After working my way through JavaScript: The Good Parts I decided to put away all my misconceptions and give PHP a try. While I’m not actually looking to write any projects in the language at the moment I was interested to see how much of the PHP bashing was still based in fact and to learn what an expert in the language could show me. So I bought PHP: The Good Parts, which is a completely different book from the previous title in the series. Read on →

In the T-DOSE Zabbix talk, which I’m happy to say was both well presented and showed some interesting features, I got called out for a quote I made on Twitter (which just goes to show - you never know where what you said is going to show up and haunt you) about the relevance, and I’d say overemphasis, of the GUI to the zabbix monitoring system - and other monitoring systems in general. Read on →

Cronjobs are one of those necessary evils of any decent sized Unix setup, they provide often essential pieces of a sites data flows but are often treated as second class citizens. While I’ve already mentioned my Cron commandments I’m always looking for improvements in the rest of my cron tool set and, with Vladimir Vuksan’s cronologger, I may have found another piece of the puzzle. The concept is simple, you add a command to the front of your crontabs and it invokes your actual cron command. Read on →

This’ll be a short write up for a short talk. I went to the July 2010 GLLUG Android Talk where Sunny Aujla explained some of the history behind Android, Googles Linux operating system for mobile devices. He gave a brief overview of how the system differed from the main stream kernel, details of some of the interactions between the mainline kernel devs and the Google Android team and fielded a fair few questions about the tool chain and ideal uses. Read on →

The ThoughtWorks Anthology is a collection of short articles and essays written by a number of their employees (some of who are now ex-employees) about software development with a heavily agile slant. The topics range from the very high level “Lush Landscape of Languages” and “What is an Iteration manager anyway” to the more technical and technique focused “Refactoring Ant Build Files” and “Object Calisthenics”. While the general quality of the writing is very good, especially my favourite - ‘Object Calisthenics’, the biggest problem with a book like this is that a lot of the essays authors, and some of their also knowledgeable co-workers, have personal blogs where this quality of information is available on a (near) daily basis, in both greater depth and more a conversational nature.

The last time we interviewed for Java developers (a couple of jobs ago) it came as quite a surprise at how few of them could function without their IDE of choice. A high percentage of the candidates struggled to compile using javac, had problems navigating the docs and made a large number of very simple syntax errors that they were obviously used to their editor dealing with. At the time the more unix focused team, most of who were very long term vim and emacs users, had a number of discussions about how this should impact our rating of the candidates. Read on →

One antipattern I’m seeing with increasing frequency is that of obese (or fat, or bloated) system provisioning. It seems as common in people that are just getting used to having an automated provisioning system and are enthusiastic about its power as it is in longer term users who have added layer on layer of cruft to their host builder. The basic problem is that of adding too much work and intelligence to the actual provisioning stage. Read on →

To me puppet has always been a major evolutionary step up on the sysadmin tool chain. I consider it important enough to be ranked alongside version control systems and virtualisation as one of those mental leaps that leads to better management and enables more flexible solutions than you could offer before understanding it. While I’m quite a long term member of the puppet community I’m no where near as active as I should be, but even I couldn’t miss the chance to attend PuppetCamp Europe, and I’m glad I didn’t! Read on →

I’ve had Hardening Apache sitting on my shelves for over five years (Sep 2004 or so Amazon tells me). While I can remember dipping in to it for the Apache chroot chapter it never seemed to progress to the top of the pile, and now I’m cleaning out a lot of my old books I decided to finally give it a chance. The book is very well written, covers a good range of subjects from building apache from source to adding extra security modules and checking its running state. Read on →

Considering the deadlines most of us have to work to it’s not surprising how much the idea of refactoring, which by continuously improving the design of code, we make it easier and easier to work with. appeals to us. But why should developers have all the ‘fun’? Databases need some love and care too! It’s easier to review this book if we look at it as two smaller books. In the first book, chapters 1 to 5, the authors take you through the details of Refactoring Databases. Read on →