Category Archives: Tech

Flowdock Guest Post

How MaestroDev Delivers Enterprise-Grade DevOps Orchestration Tools With Flowdock:

The MaestroDev product development team is globally distributed, covering 4 different timezones. Our Flow is active 24 hours a day with development information and tagged updates for each other. Whether they work face to face, or remotely, Flowdock puts all of our team members on an equal footing, catching up on important discussions as they start their day, and leaving notes about progress for team members whom they may not otherwise be able to meet with immediately.

Over at the Flowdock blog, I’ve written a guest post about how MaestroDev uses Flowdock, how we’ve integrated Flowdock into Maestro, and a few notes about how we “eat our own dog food” to deliver Maestro.

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Rover, Olympics and Social Media

Like a large portion of my Twitter feed, I was glued to the Curiosity Rover landing. I had a particular appreciation for the technology involved, and the achievement of those involved in engineering, programming and testing such an endeavour. I may have been late to jump on the bandwagon, but it was hard not to be infected by the enthusiasm shown for the event. I was moved by the celebrations shown from the NASA live stream – few people get to enjoy such significant, unique events in their professional careers.

It was interesting to watch how social media reacted. At first there was the huge build up of excitement for the event, that quickly turned to poking fun at how it had trumped all manner of other things including sports, celebrities, PCs, television, and religion. There were certainly some witty one-liners going around, but that spawned monotonus retweets, then variants on the same joke, and then retweets of the variants on the same joke. This is how social media works in a big event, and I’ve played my part in it. But as it went along, it was as if the thread lost sight of what had actually been achieved – instead focusing on science having defeated its “adversaries”.

I didn’t understand the sudden Olympics bashing that occurred, seemingly by virtue of just occurring at the same time. Why should one achievement have to take away from another? Surely, we can recognise each for its own merit, no matter how different those fields are. Didn’t we get the science vs. sport rivalry out of our systems in high school?

Some commented particularly on the disproportionate recognition sportspeople and celebrities get. That’s true, particularly for individual pursuits. However, watching the celebrations from the rover landing I doubt that they are any less satisfied with their achievement! It’s not as if they were thinking, “Take that, Usain Bolt!”. At least, I didn’t see anyone pull back in his pose and point towards Mars.

Besides, what worth does such recognition alone really offer, when it can be so fleeting? Anyone dedicated to something only to make a name for themselves would ultimately find it futile (a topic that by no coincidence is on my mind from a sermon recently).

As I think of all the people I know, those I admire most are the ones that work hard at things that bring about good, whether they receive recognition for it or not. The technologists that have built great and useful things, the professional sportspeople that train hard and are committed to their family. The emergency services workers and nurses that deal with gruesome hours and situations to help others. The missionaries that leave friends and family behind to serve overseas. My wife, who works selflessly to raise our kids.

When you break it down, it’s easy to appreciate all of that work without diminishing another. I think it’s the same when you look at the big picture. Whether you run faster than anyone else on the planet, or land a vehicle on a neighbouring planet – what gets you there is not only the hard work and dedication involved, but the people who’ve gone before you, and all those that surround and support you now.

My congrats go out to our Apache friends at JPL and their colleagues, on what is a mind-blowing achievement. I look forward to seeing what they and their curious friend discover over the next couple of years!

Obligatory OS X Lion Installation Post

A couple of years ago, I wrote up my experiences installing Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro. With Lion out today, I’m doing the same (either as notes to self, or to help out other poor souls).

This time around I have two machines to install, so the rarely used MacBook is getting updated now, with the iMac on hold for a while so I don’t disrupt work. I’ll be well prepared for that one with both a Time Machine backup and a clone by Carbon Copy Cloner to a different portable drive!

Getting It

In my previous post, you’ll see I had some hassle getting a functional install disc for Snow Leopard. In that light, digital distribution was a welcome change – particularly being able to start downloading it in the middle of the night here as soon as it was out, and having it ready when I woke up. There were a few false starts with the App Store overloaded initially, but once it got purchased the download was fast.

You can check download progress in the “Purchases” tab – though since the store was timing out I found it easier to look in ~/Library/Application Support/AppStore/APPID. Note that this changes after the upgrade to Lion – instead being in a temporary directory (for me, it was $TMPDIR/../C/com.apple.appstore/APPID)

Once it was downloaded, I made sure to copy the install application to a thumb drive, so that I can install it on the desktop later without another hefty download. You’ll want to grab that before you actually install, as it appears to be gone afterwards. While I haven’t tried it yet, there’s plenty of instructions out there for installing from physical media – such as this one (though this isn’t necessary, as you can just run the install app again on the other Snow Leopard machine).

The Install

The install process is very similar to that of Snow Leopard, though I had no problems such as I did that time. It spent its 45 minutes installing, rebooted, and came back to the new login screen.

The Victims

Here’s what I’ve found didn’t work out of the box:

  • X-Code command line tools
  • Homebrew (by virtue of the above)
  • Java
  • Java applets
  • AUSkey (required Java applets)
  • TruePreview (Mail extension to avoid marking as read immediately, will have to live without it for now)
  • Skype had some UI glitches related to scrolling (upgrading to 5.2 fixed it)
  • The Omnifocus mail integration (re-installed from OmniFocus preferences again)
  • The Basics Growl style (text always comes up black, switched to the “Mono” theme from the same site instead)

Parallels went out of their way to email today and say that my old copy of Parallels Desktop 4 won’t work in Lion, though I’m yet to try it. VMWare only refers to version 3.1.3 being fine, but I still seem to be able to run Fusion 2 just fine as a host – though it’s falling behind on guest support. I should be able to keep using that. I’m not inclined to pay for an upgrade, so it might be time to try VirtualBox again.

Some other things that I had previously been using (like MailTags and Mail Act-on) didn’t survive the Snow Leopard upgrade, so that made things simpler. One or two (like Dovecot) I won’t find out until I try again on the iMac.

Xcode Command Line Tools

This has been a problem for a while – each new release you could get a smaller download from Software Update, or the multi-gigabyte one from the Developer Center. Putting the smaller download on multiple machines meant intercepting the download to copy it before the update got erased, though – and it felt like it wouldn’t last forever.

That seems to be the case now – with Xcode 3 not working on Lion, I bit the bullet and got Xcode 4.1 from the App Store. It’s a large download, but the good news is that after “installing”, it just puts an “Install Xcode” application in place, like Lion itself. You can then copy that around to install elsewhere (though I’m yet to try – we’ll see if the App Store still recognises it).

This installs Xcode as well as the command line tools – I’m not sure at this point if there is a leaner option.

The installer has some oddities though. First, it requires that you close iTunes even if it isn’t running – to correct that I had to kill iTunesHelper from the command line. Beyond that, it seems to get stuck at the very end of the progress bar and never ends. I closed the window and everything seems installed, but it hasn’t removed the installer application.

Homebrew

After updating Xcode, brew doctor seemed happy again, so nothing more to do there.

Java

The concern about Java not being installed on Lion seemed to have died down, and it was pretty much a non-event in this case. After installation, I immediately went to a terminal and typed “java”, at which point it prompted to download it for me, and worked just fine after that.

Java Applets

It was a bit unclear at first why, but pages with applets weren’t working in either Safari or Chrome. I found that I had to go to the “Java Preferences” panel and check the box that allows applets, as they had been disabled by default.

Bugs

I’m sure I’ll find several issues as I go along, but for now it has been fairly limited.

  • Chrome has the button to go fullscreen, but not the one to go back and permanent scrollbars (this has now been written about)
  • Colloquy 2.3 has the same scrollbar problem, and displays all times in UTC. The 2.4 release from http://colloquy.info/downloads/ seems to resolve them but hasn’t been announced yet (but must be close!)
  • My original desktop background disappeared on the iMac (fine on the Macbook), replaced by a starfield, and today replaced by a blank blue background. This seems to be a result of setting it from iPhoto ’09 – exporting and setting by right clicking on the JPEG worked

The Verdict

My initial impression of Lion seems to fit with the majority of the observers – a worthwhile upgrade for the price. I haven’t used it enough to really say yet. The feature I’m most looking forward to seeing in practice is the document versioning and application state restoration, but it’s not that useful when it’s only in TextEdit right now.

The UI changes make sense to me so far, though I had to forcefully hide the scrollbars for the reverse swiping to make sense again (the default for the old Macbook trackpad was always on). Honestly the UI changes don’t really excite me a lot either – it overall doesn’t feel too different to Snow Leopard.

The new 3-pane interface and threaded view in Mail is welcome, though otherwise there doesn’t seem to be too much different in this release. I might try iChat over Adium for a while again to compare, since it now supports all those old Yahoo messenger buddies I have.

Aside from that, I’m not going to bother reviewing the features, as plenty have done that so far (the most detailed as always being John Siracusa at Ars Technica).

Hope this helps someone!

BarCamp Apache Sydney is this Saturday!

Great news – we seem to be getting quite a few last minute registrations for the BarCamp. There’s still time to sign up, or invite a colleague, if you’re coming along!

Here’s the details in a nutshell…

BarCamp

Date: Saturday, 11th December
Time: Registration is at 9:30am, for a 10am start.
Venue: The Darlington Centre, University of Sydney, at 174 City Road, Darlington
Cost: free
Food: coffee, snacks and lunch provided by the sponsors
Other: free wifi available
Sign up and details: http://barcamp.org/BarCampApacheSydney

Pre-BarCamp Dinner and Drinks

Date: Friday, 10th December
Time: Meeting at 7:30pm, reservation is for 8:30pm
Venue: Sumalee Thai, in The Bank Hotel, Newtown
Cost: $30pp for a variety of dishes, includes a vegetarian option
Sign up: indicate it on the wiki or the barcamp-sydney Google group

See you there!

Will you be at BarCamp Apache Sydney, December 11?

In case you’ve missed it, we’ve announced a BarCamp that will be running at the University of Sydney on Saturday 11th December, with a meal the night beforehand. It is a free event, so you just need to signup on the BarCamp wiki at http://barcamp.org/BarCampApacheSydney. You should also join the barcamp-sydney google group for updates.

The venue is The Darlington Centre, University of Sydney, at 174 City Road, Darlington. Registration is at 9:30am, for a 10am start.

The BarCamp is being run in conjunction with the Apache Software Foundation, and several Apache committers will be there proposing talks. However it is still run like a normal BarCamp, and given we haven’t had one in Sydney in the last year we’re expecting a diverse turn out. If you’re interested in BarCamps, want to know more about how the ASF develops software, or want to learn more about a particular Apache project, we hope you’ll join us! Even better, bring a topic to talk about of your own.

We’ve ensured that wifi, snacks and some other goodies will be provided on the day and are looking into options for lunch, depending on sponsorship levels.

If you’re not familiar with the format, you can find out more on the BarCamp site:

MaestroDev is pleased to be joining University of Sydney, Apache Software Foundation, Alfresco and IBM as sponsors of the event. If your company is interested in sponsoring the event, please let one of the organisers know via the details at the bottom of the BarCamp page.

Please help us to get the word out about the event. Hope to see you there!