MobaXterm 7.5

MobaXterm 7.5 has been released. You can find the downloads and changelog in the usual places.

If you are a Windows user, MobaXterm is by far the best tool I’ve ever found for SSH and X Server functionality. It’s much simpler than using Cygwin and Putty individually.



WordPress 4.1 “Dinah”

WordPress 4.1 “Dinah” has been born.

The upgrade will probably happen automatically in a few days, but if you go on to you blog now you can force the update. We will no doubt get a 4.1.1 very soon, as this always seems to happen. :)

There is a list of new features that I think is meant to thrill me, but I’m looking at everything post upgrade and it all seems pretty much the same. I tried the new Twenty Fifteen theme, but I was not really happy with it, so I went back to my ultra-plain theme. :)

I’m sure there are some bug fixes and it always pays to be up to date with this stuff.

Happy upgrading.



Develop against the versions in the Yum repositories!

I saw a tweet by Simon Haslam at the weekend that read,

“I’m v surprised to read that @Atlassian Stash needs newer git than in the latest RHEL/OL6 repos!”

I had a similar experience at the weekend too, but this time with Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS) 3.0 EA. According to the documentation, it requires the following version of Tomcat.

“Apache Tomcat Release 7.0.56 or later”

So let’s have a look at what is typically available from the Yum repositories at the time of writing.

  • RHEL6/OL6 : tomcat6-6.0.24-80.el6.x86_64.rpm
  • EPEL 6 : tomcat-7.0.33-4.el6.noarch.rpm
  • RHEL7/OL7 : tomcat-7.0.42-8.el7_0.noarch.rpm

Realistically, nobody is moving to RHEL7/OL7 for Oracle products yet, since the only database version certified is Oracle 12c ( onward), so the vast majority of kit out there will be running RHEL6/OL6. With that in mind, the requirement for “Apache Tomcat Release 7.0.56 or later” represents a bit of a support nightmare. As soon as people require a piece of software on a server that is not available from a default (or similar) Yum repository, the product is outside the typical sys admin patching cycle and someone has to make a specific effort to keep the custom installation up to date. You know what that means right? Yeah, it never gets patched… It’s not that installing this stuff is difficult. It’s just the impact it has on sys admin teams that is the problem.

We all want to use the latest and greatest, but there seems to be a disconnect between what the developers do and what is reasonably supportable out here in the real world. Developing stuff against product versions that are not in Yum repos is a mistake IMHO.

I’m going to play around with ORDS on older versions of Tomcat to see what happens…



Agile Morning

You may have noticed some tweets from me on Friday morning on the subject of Agile methodologies. Work arranged for a couple of speakers to come in to speak to us on the subject.

Our company is made up of three types of people.

  • Those that are fully invested in agile and use it on a day-to-dat basis.
  • Those that think they know agile and perform some bastardised version of it.
  • Those that need a warm up before they can even say the word agile.

If I’m honest, I fit into the last group. :) I understand the approach and know some of the terminology, but I’ve never worked in a truly agile team, just those that play at it. I’ve also seen terms like agile, RAD and extreme programming used as an excuse to avoid doing the job properly, so there is a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

In the recent office reshuffle, the DBAs have been put into a development team. We are still responsible for all production stuff as well, but we share the office with a development team and as usual, will be involved in a number of projects. As a result, getting involved in the whole agile thing is quite important…

The first speaker up was Kay Johnson from IBM, who has been involved in the rollout of agile throughout IBM. She started off with an overview of agile, then talked about how to scale agile through a company as large as IBM. It’s interesting that even the CICS team at IBM now use agile methodologies. Kay is a really enthusiastic speaker and great at getting the crowd involved. I really enjoyed the session. If you get chance to see her speak, you really should make the effort.

Next up was Gavin Barton from the BBC, who was talking about how the BBC has implemented agile throughout the web team. Gavin was a very relaxed and confident speaker, very open and honest when answering questions. Once again, you should definitely make the effort to go and see him if you get the opportunity to hear him speak. As you would expect, there was a lot of common ground between what he said and what Kay said, but it was good to hear how two sets of people arrived at similar conclusions via different routes, and of course some of the differences between the two.

If I combine a few of the take-home messages from both speakers, it would go something like this:

  • Agile is not an excuse to avoid planning and documentation. If anything it requires more discipline than the traditional waterfall approach. The point is you don’t spend so long planning that the requirement has changed by the time you come to code. Likewise, you don’t spend months producing documentation nobody will ever read. Keep it all direct and to the point.
  • Agile is about being user/business driven. Work with the user/business to give them what they want. Don’t assume you know better.
  • Sprints should be no longer than 2 weeks. Gavin suggested for many things they do, 2-3 days is actually better. As Kay said, there is always a way to break stuff down to something smaller, so even massive projects can be broken down to 2 week chunks.
  • Sprints should produce something that is production ready, even if it hasn’t completed UAT and doesn’t make sense to release it on its own. That means the developer should have confidence in what they have produced. A sprint might be one function or one page that can’t be released on its own, but in itself is production ready.
  • Each sprint should include planning and a retrospective look at how things went so you can learn from previous successes and failures.

I’m going to stop here before I embarrass myself with my total lack of knowledge. :) Suffice to say, it all sounds really great providing you invest in it. Do a half-hearted version of it and it’s going to suck. Kind-of like everything in IT I guess.

It was a great morning. I’d like to personally thank Kay and Gavin for taking the time to come and speak to us and of course Dawn for organising it. Everyone I’ve spoken to about it has come away with a really positive view of the event.

I’m not going to act like I’m Billy-Agile now, but over the coming weeks as I get agiled-up, I will no doubt mention it a little. Especially how it fits in with the DBA role. I think that is something that is not so obvious as it maybe is for the developers. Please bear with me. It’s a learning curve and I will make mistakes, but I’m more than happy for you to call me on them… :)



Home Kit Update

A little over a month ago I wrote about my new ReadyNAS 104. Since then I’ve done a couple more purchases.

After much deliberation and consultation with others I eventually turned off my brain and bought a new Mac. I got the top of the range MacBook Pro. The stuff from website describes it like this.

15-inch: 2.5GHz with Retina display

  • 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz
  • 16GB 1600MHz memory
  • 512GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB GDDR5 memory
  • Built-in battery (8 hours)

I am comparing it to a 5 year old 13-inch MacBook Pro (SSD and 8G RAM), so not surprising this new one is incredibly fast. :) The screen is very good, but retina is overkill really. I can’t comfortably use it on anything higher than 1680×1050. On 1920×1200 is a pretty much unreadable on a lot of stuff. You can’t even run it at max resolution unless you hack around. It was very expensive, but so far I am very happy with it. If it lasts anything like as long as the last one did, then it’s a good purchase.

Since this is supposed to be my new desktop machine, I invested in a new ultra-wide monitor to go with it.  I got this one.

It’s brilliant! It’s a touch shorted than my previous monitor, but a lot wider, so it feels like a double-width screen. I have that sitting above my laptop so if my mouse goes to the top of my laptop screen it moves into the big monitor.

I can’t bring myself to give up my old Linux (Fedora 20) desktop completely, so I’ve moved it to the other side of the desk until I can break the habit.


The main server I use for my bigger stuff is in another room. It’s too noisy to keep in this room. :) I should probably get rid of everything except the new laptop and monitor. Most of the other stuff is quite old now…

I’ll be doing UKOUG Tech14 with my old laptop. I’m still not 100% convinced that everything is installed and tested on the new laptop yet and I don’t want to risk a bad conference for the sake of showing off. :)