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Sat, 15 Feb 2014

Backporting some Perl modules

I've started backporting some Perl modules to wheezy-backports - for starters, libbread-board-perl, which is now waiting in BACKPORTS-NEW.

At work I've recently been trying to automate the deployment of our platform, and was originally trying to use Carton to manage the CPAN dependencies for us. It seems like it ought to be possible to make this work using CPAN-only tools. However, in practice, I've seen two strong negatives with this approach:

  • it's a lot of work for developers to manage the entire dependency chain, and
  • it takes forever to get the environment running.

Consider, when you spin up a fresh VM, you need to build Perl from source, and then compile every CPAN module you depend on. This includes all the modules needed to run all the test suites. That's not going to be fast. All that, and you still need a solution that works with the distro's package management, because you still need to install all the build dependencies.

So, I'm trying a new approach - if someone else benefits from the packages I backport, even better.

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 22:20 | Tags: ,

Sat, 27 Oct 2012


On Monday, I need to start hiring a Perl programmer - or, at least, a programmer willing to write Perl. I work for a website where people post their CVs, which tends to help - although this will mean that my boss wants me to do it without going through recruiters. Which is fine. I just have to use the search interface that recruiters normally use.

And looking through all these CVs, it dawned on me that I don't have a clue whether any of the people are suitable for the job. I have to search for keywords that we think might be relevant - "Perl", I guess - and then sort through the hundreds of people who come back from the search. It's very painful, because you can't really judge a CV without reading it - and even that won't necessarily tell you the important things about that person. Do they actually write good code? Do they work well in a team?

When searching for a piece of information, you probably need just one website to answer your question; when searching for job candidates, I guess you need to see a range of CVs. And then you need to interview them; this could take weeks.

Sucks to be me.

Posted: 27 Oct 2012 17:21 | Tags:

Wed, 11 Apr 2012

Weekend of change

Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

After two and a half years at Smoothwall, I'm moving on - Friday is my last day. Since I joined the development team, we have adopted Agile development, set up a pretty nifty Gerrit/Jenkins code review + integration system, and introduced dpkg for package management. Along the way, I helped with a bunch of important features for the business, like a ground-up rewrite of the web filter, and time-based browsing usage quotas.

I will be starting at CV-Library on Monday, for a whole new set of challenges. They're based in Fleet, so I'll have an hour-long commute each way on the train.

I've been assured by an expert in these matters that facilitating wage slavery is a comparatively more ethical pursuit than facilitating internet censorship. :)

To make the commute somewhat more bearable, I'm moving house on Saturday. So far, the packing's going quite well...

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 22:27 | Tags:

Sun, 06 Mar 2011

Software Architect

I've been promoted - my job title will now be 'Software Architect'. This seems to mean I'll be writing documents rather than code - any higher-level, and I'd need Mark Shuttleworth's spacesuit. Is this a good thing? Anyway, I celebrated by opening my last bottle of Debian wine.

<spam>Unfortunately, I can't take up my new role until we have hired a replacement. UK-based developers who know Perl and ideally PostgreSQL might want to look at the job description, although I'd recommend sending your CV and covering letter to me directly. I don't get a referral bonus, it's just that I don't like what that agency does with your carefully-crafted application.</spam>

I'd like to thank everyone who maintains LaTeX for their assistance in this matter.

In other news, I'm studying a couple of Open University courses part-time - one on software development (i.e. UML), and one on interaction design. They're going well so far - I've had a couple of tutorials, and the first part of an assignment came back with good marks.

I've been reading the Lean Software Development books by Mary and Tom Poppendieck. They seem to put Agile development into a 'respectable' historical context of similar improvements in manufacturing, which might be useful for persuading project managers.

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 23:52 | Tags:

Fri, 25 Jun 2010


Today I wore a tie to work, and told everyone it was "dress up Friday". Of course, this has been done before.

At lunch most of the office was together at the pub, celebrating a software release. I had an entertaining discussion with the Technical Director about how our next major version should be developed - we disagree. But it seems I've convinced several key people of the merits of basing our work on a third-party distribution, so that looks promising.

Stepping back a moment, I'm quite pleased with the changes I've been able to make since joining the company ten months ago. There's always more to be done, of course - but it's satisfying to make a difference.

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 21:06 | Tags:


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