Archive for February, 2011

Remote Pair Programming with Yuuguu

Friday, February 25th, 2011

One of the topics that frequently crops up on my TweetDeck is ‘can anyone recommend a good tool for Remote Pair Programming’. Turns out I can! There are no prizes for guessing which one (Yuuguu, just so you know). I decided to chat about our experiences in doing this for five minutes in this video.

The ways we use Yuuguu inside the company

I started work here as a software guy, working on our server implementation. There’s quite a lot going on there. It’s got bits of Java, SQL, various HTTP and XML bindings to it, all the usual buzz word stuff for a modern server development. Our website coding is PHP – again, talking to servers via XML, XMPP and HTTP. Plenty to code, plenty of diverse technologies.

One way we handle the diversity is to use Pair Programming – the technique first brought to light in ‘Agile Methods’. It’s where two programmers sit at the same keyboard and computer screen, and both work on a piece of code. Sounds wasteful – until you try it. The benefits are real. At the very least, one guy can be typing away at the low level stuff – making it work – whilst the other can think about high level issues. The benefits are more compelling still when you pair up people with radically different – but overlapping – skillsets.

We found it particularly useful during a recent major upgrade – rewriting our screen sharing software, to make it faster, and with better looking pictures. Pairing a low-level bit twiddling expert with someone with video codec expertise proved to be a significant help in getting the job done. You find that the real-time, fully-engaged nature of pairing means that problems get found and worked on much faster. Typically, with one programmer, once they are stuck, they can spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out solutions on their own. And their colleague might well be able to solve it in seconds, due to their different background.

Finally, a shout-out with thanks to @dorkitude for asking the question about how strict we are in our application of ‘pair programming’. Cheers!

Til next time,
Have a great week –

Like a wheel within a wheel

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Just a quick link today, but to a truly impressive sight: Yuuguu running in Second Life

Follow the link, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the great image!

How I got back some Facebook privacy using Yuuguu

Friday, February 4th, 2011

You’ve got to marvel at Facebook. They are never short of new ways to broadcast all the parts of your life you forgot to label as ‘private’. Their latest creation ‘Instant Personalisation’ is more of the same.

You’ll know that Facebook has an enormous amount of personal information on you. You put most – but not all – of it there. Name, address, date of birth, photo, mobile phone are the obvious ones.

But it’s the less obvious stuff that is more revealing, and a surprise to many. Who you talk with. When. How often. What you say. Photos – both yours, and ones taken by others who tag you. Videos. Every status update you every read, wrote or commented on. Every comment. Every chat message. Every like. Every group you joined, created or just viewed. With Facebook Places, you can add to this list where you were, when, for how long, and who with.

That’s quite a list

So, whilst I like Facebook and use it a lot, it seemed clear that opting out of this particular ‘spyware’ was the right choice for me. And hat-tip to old friend of mine Jean Labrosse for supplying the how to (at end of this post!)

But there’s a snag: you need your friends to opt out, too

It’s not obvious why at first. But when I send you a message, you also receive it. So, whether I opt out or not, if you don’t, then the fact that you received a message from me (when, what it said etc) has your permission to be sent to third parties.

Helping your friends – with Yuuguu

You have to start somewhere, so I helped my wife opt out using Yuuguu. Whilst the steps are not hard, we were on different laptops in different places. This is exactly the kind of remote support job Yuuguu excels at! This might help you explain the steps, too, if you have friends who are having trouble doing this.

To help your friends, get them to share their screen with you using Yuuguu. You can then either talk them through the steps, just reviewing they are doing it right. Or you can ask to take control of their keyboard and mouse and do it for them.

The simplest way to get someone else started like this is for you to donwload the Yuuguu Desktop Client yourself, and then invite them to Yuuguu. This way, they will get an email with a link to click on. This will take them to the download, and get them linked up to you in no time.

How to opt out of Facebook Instant Personalisation

  • Click ‘Account’
  • Click ‘Privacy Settings’
  • Under ‘Apps & Websites’ click ‘Edit your settings’
  • At the right of ‘Instant Personalisation’ click ‘Edit settings’
  • Don’t get distracted by the flashy video: Click ‘Close’
  • Uncheck ‘Enable instant personalisation on partner websites’

Till next week from me, Al – have a good one.