CONGO Update – The road to 2.1.

10 05 2011

I’ve set a goal for myself. Have CONGO v 2.1 released by June 1st. It’s an auspicious goal to be sure, and recent career shifts have either made it more likely (more time to work on it) or less likely (new job) to have time to dedicate to coding.
But goshdarn it, I’m going to try.
congov2-eclipse-screenshot.pngWhile coding away last night at a particularly recalcitrant chunk of the new ‘Links’ system (I’ve been… instructed… by my pesky users, that ‘Friends’ is really too ‘social buzzy funtime networking’ for an event management system), I was curious how big CONGO had gotten. So a couple greps got me some quick stats:

Total lines of Java : 13,412
Total lines of XML : 5,492
Total lines of JSP : 5,543

This makes CONGO the largest application I’ve ever written completely on my own. Oh sure, I’ve worked on larger systems, but that was part of a team with other coders. This one (with some small help from 1-2 folks – accounting for around 2% of the code) is all mine.
I’m always looking for alpha and beta testers. Interested? Lemme know. Continuous build / QA testing is working, so there’s always new builds and bugs that need to be tracked.





The Ten Commandments from IT / Sysadmins…

24 11 2010

Thou shalt not release software to production on the eve of a weekend or a holiday.
Thou shalt not use corporate email servers to distribute full page pictures of your kitten, or your child, or your horse, or your hamster.
Thou shalt not browse porn from your work computer or laptop. Ever.
Thou shalt use corporate / IT mandated applications for corporate related work, regardless of whether you think RandomFinancialTool is better.
Thou shalt choose Microsoft products ONLY when all alternatives have been thoroughly reviewed and considered objectively, and using the criteria of “But it’s not compatible with Microsoft products” is usually a red herring.
Thou shalt not rely exclusively on the ‘genius’ or ‘vast experience’ of a single person within the company or organization. They might be wrong. How would you know?
Thou shalt consider a laptop expendable and subject to imminent destruction.
Thou shalt understand that IT and sysadmin staff are employed to HELP the users do their job. We may know what we’re talking about.
Thou shalt not page a sysadmin at 2am because you’ve forgotten your password. Next time be more careful.
And last but not least…..
Thou shalt respect us. We’re people too.





Fun with Server Uptimes

12 10 2010

At ${dayjob}, we were doing a system audit when an alarm came up on a pair of servers we rarely had any interraction with. One of our new monitoring tools was showing these servers were not answering correctly, and should be investigated.
Investigate I did, and found… four machines in a full sized rack that were doing absolutely nothing.
It turns out these were used for 3 customers we no longer supported. The applications were still there, the appservers were running, just… no one had connected to them in almost a year and a half.
What’s more entertaining is the uptime on these boxes:

09:23:08 up 992 days, 19:15,  1 user,  load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

The current plan is to let them roll over to 1000 days, throw a little party for them, and shut ’em down.
(For the true geeks, these are dual opteron Rackable servers with 8gig RAM running CentOS 4.4)
Update – Just found the database servers these machines have been using. Also idle, but the uptime is even more impressive:

 09:43:08 up 1304 days, 19:49,  1 user,  load average: 0.22, 0.09, 0.02




Quicken Online Shutting Down – One Guy in Mattawan Surprised

16 07 2010
Quicken® Free Personal Finance Software, Money Management, Budgeting, Personal Finances

Well THIS will come as a shock to absolutely no one:
>Dear Valued Customer,
> For the past several months, we’ve been working hard to combine the best features of Quicken Online and Mint.com into a single online personal finance solution–Mint.com. With the improved Mint.com, you can enjoy the features you love in Quicken Online, plus new benefits such as connecting to over 16,000 financial institutions, including Canadian banks–as well as tracking your investment and retirement accounts. There is also a new Goals feature that takes the tool you enjoyed in Quicken Online to the next level.
> As a result of these changes, Quicken Online will no longer be available as of August 29, 2010. Creating a new Mint.com account is easy, but for reasons of security and accuracy, we cannot create one for you. Once you’re signed in, you can add your accounts and see your financial picture in just a few minutes.
Color me shocked. NOT.
It was obvious from the beginning that Intuit was never going to make anything serious out of Quicken.com – they’re far more interested in Quickbooks. When they announced the aquisition of Mint.com, the writing was on the wall.
I recently switched my online accounting over to Mint.com, and I have to admit it’s a helluva good system. Fast, very well designed interface, and good integration with my other finances.
So, there ya have it folks. If you can’t code it, acquire it.





CONGO Freshmeat page!

12 06 2010

Going back to the Good Old Days in software promotion, CONGO now has a Freshmeat page. Vote me up!





CONGO Available for Download

9 06 2010

Well, I said it and said it, and promised I’d do it, now it’s really here.
You’ve heard me chatter on about CONGO, my Event Management System for running conventions, meetings, and the like – well, now you can download and run it yourself.
Details are available on the CONGO home page. If you’re a fandom or gaming event, and you’re looking for a tried and trued registration system for your con, this is the place to go.
Enjoy!





Paypal is driving me nuts.

17 03 2010

Why is Paypal so disorganized?
If you’re a developer, there are something like 6 different sites that are for use by developers. x.com, paypal-community.com, something called custhelp.com (which I was referred to, and sure as hell looks like a phishing site. Or something written by a 12 yr old).
All I want is an answer to why I’m having a problem posting an invoice to their ExpressCheckout, and I’m getting attitude and BS back.
Unbefrigginlievable.





Article on the State of Microsoft – “The Lost Decade”

31 12 2009

Joe Wilcox of Betanews writes an excellent article on why Microsoft is stumbling, and how they lost their initiative after the major gains in the late 90’s and early aughts…

Microsoft executives and product managers — Chairman Bill Gates, above all of them — showed great technology vision for the new millennium. The company was right about so many trends to come but, sadly, executed poorly in bringing too many of them to market. Microsoft’s stiffness, perhaps a sign of its aging leadership, consistently proved its foible. Then there is arcane organizational structure, which has swelled with needless middle managers, and the system of group competition — and in the new century compensation — that worked well for a growth company but not one trying to manage mature markets.

Read the entire article over at betanews.com…





Mail.app vs Thunderbird – Which one?

14 11 2009

It’s been about two and a half months since I got my Macbook Pro, and all in all, it’s been a productive, happy relationship. The Mac functions beautifully for all the things I need to get done, and from my side, I haven’t had to spend any time yak shaving. In fact, I can’t think of a time where I really had to dig into the filesystem or look up tech articles to get something configured on the machine. Everything just plain works.
Somewhere along the line I decided to complete the Kool-Aid conversion, and switched from using Thunderbird to using the Mac’s native mail application, collectively known as Mail.app. Why? Well, part of my philosophy on tech platforms is to try to not carry over preconceived notions of “how things should work”, and immediately critiquing a new environment simply because it doesn’t exactly mirror the one I’m used to.
I’ve been using Mail.app for about a month and a half now, and… I’m not impressed. It works, it talks nicely to my personal IMAP server and to Exchange at work, but… sorry Apple, the UI has some pretty painful choices.
In a recent Facebook conversation (based on a tweet I sent out), folks asked what my issues with Mail.app were. So, here they are:
1. The ‘file to folder’ function is irritating to use. Shortcuts change regularly (F3-space-foldername-enter – BLEAH) – it’s better than the default non-existent methods, but still difficult. (Note this is in reference to using Act-On, a plugin for Mail.app that brings some of the functionality of the super-awesome Nostalgy plugin for Thunderbird)
2. Window management is poor. Composition windows are not floating in alt-tab rotation. If I want to flip back to my Inbox to view something, I have to mouse (no KB shortcuts to switch between inbox / composition / whatever)
3. No identity management – I can’t say “Compose this mail, but it’s business mail, so use my Biz address, footer, etc)
4. The thread management is WEIRD. So, If I have a single message, it’s one row in my inbox. If I have 2 in a thread, its’ THREE rows in my inbox. That makes no sense.
5. I can’t find anyway of skipping to the next unread message in the inbox. So I’ll see Inbox(1) and have to scan where in my inbox that one message is.
6. And who the heck determined that control-shift-D means “Send message” ? What, Control-Enter, a keystroke that is nigh on universal, wasn’t appropriate?
I haven’t come up with a good reason to stick with Mail.app yet. One thing I do worry about is contact management. I’m not sure how to manage that path yet, or how Thunderbird contacts will interract (if at all) with the contact manager on the Mac. That being said, I don’t know if I’ve been using the contact manager at all, so it may be a moot point.
The UI issues in Mail.app though are enough to have me close to jumping ship. Any reasons I shouldn’t?





CONGO Registration System – The State of the Code

4 10 2009

Remember CONGO, my convention registration software? And how over the last year I’ve been rewriting it from scratch?
This past week, the new rewrite, colloquially referred to as ‘v2’, went live for Arisia. Following is a bit of babble about the project, and the net steps therein.

Read the rest of this entry »