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what the voices in my head tell me to write

Monday, June 06, 2005

A typical day in the office. 

office setup
office setup,
originally uploaded by rob_cornelius.

Its lunchtime and I am the only person in the office so I thought I would write a bit more about this pic.

It appears I have an complicated set-up for my computers here and you are probably right to think that.

The best way to explain why this is neccessary is to take you through a mornings work for me.

First thing when I get in I fire up the linux box and check my mail (naturally) Even though ingenta is a transatlantic company I dont get much mail over night normally. The most important nightly mail is the nightly build notification email. If thats saying all is well I then fire up the windows box.

Once thats going I do a full refresh and syncronise of all my projects in Eclipse. This takes quite a while so I normally check slashdot and read webcomics on my linux machine while it grinds away. Once its finished I sort out incoming and outgoing changes and resolve any conflicts in CVS. Then its back to a terminal window on linux to ssh into the development server. Stop my development service, clean out the logs, do a clean build of everything, restart the service. This takes about 5 minutes so its more slashdot and comics.

There is normally no one at this time as I like to get in early and go home early. So I like to plan what I am going to be doing during the day. I set myself what I call "micro-goals" of getting a layout done by a certain time etc. Then I get all the little things like a Winamp playlist sorted out and I am ready to start.

Just about now everyone else turns up and there is a bit of banter and the like. So I can start as soon as it quietens down.

Hopefully Leigh doesn't give me any new work or bugs at this stage too.

If I am working on JSP/JSTL/JSF stuff where I am just bashing out code I use vim on linux as my text editor of choice. I spent quite a long time adding in little tweaks and customisations. It more or less does code completion now . If I type ' it adds another ' and moves the cursor back between the two 's. Same for angle brackets, double quotes and curly brackets. If I hit CRTL+SHIFT+_ it closes the innermost open tag for me. These speed things up no end.

For most of my work now I only use Firefox for testing. This is because I have spent a great deal of time and effort developing structures of HTML and CSS that I know work in as many browsers as possible. If I am doing something new I will test it in IE5, 5.5 and 6 IE5.5 on the Mac on the windows box. Opera and Konqueror on the linx box and get Keith to look at it on his OSX machine in Safari.

I use a lot of the UI elements of my browser, text editor and display manager. Tabs in Firefox of course, plus the web-developer toolbar, live http headers, cookie editor, HTML-tidy view source and a few more. I love the panes in VIM and if I could remeber the keyboard shortcut for switching between them I would be a better editor. I also use "keep on top", window shading etc in KDE extensively. Semi-transparent Firefoxes floating over the VIM source would be nice. I can do this on my windows machines at home with the Nvidia drivers on them.

Bug killing is often a lot different. For a start getting a grip on the bug is very important. Then tracking down what causes it can be complex. It often involves grepping logs and the like for ages to find out whats doing what. Often fixing the broken code is the easy part.

The real fun comes when one of the producers takes it into their heads that stuff needs changing but have no idea how to do things. Then I may well be on the phone, talking on Jabber, talking to Leigh across the room and writing code all at the same time with everyone people watching the results in their browsers and offering constructive comments ;) These are good days as I really have to think on my feet and work hard. And if I can pull the rabbit out of the hat I get mega brownie points.

Thats about it really. Type some code, save. Run Ant, reload, test, repeat can be a bad day. On a good day you can spend ages buried in complex stuff write ten lines and feel life a god.

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