GeekSpeak comments edit

One of the mantras of agile software development is “Release Early, Release Often” - every time you have a new, working version with fixes and updates, you should put that in the hands of the consumer. It’s a great idea - if there’s something new the consumer of your product, be they developers or otherwise, could use, make it available.

The problem lies in the reciprocal expectation of the producers of said product that the consumers will instantly be able to take the latest available version.This isn’t always a valid expectation and can get in the way of product support.

The happy-path scenario is something like a web application that is deployed in a central location and is consumed by various users. A new version of the web app becomes available, the service host deploys the new version, and the end users immediately have the new features and fixes available to them. When the customers need support, it’s pretty safe to assume they’re on the latest version.

What happens if the product isn’t like that, though? What if it’s a framework component like a logging library? In my experience, there’s a little more work required as a consumer of a third-party framework component to take the latest version than just “download and go.” It might look that way to the folks providing that component, but in larger environments that take third-party components on as dependencies, for every new version that comes out you have to consider:

  • Has the licensing changed? (If so, do we need to run this by Legal to get approval for the upgrade?)
  • Is there any fee associated with taking the upgrade?
  • What are the breaking changes?
  • What got fixed?
  • Were we inadvertently assuming incorrect behavior that has changed?
  • Were we working around incorrect behavior that’s now rectified?
  • For .NET dependencies, if it’s strongly-named and not installed into the GAC, do we need to add binding redirects to configuration? If so, where?
  • Does the product need to be installed on each developer machine or is it a dependency that can be checked in to the central source code repository and seamlessly updated?
  • If we have to support developers working on different versions of our product at the same time and each of our product versions relies on different versions of the dependencies, how does this change the manner in which developers switch their envrionments from version to version?

…and so on. Just because a new version is out doesn’t mean your customer can take it. I, as a customer, have to budget time in the schedule for investigating all of the above, testing the upgrade on a standalone developer system, performing any code changes required to take the upgrade, and synchronizing any updates to the developer environments.

So “release early, release often” doesn’t help me much in this scenario, and contacting your support department to ask questions about version 1.2 and you not helping me because the first line of support is to “update to version 1.3 and see if the issue is fixed” is crap. (I understand this line more from open-source/freeware projects than I do if I paid a licensing fee and expect support.)

My message to the “Release Early, Release Often” folks: Remember who your end users are. It’s great that you’re getting the latest version out as often as possible, but it may not be feasible for your customers to take what you’re dishing out as soon as it’s available.

General Ramblings comments edit

A while ago, I’m not sure when, Amazon released a “Universal Wish List Button” feature that allows you to add a bookmarklet to your browser and when you see something you like, even on another web site, you can click the bookmarklet and have it added to your Amazon wish list.

I find this feature exceptionally handy, particularly around the holiday season when people ask what I want.

Nicole Kidman - Added via the Universal Wish List

Somehow, I don’t think Santa’s going to be able to help me out with this one. :)

subtext, blog, aspnet, sql, downloads comments edit

A few months back I was working on my blog and did some database maintenance to help slim down the size of things with respect to referral logs based on some logic posted by Phil Haack. Just a couple of days ago, I wanted to see how things were looking in there and noticed the database was starting to get a little big again.

The problem with doing database maintenance, at least for me, is that I don’t have a dedicated SQL instance and I don’t have administrative rights, so I can’t, for example, run a database backup to truncate the transaction logs, and if I mess things up I’m at the mercy of the operator on duty to eventually get to my help desk request and restore me. I also have to have them open up their firewall on a per-IP-address basis so I can connect with SQL Management Studio, and then I’m still sort of stuck because I can only connect from home - the firewall at work blocks that port, so I can’t fix anything on the fly during the day. Normally this isn’t a big issue, and the folks at my host are really good and pretty responsive, but it does limit my abilities.

What this all boils down to is that I need an administrative interface to do this sort of maintenance that’s part of the application. So that’s what I wrote.

Download the zip file, then drop the enclosed ASPX page in your Subtext “Admin” folder. It’s an administration page so you do have to be logged in as an admin to use it. It doesn’t add any navigation links to the admin site, so you do need to manually enter the URL to the page to get to it, but once you do, this page allows you to:

  • Clear the error log. Yes, you can do this from the error log page, too, but it’s nice to have all of this in a central location.
  • See how many referrals you have in your database vs. how many of those are from search engines. The page lists out what qualifies as a search engine or spam referral so you’ll know what this means. It’s basically just a list of expressions that the page tries to match the URL against - nothing fancy.
  • Remove search engine referrals from the referral log. Qualifying spam referrals are also removed.
  • Reindex the referrals table and shrink the database. Do that after you clear out the garbage referrals.
  • See some size statistics on your database.
  • See the SQL script that the page will execute (in the event you’d rather run it yourself or are just curious).

And, of course, since all the code is right in the ASPX markup, you can adjust it as you see fit.

I have only tested this against Subtext 1.9.5b, since that’s the version I’m running on. (I can’t upgrade to Subtext 2.0 yet due to the medium trust problems.) And, of course, standard disclaimers apply: Use at your own risk, YMMV, I’m not responsible for if this truncates every table in your database and kicks your mom, etc.


gaming, xbox comments edit

I’ve been considering upgrading my hard drive from my 20GB drive to something larger in the potentially near future because I’m starting to get somewhat low on free space and, while I have a spare 20GB drive, switching drives isn’t teh hawesome.

I was worried about the licensing issues - like whether or not the licenses would transfer from the old drive to the new one, since the DRM on Xbox Live has been the bane of my very existence - but my friend Alex has done the transfer process and it sounds like it came off without a hitch. I asked and he verified that he was able to log in and use content on the console from an account other than the one that purchased the content, which proves that the content was still licensed to the console, not just his account.

Maybe an upgrade will be in order soon.