It’s very easy to become quite blase or even cynical about new technologies but sometimes a project grabs your attention and coaxes out a “that’s very cool”, the real time augmented Google Earth had that effect on me. How long will it be before you can roll back an overlay by X weeks and see what happened in that game last Thursday or check the traffic on your new route at 7am on every Friday for a couple of weeks?

I’ve never really liked make files, I don’t think I’ve ever had to write enough C to really appreciate (or just tolerate) them, so I was a little dismissive of Rake - and I was mostly wrong. Now we’re adding a new member to the systems team I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our tool chain - what knowledge assumptions it makes, which parts are still more manual than I’d like and where the tool chain has gaps (this is the most annoying one for me) and rake seemed like a potential addition to encode some of that process knowledge in to a tool. Read on →

Despite the fact a large percentage of the DJUGL meetups have occurred in the building I work in I’ve been very lax in attending one, and it’s been my loss. The crowd was friendly, the pizza and diet coke plentiful and the speakers enjoyable, and I’ve got every intension of making the next meeting - especially if it’s in the same building. Gareth Rushgrove started the talks with a subject very dear to my heart, deployment. Read on →

I’ve been a user of Puppet for about three years now and while on a recent dig in to some of my older classes it was a little embarrassing to see lots of file types used like this: file { '/srv/whi/maps': ensure => present, source => "puppet://$servername/whi/maps.conf", owner => 'whi', group => 'whi', mode => 0644, } file { '/srv/whi/elocs': ensure => present, source => "puppet://$servername/whi/eloc.conf", owner => 'whi', group => 'whi', mode => 0644, } Luckily as we get more experienced with a tool we can often go back and improve on the first steps. Read on →

A couple of days ago I had the chance to attend a talk on PAM and AppArmor at Skills Matter. To be honest it wasn’t what I expected, the subject level was very beginner focused, PAM only received scant coverage and the other tools were all old hands like a port scan with nmap or basic IP Tables rules. The evenings highlight for me was the coverage of AppArmor, both because it’s a very neat tech that seems orders of magnitude easier to use then SELinux and secondly because the last time I saw it mentioned was when Crispin Cowan spoke at GLLUG. Read on →

While Puppet can be used to manage large, complex environments it’s also a useful tool at the lower end of the spectrum. Using just the puppet executable and a small inline class or two you can write very useful manifests in only a handful of lines. class build_host { package { 'build-essential': ensure => installed } package { 'subversion': ensure => installed } file { "/home/dwilson/repos/": ensure => directory, owner => dwilson, group => dwilson, } } node default { include build_host } To invoke the class you just run puppet -v build-host.pp. Read on →

Considering that JavaScript: The Good Parts is only 124 pages it took me a lot of attempts to work my way through it. A combination of the authors attitude and the dry presentation put me off within the first three chapters every time i tried to read the book. However a side project I was helping out on needed some JavaScript reviewed and considering how little of the language I knew I forced myself to work through the book and I’m glad I did - despite its short comings it’s an excellent introduction to the language for programmers with a couple of other languages under their belt. Read on →

When it comes to progressing your technical career there are (IMHO) three main pillars, continuing your technical advancement, networking (with other people, not just wires) and building up your online presence. Land The Tech Job You Love covers all these critical points and expands the other parts of the job seeking process - researching the company, preparing for the interview and how to answer the more ambiguous questions that often come up. Read on →

The one thing online that irks me beyond all others, even surpassing chromatic, is Verified by Visa. I hate this service and every site that uses it. If you’ve been blessed enough to never have it ruin your transaction here’s the short version - in the middle of paying for something you get bounced, with no clue where you’re going and how secure it is, to a third party site, which is completely safe as it’s run by visa, that then gets you to enter a password. Read on →

All this week there are Ubuntu Developer IRC workshops. While I don’t actually use Ubuntu at work it’s always a good idea to keep up with the new and shiny, and as an extra incentive a lot of the technical details mentioned also apply to Debian, which I do have to admin on a daily basis. While the IRC logs don’t go in to huge details the two sessions I’ve looked at (getting started and packaging perl modules) each contain enough useful links to make them worth my time.