Living in a state of accord.

Revert First, Ask Questions Later

The key to making continuous integration work well is to ensure that the build stays green – ensuring that the team always knows that if something doesn’t work it was their change that broke it. However, in any environment with a build pipeline beyond a simple commit build, for example integration, acceptance or deployment tests, sometimes things will break.

When that happens, there is always a natural tendency to commit an additional change that will fix it. That’s almost always a mistake.

The correct approach is to revert first and ask questions later. It doesn’t matter how small the fix might be there’s a risk that it will fail or introduce some other problem and extend the period that the tests are broken. However since we know the last build worked correctly, reverting the change is guaranteed to return things to working order. The developers working on the problematic change can then take their time to develop and test the fix then recommit everything together.

Reverting a commit isn’t a slight against its developers and doesn’t even suggest the changes being made are bad, merely that some detail hasn’t yet been completed and so it’s not yet ready to ship. Having a culture where that’s understood and accepted is an important step in delivering quality software.

Javassist & Java 8 – invalid constant type: 15

Here’s a fun one, we have some code generated using javassist that looks a bit like:

public void doStuff(byte actionId) {
switch (actionId) {
case 0: doOneThing(); break;
case 1: doSomethingElse(); break;
throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unknown action: " + actionId);

This works perfectly fine on Java 6 and Java 7 but fails on Java 8.  It turns out the problematic part is "Unknown action: " + actionId. When run on Java 8 that throws “ invalid constant type: 15″ in javassist.bytecode.ConstPool.readOne.

The work around is simple, just do the conversion from byte to String explicitly:

throw new IllegalArgumentException("Unknown action: " + 

There may be a more recent version of Javassist which fixes this, I haven’t looked as the work around is so trivial (and we only hit this problem in the error handling code which should never be triggered anyway).

The truth is out: money is just an IOU

The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it:
What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: “Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits” … “In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money ‘multiplied up’ into more loans and deposits.” In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards. When banks make loans, they create money.
The complexity and subtlety in our financial system is delightful and frightening all at the same time. Almost everything has multiple contributing factors that are impossible to isolate and subtle shifts in world view like this can have huge implications on decision making.

Interruptions, Coding and Being a Team

Esoteric Curio – 折伏 – as it relates to coding
Our job as a team is to reinforce each other and make each other more productive. While I attempt to conquer some of the engineering tasks as well as legal tasks, and human resource tasks I face, I need concentration and it world certainly help to not be interrupted. I used to think I needed those times of required solitute pretty much all the time. It turns out that I have added far more productivity by enabling my teams than I have personally lost due to interruptions, even when it was inconvenient and frustrating. So much so that Ive learned to cherish those interruptions in the hope that, on serendipitous occasion, they turn into a swift, sprititual kick to the head. After all, sometimes all you need for a fresh persective is to turn out the light in the next room; and, of course, to not have avoided the circumstance that brought you to do it.
Too often we confuse personal productivity, or even just the impression of it, for team productivity. So often though having individuals slow down is the key to making the team as a whole speed up.  See also Go Faster By Not Working and The Myth of Measurable Productivity.

Hypercritical: The Road to Geekdom

Geekdom is not a club; it’s a destination, open to anyone who wants to put in the time and effort to travel there…

…dive headfirst into the things that interest you. Soak up every experience. Lose yourself in the pursuit of knowledge. When you finally come up for air, you’ll find that the long road to geekdom no longer stretches out before you. No one can deny you entry. You’re already home.

via Hypercritical: The Road to Geekdom.