Category Archives: BEDA

BEDA: My experience with Git and Bitbucket

Every day you say? I guess that includes today then. Warning: today’s post contains 100% geek talk. You have been warned…

<geektalk>

Since the beginning of April I have started using Git as a version control system for my code. And there goes half of my readers…

As some of you can imagine, my PhD involves a hell of a lot of coding, predominantly in C++, using Eclipse, but also occasionally Visual Studio (which I must say is 1000x better than Eclipse, if only I coded in Windows more!) I also dabble in MATLAB, for drawing graphs mainly, and because I am a lab demonstrator for a course that codes exclusively in MATLAB. Recently, the odd bit of PHP (because it’s really good at HTTP and XML stuff), Java for Android app development and MySQL for odd bit of database gubbins.

As you can imagine, when a project gets going the complexity of merely managing all these tools across multiple platforms and devices can become quite a job in itself. For which Dropbox comes in very handy. But Dropbox can only really store the latest version of your code, which can be a pain if you break something after a day’s work as is too often the case. This is where version control, and Git in particular for me, comes in.

In essence, version control is a way to keep track of changes to your code as you write them, always allowing you to go back to an old version if need be. Even better, version control systems can handle your code “branching” so their are several active versions being worked on at the same time – like if you want to work on a new feature, but you don’t know how it will affect the rest of the code. Then, once you’re done with a branch and you want to put it back into the main version of your code, the version can do that for you – managing all the pesky differences in the files so you don’t have to worry about any progress being lost from either branch since the split. This isn’t just useful for coding projects, but really any project – websites, books, large collections of documents. And the more people working on a project at once, the more valuable the tool will be for managing progress and making sure nothing gets lost or broken along the way.

Those in the know will know about Git and SVN, and the eternal debate as to which one is better. I ended up choosing Git not because I needed the flexibility of a distributed system, but because it’s the new kid on the block and it’s got a big following since its release. My past experience suggests that the older, and therefore more common, standard is probably going to be superseded by the new kid at some point, and the only reason it’s a slow process is because people have got used to one system, and the hassle (and risk) of migrating their data is just not worth it – after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But as I have no allegiance to either side,  I opted for the new kid. If that decision comes back to bite me at some point then so be it.

Next I needed to find a place to store my central repository, for which I was recommended Bitbucket.org. Having used Atlassian‘s bug tracking tool Jira extensively while on placement, I knew I could trust that the interface would be clean, and the product would work very reliably. And I got started. At first it took a while to get a hang of the commands, all a little confusing for a newbie, so I’ll spell it out here:

  • Pull – get’s the files from Bitbucket and puts them in your local repository ready to work on.
  • Commit – The action to save a state to your local repository.
  • Push – update’s Bitbucket with all the changes you’ve made.

All this fetch, check in, checkout, merge, etc. stuff is usually not required (at least that’s what I’ve found). And I’ve found it to work really well!

Capture

That is the view showing my most recent commits. The beauty of Bitbucket, as well as allowing you to do all the version control-y things like reverting back to an older version of your code, is that you can make issues that you intend to fix or a list of features you want to include, and then reference them in your commit message – which then automatically provides a link to that issue so you can see the history. Pretty cool.

There’s also a wiki function so you can make notes about what you are doing, but I haven’t really played around with that yet. I haven’t even created a branch for my code yet, I feel like there’s still a lot of potential to uncover. Even then, this step has already allowed my workflow to be far more structured, as it encourages you to comment on what each commit does – a very helpful way to see how you’re getting on. It’s also effortless to sync my code between my work machine, my laptop and my home desktop just by using Git commands to get the most up-to-date version in minutes. No more syncing issues!

</geektalk>

until tomorrow x

 

BEDA: Thoughts On Ideas

Clearing through the backblog…

Recently I’ve been having lots of ideas about how to be more creative with my spare time (when I have any)! Right now I’m spending a lot of time with friends, going swimming, climbing and tonight, for the first time, trampolining. But my creative side has been slightly neglected. I guess I’ve made a few videos like Japan Stop Motion, The Arrest and Only Flirt in Flirt, but I want to do more! I’ve also been meddling with WordPress plugins for a local church, but that’s all said and done now too. So I kind of feel between projects… but that’s not because I’m short on ideas! I have tons…

Turn the WordPress plugin I developed for the church site into a customisable plugin that anyone can download and use on their site. This would be more for my benefit to see what the process of submitting a plugin is like.

Further develop my undergraduate project into a more fully-featured mobile phone app that can be used for visitors to the University to get more information about the buildings they’re looking at.

A video series called Secret Guildford, where a different guest every week shows the audience their favourite places to go in Guildford. The idea being that everyone has their own “secret guildford” based around their interests and tastes – mine centres around drinking… figures. There’s nothing I know like this and I think it would really benefit local businesses too. Out of all the ideas, this one is possibly my favourite.

Get better at playing the ukulele. I’m still playing it a few times a week – sometimes to the distress of my housemates – and I’ve got a load of chords and strumming patterns under my belt, but I’d like to get better at picking, and palm muting. I’d also like to write my own songs, but one step at a time…

Develop a new android app. I got the bug during my project last year, but I’ve yet to get an idea that entices me enough to write something new… I guess ideally it would be computer vision-related, but I dunno.

So yea, I should really pick one or two and get to it! Until tomorrow x

BEDA: The Best Love Song Ever

Every day is a lot of days… shesh :/

In a pathetic attempt to catch up, today’s post will be short and sweet, and require some audience participation.

What’s your favourite quirky song?

This is mine, it’s called Underneath This Lamppost Light by my favourite band in the world, The King Blues.

[youtube http://youtu.be/8wZvDaA95Es]

BEDA: Mexican Monkey Jam

Monday number three of blogging every day. I could get used to this… if I was a masochist.

After getting an insight into my music tastes yesterday, you may realise that I’m a bit of a fan of the groovy chill-out sound. September by Earth, Wind and Fire, Mr Scruff, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Chic… I could go on. It’s the best stuff for a lazy day, or a crazy night. In my eyes it’s a mix of the current dance music trend that is sweeping the charts, tied to the groovy beats of the 70’s and 80’s. So you can imagine my reaction when a few weeks ago I saw that Daft Punk are releasing a new album, and it’s funky!

[youtube http://youtu.be/xqNQRTlhY7I]

And the title… “Random Access Memories“… my geek side is euphoric. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get too excited about an album based on a 15 second sample, but then today I saw this:

[youtube http://youtu.be/JMJwcOiBoZE]

How can you not listen to that and not get chills… did I mention I was a little bit excited?

We’re up all night to get lucky. We’re up all Mexican monkeys! Bring on May 21st! Until tomorrow x

BEDA: Music of the last 12 months

Blog like you mean it.

Today I’m going to run through what the music service last.fm reckons my most listened to songs of the last 12 months are. Because I don’t have last.fm on my phone, or my old MP3 player, or at work, the list is very restricted to basically what I listen to on my desktop at home, but nevertheless… there’s a list, so I’m going to use it.

  1. Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning, 23 plays. This song is the first song on my Sunday Morning playlist. Yes, I have a Sunday Morning playlist. In my eyes, this song is the perfect way to start a lazy day.
  2. Paolo Nutini – Million Faces, 24 plays. A beautiful album. And this song is one of the more under-rated Paolo Nutini songs. Chilled out and relaxing.
  3. Urusen – Vote For Me, 25 plays. My Mum actually bought this album after seeing them live. I thought I’d give it a go, and this is by far my favourite song from the album. There seems to be a trend of good, chilled out stuff on this list so far. I guess that’s because when I’m in my room I’m usually after music that will just mellow me out and de-stress after a long week.
  4. Earth, Wind & Fire – September, 25 plays. An absolute classic. And it somewhat became our house anthem last year – the number of times I’d wake up to this song is in the hundreds I’m sure. And if this is the soundtrack to the start of your day, then you knew it was going to be a good day.
  5. Mr. Scruff – Spandex Man, 25 plays. This song has chill and party – just like the rest of Mr Scruff. The perfect music to have on your headphones while coding, and the perfect “let’s go out” track. Legendary.
  6. Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up, 27 plays. When I saw that Jason Mraz had a new album out, I immediately found a website where I could listen to the whole thing. So I did. And I fell in love. It’s chilled (again, of course!), but it’s also very energetic in places. This song is perfect for a summer evening.
  7. Jason Mraz – The Freedom Song, 31 plays. I love brass instruments in songs! It’s so happy and “let’s go”. How can you not love this track?
  8. John Legend – Ordinary People, 44 plays. I hadn’t heard this song before April last year, and it grabbed me when I heard it. It’s one of the reasons I still regard Will.I.Am as an incredible artist/producer/songwriter even if his new single with Britney Spears is a pile of steaming poo.
  9. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe (acoustic version), 45 plays. I love the simplicity of the acoustic version as opposed to the pop-ed up original. And when you hear it constantly for months you need to listen to it to get it out of your head. That’s how that works, right? Still, I’d rather have this being played everywhere than frickkin Gangnam Style.
  10. Jason Mraz – Everything Is Sound, 75 plays. To this day, this is my go-to singing in the shower song. I just can’t help myself. So catchy and so happy.

So there you go. I sing in the shower, have a Sunday Morning playlist and listen to a lot of Jason Mraz.

Love you all, until tomorrow x

BEDA: Secret Guildford

A blog for every day in April is the same as blog every day in April, right?

I know this post is late… the truth is I’ve been very sociable this week having done something every night. It feels like my Easter holiday is going on in parallel with my work, which is great! On Thursday I went to The Keystone with a few mates for Pie Night, where they serve two pies for £10. I’d never been before and heard it was good. Turns out so did everyone else in Guildford! The place was packed, and we ended up sitting outside because there was literally nowhere else to go. I really want to be able to recommend it, but in reality the portions were smaller than I expected (not a problem, as I’d been to a Chinese restaurant for lunch) and we had to wait ages for our food – and even then I’d finished my pie before everyone else got theirs. Not cool.

There are however some really great places in Guildford that I’ve found over the years of living here.

Tudor Lounge Jazz Night Tuesdays. The Tudor Lounge is a tiny bar that can be found down the small alley at the top of the high street, the one where Fahrenheit 55 is. It has enough seating for about 20 people, and because of this it has a great cosy atmosphere.On Tuesday nights in particular they have a small, 3-piece band playing soft jazz music that will really mellow you out if you’re feeling stressed. It’s in a stark contrast to Tickled Ivory Student Tuesdays, a piano bar next to the cinema that gets packed to overflowing (literally) every Tuesday with students getting free entry (before 10pm) and abusing cheap drinks deals (a £3.50 Mojito being my tipple of choice almost exclusively). While Tickled has the party and dancing side of the Guildford jazz/piano scene, Tudor Lounge caters for those who want real jazz and a chat with their mates. Don’t expect to get a seat if there’s more than four of you though! However, if you still crave the Tickled dance floor and music but without the crowds, then try going on a Sunday night – it’s free to get in, the music is great, and you’re far more likely to make it back to your table without someone else’s pint down your shirt.

My next suggestion is Roots bar on campus. Located between the hall and Hillside it’s quite popular with sports society socials. But other than that, the place is usually very quiet or empty. They serve cheap drinks (and cocktails!) and have comfortable seating. It’s a great start to a night out instead of being drowned out in Channies, and the bar staff are better than Wates. All Roots need to do is start serving food and I’d never go anywhere else.

The Stoke pub is just a gem. Great stone-baked pizza, good selection of drinks and ales, plenty of seating, great atmosphere… everything a gastro pub should be. On Monday’s they have 2 for £10 pizzas, a complete steal considering how incredibly tasty they are – they are seriously not your average pub pizza! Thursdays is pub quiz, with it’s regulars and newbies, one of the better pub quizzes in Guildford. Friday they have local bands playing their own music (no covers), a great way to experience the big indie music scene that Guildford has thanks to the ACM in town. Sunday roast is also good! Literally, any day is good for The Stoke. Go if you haven’t, and go again if you have.

The Drummond. Much closer to the train station and town than The Stoke, another great pub with a good atmosphere and good food. Again, the Sunday roast is impeccable. They serve lots of cider, which I consider a massive plus. There pub quizzes are on Sunday evening. During the winter months they serve hot mulled wine or mulled cider that is to die for. It is a bit on the pricey side, but again, go. You won’t regret it.

Steering away from pubs, Glutton and Glee is a small coffee shop near the castle that serves really good organic food and cake. The entrance reminds me of the door in Alice In Wonderland, you’ll see why when you get there. Great place to go for a coffee instead of fueling the corporate overlords of Costa or Starbucks and instead supporting local businesses.

Lastly, in the inevitable event that you find yourself searching for a kebab shop at 3am after a particularly heavy night, do your hangover a favour and get a kebab wrap from Nuro – opposite The Slug and Lettuce, next to Cath Kidson at the top of town. They are highly regarded by those in the know as the best kebabs in Guildford. Prepare to be disheartened though when you’re in the queue and you realise that they play better music in the kebab shop than in the club you just paid £5 to get into.

I can think of many more, but that’ll do to get you started. If you do try any of these out on my recommendation I’d be really interested to hear what you thought. Also check out Alexandra Wilk’s post about her “Hidden Guildford”, as it was the inspiration for this post. Until tomorrow x

BEDA: Paradox

This should have gone out yesterday, but it didn’t. Still, better late than never!

Sometimes I feel like my personality is a paradox, like I don’t really fit into any neat box or category. I had a conversation yesterday about stereotypes and I think this stems from that. I mean, you label someone a convict and you immediately assume several things about that person. Drugs, violence, abuse, volatile, outsider. You label someone an grade A student, and you think of glasses, social ineptness, shy, video games, etc. But in reality, no-one fits into a box. We’re not that 2-dimensional, it’s just a human trait that we feel like everything and everyone needs to be categorized. But these labels only lead to false assumptions about someone.

There’s a trend going around YouTube at the moment of people “drawing their life”. Think of it as telling your life story in a a few minutes, and drawing pictures along the way. One I found particularly interesting is Phillip DeFranco‘s. I don’t want to go too much into it here, you should watch the video yourself, but it made me realise that this guy that comes off very confident and head-strong has not always been like that – and I daresay, sometimes still isn’t. I’m very tempted to make my own “draw my life”, but we’ll see.

When people meet me they might make a few assumptions based on first impressions, we all do it, but it’s when you get past those traits in a person and really understand who they are, that you make a real connection.

You might look at my university grades and think I’m a massive workaholic and all the connotations that go with that. While it is true that I like working, it’s only when it’s on something I find very interesting. I struggle like everyone else when it comes to writing reports about stuff I don’t have an interest in. I find myself procrastinating a lot, but when I do get down to work I focus 100% and try my best. I never tried to just get a pass grade on anything, I believe that you should always do anything you do to the best of your ability, anything less and you’re only cheating yourself. Does that make me a workaholic? I don’t think so.

You might see my website, and videos, and “geek talk”, and think that I’m a massive geek and all the connotations that go with that. It is true that I’m very interested in technology, I like to read tech-y blogs, write code and design websites; but I’m not your “traditional geek”. I’ve never seen Star Wars, or Star Trek. I don’t really play video games (other than RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, back in the day), and I’ve never really been into shoot-em ups. I love climbing, swimming, cycling, walking, making videos… I spend my free time with friends in pubs, or making silly podcasts – not getting to level 100 on Warcraft. But then, I don’t know anyone who would probably be considered a full-on geek. I like poetry, but that doesn’t mean I listen to classical music or pick flowers at the weekend.

Maybe all of these stereotypes are just an unattainable “ideal” of sorts, forged from so much public perception that no-one is ever really like that. No-one is defined by just one thing. That’s what makes us so beautiful and unique.

until tomorrow (aka, later today) lots of love x