All entries for Tuesday 10 May 2005

May 10, 2005

Another article

Follow-up to Martin Fowlers opinion on architects ;) from Colin's blog

link

Found an excellent site ;)

Writing about web page http://www.thedailywtf.com/

I am not too sure what the acronym stands for ;), but the code articles are absolutely hilarious!

It is quite scary how recognisable some of those articles are :)


Http Headers (304)

Writing about web page http://www.checkupdown.com/status/E304.html

Just reading about browser caching, and the use of the last-modified-date.

It seems there are huge performance gains to be made on static (ish) data by correctly implementing the 304 status code.

{very simplistic overview} Essentially, when content is retrieved from the server, one of the headers (may be) the last-modified-date. When the browser next retrieves this item (on a page refresh) the browser will send back the last-modified-date. If the server decides that the content hasn't changed, then the server will return a 304, informing the browser that their cached version is valid. If the content has changed, the server returns the page.

If the lastModifiedDate of a "page" the server is sending is cheap to calculate then it seems to me that this is a huge optimisation for very little pain.


Martin Fowler (again): design + XP

Writing about web page http://www.martinfowler.com/articles/designDead.html

When approaching agile methodologies (i.e. XP), there can be a lot of confusion about the role of up front design. It would appear that there is no place for a large up-front design.

This is nonsense. How in the world can you implement something you haven't designed?

The difference is that XP promotes leaving out the details. You still need an overall picture, you just don't need to fill in every possible detail.

Think of a jigsaw, you know what the pieces look like and how they go together, but you don't need to worry about the individual pieces in detail.

After you have implemented some of the pieces, you will inevitably find that the overall picture has changed, so fine, change the overall picture. You haven't lost that much because you don't have unwieldly 300 page design documents. It is a simple divide and conquer strategy.

So, design isn't dead.


Gentoo revisited

Writing about web page http://www.gentoo.org

So I have recently revisited gentoo again. It is a source based distro, i.e. you download and build everything from source.

A lot of people complain that the installer is difficult but I disagree. Sure there is no point and click GUI, but you do not actually need to know anything more to install it then you do for most distros.

Anyway, I recently installed it on my amd64 laptop (although I chose the x86 source tree) and boy is it quick :)

I used to play with it a lot, but recently switched to ubuntu, which is by far the best distro if you are looking for a quick install->fully featured distro. As it is based on debian, it is rock solid and apt-get just rocks!

Anyway, heres to gnome on gentoo :)


Social bookmarking

Writing about web page http://www.spurl.net

As a contractor I consider my bookmarks as invaluable, however I face the constant problem of having to maintain this list of bookmarks on my works computer, my laptop, my home computer etc.

Enter spurl.net, the online book mark manager. It is free, requires only a username/password (no email!) and has excellent integration for both IE and firefox (and probably others). Rather than using the browsers bookmarking facility, I just use spurls.

When I spurl, I have the option of entering a number of tags which I can use to retrieve the link later. I can also put the bookmark in a traditional folder hierarchy if I wish.

One of the added benefits of this is that for any given bookmark, I can see a list of bookmarks that other users have assigned the same tag to! They have used this "tag searching" to create a search engine; zniff.com. Think of it like a human edited google ;)

One of the other invaluable features is that you expose your bookmarks to anyone. Quite often I am asked to leave a copy of my bookmarks when I leave a position to aid the junior developers, well with spurl that is simple.

Take a look at link

There are also RSS feeds available for most things.


Martin Fowlers opinion on architects ;)

Writing about web page http://www.martinfowler.com/ieeeSoftware/whoNeedsArchitect.pdf

Just read an excellent article on the "architect" role and why it is abiguous, uneeded and can actually lead to a dangerous lay of responsibility.

Have a read :)

I really liked the idea of not having an architect, but having a team "guide". I also really like the idea that as the guides responsibility is to impart knowledge/mentor the team, that the value of the guide is inverse to extent to which they are a bottleneck. In other words, a guide should be working themselves out of a job by mentoring others to take over :)


Excellent book

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I have read previous "Head First" books, and I cannot recommend their style enough. They manage to get across a lot of technical information but in a comical way that helps (me at least) remembering it.

Of all the technical books out there, I find "Head First" the most readable. Chapters are self-contained logical units that can (if you want) be read in isolation, and as well as explaining what the design pattern is, it also explains which OO principles are in play.

The book states that it isn't suitable for design pattern "experts", if you have (and memorised :)) the GoF book, then the implication is that you won't need this. I actually disagree. I am pretty familiar with most design patterns out there, but I still gained something from this. Even if I knew the pattern, this book made me think about the rationale, the application and why it was good from an OO perspective. Or at least which OO principles were being applied.

Just to be clear; GET THIS BOOK! If you do not know what a design pattern is, this book will certainly be easy to swallow then the other dry anaemic design pattern books. If you know all the design patterns going, then this is a refreshing reminder.

P.S. Yes, OK, the cheesy style does get on your nerves a little bit, but it is worth it :)


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