Friday, 29 January 2010

Goodbye contracting..

imageTen years ago, a crack IT-commando unit was sent to prison by a static code analyser for a bug they didn't create. These men promptly escaped from a Triple-DES security stockade to the Adelaide underground. Today, still wanted by the government/higher education and private sectors, they survive as developers of fortune. If you have a software problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The AoM-Team.

If I recall correctly, I wrote those words not that long after I started as a contract developer at ABB Grain around 18 months ago. This Friday the 29th is my last day contracting at what is now known as Viterra. Our team is finishing up as "the job is done".

It has been an exciting and fulfilling adventure being part of the team that has created a software solution that has been so widely praised by the end-users. More often than not, IT project fail, but against the odds we managed to succeed in a big way. I'm proud to know that our work made a real difference to the staff who have just worked through one of the biggest grain harvests in recent history.

Without doubt THE highlight has been working with a group of awesome colleagues – my fellow "AoM Team" members:

  • Ben Laan
  • Nigel Spencer
  • Brian Kelsey
  • Ping Liang
  • Raaj Kumaar
  • Jo Wegner
  • Angelo Tsirbas
  • Tony Miller - Yes I can now proudly say (along with apparently all the residents of Eyre Peninsula and the west coast of South Australia) that I know Tony Miller!

(And previous team members Timothy Walters, Richard Hollon and Solan Dogan).

I will really miss working with you guys - sharing stories, parenting tips, learning new coding tricks, Jo's lollies, plying everyone with "Dad" jokes, visiting lots of country bakeries and creating great software.

"So what's next?", I hear you ask? Well while it isn't a secret, I'm going to make you wait until my next blog post to tell you!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

SATA hard disk value

As part of my research into suitable components for a Hyper-V server, I thought it would be interesting to see the cents per gigabyte of the various drives offered by MSY.

Brand Capacity (GB) Cost (AUD) Cents/Gigabyte
Hitachi 320 50 0.16
500 59 0.12
1000 97 0.10
2000 224 0.11
Seagate 160 47 0.29
250 49 0.20
320 55 0.17
500 59 0.12
1000 102 0.10
1500 139 0.09
2000 239 0.12
WD 160 49 0.31
320 54 0.17
808 77 0.10
1000 105 0.11
1500 140 0.09
2000 235 0.12

Prices from MSY PARTS.PDF dated 25/01/2010

So as far as value for money, those 1.5TB drives from Seagate and WD appear the winner.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sticky taped (part 2)

Ahh.. I will miss Brian's little pranks :-)


On the bright side – yes those are Cherry Ripe bars attached to the sticky-tape.

That's something we've particularly enjoyed over the last few months – Jo (one of the testers in our team) has most generously taken it upon herself to be the "filler of the lolly bowl".


Mmmmmm :-)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Tour Down Under 2010

View Woodside to Goolwa in a larger map

Today I joined around 8,000 fellow cyclists in the Mutual Community Challenge Tour – riding 111km along part of the same route that the professionals took later in the day. The full route started at Norwood, but owing to my limited preparation we started with the majority of riders at Woodside.

This year I was once again riding with my Dad and the rest of the Mud, Sweat and Gears team.

This year was different for a number of reasons – most significantly it was the first year that BicycleSA weren't responsible for organising the ride, and boy was that obvious (in a bad way).

First of all, there was the jersey size debacle. There appear to have been hundreds of complaints already that the same "size" is way larger than last year.


Riders leaving WoodsideAround 5,000 of the total riders started at Woodside.

  • Car parking was a joke.
  • Everyone had to squeeze through 2 "gates" to sign in. Talk about bottlenecks!

Strathalbyn was the major drink and food stop.. except there was no food! Poor planning. It should have all been delivered by the night before. Apparently it did turn up later in the morning – but too late for us and the hundreds of others who'd already been and gone.

Milang drink stop only had about 4 water taps running off one hose, whose pressure was pitiful (they should have had a water tanker provide water).

Goolwa finish was at the footy oval which at least was a suitable size to deal with the crowd, except:

  • Poor signing and poor directions – took ages to find the 'cloakroom' to pick up our bag
  • I felt sorry for the guy singing and playing guitar who was being drowned out by commercial radio on a separate PA.

At least we got our lunch ok.

The other problem that I remembered also happened in Angaston last year – the mobile phone network becomes useless. The organisers really need to get the phone companies to bring in temporary towers to provide extra coverage.

So apart from a bit of grumbling, we finished our ride in good time (though that wind was pretty nasty).

Here's a few photos from the end of the day:

Riders and support cars approaching finish line

The crowds watch on as the riders and support teams in the professional race approach the finish line at Goolwa.

Packing up the bike

Packing up the bike. Looks like that daughter of mine is using her powers of levitation!

Also note that baggy jersey.

That's my new bike by the way. You may recall my old bike met with a slight accident after last year's event.

I'm now riding a Cannondale CAAD7 with an Ultegra group set.

Riding home

Driving back to Adelaide, we saw this guy.  He must be fit.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Hardware planning

As my time at Viterra/ABB Grain is rapidly drawing to a close (more about that later), I've started to think about what would be useful (if not essential) for the next stage in my career (more about that later too!).

I think a laptop might be a useful tool. For the last couple of CodeCampSA events, I've borrowed my Mum's Toshiba. It's quite a nice machine, but I don't think she'd be too keen on lending it to me all the time! I don't know much about various models, but if I could manage to fit an SSD into the budget then I hear that can make a big difference.

For a while now I've also wanted to get up to speed with Hyper-V. The only thing preventing me has been access to suitable hardware. When Ben (the Virtual PC Guy) published the specs of the server he runs at home my eyes lit up, as it seems pretty similar to what I would like to achieve. Specifically

  • Hosting Windows Home Server
  • Running up VMs to run various server environments – particular different versions of SQL Server.

Finally if there was any room left in the budget, I'd really like to upgrade my main desktop machine too – it must be a joy to develop on machine like Scott Hanselman's.

Still, while my existing desktop is is an aging old box, it does the job and manages to run Windows 7 pretty well. One advantage of getting the Hyper-V server up and running would be that I could just RDP from my old box to a VM instead.