Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nexus One: Buy from Google, not T-mobile

I just spoke with my friendly T-Mobile customer care specialist. She was direct and helpful. Point blank I asked to pre-order a Nexus One and sign up for the matching phone plan. As expected, she could not help me with that. But she did tell me some interesting tidbits:

  • T-mobile considers it an HTC phone, not a Google one
  • T-mobile has not yet given customer service details on the phone, but my specialist did know about it
  • T-mobile will not be selling the phone directly; she said I needed to order it from Google, not T-mobile

Anticipation is a great selling device.

Android load webby

My first Android project, AndroidLoad, is very simple. It reads /proc/loadavg every second and and updates a table with the data.

Achieving this much in a single day of browsing and code noodling, I hope to make something more interesting with it soon. So far, Android+IDEA has been a real pleasure to develop with, and I expect the IDE integration to continue improving.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chocolate sausages: not programming

My 12-year old son sent me a delightful email:

Today, grandma and I made some chocolate sausages and they turned
out great. Here is the recipe so you and Rebecca can replicate it,
but do not attempt without me. Ingredients: 200 grams of good butter 3 tablespoons of sugar 3 tablespoons of water 2 tablespoons of cocoa 50 grams of 90% and up dark chocolate 300 grams tea biscuits 1 egg 5 tablespoons of walnuts chopped wax paper Instructions: Melt butter, cocoa, chocolate, butter, water, and sugar over low heat. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Let it sit for 2 minutes. Remove excess water. Mix in eggs, biscuits, and walnuts. Place 2-3 tablespoons on sheet of wax paper and roll up. Repeat until there is no more filling. Freeze for minimum of 2 hours. Enjoy!

This is my one non-serious post for the year. Follow my son's advice: enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

All I want for Christmas is a Google Phone

I made a simple Christmas wish list for my wife:

  1. A Google phone

Yep, that's it, if I can bear the delayed gratification. And then there are the naysayers, ye of little faith.

Would I be a Android developer with a Nexus One? In a heartbeat—time to get started! I've got faith.

UPDATE: Rumor has it, Nexus One by invitation only. Will code for invite!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Ioke release

Ola Bini announced a new release of Ioke. Why is Ioke interesting? From the home page:

Ioke = LanguageExperiment with(
  goal: :expressiveness, 
  data: as(code), 
  code: as(data), 
  features: [
  runtimes: (JVM, CLR), 
  inspirations: set(Io, Smalltalk, Ruby, Lisp)
hello = method(name, 
  "hello, #{name}!" println)
Ioke inspirations select(
  features include?(:object_oriented)
) each(x, hello(x name))

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Code repository

I used Google Code to setup a Subversion repository for this blog under binkley. So far there are only two items: Soapy and MagicBus. Feedback encouraged.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vacation: BlockingIterable

I love vacation: a chance to stretch my coding fingers free of work! Here is a code snack I thought of while daydreaming today—enjoy!

public final class BlockingIterable {
    public static <E> Until<E> over(final BlockingQueue<E> queue) {
        return new Until<E>(queue);

    public static class Until<E> {
        private final BlockingQueue<E> queue;

        private Until(final BlockingQueue<E> queue) {
            this.queue = queue;

        public Iterable<E> until(final E poison) {
            return new Iterable<E>() {
                public Iterator<E> iterator() {
                    return new Iterator<E>() {
                        private E next = poison;

                        public boolean hasNext() {
                            try {
                                return poison != (next = queue.take());
                            } catch (final InterruptedException e) {
                                next = poison;
                                return false;

                        public E next() {
                            if (poison == next)
                                throw new NoSuchElementException();
                            return next;

                        public void remove() {
                            throw new UnsupportedOperationException();

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gmail smarter than I am

I was typing a personal mail to family members and using Gmail's address completion feature to just type a few characters for each recipient when I got to filling in the message body. I looked up and saw a warning about the To: list. It asked if I really meant to mail PQT, perhaps I really meant PQR? And it was right.

Gmail recognized that I mispicked one of the recipients while using completion, and that I would prefer a relation rather than a friend for this mail. Gmail is smarter than I am.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to release software

The wrong way

  • Have no master plan
  • Practise nothing ahead of release day
  • Prepare only on release day
  • Build release packages on release day
  • Have dissimilar production and test environments
  • Hand edit configuration during release
  • Keep no backups of previously working configuration
  • Use trial-and-error to fix configuration

The right way

Do the opposite of everything done the wrong way. Wasn't that simple?

Some elaboration

As much as possible, clone the production environment to your test environment. Any number of weird, unexpected, troubling problems will crop up. Fix them all. Do not release if your test environment is not pristine.

Make complete release packages as early as you can, and release them to the test environment just as you would to production. Do not release if you cannot deploy smoothly.

Keep the entire test environment under release control: everything including binaries, symlinks, logs. Do not release if there are uncommitted changes; do not release if you do not understand the changes since last release.

Above all, have a plan! Discuss it with your team, assign roles and check that everyone understands what they do. Practice the release; practice rollback should something break. Obey the Scout motto: Be prepared.


What is the penalty for the wrong way? Eight hours spent with your cell phone glued to your ear during vacation while you fix a slow-moving train wreck of a release. Your family will thank you for the right way.


And in the comments:

  • Release very seldom with a big bang approach

This is very apropos. Management prefers a few large releases to smaller, more frequent releases. My opinion is that large releases look better to upper management (demonstrates you can deliver large widgets) even though it hurts in cost and quality.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Epic fail with agile, or winning the battle but losing the war

Dave Nicolette posts one of the most depressing but realistic outcomes of successful agile engagements: retrenchment by anti-agile forces.

I utterly hate the case studies, but I hate them precisely because they are real.