Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kill Bill Parody

If you have not seen the Kill Bill movies because you either think they're too long or too bloody, take a look at this and have (almost) the whole story.

Friday, March 27, 2009

El Dì del Ghezz

A meeting that simply can't be missed, and I'll do all I can to be part of it (shoulders permitting). More info here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NetBeans, cvs and unknown files

One of my teammates had some problems with NetBeans and cvs, as even if she checked out all the sources for a project from scratch NetBeans still informed her that some files were unknown to cvs. That was strange, as cvs just provided them all. Everything worked fine on every other computer, and the repository seemed all right.

After some head banging we resolved to check the NetBeans configuration directory, and... tadaaaaa... we found the $NetBeansVersion/var/cache/cvscache directory, full with nice and likeable binary files. Being aligned with all the rest, we simply emptied the directory and everything worked fine.

More a reminder than a real post ;-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

What a breathtaker!

After 61 years Ireland achieved a deserved Grand Slam defeating Wales at the Millenium Stadium. This is also their first victory in the 6 nations, their former victory being in 1985.

During the first half Stephen Jones scored two penalty kicks for Wales, while his teammates put more and more pressure on O'Gara that started to look uneasy, despite the rousing speech he gave to his mates in the morning. When the second leg began Wales only had to score a converted try to win the tournament, but after only a few minutes Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll scored the first try of the day, and Ronan O'Gara added two points to the game-bag putting Ireland on the lead.

Before Wales knew what was happening O'Gara kicked a wonderful ball beyond the Welsh line and Tommy Bowe scored another try. When asked about his try he simply said "it was nice". By the way, Bowe also sang a song during the presentation of the trophy in Dublin... lucky he's a rugby player and not a singer!

Stephen Jones kicked two more very important balls bringing the score to 12-14, with just one kick away from robbing from Ireland their long deserved glory; kick that arrived with just three minutes left to play when Stephen Jones pulled another ace out of his sleeve and scored a drop kick that couldn't give Wales the title but destroyed the Irish dream. With just a minute to play mr drop kick himself Ronan O'Gara reset the score to 17-15, freezing the Millenium Stadium.

As Paddy Wallace recalled later, he "just felt the game had sort of a lack of excitement", so he conceded a penalty from 50 meters. Ronan O'Gara (half?) joking declared that he "was ready to kill Paddy", which at the time was in a "Oh Jesus what have I done" mood.

The kick was short, Jones was torn apart and Ireland gained the Slam.

Later he swapped his jersey for O'Gara's (who hopes to get it back... quite an important keepsake!).

Back in Dublin, where a huge crowd welcomed the whole team, captain Brian O'Driscoll said about the victory "it's been fantastic". When asked how he felt the day after he said "you're not as sore as you would be if you'd lost"... that made me smile, as it reminded me of good old times when rugby was not only something I could write about.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney, who won the Six Nations and the Grand Slam on his first year on the bench, talking about his team said "yesterday it was their day... it was everybody's day, really". Sure it was my day! All rugby lovers should thank both teams for the thrilling match. I hope that Pancho will really bring me that DVD... Some pintes of Guinness should do, as I don't think our pubs have run dry of beer, even if maybe in Dublin they did: Llanelli beating New Zealand was probably a bigger occasion, but Ireland is looking forward to more victories and they would like to get used to it. Or, at least, they hope they won't have wait for another 61 years before the next one!

England takes back the Calcutta Cup

Despite they conceded too many penalties, as in almost every match of the tournament, despite Chris Paterson ending the tournament with a 100% kicking record, despite losing Ellies for an injury (luckily evertything revealed to be all right) England defeated Scotland 26-12. Scotland did not have much to show, while England gave away all their possibilities for the championship in the first matches.

And, still, they don't have a real kicker. How I miss Wilko! I hope he'll be well soon. There are rumors about him moving to France, but let's wait for him to recover and see.

And, talking about kickers, isn'it strange that Paterson only seemed to kick the "easy" penalties, leaving all the kicks from the distance to is teammate Godman? Maybe he didn't want to spoil his perfect track?

Another wooden spoon for Italy

France seemed aghast last week, but they recovered pretty soon crushing and crunching Italy 8-50. The first of the seven tries holds Sebastien Chabal's signature: he broke not the first nor the last tackles in the day and scored calmly holding the ball with just one hand (yes, not one arm, one hand).
Some five minutes later Francois Trinh-Duc scored a wonderful try, elegantly sending the Italian defence to a wild-goose chase with a dummy.

Just the time to kick the ball into play and France scored another try. And it went on and on, up to 50 points, only interrupted by a try by Sergio Parisse.

Italy could still compete with England: the former collect wooden spoons as the latter collect sin bins... or at last as they used to, as they seem to have inverted their route.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

England reborn

In a stunning turn of events England forgot everything about sin bins and remembered everything about playing rugby, crushing France 34-10 after an incredible 29-0 after the first half, by which they had by far secured the match despite the two French tries.

It was pretty clear how England wanted to play the match since the very first seconds, when Cueto scored the first try of the series. The total tries count was 5-2, but it does not express the full extent of the English mastery of the match, also due to far too many handling errors by France. Moreover, I think that if Flood had not left the match for a quite monotonous Goods, who tried the same short kick for his wing a hundred times, the blow to the French team would have been heavier.

The real story of the match is told in the overtime minutes, when England were still trying to score another try, while France, as soon as they grabbed possession of the ball, kicked it out only wishing for the showers.

Congratulations Ronan

With 17 poinst scored against Scotland in one of his best performances so far, Ronan O'Gara is now with 492 points the highest scorer in the history of the tournament, overtaking unlucky Jonny Wilkinson who remains at 479. Chris Paterson, even if more than a hundreds of points down below, still holds his perfect stripe.

Peter Stringer, man of the match, played at a very high level, showing he masters many of the little techniques that belong to a very good scrum half. This time I really liked him.

And congratulations go to Ireland as well, as they are now just a match away from a deserved grand slam. Looks like Declan Kidney knows his job... I am really looking forward to the clash against Wales, hoping that what we saw against Italy was just a diversion from the real rugby they can play and that we will enjoy a terrific match.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NetBeans and Web Services

NetBeans is a great tool when it comes to web services (just like for all the rest, of course), and creating a web service client is just a couple of clicks away. First of all you right-click on Web Service Reference, expand the New menu item and select Web Service Client...

...then you simply tell the system where the WSDL is located, choose a client style and you're done.

NetBeans prepares a reference to each operation that you can simply drag wherever you need it: NetBeans will create a skeleton for you to customize.

I have just received the happy assignment of documenting all the tests for a system we're realizing on the IBM i5 platform using RPGLE. The project started with more than 600 pages of detailed requirements we delivered more than one year ago, without a single line of code. Now it looks like the customer has decided that we should start developing (at last!), and I wanted (and I still want) to avoid rewriting the Ulysses, as nobody is probably going to read it (probably the same fate shared by our detailed requirements, even if they were actually very good).

Luckily the system must expose all its features via web services, and we must also integrate them in a Java web application, so I thought "well, I have to prepare a facade and test it anyway, why don't I write some fixtures and document the system with Fit tables?"

After some debates with non technical managers, who often prefer a sound ream of paper, I convinced them of the advantages of my solution, then I started working right on it:
  • deploy a new instance of FitNesse (copy and launch would be closer)
  • create a simple test table
  • create a new project in NetBeans for the facade
  • create a new web service client
  • create a new class that uses the web service
  • create a new project in NetBeans for the fixtures
  • add the reference to the facade
  • create a new fixtures for the test table
  • Test!
"Null pointer exception? what do you mean with "Null pointer exception"? Let's check the output...

javax.xml.ws.WebServiceException: Failed to access the WSDL at: file:/C:/my/path/to/Project/xml-resources/web-service-references/SERVICE_WS/wsdl/ It failed with: C:\my\path\to\Service\xml-resources\web-service-references\SERVICE_WS\wsdl\\web\services\SERVICE_WS.wsdl (Impossibile trovare il percorso specificato).

That's strange... we'd already use this reference and jar trick in other projects and it worked perfectly well... following tonyx's advice I tried to work out the reference to the wsdl file, directly cabled in one of the NetBeans generated classes. After some experimenting I managed to tell NetBeans to always refer to the online wsdl for classes generation: you simply right-click your reference, select the menu item Edit web service attributes and from the wsimport options you add the option wsdllocation with the URL of the wsdl as a value.

Now my FitNesse instance happily colors my test table! Ops... red cells? the service is not working as expected... well, when do you want to know you have a problem? As soon as possible, which is now. Hey, you there, RPGLE guys... take a look at this! :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wales still hoping

After beating Italy on their own ground Wales is retaining hope for the title, even if after this narrow 15-20 escape they'll have to utterly defeat Ireland in the Millenium Stadium (yes, I wish I was one of the lucky possessors of a ticket!).

The defeat against France seems to have hit the Welsh more than it seemed ad first, up to the point that they were very close to losing the match to the best Italy seen so far. Shane Williams continued his scoring stripe, also keeping his average of one try per match against Italy; Shanklin's try finally gave Wales some of the breath they needed. Nevertheless, scoring two tries against zero wasn't enough to say that Wales really deserved to win, as what really costed Italy the match were their errors.

Sergio Parisse was voted man of the match, and I really appreciated his perfect positioning and energy, if not the careless way with which he handled a couple of balls, but that's ok in the end.

Will Italy surprise us all next week? they still have a long way to go, but France could still be shattered by their match against England...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Manifesto for Software Craftmanship

A new manifesto is born in the world of software development: the Manifesto for Software Craftmanship. Have you signed it yet?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So long... for a little while

No matter how many times I have read it, I really can't help being moved when after some 900 pages I run across sentences such as these:

...now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.
And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried: 'O great glory and splendour! All my wishes have come true!' And then he wept.

or also

But Merry stood at the foot of the green mound, and he wept, and when the song was ended he arose and cried: 'Théoden King, Théoden king! Farewell! As a father you were to me, for a little while. Farewell!'

and... well all the last part of "The Grey Havens" section, but that would be too much quoting... let's just be content with

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back', he said.

It's true that the book's greatest defect is that it's too short... that's not a great problem, because I expect to start it anew within some months, as always.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Again on detailed requirements

Some time ago I wrote about how detailed written requirements are just, well, detailed written requirements. They don't add value for our customers, at least not direct value, they can just help them to build or enforce their vision about a system. And at a high price.

Clashing with reality, sometimes you just have to produce these huge documents even if you know that no one will ever read them, and you'll sign contracts that say that you'll produce exactly what is "so clearly" written.

Pity that when you actually try to read through these 600 pages and understand what's expected from your team, most of the times you find out that you have to start out again, wasting your time and your customer money; I like very much this example borrowed from Mike Cohn, who refers to the following requirements written in IEEE style:
  1. the product shall have a gasoline-powered engine
  2. the product shall have four wheels (mmm I see where we're going)
  3. the product shall have a rubber tyre mounted to each wheel (yes, yes)
  4. the product shall have a steering wheel (definitely! we're on it!)
  5. the product shall have a steel body (of course it should)

At this point it should be clear to everybody we're talking about a car. But... would not be easier if we just had the customer at hand in case of need and a simple card with the user story "the customer needs a comfortable product with which it's fast and easy to mow the lawn"? Yes, this customer just wanted a riding lawnmower. What happens if you find it out only AFTER you've built a car? Do you think it is always possibile to attach a rotary blade under a Cadillac?

Get this one. The same holds true for software systems. So you'd better consider it before you embark on the quest.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The game is not over until it's over

And this spectacular try by Shane Williams demonstrates it, together with the conversion by James Hook.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Greatest try of all times?

I don't know whwther this is THE try, but it surely is something, up to the point to be usually referred to as "that try". The scorer is the great Gareth Edwards, considered one of the best rugby players ever.

And, guys, when I saw the hooker launch the ball with just one hand and the players in the line actually jumping, jumping by themselves without anoyone pulling them up...

Former rugby players

Let me begin with a disclaimer about the difference between the Italian and English languages; a thing might sound perfect in English and can be plain wrong in Italian and vice versa.

This rant of mine begins with my readings of several Wikipedia entries about rugby players, or better about those indicated as former rugby players.

Now, "former rugby player" means "someone who used to play rugby but doesn't anymore", and that's OK. The problem comes when you read Wikipedia Italian pages, where you too often find people addressed as "ex rugbista", that in the intentions clearly has the same meaning that "former rugby player" has in English.

Now. This might be both a rant and an opinion of mine, but there is not such thing as an "ex rugbista". A "Rugbista" is more, much more than a rugby player - for that we use "giocatore di rugby". The term it is something closer to "a man of rugby". And once you've been one you cannot stop, it's in your skin, it's in your bones. It's as simple as that. It's an illness, an illness from which nobody wants to recover, in spite of all the wounds, the mud, the pain, the strain.

It does not matter which results we achieved. It does not matter when we played our last match. Rugby is what we are. And what we will always be.

Ireland still on the go

Ireland are only the only team that can go for the Grand Slam, which they've been missing in the last 61 years. Their next clash will be against Scotland in that temple of rugby which is Murrayfield.

The game with England was very hard and it ended 14-13, with England dangerously coming closer within just a couple of minutes from the end of the match thanks to a try scored by the English full back Armitage. Maybe the ghosts of the match with France that last year robbed Ireland from all their hopes for the title came lingering around, but they were banished away by the final whistle.

The only try scored by Ireland has O'Driscoll name, once and again named man of the match.

And, once and again, England piled up their sin bin collection, sending Johnson up in arms: he'd better try and correct this attitude if he wants his team to collect points instead of cards. He insisted with his players that they lost the match because of their ill behaviour and their untrust in their own defence, which, on the opposite, has proved quite tough. Johnson said he still didn't know whether any player would pay for his actions losing his place in the team: should a coach of a football team say the same, at least here in Italy, he'd be considered the real culprit (the scapegoat) and he'd be given the axe within the week, esp. given the stripe of bad results achieved. Just an impression of mine. Luckily no news have been heard about this.

The strangest of things, this time I did not see Stringer play so close to the edge of the rules, in that unnerving manner I so often spot when I see him play. Again, just an impression of mine, but luckily impressions come for free and everyone can have their own.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Give me back the 5 nations

With the maximum respect for everyone, but... what's the point, beyond economics? Italy won just 2 out of the last 13 matches, and last Saturday clash was not one of the lucky ones, being outclassed by Scotland 26-6. OK, Scotland did not play a wonderful rugby, but they played rugby. On the other hand, someone else has seen too many matches with Zinzan Brooke. The match really had a bitter taste... even more if we consider the fact that the clash against Scotland was considered the only one that Italy could actually win. How much time shall pass before someone will start keeping Italy at arm's length? Quite a long time, if we only look at the ticket sales. But how many people will still want to go to see such matches?

Well at least there was a very good reason to be there: all the stadium sang the anthem without any instrument supporting voices, and it was really thrilling.

Another back-to-back Grand Slam missed

That's sad for Welsh supporters... and I did not even see but the last few minutes of the match!