Why free variable?

Someone asked. Well, I wanted something just a little bit geeky, but the delightful strictly positive has already gone, and terms like ‘iota reduction’ just don’t have the same ring. Plus, ‘free variable’ seems quite apt now that I’m away from the binder of organised education! – and having much more fun too.

Git!

No, not me. Well, I think not.

I recently gave a talk to the North East’s excellent SuperMonday group on Git (with a brief intro to the main ideas behind version control). When I was working as a lecturer, it never ceased to amaze me just how few of the final year students could use any kind of VCS. Such tools are pretty essential for the large individual projects they were working on. You would not believe the numbers who still used dated folders! Even worse, the number who didn’t save versions (or backups) regularly. And some took the folders technique to an extreme, with ornate schemes (and scripts) for creating dated folders and transferring them to various places in the universe. One student claimed to have copies of his versions on a bomb-proof serrver in Surrey. Quite a few saved copies of work on their girlfriends’ machines – but not all couples were still speaking when that material was needed in an emergency…

Anyway: the key points is: we’ve got very good tools now, and they are easy to use – so you really should be using them for anything that’s remotely important. Plus, these tools are quite handy for synchronising work between different machines, so no ad hoc ftp’ing or usb stick juggling.

My preferred weapon is Git. I came straight from RCS and CVS, avoided Subversion etc, and Git to me seems pretty near perfect. Try it now!

Here’s the talk slides (in PDF). The supermondays site has a video on it too. It does look a bit gothic – the venue was a small cinema in Newcastle, and there was a lot of black around.