Beta testing

My app has gone into beta testing with the team. Wooohooo! Yet, I must confess, I feel a little trepidation.

Beta testing is a curious term and comes from the concept of alpha (first round tests) and beta (second round tests). So my alpha testing was predominantly done by myself and a colleague who has been working closely with me on the overall project, she is not technical at all, which in alot of ways was a good thing. This beta testing is being done by people who have seen screenshots and short walkthroughs but never had the opportunity to use it for themselves.

Terminology, acronyms and buzz words. They litter our world, but make things easier to understand in some ways, by conceptualising things into a single word or phrase.

Take Software Engineering. From one who has spent a fair amount of my life writing bespoke applications  I disagree with this one, writing code is as much an art form as a type of engineering. There is beauty, elegance and logic in those lines of code. There are rules too, but they way something is crafted and carefully knitted together can be an artistic creation.

Marketing loves buzz words. “The cloud”. It is a fair description, but not a new concept. Hosting stuff on the interweb has been around for easily over a decade.

But back to my app. I still have a major piece of functionality left to implement. It needs to sync its local data with SharePoint. And time is passing quickly, launch is not that far away. Tick tock, tick tock!

Responses from the team have been encouraging – amazing, awesome and stunning are all terms that have been bandied around this week. That is, until it falls over in a big heap due to a bug. It has taken many months and countless long days to get to this point. And while it may be over 11,000 lines of code and growing, it is just a beginning. It provides a basis for building something better. Something revolutionary for the wider team.

Sometimes SharePoint smokes….

or sometimes I wish it would, in a nice little funeral pyre, dowsed in petrol! That I can light a cigarette from! Ok, I will forgo the cig.

Today has been just a tad frustrating. There are some requirements for my app to integrate with Microsoft SharePoint (also known as MOSS). I knew this would be needed when I started on the application, though I expected it to be necessary after version 1.0 was rolled out. Requirements change though and it looks like we need our own backup strategy to supplement the company one.

The challenge with SharePoint is there are many different ways of doing this, depending on what version you are working with, which development environment you have installed, and which SDK tools you have. Most appear mutually exclusive and the documentation is pretty awful, which is unusual for Microsoft. It reminds me of MS Site Server which I have programmed applications for before and I suspect that’s part of the problem here. It feels like an evolution of MSSS, something that has grown in an organic way, rather than designed from the ground up with a clean application interface.

With all the different versions of tools and SDKs, even the forums provide little help.

Still, I have the skeleton code working now, it didnt take a few hours, it took all day and isn’t quite as far along as I had hoped. But we persevere. I made progress and got it doing what it needs to do.

Take that SharePoint. And I know, that a month ago, I would have burnt through a full pack of smokes today. Easily. Staring intently at the screen, not even acknowledging how many I lit up. This is pretty impressive actually. I got my head around the interface. And I haven’t really had the burning yearning for a cigarette. Despite the headache it has been, today has been another good day.

Me and SharePoint will have a rematch one day soon I am sure.

4G is here, in the UK….

According to a news article on the BBC website, 4G is being launched, ahead of the auctions which have been subject to delays after numerous legal wrangles with the mobile networks. You do get the impression that some networks wanted to string it out as long as possible, perhaps to avoid having to invest a new network infrastructure.

The big news about 4G isn’t just the increased bandwidth or potential for providing broadband into those rural areas that struggle to get a decent landline broadband connection. It is also the dramatic reduction in latency, which paves the way for a dramatic change in online mobile gaming.

It will be interesting to see whether the announcement tomorrow from Apple brings an iPhone that will support this new 4G network.


No, I’m not a musician, though I have the utmost admiration those who can play a tune.

Today was an early start, 6am, ho hum, I thought a glass or two of wine might help me sleep, instead it made me feel like striking up a woodbine. Severe headaches too. Not due to excess wine, I didnt drink that much, nor the smoking. Just part of the burst blood vessel/dodgy eye problem.

I pottered around some while everyone was still sleeping, read some blogs and tidied up some. Later I took my youngest lad out to see if we could get his motorbike sorted out. After visiting a number of garages and mechanics, we’ve left it with a someone who was willing to take a look at it. The reluctance probably due to it being a pain of a job and a not a big money earner too. Hopefully the mechanic will be able to drill and helicoil the exhausts stud bolts.

I have been fiddling with the look and feel of this blog and chose a new theme.

And I’ve installed the Blackberry webworks development environment in an XP virtual machine. I fancy a play around with it and maybe creating a Stopping Smoking app to collate some of the info I’ve gathered to help people give up the weed. It’s going to be an interesting time over the next six months technology wise. Apple launching their new phone next week – if you haven’t head about it, you are probably the only person on the planet who hasn’t. Google continue to march ahead with Android, though we still haven’t seen anything amazing coming from Motorola now they’ve bought the mobile side of the business. Windows continue with Windows 8 and their marketing machine is relentless. And RIM follow up the rear, urgently working to get Blackberry 10 finished which apparently is going to be a user interface paradigm shift – they really need to make it something jaw dropping to have any chance of recovering.

Technika Bluetooth Stereo Speaker and Speakerphone

I like gadgets. Its true. I love new toys to play with.

This one was a great buy. It was during my last trip to Oxford, I was in Tesco’s picking up a few things and spotted this, reduced from £40 to £20.

It is a bluetooth speaker, so you can pair it up with your phone and listen to your music pretty much anywhere. I tend to use it in the house and out in the garden. Being small, portable and powered by rechargeable batteries it’s perfect for the job. It’s reasonably loud too, though not loud in the way young ‘uns like to blast their music out.

It also doubles up as a speakerphone. Awesome.