‘Little, Big’ by John Crowley

When I was about ten I bought a copy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by JRR Tolkien, and was hooked. For many years it was my favourite book. My devotion to it may even be described as an addiction. One of my hobbies is writing. I’m not quite certain how good at it I am but I since my mid-twenties I’ve made a concerted effort to read more diversely. I now no longer have one favourite book but many.

After my first reading of ‘Little, Big’ I wasn’t overly impressed. It was OK I thought, well written but I didn’t like the ending. Now, I tend to read very quickly. One of the reasons for this is that I want to find out what happens at the end, who done it and why. However, this race to the end is one reason why I will re-read books. Once I know what happens I can take subsequent readings a bit more slowly, noticing sights on the way I overlooked before.

The joy of ‘Little, Big’ is not the end but the journey. Like many great books there is a sense of sadness when the end is reached. The characters’ stories have been told and the time has come to bid them farewell, but you don’t want to. You wished there was a bit more, so I flick back a few chapters and re-live favourite scenes. One of the things I’m greatly looking forward to is the 25th anniversary edition of ‘Little, Big’. My wife bought me this for my fortieth birthday. It’s been a long wait, I’m now 42 but I’m sure the wait is coming to an end. Hopefully sometime this year it might be published. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with my copy and enjoying my travels in Edgewood once again.

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Programming and Jigsaw puzzles

I’ve often likened programming, and in particular web-development, to making a jigsaw puzzle. In the old days of ASP it used to feel like that; assembling all the separate pieces to create one complete piece. However, most jigsaw puzzles come with a picture providing help with the assembly. Requirements, user-stories, acceptance tests should form the picture to help the programmer.

All too often this part of the process seems to be lacking and the poor development team gets the blame. Stories and requirements change and quite often during the development phase. For me one of the strengths of Agile is its ability to cope with this. Instead of assembling one huge 8,000 piece jigsaw, the development team assembles lots of small pictures, or components if you will, gradually fitting them together to form the larger structure.

The Joy of SharePoint

I have to work with SharePoint. It’s not something I would have chosen to do, and I don’t think SharePoint is a particularly bad product. It’s just unsuitable for what my company needs. If SharePoint was an employee you wouldn’t sack him but you would want to look at areas where his skills would be put to better use. He’s enthusiastic and has some great ideas, he’s just wasted in his current position.

One of the more frustrating things I find with SharePoint is that I’ve started out knowing nothing about it. Everything I’ve learned has been the hard way. That can be a good thing. It can be character building or soul destroying. It can be both.

One of my current tasks at work is to set up a server with SharePoint 2007 on it; and one of the goals is to access SharePoint on this server via a URL that isn’t http://localhost. For arguments sake: http://myallnewSharePointSite. Now, last week I installed SharePoint 2007 with service pack 1 I think. Got it pointing to a database server (which I’m also setting up) and added myallnewSharePointSite to the hosts file. Could I access the site? No. I kept getting prompted to login and even though I was the administrator who had set everything up I could not get past the login prompt. What made things more curious was that if I added http://myallnewSharePointSite to my PC’s host file pointing at the server’s IP address I could log in.

What saved the day for me was a colleague at work who had experienced the same problem. He sent me this link:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/926642

I’m posting this article in the hope that it may just help someone else.