delights of clumsyness, crappinness and crooks.
From a people perspective communication is a fine thing. As a programmer I like the internet because it joins computers up and I can have fun with that. But from the "useful-computer for people to do stuff with" point of view HTML and the www has made us take one step forward and a big lurching stagger back.
I know a lot of people are working hard to make up the lost gound, but really, should it be so hard?
Right you can flame me now.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


They're demolishing a building across the street from our office.
Two of these huge machines are eating that 70's concrete like a mouse through butter.
This is the second building they've replaced since I started working here, this time I'll try to blog some pictures of the more interesting things they do. The last one they did involved digging a huge hole for two or three sub basements, without the surrounding buildings falling in, I can't for the life of me remember what the technique they used is called!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

FOXOpen - Eclipse plugin planned

I've just heard that the FOXOpen guys are planning to start writing an eclipse plugin for FOXOpen.

This is great news because whilst FOXOpen consists of the framework to describe and deliver applications the full value in terms of productivity will only really be achieved when there is tooling. Because tooling automates repetitive tasks, and reduces the learning curve.
Although it is possible to write applications using an XML editor like XML Spy, a dedicated tool will bring further productivity to teams using FOXOpen, and make it more accessable to new users.

Why am I so keen? Mainly because of this, why do you pay expensive resources to re-create the same general patterns again and again when with the right tooling you can employ more less expensive people to do the job quicker, or for less, and with fewer defects? Using standards based 4GL you can focus your experienced people on adding the real value to the systems the 4GL thing produces. And if you're using open source 4GL you can take this added value and reverse it into your framework and tooling, encapsulating your hard work and making the expensive feature easily reproducable by less expensive people. Come to think of it even though it inhabits a slightly different space Maven does this with its plugins and brings very similar benefits, but it brings them to the development process itself and not the systems which are being developed.

Encapsulating bits of your development processes in your frameworks and tooling so they can be replayed with different parameters means that your reuse is across a general pattern and not a small set of use cases. This is domain engineering, you should read this book. Combine that with truly reusable component elements and you get improved (both faster and more reliable) productivity and ease of maintenance.

All we need now for the FOXOpen plan is for it to deliver all singing all dancing AJAX applications.

Friday, September 22, 2006

one mans programme is another mans data

Steve Loughran blogged (here) about this article from SD Times which slags off people for using XML to program things with, including Ant. I commented on Steve's blog but thought I'd reproduce, and extend that comment here, because I believe that the article is based on a false assumption.

That assumption is that people should need to read and understand XML programmes or data, and that size and efficiency are always core requirements.

"These sorts of XML “programs” are unreadable, unmaintainable, an order of magnitude larger than necessary, and audaciously inefficient at runtime."

I'm sure that comp sci students, academics and kernel hackers all care a lot about size and speed, and that anyone who has to read and maintain code will care about that too. But I'd counter his opinion by saying that XML is an easy to understand and powerful two dimensional technique for describing arbitrarly complex relational data, and that his "program" is my structured data.

Seems to me that the author has ignored the fact that ICT is moving towards a world in which people don't write programmes by hand anymore.
I don't mean low level stuff, I mean Big business and government Systems that have insanely short deadlines and dire consequences from defects and delays, people have enough trouble just Making These Things Work.
Tools are what deliver these things, and the tool's data is the system's programme.
XML allows you to describe and validate large and complex data structures in an open, standardised and accessable way, and if your valid data structure is also a programme it will be part of a system which is easily susceptable to being maintained by tools, and tools from many sources, not exclusively from your current supplier.
If you listen to people who think they can look a short way into the future they see that systems which alter their own programming are going to change the way that we think about ICT, and that that road leads us to a place where people won't know or understand the programmes, just the tools, we'll need to learn to write the tools, and to trust them. I think using XML to describe data, data which is also a programme, is a faltering first step on that evolutionary path, and we know its in use in this way all over the place already in rule specifications for all kinds of rules based processing, including things like Spring configuration, hibernate mappings etc. These things are programmes which should be maintained by tools, and programmes which could be modified by the systems which use them.
Ant's XML might not be a great example, for one thing there's no schema or DTD, but it is an example, look at all the IDE's which offer tool support for maintaining build.xml's.
I have no doubt that the use of XML in this way once again blurs the distinction between data and programme which is a key feature of really adaptive systems.

foxopen - UK DTi to open source XML based alternative to 4gl

I've been talking to ICT guys at the Oil and Gas department (or whatever) of the DTi, they're starting the process of moving to open source some software which they developed to get around the lack of openness in 4gl RAD .

Its here - There's no code available yet, something to do with checking the legality of it all, but watch this space, and read the docs!

Basically it allows you to use any good XML editor to develop and maintain complex B2B web-based applications quickly and reliably.

What I really like about it is the fact that they've had to make it work for "real" regulatory processes, processes involving complex workflows with many review and approval steps, and because they've had to comply with the DTi's requirement for zero paper processes it also supports electronic signatures for documents.

It is a framework for delivering web based applications which require any of these features:
On line forms data entry
Document generation
Web services
Data reporting
User account management
Security (digital signatures)

I think it has great potential, check it out.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Apachecon EU 2006

Hey hey, the hotel is pretty plush, and the seminars are good, lots of steak and not too much sizzle.
Slightly dissapointed with the lightning lottery talks, but hey thats just one thing.
Oh and... could someone find a bag sponsor for next year? The EU '05 bag was much better than this one. Mabey we could get a bag manufacturer to sponsor the bags.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Why can't the message from ClassCastException tell us what class couldn't be cast into what other

I've said it before, but it still does my head in so I'm saying it again..

I know that you can put this into your message, but how many times do *other peoples* exeptions have this information in them?
Come to think of it why didn't Sun make ClassCastException have a constructor with arguments for two classes and a message:

ClassCastException(Class from, Class into, String message)

I mean, this one thing would probably save billions of man hours worldwide as people wouldn't need to compile in extra debug output or step through their programmes in the debugger.

I know nothing, I'm not a fortune teller, and you'd be insane to think that I am. This disclaimer was cribbed from an email footer I once received. It is so ridiculous I had to have it for myself.

Statements in this blog that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements including, without limitation, statements regarding my expectations, objectives, anticipations, plans, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward looking statements include risks and uncertainties such as any unforeseen event or any unforeseen system failures, and other risks. It is important to note that actual outcomes could differ materially from those in such forward-looking statements.

Danny Angus Copyright © 2006-2013 (OMG that's seven years of this nonsense)