Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Another Failed Shopping Trip, More DIY

Every week we get billions (OK English exageration a little there) of leaflets through our door from the various shops in the town center. We normally flick through all of them just to see if anything catches our eye - and every few weeks there is something.

This week we found two things, in a shop we would never dream of going in. A jumper for my other half, and a little black dress for me.

Whilst she really did not want to be seen in the shop (it's mainly used by the winklies, not 30 somethings) she really liked the jumper so we went looking.

First off, once you walk in the store you *really* see that it caters for the older generation - I've never seen such a drab shop outside of 'Mary Queen of Shops' on TV. Secondly even though I was with my wife, and shopping for her as well as me, I got a major bout of nerves and could hardly look for either item of clothing...

We found her Jumper, but as the only size they had in stock was XXXL we decided that maybe we'd leave it. The dress (whilst in the shop window) wasn't even in the store itself. When you look at the customers they have you have to ask why they would even stock either of the items - I can't imagine any of the other customers in there buying them.
Fubar :(

We are supposed to be tryin again in other stores this week (but I'm not holding out much hope - little black dresses are not as easy to find as I imagined...)

On top of that we have sooo much on our plate at the moment. My folks are coming to visit soon (read in days) and at present the spare room doesn't even have wallpaper on every wall. Why on earth I decided to try and get it decorated in a week I don't know. I spend literally years thinking 'That room really needs doing', and then with less than 7 days until it is to be used suddenly get the compulsion that it has to be done now...

As such I am covered in glass fibre from the wall paper that has gone up (I've never seen glass fibre paper before, but it does give a nice finish on the wall for paint - without having to pay someone to plaster the walls) and absolutely shot - work 9 hours (full of stress at the moment) followed by 5 hours of decorating every day is not healthy. Good job my folks are here next week - I'm on vacation for when they are here and can hopefully recover a little...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

T(ech)-Time - simple ways to optimize general code

I was reading Lynn Jones blog about old technology today and it got me thinking about the changes over the years. Hohum - here is a good first tech post I think...

Since I started to do serious things with computers - about 1992 - I have used Turbo Pascal, Ansi C, assembly (which I hated :) ), VB 5 and 6 (and classic ASP), Magic (v5, v6 and v7) and now program in C#.

When I started machines were not overly powerful (we thought they were at the time of course) and you had to think about what you were doing in order to make the program run as quick as possible.

When I was in University we had basic coding optimisation practices drummed into us in our Micro-architecture classes (they didn't teach me to spell it though :) ) - how to make your app work that little bit better by using some simple techniques.

In the modern world when writing desktop apps it's not going to make the world of difference. And that is the problem. By and large you can throw hardware at most performance issues and let's face it even a netbook runs at 1.6GHz and with a decent OS does most home user tasks adequately.

But... The trouble comes when you want to do something with many concurrent users. Say... A web application. Or a mainframe app (OK you don't see this too often these days). If you have got lazy with your desktop development you have a higher chance of running into problems.

You see, when you have a decent development rig (where I work we use quad core machines with raptor 10K HDD's and 4GB ram. They rock :) )you still don't see the problems when you are debuging.

No... The problem shows itself when you have 6000 users trying to use your site at once. And what do the developers say? Throw another server at the problem. If you think about the bottle necks and possible issues that you have though you may not need that server. We rely on a couple of purchased apps for data delivery in the office and we have always complained about one in particular. We can't throw it out as they are the only supplier of this particular data in the country. They made a change recently and as a result we can get rid of 50% of the servers we use *for that one app* and still have more capcity. And all because someone actually started to look at performance seriously.

My first suggestion would be to think about all of the logic of your apps before and during coding. If you have an 'if' statement think which of the logic branches is most likely to happen and ensure that this is in the true branch of the 'if'. The reason? When an if instruction comes through to the processor the pipeline is full of the 'true' login branch. When you need the false branch the pipeline first has to be emptied, and then refilled with the new code branch.

I'll be honest with modern operating systems I don't know how valid this point is anymore. But, the process of thinking about what you need in your app is still a valid point and should lead to improvements. just a thought I've been having recently...

Shoes, shoes and more shoes

We are redecorating ad hoc things around the house at the moment and one of the items up for discussion is the shoe rack. Working out the amount of shoes gave me a little surprise...

I own way more shoes than my other half. And they are not even en femme shoes (although they are mainly womens :) ). I have a couple of pairs of boots, a pair of hicking boots, a pair of hand made shoes (the only ones that fit me properly that are actually also mens shoes - brought for my wedding day, 2 pairs of boat shoes, 2 pairs of *everyday* trainers, a pair of running trainer, a pair of indoor court trainers, a pair of canvas shoes and a pair of deck shoes. Plus a pair of boots for in the bike a a pair of wall climbing shoes.

I make that 14 pairs. And I think I may have forgotten something...

I can only think that is too many... Or can men now buy as many shoes as they like?

Oh and well done Jenson!!!!!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Thank goodness that weeks over

It's been an absolute nightmare of a week... After getting the bathroom finished we now have to clean the dust from the rest of the house.

On top of that I had a stinking cold that hasn't completely gone yet, and shows no signs of dissapearing yet (the sniffles and sneezes are over, but the lathargicness etc stays).

Then there is the fact that this week we had one day out of 5 when we were in home during the evening. So we also had a rather lack of sleep...

Then there was work... I have a number of high prority projects at the moment each vying for more of my teams time than I can give. No matter what I do I lose... Some part of the business complains that IT is not giving their project the attention it deserves. By the end of Thursday I was mentally and physically exhausted - and well aware that I had another day to go which was going to be even worse.

The cleaning of the house happened over the weekend as we had my sister in law (plus the rest of the family) coming over for food (and to look at the new bathroom) and had yet to finish cleaning up from it being fitted. *And* one of the local stores had an offer on some furniture we wanted (55% discount) so we had to get that, which involved me putting it all together Saturday night (and it all had to be sanded and waxed before I did it).

We still have a few jobs to finish, and a couple of big jobs to start - I'm just trying to work out when they have to be done so I can try and get some rest before it all starts again. As my folks are coming over for a weeks stay I think that at least one room is going to have to be redecorated before they get here as they would like somewhere to sleep.

On the bright side it all gave me something to write about :)

Monday, 5 October 2009

So very tired...

Well after two weeks of hard graft, ruining my hands and having to put up with my brother in the house (though to be fair the last was not as bad as I was expecting) we have a bathroom back again. And not just any bathroom, but an amazing one. Hats off to my bro - he's done a stunning job and left me with something looking like it came from a lifestyle magazine. We just have to keep it that way now :)

I've just emptied the camera of the last pics rebuilding pics, with some shots I took today with it being finished. I was checking them on the computer and got back to the before shots. It's impossible to imagine that they are of the same room. Of that one of the reasons we brought the house was because of the bathroom.

On top of the two majorly stressful weeks (or maybe because of that) I have spent the last two days with a stinking head cold. It started Staurday afternoon - I got very tired and drained - and by Sunday afternoon was sitting with a tissue stuffed up both nostrils as it was easier than constantly blowing it...

I'm over the worst of it now, but still ache and have a thick head.

Ergo... Another short post. Last week was writers block and this week it's simply that I am too shattered to try and write. Wish me luck for next week.