BBQ Washout

July 24th, 2015

SOC Bake-offSOC was meant to have a BBQ tonight and, to be fair, we did have a BBQ. Truth be told though only one person attempted to cook their food on the BBQ with everyone else seeking the warmth, shelter and food of the IBM clubhouse. Sadly the rain also meant there weren’t many takers for H’s Hidden in Plain Sight photo-O. Luckily my local knowledge meant that, with a bit of a cerebral workout, we could work out most of the controls with a beer in hand! Christine had also organised a bake-off, with Rob’s chocolate coated 3D-map taking first prize.

T20 Blast

July 24th, 2015

Hampshire battingAt the suggestion of some friends we joined them at the Hampshire vs Somerset T20 Blast match at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday night. The traffic was a nightmare getting there. It took over an hour and a half to cover the 10 or so miles from home and even then we abandoned the car and walked the last half a mile. As a consequence with missed about a third of Hampshire’s innings.

I’ll confess that it was my first time watching a professional cricket match and the Twenty20 format certainly helped keep my interest. I can’t say that the same was necessarily true of the children! It didn’t look to good for Hampshire when they had to settle for 143 for seven but the bowlers did an excellent job in the second half with Hampshire the winners by six runs.

Ageas Bowl

End of a Series

July 18th, 2015

wpid-duncan-rvcp.jpgWe went to the last of the SOC summer series events today at Royal Victoria Country Park. I went round the yellow with the children with the expression instruction of just making it fun as orienteering is still out of favour with Emma. Duncan therefore spent most of the course waving a large stick around and we took a detour on the way from 3 to 4 to take in the boardwalk!

I went round the Light Green after Christine got back which meant that I had the distincct advantage of knowing which controls were misplaced before I started! We haven’t made it to as many events in the series this year due to other commitments but it’s still been fun and I hope the club continues with regular local events next summer.

Rome Retreat

July 11th, 2015

ColosseumWork took me to Rome at the end of this week, facilitating a code retreat for some of my colleagues at the local IBM lab. The retreat itself followed a format we’ve used numerous times before with a focus on pairing and TDD although for the first time we also introduced a session on BDD. Starting with a plain English (or Italian) description really did seem to help the participants avoid starting with a focus on the details of the implementation. The experience also made me realise how much you are dependent on being able to understand the communication between a pair when trying to coach them!

I had a few hours to spare in the evening in which I seemed to manage to cover most of Rome on foot and, with the hotel being based near the Colosseum (I could see it from my room window), I managed to get a quick trip round the inside before it was time to depart for the airport. Unfortunately Fiumicino was in disarray following a fire two months ago which meant we spent around an hour sat on the tarmac. I’d certainly like to return to Rome when I have more time to explore but the trip did remind me that I should do so at a time of year when it’s a little cooler!

School Orchestra

July 5th, 2015

Christine playing oboeThe reason Duncan and I had the morning to ourselves was because Emma and Christine were at an one-day orchestra session at the junior school. Christine had dusted off her oboe and Emma had her recorder. The practice beforehand hadn’t gone too well as one of the two pieces they had been given was out of range of both instruments! Duncan and I got to come and watch the performance at the end of the day. I couldn’t tell you what Emma was up to as she was well hidden by her music stand but Christine was certainly giving it a lot of puff! There were sufficient adults there carrying the tune that all of the pieces were recognisable and Christine, at least, was sufficiently enthused to look up a local wind band when she got home.

Stoke Park Orange

July 5th, 2015

Duncan punchingDuncan and I had a Saturday morning to kill together so went along to the SOC event at Stoke Park Woods. Seeing as we weren’t trying to fit in multiple runs I suggested that we do the orange. Really we should have stuck to the yellow as Duncan would have been able to do more of the navigation himself. He didn’t seem to grasp, for example, that we didn’t have to follow the purple line which meant we made some interesting route choices ploughing cross-country through the undergrowth. As you’ll see from the photo, some of the control placement made punching interesting for Duncan too! He seemed to enjoy himself though but I think we’ll go back to yellow next time.

Overgrown Harvester

June 30th, 2015

Rushmore EstateThe Harvester night orienteering relay was once again within an hour’s drive of our house so no excuse not to get in a couple of teams. There was a last minute panic when we discovered that the ageing headlight that Christine was going to use had completely failed to charge but a fellow club member came to the rescue. Saturday evening was very pleasant as we drove through the magnificent grounds of Sandroyd School to the field which was to be home for the night.

Christine ran second leg for a ladies team and, although she originally had me down for a night leg, we decided that the only way to ensure that we weren’t going to be abandoning the children was for me to run my now traditional long last leg on A. Thanks to the event wi-fi I could keep an eye on my team’s progress each time I woke during the night without having to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag. Things weren’t going quite as well as we had hoped so I had plenty of time for breakfast but still went out half an hour before the mini-mass start.

The earlier runner’s had reported that the forest was full of bracken and nettles. During the morning daylight I could at least see these but that didn’t necessarily mean that they could be avoided completely. Even sticking to the paths was difficult as many of these were also disappearing under the undergrowth and I overshot a couple of supposed path junctions.

We finished 8th on the A course which doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that, of the 12 teams, one was non-competitive and two mispunched… Christine’s team faired better finishing 10th out of 27 and third ladies team. We took the children out on the yellow course in the morning where we could appreciate the area from the safety of the paths. Emma was in a particularly grumpy mood as Duncan wanted to run on ahead the whole time. Unfortunately the night time rain also returned part-way round and we set of for home straight after to go and catch up on some sleep!

Docker is not Enough

June 19th, 2015

I headed up to the London PaaS User Group Meetup yesterday evening. There were two speakers on the agenda. First up was Jeff Hobbs, CTO & VP Engineering at ActiveState with a pitch entitled Docker is not Enough (pretty much this deck). The main tenet being that Docker is not enough in itself as it just addresses packaging and execution. You need a PaaS to provide all of those other niceties like load balancing, auto-scaling, monitoring, centralised logging, audit, … My main issue with this pitch was simply that I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that Docker is enough. That’s why there’s a wealth of ecosystem projects surrounding Docker. And why does stackato (ActiveState’s Cloud Foundry based PaaS) use Docker for containerisation? Jeff stated that this was because the ops team would feel more comfortable dealing with this technology on the back end.

Second up was a late breaking change, my colleague Julz Friedman had stepped in to give a re-run of his Building a Docker backend for Garden presentation from the Cloud Foundry Summit. It was perhaps no great surprise to discover that, when you swap in Docker behind the Garden API, you don’t really see any benefits over the existing implementation (and, indeed, there are significant disadvantages for a multi-tenant PaaS such as the current lack of user namespace support in Docker). The one potential benefit that Julz did highlight was an increase in security, given that there are more eyes on the Docker codebase than Garden.

So why do I make the five hour round-trip in to London for a couple of sessions that I could have got off the internet? Was it the free beer and pizza? Well, no, although welcome, I think the train fare would have more than covered those. It is, of course, to meet people and to hear the Q&A where perhaps much of the interesting information is exchanged (and I caught up on some reading on the train!). There was a lively debate on the relative merits of Docker. One point that Jeff and Julz agreed upon was that the use of Docker images was a retrograde step versus the application centric view of PaaS, letting things that should be the responsibility of ops (e.g. patching OS images) become a part of the developer’s domain (Jeff quoted a stat that some 70% of images on Docker Hub were subject to vulnerabilities).