James Mead by James Mead

Week 190

This week’s notes may not be as comprehensive as usual, because I was caught up with moving house and then away in Sardinia1 – I’m still knee-deep in boxes. Apologies to those concerned if I’ve missed something important.

The week started with the annoying incident of the burglar(s) in the night-time - there was a break-in at our office and some of our stuff was stolen. Needless to say, sorting this out took up a lot of Chris, Tom & James A’s time. Anyway the police are on the case and we await developments…

In the meantime, we’ve continued to beaver way on Inside Government with our GDS team-mates. It feels as if there’s been a welcome increase in feedback with a round of user testing focussing on the specialist guides, lots of content being bulk-imported from existing sites, and more editorial people using the publishing tool for real.

After the server problems we had last week, James A changed Printer to use PostgreSQL instead of Redis which has led to a significant drop in memory use on our Linode box. And earlier in the week I noticed Google Webmaster Tools was reporting a lot of 404s & 500s on our website, so I spent a while trying to sort that out. Today I spent some time trying to add Rack::MailExceptions to give us better visibility of such problems.

James A has also been exploring different approaches for marrying Harmonia’s framework-agnostic domain model with a persistence mechanism. He’s tried out a few approaches in different branches and has come to the conclusion that “Rails and ‘Good OO’ are definitely at odds and sacrifices on both sides will be required; the key is really understanding those sacrifices so they don’t cause friction when we come back to the code later”.

While I was away I made some more progress on a significant new release of Mocha which should mean an end to monkey-patching the Test::Unit and MiniTest test libraries. I ran into a lot of problems with VM “power-down” exceptions on Travis-CI while doing this, but as always the Travis team were very responsive & helpful. I also pushed out a patch release of Mocha to cope with new test library releases.

This week I also saw the Travis CI bot in action. I received a Mocha pull request already stamped as having built successfully on Travis. I was able to review the pull request in a matter of minutes and push the “merge” button with confidence - altogether a very streamlined process.

Last, but definitely not least, we’re still struggling to get some momentum behind GFR projects and to make progress towards our company goal. It sounds as if there are a few different opinions about why this is so and how we might make things better. But hopefully we can have a good chat about this when we all get together in the office this coming week.

– James M.

  1. I was a hanger-on at the European Conference on Visual Perception, which gave me the chance to observe the workings of an academic conference and compare it with techie conferences I’ve attended. I went to the session on Open Science which had some interesting talks. 

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