Ok, so I’ve posted my initial feelings about tinkering with Mercurial and Git, and that seems to have generated some interest. It’s time to get a bit more formal about how I’m going to evaluate them against each other, to decide which one I like to use most in real, practical scenarios. So, I decided to come up with a list of use cases for the things that I typically have to deal with when managing the repositories for a software project (open source and otherwise), so that I can methodically test them out and see how I feel about each system.

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I’ve been interested in DVCS for a while; having done my fair share of branch management, something which makes that process easier and more transparent is definitely very attractive. I particularly like the way a DVCS makes it easier for people to collaborate in pockets of their own, away from the centralised environment, and track other repositories and keep their local mods up to date more easily - public-branch-on-demand if you will.

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Ok, so I discovered a number of shortcomings in my recent attempt to sync a folder in one direction to Amazon S3 using encryption, the most important of which was that it wouldn’t resume a failed transfer efficiently, which in the case of large transfers wasn’t at all ideal (as I learned to be own cost - damn my 256k upload speed). So, this is attempt number 2. I decided to completely rewrite the script in Python instead to give me some more flexibility, coupled with the availability of Boto, a nice Python library for accessing all the Amazon Web Services.

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Dead Space teaches you many things. Firstly, that large abandoned space ships are not the place to be if you have frayed nerves. They creak and make random clanks. Lights don’t work properly. Automated systems kick in and scare the bejesus out of you. When things are quiet, think Alien. I’ve heard that it gets less creepy and more combative later on, but I’m 4 hours in and it’s still very much in suspense mode, barring one ‘boss fight’ with a ‘Brute’.

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Edit: this script is deprecated in favour of a rewritten version 2. I use Amazon S3 to host large media files which I want cheap scalable bandwidth on, and for expandable offsite storage of important backups. I used to have some simple incremental tar scripts to do my offsite backups, but since I moved to Bacula, I’ve just established an alternative schedule and file set definition for my offsite backups, the critical subset of data I couldn’t possibly stand to lose (like company documents).

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This was pretty interesting; CNet reports that according to NPD stats, Apple has 91% of the retail PC sales in the US above $1,000. Now, let’s add the caveats here: That’s retail PCs. Of course, loads of people build their (desktop) PCs from OEM parts rather than buying a prebuilt machine, so it’s safe to say that these sales are almost all going to be laptops, where Apple particularly shines.

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Quick check - ok, the sun is in fact not as black as sackcloth. But today, something earth-shattering happened - Microsoft has contributed code to Linux. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that I’d never live to see the day this happened. It’s 20,000 lines of driver code to make Linux run better under Hyper-V, which is of course in their interest (since you have to buy a copy of Windows Server 2008 as the host) , but that’s par for the course for open source contribution (you scratch your own itch!

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It was my birthday last week (and my wife’s), and while I’ve been far too busy to have any time off (cue world’s smallest violin), I have managed to find a little time to play a few new games. I’m still deeply mired in Fallout 3 too, having invested 60 hours in it over the last 4 months with still loads to do - see, this is why I can’t handle more than one ‘big’ game a year anymore - and Gears and Rock Band are still regular staples, but there’s always room for variety.

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Amazon has started email-bombing people in the UK with Windows 7 pre-order offers, a little while after a similar pre-order offer was available in the US. Windows 7 is the first version of Windows that I’ve found myself being upbeat about since 2001, so I cheerfully clicked the link. The result was an offer of Windows 7 Professional “E” (the European version with IE removed, congrats EU on fighting an originally well-intentioned battle that ceased to be practically relevant almost a decade ago) for a ‘discounted’ price of £180.

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When Harmonix responded to GHWT’s user-created content feature by saying they wanted to hold off until they could do it properly, they definitely weren’t kidding. Today they announced the Rock Band Network, which will be online later this year (on 360 only for the moment, because it seems they’re piggy-backing on the XNA Creator’s Club to handle the submission and billing). Rather than provide an in-game sequencer using samples like GHWT does, with RBN bands use their original master tracks, recorded using their usual software but presumably still split into the appropriate tracks, and gives them a set of tools (for PC I assume) to add the MIDI notes which will be translated into the instrument charts.

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