Saturday, March 31, 2012

Revision control for non-programmers

"Revision control, also known as version control and source control, is the management of changes to documents, programs, web sites and other information stored as computer files."

Revision control software is mostly used and created for software development, but I think almost everyone working with digital projects (from thesis/research to website or graphical design) can benefit from learning a revision control system. Problem is that all tutorials and examples focus on more advanced functions used in software development, which makes it harder for non-programmers folks to learn.

Revision control creates a snapshot (revision) of all your selected project files when you decide to "commit" (update) changes made since the last snapshot. You also provide a short log message about what has changed and why, for later reference.
This creates a history with comments of all major changes. You can easily switch between different snapshots, for example, when you fucked up.
It's like wikipedia page history, but for you project files. 

Revision control software has reached a mature third generation. Most are free, cross-platform, open source and with a nice graphical user interface.

TortoiseHG, interface for Mercurial.

It is easy and useful to use for your local projects. The full power kicks in when you work in a team, then you can all work on the same files, at the same time, and have a complete history of who changed what and when. With a few clicks you can host a server such that others can get your project, make changes and commit these back to the server.

It is a bit difficult to get the terminology and full concept when you are new to it, but should not take long and it is simple in the end, like riding a bike. It's a must use for programmers, but it may be very useful too in other fields (science/research, engineering, graphical design) , while used very little.

You may not want or need it right now, but I think it's good for many of you to know there are excellent revision control solutions available that I enjoy using. It's pretty cool to see a full timeline of your thesis project, when you were most active, or were stuck in problems. And it can save lots of time when you can switch to a previous working version. In teams it creates a central point, communication and traceability.

Do any of you already use some sort of revision control? See any need for it? I like Mercurial with TortoiseHG best at the moment. These applications will improve and last for a long time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tenacious D - To be the best

The first track of their new album 'The Rize of the Fenix'

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The rules of the game are very simple

"It is hard to believe. It is incredible! In fact, most people don't believe that the behaviour of, say, me is the result of lots and lots of atoms all obeying very simple rules and evolving into such a creature that a billion years of life has produced.

There is such a lot in the world, there is so much distance between the fundamental rules and the final phenomenon that it’s almost unbelievable that the final variety of phenomenon can come from such a steady operation of such simple rules.
The truth is so much more remarkable." - Richard Feynman

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rainbow Nuke

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I like hiking

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Als een nacht met duizend sterren - Joeri Boom

Het boek waar ik het gisteravond over had. Ik heb het nog niet uitgelezen maar ben nu op ongeveer 2/3e en heb tot op heden elke keer moeite gehad om het boek weg te leggen.
In Als een nacht met duizend sterren toont bekroond journalist Joeri Boom hoe ingewikkeld het is om de krankzinnige werkelijkheid van een oorlog te vatten. Zeker als daar militairen uit eigen land bij betrokken zijn, en voorlichters over je schouder meekijken. Tijdens de Nederlandse missie in de Afghaanse provincie Uruzgan (2006 – 2010) ging Boom mee op levensgevaarlijke patrouilles en zocht hij vergeefs naar resultaten van opbouwprojecten. Hij raakte in de ban van het soldatenleven en worstelde met (zelf)censuur en de eenzijdigheid van embedded-verslaggeving. Pas toen het hem lukte los van Defensie in Uruzgan te werken, merkte hij hoe onvolledig zijn beeld van de missie was geweest. Met pakkende en schokkende voorbeelden laat Joeri Boom zien wat er allemaal verborgen ligt achter het zinnetje: 'Dit artikel is gecontroleerd door Defensie, er is niets in gewijzigd.'
Over de schrijver: Joeri Boom