Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

12 January 2007

AccuRev and Merging Bliss

Normally, I do not post to my blog from work, but I just had an AccuRev is awesome moment I needed to share. Under the previous software product, sold by a very large company which provides operating systems for most of world's desktops, merging was a horrible experience. This unnamed "safe" product for "source" code would often duplicate merged blocks, leading to code which looks right, but fails to compile. The most horrible situation you can imagine in this older, "visual" product is a double merge. You make code changes, combine with another branch and then have to combine with a third branch. This almost never worked in the old days, leading to a development process which tried to prevent such situations from occurring.

Then the clouds parted and the glorious sun which is AccuRev beamed down on us. To set the scene, we loaded our 100,000 or so source files from the old system into AccuRev some two months ago. Since then we have converted to Visual Studio 2005 and shifted toward a continuous integration system. Suffice it to say there have been lots of systemic changes to our codebase. Meanwhile, development continued in the old source control world and we wrote scripts which aided in conversion. Periodically, I would load updates from the old system into AccuRev and ensure consistency. Now two months later the last of the changes are being loaded into place, and a wonderful event occurred.

I have a file, call it foo.c, with changes from the old system. I loaded it into AccuRev and ran a keep on it, conceptually similar to checkin, but in a private workspace. I compared it to the previous revision and used "Merge From" in the "Browse Versions". In the old world, this would be a migraine-inducing experience, but in AccuRev the two versions folded together in a few seconds. When the merge was complete and the "Browse Versions" window displayed again I found that a developer had just promoted their own changes to the file while I was merging. In the old world, on a Friday, I would have given up and gone for a beer leaving the problem for the weekend. Never having faced the situation in AccuRev, I turned up the music and readied myself for disappointment. I selected the new revision and chose "Merge From." The resulting file was perfectly merged, all of the changes were correctly select and the resulting file is perfect.

Honestly, it took me longer to write this post than it did to load, back merge and forward merge this heavily altered source file. Even after carefully reviewing all fifty-eight perfectly combined changes.

Just in case it isn't clear...AccuRev is the single best piece of SCM software I have ever used. An excellent combination of easy to use and powerful.

[No, I do not work for AccuRev. I really do work for DeLorme as a Software Architect. I do, however, totally love this SCM system.]

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11 January 2007

Red Panda Adventures

If you like heroic adventure with a 1930s feel to it, then Red Panda Adventures by Decoder Ring Theatre is for you! The duo of the Red Panda, an unnamed wealthy young man, and the Flying Squirrel, Kit Baxter, is performed by Gregg Taylor and Clarissa der Nederlanden. The Red Panda is a mix of the intellectual side of Batman and the esoteric side of The Shadow. He leaves behind the cornball parts of Batman and the really creepy elements of the Shadow, which scared the heck out of my kids. The Flying Squirrel is the school-of-hard-knocks tough girl. She sounds like the only girl in a family of twelve boys. Their adventures cover the gamut from fighting mafia/extortionist types, to fighting super-villains and then the occasional oddball.

The show manages to walk that perfect balance of edgy enough to entertain adults without crossing into not-safe-for-kids land. Actually, I listened to it for months before first playing it for my young ladies while on the road to an appointment. They were instantly captivated and created a new female character, The Red Squirrel, to give them both girl characters to play. The run around the house play acting the tough female hero role, needing only the occasional "Kit Baxter...behave yourself!" to keep the furniture from being destroyed. After more than a month of this, I finally decided to see if I might be able to order a few t-shirts to go along with their new passion, throwing a shirt in for me perhaps. The Decoder Ring folks to have a cafepress.com store (buy something!), but no kid's shirts.

What, you say, "I see kid's shirts." Indeed there are! I contacted the folks at Decoder Ring Theatre and before you know it Gregg Taylor himself replied telling me he had added the kid's sizes and thanking the girls for listening. He was very accessible and so incredibly kind to the girls. They squealed with delight as I read the messages from Mr. Taylor and he made time to reply to their many questions. Not only is the show great, but they are good people too! If you have yet to give the show a listen, allow my girls to recommend these two episodes: When Darkness Falls and The Curse of Beaton Hall.


02 January 2007

25 Most Played

As usual, I am following the Wilberian lead with this list of my top twenty-five iTuns tracks during the past year. In my defence, I do have two young girls, so that explains Jack Johnson and Hampton Hampster!

Song TitleArtistAlbumCount
RestlessJana HunterBlank Unstaring Heirs of Doom59
Girl from the North CountryBob Dylan & Johnny CashNashville Skyline (remastered)56
cowboy songSocalledGhettoblaster55
Trapped Under Ice Flows+/-Holding Patterns50
Upside DownJack Johnson...Curious George50
Diary of the Mass TrappistThe Jai Alai SavantSXSW 200549
Hell YesBeckGuero47
Pipebomb on Landsdown (Dance Remix)Dropkick MurphysThe Singles Collection, Vol. 247
Hiding Behind the MoonJeff HansonSXSW 200543
Que' Onda GueroBackGuero40
Betcha NeverCherieCherie40
Rainbow FlowsHusky RescueCountry Falls39
The Littlest BirdsThe Be Good TanyasSXSW 200535
BreakthroughHope 7Breakthrough - EP35
L-L-LoveAstaireDon't Whisper Lies - EP34
California Uber AllesDead KennedysMutiny on the Bay34
Orange Blossom SpecialJohnny CashAt Folsom Prison34
Like a SoldierJohnny Cash & Willie NelsonUnearthed34
She FloatsA-LyriczLow Tops and Polos33
Sab Kahete Hain (remix)Anuradha PaudwalSab Kahete Hain (remix)33
Guns Don't Kill People Rappers DoGoldie Lookin ChainSXSW 200533
Wanted ManJohnny CashAt San Quentin33
The HampsterDance SongHampton the HampsterHampsterdance Hist - EP31
The Sweet Sunny SouthJerry Garcia & David GrismanShady Grove31
Banghra Fever (Heavy Nitro Mix)MIDIval PunditZSix Degrees Remixed31

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01 January 2007

Visual Studio and AccuRev

It has been a while, but work grabbed me with little more than a week between two large projects. We shipped out XMap 5.0 and I jumped right into the selection, purchase and install of new development tools. The upgrade from Visual Studio 2003 to Visual Studio 2005 was actually quite a bit more painful than the upgrade from Visual Studio 97 to Visual Studio 2003. The improved ISO C++ compliance is conceptually great, but when you have a fifteen year investment in C++.... Well, suffice it to say that we realized we had a fair amount of non-compliant code kicking around in the repository.

The more engaging part of this task was replacing our weather-work Visual SourceSafe 6.0d source control control system with AccuRev. We last evaluated AccuRev when 3.5 was the current edition of the software. (cue wavy lines)Back then its integration with Visual Studio (a.k.a. SCCI support) was pretty rough around the edges and the AccuRev Client GUI needed a bit of maturing. The worst part of that eval process was being able to see just how great a heart they had to the product. Rather than select a lesser SCM system, we cancelled the upgrade project a decided to wait... (back to reality) This time through, under AccuRev 4.5, they really spent some time and effort on their SCCI support and client GUI. Everyone on the analysis team was really wowed by the product, so much so, that some of us could not wait to get our hands on it. Though it has not occurred every day, at least a few times a week I run across another great feature which makes me shout, "I love AccuRev!"

The new software packages are finally being deployed throughout the department this week. Hopefully, I will have time to return to my other pursuits. The in-laws bought me a book on Esoteric Freemasonry, which will be a great way for me to start learning about this branch of the Craft.

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