Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Space Invaders take over London

Just looking at Eric Meyer's pics from his trip to London a few weekends ago, and he spotted two space invader sprites on walls/bridges while wanderin about.

I've never spotted any of these - now I'm going to have to keep my eyes open! Wonder what it means...



Turns out he had lunch at the Gormet Burger restaurant next door to where we had lunch :-) I'ld rather go to Cafe Rouge than the Gormet Burger place any day!

Monday, 11 December 2006

New flash!

Kerry bought me a new Speedlite 430ex flash for xmas... and I am naughty and am already using it!

Only taken a few shots with it, but am already seeing the benifit of being able to bounce flash in (almost) any direction. Now I need to get it off-camera :-)

The long-term plan is to get a 580ex that I can use as primary flash, and a master when the 430ex is off camera, as the 430ex can be slaved via the wireless functionality to the 530ex. Shame it's only line of sight (I'm guessing infra red rather than radio?), but better than nothing!

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Madness on the streets of NZ

This post from the NZ govt rss feed kinda scares me...

http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.aspx?DocumentID=27945

"In 2005, Labour promised to abolish the mandatory driving test for those
aged 80 and over. The new law delivers on our promise and is good news for
older drivers who, like all New Zealanders, wish to be independent," Helen
Clark said.

Readin more, it seems the only thing an over 80 yr old needs is a medical
cert to prove they are 'able to drive'.

Crikey! Being able to walk and see doesn't mean you are competent burning
rubber around the motorways and city streets. I know a lot of physically
competent oldies that I'm scared to get in a car with... and they've
passed the mandatory driving tests!

Maybe I've read this wrong?? Hope so!

Sunday, 3 December 2006

More experiments with the DIY Light Tent

Remember that light tent I built? (Go read this blog post here). Well, had some ideas for changing the backgrounds a bit... so went out and spent a couple of ££ on:
- A1 sheet of white cartridge
- A1 sheet of dark blue card (heavier than cartridge, but not quite cardboard)
- A3 sheet of acetate

Have done a few test shots using combos of the white/blue paper, and the acetate on top for reflective stuff. A few test shots below. Gotta remember to clean the acetate, and give it a good 'blow down' before shooting - it attracts dust like a dust monkey.

leatherman

leatherman

cellotape

Reflections are also a bit tricky... need to figure out a good way to minimise some of the reflections going on from the inside of the box - maybe I just need stronger lights or something :-) Could always paint the inside white... dunno if that would help tho.

Liked this post? Go click my google ads and earn me some cash!

Thursday, 30 November 2006

New JIRA beta out

Oooh wish I was running JIRA here... keen to try out the new beta. Might
have to download it at home and put it on me laptop.

One feature that looks nice is the SVN/CVS commit functionality now can
force a 1-to-1 relationship between SVN/CVS checkins and JIRA issue
numbers in comments (The 'Commit Acceptance Plugin'). So JIRA can reject
changes if they don't contain JIRA issue refs via a pre-commit hook. Nice!
Great if you have developers who are guilty of sneakin in bug fixes and
changes without telling anyone :-) Tho if they are really sneaky, can
still sneak changes against other bugs/changes.

http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/JIRA/JIRA+3.7+Beta+2+Release+Notes

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Madonna... oink oink!

Two pics of Madonna the pig are up for sale on shutterstock - taken last weekend when we were down at Ray and Judy's place.

Oink!



Thursday, 16 November 2006

Christmas (or whenever!) wish list:
  • Photography stuff:

    • Canon Speedlite 580ex or 430ex (prob 430ex to get started, then 580ex if want to run multiple flashes - use 580ex as master) - got a 430ex! :-)
    • 28-70mm f2.8 L lens... mmmm £824
    • Bowens two head kit (either 500 watts or 250 watts)
Any kind soul want to donate to my xmas fund?!

Photography course

Have started a night school photography course through London Academy of Media, Film and TV that I'm enjoying.
First two sessions were going through the technical stuff about ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc, then flash and light last night. I know most of this already, but have picked up a few tricks - how to expose using the cameras meter in full manual mode, using grey and white cards for correct white balance and exposure etc.

Posting pics up to my flickr account in this set - will keep adding as I go along.

Next week will be cool - doing portraiture in the studio, so proper studio modeling flashes with softboxes and reflectors.

I'ld love to do the studio lighting, architecture (done in London in The City where we live) and fashion photography courses they run also... have to save some (or earn!) more ££ first!

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Kaizen

'Kaizen (Japanese for "change for the better" or "improvement", the
English translation is "continuous improvement", or "continual
improvement) is an approach to productivity improvement originating in
applications of the work of American experts such as Frederick Winslow
Taylor, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Walter Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and of
the War Department's Training Within Industry program by Japanese
manufacturers after World War II. The development of Kaizen went
hand-in-hand with that of quality control circles, but it was not limited
to quality assurance.. [snip] A closer definition of the Japanese usage of
Kaizen is "to take it apart and put back together in a better way." What
is taken apart is usually a process, system, product, or service.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen

Just came across this term somewhere (can't remember where). Sounds like
what I like doing - tearing down processes/systems (whether it be
applications, protocols, or the general 'culture' of how things are done)
and putting faster, cleaner ones in. Might have to do some reading up on
this.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Bug on the apple

Doh! Looks like someone was a bit speedy releasin the new code for the UK Apple store's MacBook page...
So Apple aren't perfect then :-) (IE6.0/WinXP Pro)


Checkin out the source shows:
...
var gallery = new Gallery(galleryConfig);
</script> ript>
</head>
...

Superceded

Only had my MacBook for a month, and it's already been superceded. Doh! Apple released the Core 2 Duo MacBooks last night. So I wonder - if underAppleCare, a Macbook Core Duo gets a fault that warrants a full replacement, do they dredge up an old Core Duo one or do you get a 'free upgrade' to Core 2 Duo?

Ooooh and they're cheaper too... have a RAM and hard drive upgrade on the White 2GHz model.
I had to pay £100 more to get the upgrades to 1GB RAM/80GB HDD...
2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1GB memory (was 512MB)
80GB hard drive (was 60GB)
Double-layer SuperDrive
£879.00 inc VAT

Test Management in JIRA?

From the i'm-frustrated-with-excel-spreadsheets-to-manage-testing department.

The lack of reasonably priced, extendable and usable (big feature for me!) Test Management tools is starting to annoy me... Test Director/Quality Center is too expensive for most places I've worked (you'ld think an Investment bank would be able to afford it but no! They are looking at some weird thing I've never heard of, so could be badly supported yikes!), and requires too much training/maintainence for a 'looseish' UAT process like we have here (ie there is a process, but too many people push outside it due to time restrictions and lack of testing knowledge). There are cheap/free alternatives around that I've tried, but they all seem lacking in lots of functionality, or just plain unsuable and inflexible.

I think JIRA (change/defect management tool) could probably be extended to include a Test management function --> if it had that, it would do everything that Test Director/Quality Center does excluding the linkages with automated testing (ability to schedule and fire off tests created with winrunner/loadrunner/QTP/Silk(?) and probably others), and would really help with the whole 'integrated' change management Suite if you don't care about running automated tests from the UI.

For sites that don't use automated testing, or automation platforms that don't play nice with Test Management apps, it could then provide a low(ish) cost 'total' change management system that hooks into scm also... mmmm dream on Rach!

A Test Case is not so different from the usual workflows - but it usually doesn't get 'closed' in the same manner as bugs/changes, and need to jump around in history against versions of test cycles (ie for regression testing). Then store results of testing and easily raise bugs/changes (mmm) on failures etc. From there, it's not a huge step to add requirements mangement also - as the linkages/relationships between requirements, Tests and Changes (defects etc) aren't all that different. Drop some reports into a dashboard specifically for Testing/Requirements, and bob's your uncle.

One day I'll do myself a el-cheapo Test & Requirements Management app (in Access if I'm desperate, or Java/JSP or something - might as well try to extend JIRA if I'm going that far, and if Atlassian still supply source code for your own tweaks :)) so I can work out the workflow/requirements of a good app myself, as I've never quite found one that does everything I want. Hmmmm wonder if Atlassian are lookin for a contract User Interface Designer/Business Analyst type person workin in London at London rates!

That's todays <rant/> for ya :-)

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Gmail grows!

Wow.. in the year or so I've had my gmail account, it's more than doubled in disk space avail:
You are currently using 83 MB (3%) of your 2781 MB.
Nice!!

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Bloglines - Wikipedia and the End of Archeology

Funny - Kerry and I were talking along these lines the other night. We were watching something where there were archeologists digging up rubbish in London somewhere, and I said in the future there wouldn't be much archeologilogical (sp?) stuff left, as modern people tend to recycle or throw stuff in a landfill, rather than just dump in in your back yard. Moved onto how the 'modern' era is more well 'documented', so archeology will be less field work, and more interpretation of the images/books/websites etc of our age. Then this turns up on slashdot today. Spooky!

Wikipedia and the End of ArcheologyBy Zonk on it's-a-wiki-past

Andy Updegrove writes "Far too much attention has been paid to whether or not the Wikipedia is accurate enough. The greater significance of the Wikipedia today, and even more for those in the future, is its reality as the most detailed, comprehensive, concise, culturally-sensitive record of how humanity understands itself at any precise moment in time. Moreover, with its multiple language versions, it also demonstrates how different cultures understand the same facts, historical events and trends at the same time. Today, archaeologists are doing digs to understand how people lived only 150 years ago, making guesses based on the random bits and pieces of peoples' lives that they find In the future, that won't be necessary, as archaeologists are replaced by anthropologists that mine this treasure trove for data."

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

I heart JIRA

I am so missing JIRA, the issue management tool I implemented and championed at Virgin Travelstore a few years ago. I miss lots of things:
  • Ability to schedule fixes into releases
  • Sensible workflows
  • Built in graphs/reports that work
  • Assigning tasks to groups rather than people
  • rss feeds (!)
  • Exporting to csv(excel), pdf, can't remember other formats
  • Usability! So easy to use compared to some other tools
  • and lots more stuff that I can't even remember right now....

Haven't found another tool that works better yet for change management. Stuck with MKS currenlty (yeah I'ld never heard of it before!) and ClearQuest in my previous contract. Tried Test Director/Quality Center, but that still doesn't seem so powerful.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Ubuntu 6.06 --> 6.10 upgrade = not good...

Tried to upgrade my ubuntu virtual machine from 6.06 (Dapper Drake) to 6.10 (Edgy Eft), using the nice GUI thingy.

But... upgrade process bombed out a couple of times on some packages, but was able to continue, then totally bombed and failed. Then the package updater thing was in a bad state, asking for some commands to be run, tho that didn't help.

Couldn't be bothered trying to fix it, as I've heard a few other people have nightmares with this same upgrade, so just created a new 6.10 virtual machine from scratch and got rid of the 6.06/failed upgrade one - only takes about 30 mins to build a new virtual one, compared to 2 hrs to get a (failed) upgrade.

Shame really - never had trouble upgrading Ubuntu before. Lucky I hadn't done too much work on that virtual machine :-)

Friday, 27 October 2006

Good Samaritan

Did my good samaritan deed for the month (year?!) tonight. Was walking home from the pub earlier than everyone else, and came across a lady who'ld fallen over and hit her head (after a few too many drinks!). Other people just walked past, but I stopped and talked to her. Hailed a cab and tried to get her up, but couldn't get her off the ground... A few people asked if she was OK, but they were in almost as worse a state as she was! Typical thursday night in the city...

Few minutes later a City Police van went past and I managed to hail them down. Took two policemen to get her off the ground and they took her off home - well, more likely the drunk tank, but at least she's safe.

See that kind of thing a little in London where people won't stop to help others - quite often I can understand it, as some people don't appreciate help, or freak out and end up hurting those trying to help them. Glad this turned out OK.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

How to solve the Pigeon Problem

Get more pelicans to eat pigeons! The photo is priceless.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6083468.stm

That's probably the highlight of my day right there (says a lot for how exciting my life is!).

Sunday, 22 October 2006

DIY Light Tent

For shooting products/macro shots of objects, there are tons of expensive 'home studio' kits available out there on ebay/amazon/camera stores.

I just built myself one, and it cost me just... £1.15! If I had to pay for the lights also, it may have topped £5 :-) --> Wine case box with cut out panels on top, left and right, covered with tissue paper (the £1.15 cost :-)).Had some A3 cartridge paper - using smooth side up.Two desk lamps (from Ikea - think they only cost a couple of pounds each).Tripod - el cheapo one bought for about $50 in NZ a few months ago (~ £20?)Shoot a custom whitebalance guide - just a shot in the lightbox with no objects in there. Shoving up exposure compensation by 1 stop. Then a quick white-point adjustment in Photoshop levels and not too shabby!

Followed this tutorial on the strobist blog [link], and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I have some test shots up on flickr [link] , and have submitted a series of various 'things' to shutterstock - will post them here if they get accepted.


Light Tent



[Edit] Here's a couple that were accepted on shutterstock:



go and buy them now :-)

[Edit] Also have some up on istockphoto here

Friday, 20 October 2006

Chuckle for the arvo

Was just searching for a book on www.foyles.co.uk, and found a funny error
- if the search term contains 'an', it breaks their search parser :-)

DOM error: could not parse source XML [DOM error: could not parse source XML]

I was looking for 'System Testing with an Attitude' - the search works
fine if you remove the 'an' - tried with every other combination of the
rest of the words and it works. Weird huh!

Anyone from foyles listening?? :-)

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Fit/Fitnesse

Fit/Fitnesse (http://fitnesse.org/) has been adopted by some projects at my current job for 'automation' testing in the UAT process.

Now I can see automated testing is needed in UAT, esp useful for regression testing. However the Fit/Fitnesse framework only works for java based apps, and hooks in at the class level. A big problem with it, is it requires java developers to write the tests.... so there's stumbling block number one -- business users aren't java developers - so either grad students (who work a few days a month if we're lucky), or external consultancies are used to build these tests. How they are maintained, I have no idea!

IMHO (and in most of the software testing world!), UAT should be testing end-to-end business processes, not messin about with the java code. When using an automated tool, it should interact with the UI, as this is where the end user interacts with the software. Often a business process will jump into various different apps, or even paper/offline processes.

To me, this seems too much like low level testing that is done at unit/integration or system test phases. Note the 'U' in UAT stands for 'User'. If it's not simulating user interaction, it ain't a UAT test.

The Beast has been unleashed...

IE7 was released today...
http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/10/18/internet-explorer-7-for-windows-xp-available-now.aspx

Just waiting for the first security hole reports to come in! Guarenteed there'll be a few, from those anti-IE hackers. And it will probably cause some havoc with webapps who are trying to deal with all of IE6's css 'quirks'. Gotta go handle all IE7's 'quirks' in ya stylesheets too. Scary!

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

lowest tech possible

I bet pretty much nobody in the city could undercut my lowly tech situation at work:

I'm running:
- 15" lcd - max res 1024*768 (true color luckily!)
- ye old worldie clicky compaq keyboard and clicky clicky scroll wheel mouse (ball type, not optical)
- locked down Win XP pro - no command line, no mappin network drives, no installin anything without seven months of testing by the IT admins first
- telnet sessions on Unix servers (via some 1980's lookin windows telnet
client).

mmmm lucky me :-)

Random software development

So we keep getting new versions of code to run in UAT. Only problem is -- no release notes. Nadda. Nothing. Just a list of code modules that need updating, which means nothing to me!

Who has a development contract that doesnt include the supplier sending release notes? Or at least a napkin with some scribbed bug numbers on it that's been left on a pub table for much too long..? It means UAT testing (which is the only testing actually carried out... don't get me started on that...) has to have a random guess at what might or might not be fixed, and no idea on any impact on the rest of the system. So bye bye to any regression testing. Rather frustrating for me attempting to manage the UAT process, no?

[Edit] Turns out I can't find requirements to match half the bugs logged. Hmm, so there's issues from both ends at not supplying what's needed for a good development project.. Requirements and release notes.

Am I mental?

Really struggling today with my fav app in the whole world, Lotus Notes... I can't work out how to get my meeting to remove one guy and swap him with the guy he's delegated (Notes has sent me an email to say this guy was delegated to the meeting)... Is it just me? Is it impossible? Do I just have to 'remember' that someone else is coming in his place?

Also can't get a printout which includes everyone in my meeting... really frustrating - have to print out the meeting, then write in all the names that are hidded in the textarea/scrolly box. Am I missing something again?! [Edit] Found it! Under Print Page Setup there is an option (off by default...) to expand the names field. Why oh why would this not be on by default?! And it's not easy to find...

Grrrr the Notes redesign can't happen soon enough for me! Tho it will probably be six to twelve months after release before it's implemented here...

Playground as art!

The latest installation in the Turbine Hall by Carsten Holler at the Tate Modern is a bit of a laugh - lots of tubular 'slides' (like a waterpark, but no water), and you can ride most of them for free.

Might be interesting to go take a look one day. Should really, as it's only a 15-20 min walk from our place.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Automounting samba drives in Mac OS X

Almost impossible to find out how to do this! Finally with a mash up of a few articles, I found out how to automount samba drives. Yeeeah haa. Means i can mount //calculus/data and //nestor/data with different names (to stop confusing front row :-))

Samba automount

(NetInfo app --> found in ya utilities folder under applications)

The important bit is the path the mount is created under -- '/Network/calculus' will mount it with the name 'calculus' (if I had /Network/joebloggs, the drive would be called 'joeblogs'), ja?. This is doing a 'static' mount, which means it's mounted all the time (dynamic mounts unsuprisingly get turned on/off depending if they are in use). The drive is then in the finder under 'Network' --> drop an alias wherever ya want and bob's your uncle :-)

Not sure what will happen when someone else logs onto this box... do they still get mounted? And using my username/pass? hmm will have to try it out and see.

Edit: Found a post on macosxhints that may be even easier -- using an applescript and automator. Not sure if it will handle 'remounting' when an automount fails (as the netInfo way above only runs at boot - I haven't found a way of 'remounting' the netInfo mounts if it fails at boot). But one bonus is it's user specific, so doesn't set up those mounts for everyone.
http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20070202190047133

Edit: I've done a followup on another method here: http://rachmobile.blogspot.com/2007/10/more-automounting-samba-drives-in-os-x.html

NOTE: this method only works on 10.4 (Tiger). Leopard has some other funky methods to get it up and running, and the NetInfo manager has ben removed. New methods include autofs which I must try out some day soon!

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Portable User Accounts

http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/11/2148254&from=rss
Leading on from this article on slashdot, that talks about a patent lodged by apple for storing/carrying user profiles on portable devices, I'ld like to see it go a step further --> portable licences attached to a person, rather than a PC.

Similar to the Steam platform (gaming), where you buy a steam account, associate any Steam game licences with it (half life, counterstrike yadda yadda), and wherever you install Steam you can log on with that user account and have the relevant games unlocked. Probably similar to the
Microsoft 'rent-an-app' thing they keep bandying about (cant be bothered reading up on it tho!). My idea would be that application (and possibly even OS) licences would be stored either on a portable device (usb key,ipod etc), or on a central server along with your identity, so no matter
where you are, you can get to your apps. Ideally, the app would 'install' automatically on trying to start it (from the internet somewhere I guess), and uninstall again on removing your authentication (unless it's chosen to be permanently installed on that PC).

Sound good? Flawed? Could be an extension to the current single 'Identity' protocols out there... however it could still work with multiple logons to different sites/vendors, as long as you had a single sign on mechanism of some form (ie a USB key which contained all the logons or something). Hmmmmm

Drives me mental that I can purchase some software (like say MS Office or Photostop), but not use it when I'm away from my PC - would mean internet cafes and even home PC's become more like bare bones 'terminals' - turn up and either drop your own profile/licences on them, or 'rent' a profile from the internet cafe.

Win XP on Parallels

Windows XP on Parallels
Running Win XP on Parallels (virtualisation software, similar to VMWare) in mac os x is pretty sweet. Windows seems to run pretty quick tho that may be the core duo cpus :-) Only giving it 256MB ram but it's still pretty speedy.

Tried to run counterstrike - mouse movements are a bit strange, mouse pointer doesnt 'hide', and will only run software video acceleration - guess the Parallels video driver doesnt support any 3d rendering. Might be worth giving boot camp a go instead for gaming I guess.

Handy hint --> second (or right) mouse button is shift+ctrl+click in Win XP/Parallels. Or cheat and use a 2 button USB mouse which works fine in both Mac OS X and Parallels/Win XP.

Lotus notes should be mothballed

I've forgotten about the joys of Lotus Notes until starting my latest contract. It's an absolute nightmare!

Here's a few of my favs:
- Shortcut for refresh view is F9 (the 'standard' refresh key of F5 is reserved to lock the lotus notes screen grrr)
- Printing support for meetings is horrendus - doesnt 'grow' any text areas that have scroll bars (ie more than 5 people at the meeting and it won't print them all out...)
- The calendar software is pretty ugly - never know what's gonna happen if you edit a meeting - might email everyone, might not email anyone of meeting changes. And occassionally drops one person and refuses to let me add them again...
- looks and feels like software from 1991.

I can't believe anyone is actually migrating TO notes rather than away anymore! As much as I hate outlook/exchange, it's a million times more user friendly than this.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Joined the ranks of the mac users!

Got myself a faaaaantastic new MacBook on the weekend... totally stoked with it, apart from a coupla niggly things...

rach finally got a macBought a mini-dvi (the video output) to video connector from the Apple shop tonight, sped home and plugged it into the TV (using both s-video and then composite video connectors --> the connector has both outputs). Sadly, the MB will only detect the TV as a generic 'display' - so I can't set the PAL settings or the right res/frame rate... end result is a black and white flicker on the TV :-( Looked everywhere on google with no success booo hoo.. have posted a question in the Apple support forum - fingers crossed someone has an answer, or I'll be tromping back to the Apple store to rant at the 'genius' (cough cough) bar, or return the cable for some ££ back.

If anyone can point me in the right direction, just scream. We've had other windows laptops (nvidia/s-video out) running fine on this TV with the same video cables.

Oh and the stupid problem where frontrow refuses to play sound using AC3 audio codec! Weird, as it's just quicktime running in a nice interface, and Quicktime running outside of frontrow is playing the AC3 codec stuff fine. Don't think anyone's solved this one yet.. c'mon Apple sort it out!

[Edit] mmm still lovin it! Forgot to burn a disk this morning for a work colleague, so dropped the MB in my backpack and walked to work... barely noticed it was in there! such an improvement over the HP.

[Edit] Sorted the AC3 sound prob in frontrow -- app called 'Perian' (thanks Lifehacker!) that contains nearly every video/audio codec ya could ever want. sweeeeet!

Not too promising...

Microsoft using 'users' as system testers again?! Quote about the state of Vista:
"More than half a million computer users have installed Vista test software, and 450,000 of the systems have sent crash data back to Microsoft"

From Slashdot: http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/09/066244&from=rss

Friday, 6 October 2006

An oldie but a goodie - Taming Lists

First published in 2002, 'Taming Lists' on A List Apart is still the best article on styling lists with css. Everytime I need to style a list I find myself referring to this article.

http://alistapart.com/articles/taminglists/

The strangest lasagne...

Just had a 'individual' lasagne from the staff cafe at my new work, and it was kinda bizzare...
No cheese, No bechamel sauce. So it was dry, and the top layer of pasta was cooked solid. More like greasy mince between solid pasta wafers... mmmmmm

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Westminster best seller



My westminster image on shutterstock is doing really well!
Ya know you want to buy it... go on!

If you don't have a shutterstock subscription, try some of these 'pay per image' sites instead:
PhotoSights
istockphoto.com (single image download site - gotta buy min of 10 credits for around £6, but that will get you 10 small images, 5 medium images or 2 supersize images)

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Minature people

I like this :-) A bit different to the usual travel shots.
Little People - A Street Art Project: http://little-people.blogspot.com/



[Note - there are some 'random violence' pics in here too that are kinda creepy hehe]

Monday, 18 September 2006

Stock Photography - single image sales

Found out about a shutterstock (the stock photo agency I sell to) affilliate site that sells 'per photo sales', so ya can get all the shutterstock images, but purchase per photo rather than buying a subscription. Called photosights. Here's one of my images of Mt Ruapehu:


Friday, 15 September 2006

KiwiSaver

NZ IRD have some info here on the new KiwiSaver scheme being launched in NZ. Basically a 'semi-forced' pensions savings plan that comes out of your salary automatically.

After being in NZ for two months watching some of the news/information coming out about it, I think most NZer's are totally confused about it and how it works. I know I am!

It's strange that it's acutally going ahead, as it sounds pretty similar to the compulsory Pension savings scheme that Winston Peters tried to set up a few years ago, but a national referendum rejected the scheme by like 90% of voters...

[Edit: the NZ Treasury website has posted a whole lot of info today as well here.
A couple of strange looking points:
1. The employee contributions are taxed - surely the government would offer a tax break on these contributions to encourage more people to join?? Employer contributions seem to be tax-free as far as I can see.
2. Personal savings become part of 'relationship property' - so if you get divorced/break up, this is counted as part of the relationship assets. Do ordinary pension schemes get treated this way also? Seems rather strange to me!]

Fav pics from NZ

Took heaps and heaps of pics in NZ... so here are a few of my favs.

tahunanui beach, nelsonBounceBounceWellington City night shot

We did it!

Finally! Got the apartment. It's really nice, and we've got some good tenants in there who want to stay to mid next year which is fab. Pic below is of the dining area - poor Andrea the tenant got in the photo and is being splashed around the internet :-)


dining area

More pics on the flickr set here. Now to figure out how to pay that mortgage...! :-)

Friday, 11 August 2006

Mission complete

Well, almost complete! We have had an offer accepted on an apartment - is all unconditional, deposit paid etc, just waiting on finalising the mortgage and sorting out the current tenancy before the completion date rolls around now!

wellington apt lounge/diningReally nice place - right in the centre of Wellington's business district on The Terrace. One bedroom, big lounge/dining/kitchen and balcony, secure carpark, shared pool/gym/movie room, secure entry/lift, really nicely fitted out and fully furnished so great for corporate rentals.

Have a few pics up on flickr, will put some more up when we do the pre-completion/new tenancy inspection(s) :-).

Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Lies lies and mistruths

The rubbish that ISP's spin is hilarious...
Staying in a hotel using a broadband connection (not cheap!), and it's
been really really bad since yesterday - lucky if I can get into my
email, pinging google shows about a 10% packet loss...
Ringing their support desk doesnt help... "Oh maybe it's the sites you
are using that is slowing down your computer. Or something about your
computer.". I don't want to be a totally arsey customer with the old
"I know more than you" but sometimes it's hard... just gotta laugh and
be patient I guess :-)

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Back in the 'homeland'

Back in NZ for six weeks or so, house hunting.
Have spent three days meeting agents (mostly crap) and looking at houses/apartments (mostly overpriced), but not getting depressed about the overinflated prices (yet...).
Weather was good for the weekend, then turned pretty ugly, so can't even go out and take any photos... got a few goodies.
Wellington city council Abi Wellington Grafitti

Flickr set is here.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Stuff to shoot

Next time I'm out and about with my camera... London related stuff:
* London black cab(s) (get it so can be isolated?) - taxi light. Pref with no
advertising
* Routemaster bus (inside if able)
* Millenium bridge
* Tate Modern
* Tourist boat (dunno about that)

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Posted by email

Friday, 9 June 2006

Stadium Arcadium

I'm starting to agree with Kerry that Stadium Arcadium is the RHCP's best album.
Ever. And it's creeping higher and higher on my fav album of all time list.

Current fav: 'Death of a Martian' and 'Charlie' - actually, most of the songs with John's harmonies.
And they're playing in London next month, when I'm back in NZ!! Booooo!

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Posted via email

Radio buttons vs Combo/Dropdown boxes

Something that really annoys me is the mis-use of radio buttons vs dropdown/combo/option boxes in user interfaces.

A lot of the time, people think putting a dropdown in place instead of a radio button is more 'usable' because it takes up less space. I disagree in some situations....

In my opinion, dropdowns should be used when the options in the dropdown follows a sequental pattern of some kind - ie dates, months, placenames, counters, booleans, phone number type (mobile/home/work) etc.

Where they shouldnt be used is when each option doesnt nicely fit a sequence, or the user can't 'guess' straight away what option to select - ie when selecting different 'states' (I can't come up with a really good example right now!) which will ususally require the user having to select the dropdown and reading through each option before they can determine what to put in.

I guess my reasoning here is if the dropdown contains options that aren't obvious what they will be, everytime someone hits that page, they may have to select the dropdown anyway to be able to scan the available options, and make sure they HAVE got the right one.

I must see if anyone has some data on this already...

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Posted via email

Thursday, 1 June 2006

There is nothing worse...

... than sitting near someone at work that sniffs all day long. And they don't usually realise they're doing it. Eeuck!

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posted via email

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Jobserve rant

Jobserve is IMHO the UK's best job search site. This has nothing to do with the technology they use, but just because so many agencies post there and search the CV database. I think all the contracts I've ever had have been applied from jobserve, or the agent has seen my CV there.
However, it has a few shortcomings....


1. No spellchecker in job ads -> I've used the job posting functionality as a
'recruiter' before, and noticed this. It drives me crazy seeing basic technical terms spelt incorrectly in job ads - could be due to laziness or a genuine mistake on the agents behalf, or the agent not really knowing what they are writing. Today I saw 'Mogzilla'... If only they ran a basic spellcheck with a dictionary of standard IT industry terms! I had to write up my job ad's in Word to get it all spellchecked, then copy and paste into the job ad. I guess that won't help with agents who just totally get the context wrong alltogether tho - next time I see one of those I'll post it in.
2. CV database - I often get completely random email shots from agents who've just indexed something random in my CV (ie tested a product written in Delphi or something), and so I start getting totally random ads posted to me. Especially the permanent/contract role thing... This is really frustrating, as part of the Jobserve profile contains what job titles you want, and if you're after perm/contract/both. I don't know if this is the agencies re-indexing CV's and doing their own mailshots, or jobserve's cv indexing, but somewhere the job title and type is being totally ignored.
3. Random job results in the search - often I just get rubbish coming back... even tho it's filtered to UK, often get Australian jobs (not a huge issue, but annoying).
4. Links in the rss feed are often broken, or try to run another search rather than posting to the referenced job.

I do like the rss feed feature, but that seems to have different results to searching on the site - I use the same search terms, so perhaps they have a bug somewhere.


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posted via email

Friday, 19 May 2006

Issue reporting styles in the real(?) world

My first real <rant/>...

So I've come across two major schools of thought when it comes to issue reporting...
School 1: for every bug/change/improvement, log a seperate issue
School 2: for related bugs/changes/improvements, log a single issue that contains all the related issues

My personal preference is for School 1. Why?

1. Bug Maintainence Time
Logging a issue with lots of issues in it is faster for administration - easier to close one bug, and resolve one bug to a developer.
Winner: School 2

2. Reporting
Logging seperate issues for each issue obviously means your reports will be accurate. If parts of the issue are fixed and not others in a version, its impossible to accuratley tally up the opened/closed counts against a version, or a person (ie bugs assigned per developer, bugs closed per developer etc). And even worse if the issue affects multiple 'components' or projects, then can't tell which areas have the most problems. Some systems enable time to be logged against tasks - estimates and actual time, and for future learning/planning, each problem/issue should have time logged seperatley allowing for better future planning. I've also come across sites where multiple issues that aren't even particularaly related are logged in a single issue (yeah, maybe they all happened during installation, but really some were installation bugs, others totally unrelated to installation, but a build issue instead).
Winner: School 1

3. Accuracy
Often if there's a large list of issues in one issue, some can get missed out (at spec, dev or test phase)
Winner: School 1

4. Parallel workflow
Assigning an issue containing lots of issues to one person means it wont show up in anyone elses work list until the first person is done/reassigned the issue. Seperating out each issue into it's own report means they can be worked on in parallel where possible, and not have to be passed from one to another.
Winner: School 1

Tools like JIRA are able to have 'sub tasks' - many small tasks logged seperatley, but grouped under a large task. Ie A group task called 'fix layout headers in all apps' - with a small subtasks for each application. This allows each subtask to be completed, reported etc seperatley, and also easily see the progress on the entire group of issues as a whole. Also tools that allow bulk editing make life easier for managers/developers etc to update multiple issues at a time, removing a lot of the administration time required.

Of course there needs to be some flexibility (ie if there are 5 spelling mistakes on a web page, then drop those into one issue, but spelling mistakes in different parts of the website need to be seperated out), but for the sake of simplicity and accuracy [speaking as someone who's been responsible for reporting and managing a change request system], logging seperate issues for each change is the way I would go. For a few extra minutes a day of administration time by your developers/managers, you'll be rewarded with a more accurate and realistic view of what's really going on in your change management process, and the overall quality of your products, assuming quality is something that is considered important in your overall product of course!

Another thing that's been bugging me is Issue ownership. I've worked at some sites where the Test Manager isn't particulary involved with issues after they've been logged. My philosophy is that the Test team are responsible for saying yay or nay to whether they consider a release is *OK*, so they own those issues raised, and should be involved with any planning around getting the issues fixed, changed, postponed, deleted etc. There are also sites where any old person (support, marketing, sales and other non-testers) have access to the issue/change management tools, so can raise issue, but then aren't considered responsible for ensuring those issues are dealt with, or confirming they are correctly resolved. If a bug is raised by a non-test team member, (i.e. it's usually been found outside a normal test cycle) it's my belief that someone from that team should be ultimatley responsible for verifying/confirming that issue is resolved to their satisfaction.

Monday, 24 April 2006

London Marathon Pics

Uploaded some pics from the London Marathon on the weekend.
Bad light, so not great exposure. Need to get some filters, or figure out how to get better colour/exposure under bad outdoor lighting conditions... light rain/overcast weather.

Photo set is here on flickr.

Friday, 14 April 2006

Kerry on the banks of the Thames


Kerry on the banks of the Thames
Originally uploaded by rachaelr.
I like this photo. Taken with our new dslr camera just using the automatic functions.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

New camera!

My first SLR ever! Ordered a Canon EOS 350D camera + 1GB SD Card - should be delivered Weds or Thurs. Will be great learning how to take better pictures, and be able to build up my Stock Photography libraries - some of the 'average' stock photography submitters are earning US$500 a month for uploading a few images a day... Got to get a bag for it as it doesn't come with any bag - a backpack or messanger bag will probably be good for travelling - some of the Crumplers look pretty cool, but really expensive over here. And I don't want to look like an obvious camera geek with huge 'Canon' branding on a bag. Hmmmm

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

View cookies for current page in Internet Explorer

This has been a godsend for me today:

Drop: javascript:alert(document.cookie); into the address bar of any page, and get a jscript alert with all the cookies and their values set for that page.

Now if I could only view the full headers and post data in IE.. (like ya can in Firefox with the web developer extension)

Monday, 27 March 2006

V for Vendetta

Saw this on Saturday. Great movie - I reccomend it. Has a slightly 1984 feel to it.

Stuff I want to do

Not New Years resolutions, but close :-)

  • Join a gym - learn Pilates and Yoga and get back into swimming
  • Get back into painting - bought some paints, just gotta get inspired now!
  • Photography - learn how to take really good pictures, not just OK holiday snaps. Want to make some money out of it selling stock photography. Have made a few $$ so far, but to really make money, I need to learn how to take better shots. And find out what type of imagery sells well!
  • Graphic design - got the photoshop basics, need some projects now
  • Squeeze 30 hours into a 24 hour day

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Flickr Pro

Kerry got me a two year Flickr Pro membership for my birthday... whoo hoo! So
I'll be spending the next few days uploading all our holiday snaps.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Why oh why?!

Why is ClearQuest such a nightmare to use? I cant even print out the entire
details of a single bug without having Crystal reports installed... arghh!

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

London Usability Week 2006

This would be a great conference to go to...

http://www.nngroup.com/events/london/agenda.html

Now to find someone to pay for me to attend!!


Saturday, 18 March 2006

Agile Management Processes - proof they work in the 'real' world

Interesting article about agile management processes from David J. Anderson's Agile Management Weblog, showing some real world results from a HP firmware development team.

Friday, 17 March 2006

Firefox and Windows Authentication

If you need windows Auth in firefox do the following:

  • Open firefox
  • Browse to about:config
  • Filter for "“network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trused-uris"
  • Modify the value and enter in your intranet sites that you must pass your username and password to (comma seperated list). - no restart needed.

Greased lightmonkey


I'm really liking this greasemonkey script - it's a modified version of the lightbox javascript concept.
Great for use in flickr or google images :-)

http://shiftingpixel.com/lightbox/

A slip of the finger

Not sure the agent really knows what they're looking for in this job
ad:

"Elite client is searching for an experienced Tester to work no
exciting top
secret MOD defence contracts. ..."

I cant say I'ld want to work no exciting top secret contracts.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006