Tech

What about 4G home broadband?

This is another article in my series about broadband in Guernsey and what the future might hold. You might like to read the previous articles: Hands on with JT’s fibre to the home, Why fibre, and why now?, Guernsey broadband should aim to lead, not bring up the rear, and some other secondary updates linked in those. Or not; I’m not the boss of you. I’ve talked before about how I think using the mobile data network to skirt around the problems caused by underinvestment in the physical telecoms network is at best a short-term stopgap, and not something to lean on long term.

Read more →

Creating drum sheet music with Lilypond

I’ve been trying to find a good tool to create drum-specific sheet music on my Mac, and have largely been frustrated. Expensive tools that do it all like Finale and Sibelius are just too heavyweight, both require lots of of tweaks to work well for drums, and felt a bit clumsy to me just because of their level of complexity. MuseScore looked great but the editing workflow just frustrated me, trying to get multiple voices in one stave (required when you have to chart up to 4 notes at a time in one place, because drummers have 4 limbs ;)) was far too fiddly and resulted in many annoying round-trips.

Read more →

Why I'm returning to the PC for the 'next generation'

Games PC PS4 steam Xbone

I have a long history with PC gaming; I was there back when you had to tweak your autoexec.bat and config.sys to squeeze that last 200K of memory to run specific games, and when we used to debate which DOS extender was the best. I owned consoles too, but my PC was where my serious gaming happened for many, many years. That period ended when I badly injured my back in 2008 and had to limit the hours I spent sat in front of a keyboard / mouse - I could barely put the hours in for work (and open source), never mind spending my gaming time there too.

Read more →

Friends don't let friends use ClickOnce

I’ve had a fair amount of experience with Windows-based installers in the past, including non-Microsoft Installer based systems like NSIS and the open source WiX, but most of the time I’d been working with one-off installers for native code projects, like the Ogre3D SDKs. I pride myself in not pre-judging the best toolset to use for any given problem - which is why I switch languages a lot - so when I came to write SourceTree for Windows, which is based on .

Read more →

Evading the now

Creativity Internet media

Ever since I notionally transitioned into adulthood, I’ve always been interested in current events. Not just keeping up with the latest technological developments either, news in general is something I like to keep tabs on. Years ago, you basically had two sources: the fairly superficial summaries from TV news and tabloids, or the more in-depth coverage from broadsheet special reports and dedicated periodicals. Generally speaking you got the superficial once or twice a day, and something more probing every week/month.

Read more →

104 keys: who needs them anyway?

I fired up my desktop Windows PC for the first time in a while recently, and the first thing I realised is that I absolutely hated the keyboard. This was nothing to do with the slight differences between the PC and Mac keyboard layouts, the latter of which I’ve become more accustomed over the last couple of years, nor was it about whether the keys were mechanical or scissor switched, or any such nuance.

Read more →

Apache to Nginx & PHP-FPM : part 1

Background

The Ogre3D website has been running on a dedicated server for about 7 years now; this is relatively expensive, but when we moved away from the shared hosting that Sourceforge generously provided, but which we had outgrown, our initial foray with a VPS (at the time lighttpd on Linode) proved inadequate for our needs, so after a month of futile tuning we gave up and went fully dedicated.

Time has moved on of course, and virtualisation technology is considerably better than it was in 2005. I’d intended to try again soon anyway to reduce Ogre’s overheads but our Adsense revenue was still covering the cost and I hadn’t got around to it yet. Then suddenly, Google pulled our ads after a mistaken (I believe automated) conclusion that we were hosting copyrighted material - a few users had posed test binaries of their own work on MediaFire and similar ‘red flag’ download sites - and all of a sudden we were leaking money. The misunderstanding was sorted out with Google within a few days, but even so it illustrated that we should probably look to move to a cheaper solution if we can so we have less exposure.

The Ogre site’s main issue with performance is Apache’s memory usage under load, so given a VPS is more constrained I wanted to address that. Enter Nginx, stage right.

Read more →

Blog revamp

As I promised, I’ve given this blog a bit of an overhaul in anticipation of posting more often again. For those who are interested, here’s a run-down of the updates: New responsive design Responsive design is all the rage these days; in summary, it’s all about making your site adapt fluidly to the reading environment so it looks good on a variety of devices, even resizing images so they always fit.

Read more →

Google+

I left Facebook about a year ago and have been using Twitter as my primary social tool ever since. At the heart of this decision were my main gripes with Facebook: **Facebook misrepresents relationships ** It’s clear that Facebook was designed by a young person with borderline Aspergers. Relationships are black and white, you’re either a Friend or you’re not, and they’re symmetrical - information has to flow both ways.

Read more →

Why 'software engineering' is a misnomer

These days I’m a free agent, and I’m lucky enough to be able to choose what projects I work on, but in a past life, I was what I suppose is properly referred to as an ‘enterprise software developer’. Yes, I once functioned in an environment where terms like ‘mission-critical’, ‘project life-cycle’, ‘stakeholders’ and ‘change management’ came up quite a lot. I’m grateful for the experience I gained over 12 years of doing that, but I’m also very glad to be free of it now.

Read more →