I just bought a supporting membership to Anticipation, the upcoming Worldcon. I’m not actually going to the con; I just bought in so I could get the Hugo packet, a zip file full of stuff that’s been nominated for Hugos this year. And, of course, if I manage to read through enough stuff before the voting deadline, I’ll actually be able to vote on the Hugos, which is kind of cool.

I haven’t read any of the stuff (novels, short stories, or anything in between) that’s been nominated this year, though all of the nominated novels have been on my mental “someday/maybe” reading list. I just started reading the PDF of The Graveyard Book, and I’m enjoying that about as much as I’d expected to, given that it’s written by Neil Gaiman. The other stuff in the packet is in a hodgepodge of different formats — PDF, HTML, and RTF mostly. The HTML and RTF files are pretty easy to load onto the Kindle; PDF files are sometimes fine, and sometimes not so good. I’m not even sure when the Hugo voting happens. Obviously, it’s got to be before the con, which is in August. So, I’ve got myself a bunch of stuff to read on the Kindle this summer!


I picked up Jira and Confluence this week, during Atlassian’s “Stimulus Package” sale — $5 each! A while back, I’d looked at Jira, and several other bug-tracking/project-tracking applications, but I never got around to evaluating any of them. I’ve had a vague sort of a plan to implement Trac eventually, after first converting from CVS to Subversion (which was also a vague kind of plan with no particular timeline on it). I don’t think I could have ever talked my boss into paying $1200 for Jira, which is their cheapest commercial license. The $5 version only covers 5 users, but that’s fine, since I only have two programmers working for me right now anyway.

It looks like Jira can work with either CVS or Subversion. I’m still planning on converting to SVN before I install Jira though. Of course, since we’re a (mostly) Microsoft shop, I should probably look into TFS, but I think that might a bit too expensive for me.

It’s a bit of a balancing act, in a small shop, trying to figure out how much time and money to spend on infrastructure (for lack of a better word) — project tracking, version control, formal testing, and so on. I can’t spend too much time on it, but if I don’t do it at all, things start to fall apart…

CVS and ViewVC on the Mac

I’m working on a project right now that involves CVS and ViewVC. I decided to set up a test environment on my MacBook for this. It was pretty easy. CVS is apparently part of the standard Mac OS dev tools install, so it was already on the machine. I set up a test repository under my home directory and put a few files in there. There’s an article on the Apple site about CVS that could get you started if you’re not familiar with CVS.

Getting ViewVC up and running took a bit more effort, but wasn’t really difficult. If you just unpack it in a folder off your home directory, you can easily run it in standalone mode. My repository is under ~/sandbox, so “bin/ -r ~/sandbox” gets it running at localhost:7467/viewvc. (Python needs to be set up on your machine, but that too is part of the standard dev tools install.)

Installing ViewVC so it’s running under Apache takes a little more effort, but it’s not too hard. I used the standard “./viewvc-install” to do a standard install to /usr/local/viewvc-1.0.7. From there, I just edited the viewvc.conf file to set my CVS root. Then, I had to set up a couple of things in Apache. The Apache config on my Mac was in /etc/apache2/httpd.conf. I set up a script alias like this:
ScriptAlias /viewvc /usr/local/viewvc-1.0.7/bin/cgi/viewvc.cgi
I also set up a “Directory” section to point to “/usr/local/viewvc-1.0.7/bin/cgi/”. I think that’s all I had to do. After that, I could access the ViewVC site at localhost/viewvc.

I didn’t try to set up the ViewVC stuff that requires MySQL, but that probably wouldn’t be too hard.

XP no more

I’ve been slowing working on moving over from XP to Vista on my main home desktop machine since August 2008. I finally decided to finish up on that today.

I had been running in a dual-boot config since August, with XP on my old drive, and Vista on a new drive. My goal for today was to switch to a plain old single-boot config, with the Vista drive as drive 0 and the XP drive reformatted, so I can use it for backups, as drive 1. The problem, of course, is that the old XP drive was technically the boot drive. You’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to switch things around so that I could boot from the Vista drive, but it’s actually a bit of a pain. I followed the instructions here, which sounded like they covered my situation perfectly, but that didn’t work, and I wound up having to boot the machine with my Vista install DVD and run a repair. It took awhile to get all the way through this, but I seem to have a working Vista install now, booting off the Vista drive. And I’m reformatting the old XP drive right now.

This all took longer than it should have. Microsoft really didn’t need to make the Vista boot process so darn arcane. But hey, I’m now 100% Vista, just in time for Windows 7 to come out…

and even more Quicken frustration

So I decided to fix my Merrill accounts in Quicken (see previous post). At first, I tried going through the transactions, to delete the messed up ones, and get it straight that way. It turned out, though, that the download from Merrill had screwed stuff up all the way back to December 2007.

So I decided that I’d restore my Merrill accounts from a Quicken backup file from before I set up the download. Well, it turns out that restoring a Quicken file is an all or nothing proposition. You can’t just restore one account. You can open a backup file in Quicken and *export* one account, though. But then you can’t *import* it into your active file, so that turns out to be pretty useless. So I printed out all the transactions in my active file since that backup, did the restore, then re-entered all the banking and credit card transactions that I’d done since the backup. I’ve also re-entered the two 401(k) statements I’d entered after that backup. So now, after a couple of hours of work, I’m basically back where I started, minus the last four months of Merrill statements, which I’ll have to enter in manually now.

Well, I guess I’ve learned my lesson — Quicken and Merrill Lynch just don’t work together, and probably never will!

Quicken 2009 disappointment

I mentioned about a month back that I’d decided to download my Merrill statements into Quicken rather than hand-entering them. I *thought* at the time that it had worked out OK. Well, it kind of did, but I just went in and updated the account for this month’s statement, and I can see clearly where it’s still not doing a lot of stuff right. It doesn’t pull down my direct deposit transactions, so it looks like a bunch of money just shows up in the account from thin air. And it doesn’t seem to understand the transfer of money from cash to the ML bank deposit program, so it just shows a bunch of shares appearing there, again, out of the blue. So, basically, not so good. At the end of the day, it’s got the right balance in the account, but I think that historical graphs and reports are going to be all screwed up, if I try to look back at a particular security.

So, now I need to decide if I want to back out the last six months worth of transactions that I’d downloaded, and enter all the stuff in manually, or just live with it. I’m still obsessive enough that I really don’t like the idea of “just living with it,” but I’m not sure I have the spare time (or the will) to go back and enter all this stuff in. Oh well.

On a related subject, I just noticed that the account balance on one of my credit cards was all screwed up. I think that probably happened during the Quicken 2009 upgrade I did a while ago. I think I’ve fixed it now, but it’s another annoyance from a program that’s been around for years and should be able to handle this stuff without wigging out.