Friday, March 11, 2011

Evernote continued...

I'm really finding evernote is hitting the sweetspot: I've dumped reading and linklists in, and started tracking some task and TODO lists and it works pretty well. My only issue is that I'd like to use it at work (where we have no admin rights), and the web interface is somewhat clunky and slow (particularly when the corporate network performance is pokey), so this is hampering my take up and use of it. Otherwise, I'm finding it a great wee app.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Software Reliability and Volatility

I've been working a reasonable amount of late in dealing with considerations of software defect management and metrics to indicate "software reliability". Personally, I always think that reliability is a continuum (like trust), and that a software is only as reliable as its last failure. Software which predictably fails big and often is obviously "unreliable", but much software runs fine most of the time until something "unexpected" this software then unreliable? Well probably not until it starts failing more frequently, and more predictably, and therein lies the problem: it is difficult to know how reliable a software system is until it stops to be reliable.

There are pretty much two approaches to reliability - one is based upon trending, and the other on prediction: while I much prefer the trending approach which says check how reliable your software could be considered now, then check at now+1, take a look at the rate of change and this is the indicator as to your vector of reliability, I also think that taking a look forward with a decent prediction model, can help to set a sense of expectation.

I think this sense of expectation is best summed up in the idea of "code smell" or "defect risk", which could be considered as "is your code smelling better or worse over time" (trend) and "is your code likely to smell worse at any point in the future" (prediction). There are obviously complexity, coverage, sizing, and defect tracking rules which can be applied, but I really like the concept and approach to "volatility" as set out in the article: "Software Volatility" by by Tim Ottinger and Jeff Langr in the latest Pragmatic Programmer Magazine, since this seems to blend trend and prediction together: the code which you touch most often is the place where code is most likely to break, and the more you touch it, the more likely this is to happen.

I strongly suggest reading the article, and look to applying a similar approach in a balanced reliability metrics scorecard and inspection process. I certainly don't think that it should replace coverage (which lets you know where you have unit tested), cyclomatic complexity (which lets you know how many tests you should write, and when you might want to consider refactoring), sizing (which just gives you a volume idea of what you are looking at), code analysis (sort of spellchecking for your code), defect classification and tracking (for failure rates and densities)... but it certainly represents a tool worth sharpening and adding to the toolbox.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Too many O'Reilly Books?

I was just looking through my O'Reilly digital bookcases and wondering whether it is possible to have too many tomes from this publisher:
(NB: I think the answer is no...)

Here is the list of what I found:

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know
Beautiful Data
Beautiful Visualization
Data Analysis with Open Source Tools
HTML5: Up and Running
Learning Rails
Making Software
Making Things Happen
The New Community Rules
The Productive Programmer
The Social Media Marketing Book
Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide
The Art of SEO
Beautiful Testing
Complete Web Monitoring
CSS Pocket Reference, Third Edition
Designing Web Interfaces
Facebook Cookbook
Getting Started with Flex 3
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition
Programming Collective Intelligence
Search Engine Optimization for Flash
SEO Warrior
Universal Design for Web Applications
Website Optimization

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Au Revoir MyBlogLog

As part of the fallout of the Yahoo thinning out (and hoping that delicious finds a buyer), I just received the following mail:


Dear MyBlogLog Customer,

You have been identified as a customer of Yahoo! MyBlogLog. We will officially discontinue Yahoo! MyBlogLog effective May 24, 2011. Your agreement with Yahoo!, to the extent that it applies to the Yahoo! MyBlogLog, will terminate on May 24, 2011.

After May 24, 2011 your credit card will no longer be charged for premium services on MyBlogLog. We will refund you the unused portion of your subscription, if any. The refund will appear as a credit via the billing method we have on file for you. To make sure that your billing information is correct and up to date, visit

If you have questions about these changes, please visit the Yahoo! MyBlogLog help pages.

We thank you for being a customer on Yahoo! MyBlogLog.


The Yahoo! My BlogLog Team

Sunday, February 06, 2011 last

I am not the worlds greatest "Getting Things Done" guy (only got half way through the book, and just could not get around to putting it into place). In a quest for lightweight but useful "To-do" managers and "Do not forget" managers, I have been through the full gamut: I even bought Bento (and have not really done much with it). The one tool I really loved and do use is delicious, but I have the collywobbles with the Yahoo announcement (withdrawal from market, and then a quick revision to "we want to sell it) and have been looking into not losing my valuable brain estate. I've been taking a peek at evernote for a while, and so finally decided to download this and work out how to get my delicious stuff into it: easy-peasy, just follow these instructions - works a dream: Instructions to import delicious into evernote...Lovely.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

More reviewing...pt2

So, I've started on the first chapter of "Mining the Social Web" proper, and realise it will involve much side reading, as 1) you really do need to know python (although this is already installed in OSX, joy!) 2) you really need to read all the APIs and 3) it looks like the book is going to look to install a large number of python packages. Still, using the twitter package and pulling down the timeline content in terminal is quite cool.

I think I will probably need a once through hands-off, then a once through hands-on, as the first chapter is moving pretty fast, and making some fairly heavy assumptions on development confidence.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Starting out on the O'Reilly Blogger Review Programme

Those nice folks at O'Reilly have started a Blogger Review Programme, and kindly let me be a part of it. Essentially you commit to write a review of an O'Reilly tome in return for a digital review copy - just like I remember it from my real journalism days!

I've been insomniac the past couple of nights (it is 3:45am in Geneva), mostly churning some Measurement & Analytics annoyances in my head, so am now sitting reading the intro. to my first Blogger Review book "Mining the Social Web" (and I suppose I should really try and write this posting in hReview (but I can't be bothered)). So first thoughts are: looks interesting - looks like social network analysis for the social web, so ties nicely into some of my usual old hobby-horses. First gripe would be that all the code is in Python (which I don't know), so I'll have to get to grips with that. It looks like it might hook in nicely with the really interesting, but slightly forbidding "Programming Collective Intelligence" (which if I remember right is also chock-full of Python) - could be a useful companion piece.

Since the O'Reilly review is a 200 worder, I'll try and run a longer review chunk by chunk as I work my way through the book, and then try to some up the overall impression.