CR Linefeed

Friday, May 27, 2005

Moving to Textdrive

I've used Force 9 aka PlusNet for about 8 years as my ISP, then also to register and host my domains. However, since I now get broadband access paid for by my employer, I don't really need an ISP. (As it happens this broadband access is via the very same PlusNet at my suggestion). So, I only need somewhere to host my domains and my email.

My domains are now at 1 and 1, because they offer domains at below cost price with no strings attached and full control of the DNS. But I still need somewhere to actually host webspace and email. I don't know about you, but whenever I've looked at this sort of thing in the past, it always seems that these companies are aiming themselves squarely at the business market, rather than the 'geek' market. So there's an entry level which gives you some webspace and some mailboxes. But if you want all the toys (shell access, cron jobs, cgi-bin scripts, mySQL databases etc etc) you have to buy one of the high end accounts which give you acres of disk space and vast amounts of bandwidth and cost an arm and a leg.

Some of you (or perhaps both of my regular blog readers...) are probably saying "do it yourself!" at this point. But I really don't want to have to run machines in my house connected to the net 24/7 and worry about administering the damn thing. I'm a programmer, not a sysadmin!

To cut a long story short, I'm moving to Textdrive having heard good things in the Ruby community, including here, here and here. They give you all the toys you could possibly want, starting from the cheapest hosting package and they seem to know what they are doing. You've got to love the quote on the front page of the website:
We have no photographs of our CEO strutting past server racks, or of women in telephone headsets ready to take your call, but we hope you’ll consider joining us all the same.

One of these days I may get round to moving this blog too...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Borland have got a silver bullet

Hold the front page! Borland have discovered the holy grail of software development. To quote their ad which appears in Computing Magazine (and doubtless elsewhere in the IT press):
Software Delivery Optimization transforms software development into a predictable, reliable, managed business process.
I'm sorry, but as soon as I read something like this, it makes me set the bozo bit, which is probably not what the ad is supposed to achieve. Surely we're all mature enough to know that there are no silver bullets. There are better ways to build software and there are worse ways. Who knows, perhaps SDO is one of the better ways and maybe this choice of words is just a load of marketing nonsense. But software development can only be predictable and reliable if the environment it is in is also predictable and reliable. If the organisation you develop for has requirements that never change and can be predictably mapped out for the forseeable future, then maybe this is possible. Otherwise, it's not going to happen.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sign a petition against ID cards

I think that the UK Government's idea of a compulsory ID card and associated giant identity database is dreadful idea. There can be no doubt that it is an invasion of privacy and curtailment of freedom. In effect, you'll have to register with the government for the right to exist. Otherwise, you'll be a criminal.

If there was a good reason for it, then perhaps I could put up with it. I mean, we give up various freedoms for the common good all the time. So the police can break into your house and arrest you. That certainly is a curtailment of freedom and privacy! But we only allow it where the person is suspected of a serious crime. We don't allow it willy-nilly. The justifications that have been trotted out have ranged from terrorism to immigration and making it easy to join a video club. I don't believe it will make any difference in the former cases and I don't think the latter is a problem that needs solving with illiberal legislation and millions of pounds of taxpayer's money!

If you agree with me on this, sign the No2ID petition here:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Software Development and Game Theory

I've started reading "Agile Software Development" by Alistair Cockburn. I haven't had the time to get very far as yet, but I do like the way he analyzes software development as a game (that's game as in Game Theory). He characterizes it as a co-operative game of invention and communication. He also talks about how each project is a game, but that this fits into a larger game of corporate strategy. Looking at it this way helps us to understand that decisions that make no sense at the micro (project) level can make sense at the macro (corporate) level. So this post by Laurent Bossavit fitted nicely into topics I was thinking about. He is talking about the corporate level and why organisations sometimes don't do things the best way (e.g. Agile development), using the Prisoner's Dilemma to explain it.