September 12th, 2008


Not something I recommend putting on your resume

Fascinating article in Ars Technica today, about the network administration soap opera going on in San Francisco. It's worth a read: it's not terribly long, and a good cautionary tale about how to screw up the running of a network. Lots of he-said / they-said, with the city essentially claiming that their network architect is a devious criminal and him countering that their bureaucracy is really the cause of the problems.

But what really strikes me is that the defense seems to partly rest on the notion that the city's information architecture is so complex and elegant that only the guy who built it can maintain it -- that's why he has needed to centralize so much power in his own hands. And I'm sorry, but that just replaces malicious intent with incompetence in my book. If he's managed to build a system that *only* he can maintain, then he is *not* "very, very good at what he does". Maintainability is one of the most important aspects of any computing environment; if you miss that, you haven't done your job.

Or to put it another way: if your company / client / family / whatever is going to have insuperable problems when you get hit by a bus, you've done it wrong...

Libraries, libraries everywhere

So on the one hand, I notice that the WAR file for CommYou is now 12,345 K in size. The numbers geek in me find this pointlessly entertaining.

OTOH -- 12 *Meg*?!? Jeez, it is easy for an app to bulk up these days. I mean, IIRC that's something like twice the code size of Thief, a project that consumed many programmers for many years.

Of course, the actual code for CommYou is only a tiny, tiny fraction of that. The rest is all libraries. We're currently including, what? -- a cursory inventory finds 38 libraries so far, ranging from a few dozen K to the better part of a Meg. Libraries for XMPP, for XML, for logging, for JSP, for DB, for all *their* dependencies, and so on. Indeed, I'd be surprised if we're even calling 5% of the code that's included here, since in most cases I'm only using a small chunk of a big library.

It's not really a big deal, of course, but the old-fashioned programmer in me is kind of appalled. (And uploading the bloody WAR does take a fair while.) Here's a question for those more hip to Java development than I -- is there any sort of mechanism for trimming all this bulk down? In the old C++ days, the linker would trim away the paths that were never called. (Indeed, occasionally causing me problems in doing so.) Is there anything comparable now, or does everyone just live with library bloat?

And just when my mood was really improving...

Jez is gone.

I don't know exactly how, but I noticed her missing when I went to feed them dinner. I've spent the past hour turning the house upside-down, as well as wandering around outside in the rain with a flashlight to see if she was somewhere on the property, with no luck. My best guess is that she got outside this morning, and has wandered far afield by now in search of shelter.

To say that I'm shattered is a gross understatement...

Good news, bad news

A quick note, just to calm my nerves.

Far as I can tell, I was wrong -- it isn't that Jez got *out* of the house, it's that she got *into* it. I can hear her, just barely, occasionally. Far as I can tell, she got into the one small opening into the ceiling above the basement, which is otherwise 100% closed, and now she's lost in there. She's only speaking up occasionally, so I can't be sure where she is. (If I had a clear position, I'd just knock a hole in the ceiling.)

So it's *hopefully* not as bad as I thought, but we're far from safe: that floor is stuffed with insulation, and now I'm worried about whether she might try eating some of it...

Or not...

Gah -- the uncertainty is driving me crazy. I *think* I heard a couple of faint meows that didn't seem to be coming from Jedi; hence the theory that she's in the ceiling somewhere. But all attempts to elicit anything more definite have been fruitless. It's maddening, not being sure...

The Kitty Emerges

Jezabelle appeared a couple of minutes ago, apparently none the worse from the experience save for being ravenously hungry. My thanks to everyone who suggested food and light, which got her to come out fairly quickly. And my apologies for spamming everyone's flist with tearing my hair out.

(Man -- I don't panic easily these days, but that sent me for quite a roller-coaster. Too many nightmares over the years about the cats getting out and lost...)
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