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Lava Lamp?

 
Kathy Sierra
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Please oh please Mike, tell us a little something more about the Lava Lamp...

This has to be one of the coolest things I've heard about in a long time.
And are there other ideas of things people are using besides lava lamps, but for the same purpose?

thanks,
Kathy
 
Daniel Mayer
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I have read of a team that uses a real traffic light.

The ambient orb looks cool, too: http://blogs.codehaus.org/people/vmassol/archives/000597_enlightening_build.html
 
Mike Clark
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Originally posted by Kathy Sierra:
Please oh please Mike, tell us a little something more about the Lava Lamp...


Lava lamps work great as visual feedback devices because they're cheap, easy to set up, and just plain fun! I like to use them to make build monitoring a spectator sport. Imagine that you have a scheduler such as CruiseControl that automatically builds your software at regular intervals. As folks on the team check in code, the continuous build cycle keeps everything in check so that you always know the status of the build.

But it's easy to forget to check the build status throughout the day... unless you have lava lamps! The glow of a lamp tends to capture your attention and you can easily monitor the build with your peripheral vision. Happy, green bubbles mean that the last build succeeded and sad, red bubbles mean that it failed.



I describe how I hooked up my lava lamps using X10 devices which transmits signals over a common electrical system in this article:

http://www.pragmaticautomation.com/cgi-bin/pragauto.cgi/Monitor/Devices/BubbleBubbleBuildsInTrouble.rdoc

Have fun!

Mike
 
Mike Clark
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Originally posted by Daniel Mayer:
The ambient orb looks cool, too: http://blogs.codehaus.org/people/vmassol/archives/000597_enlightening_build.html


Indeed, the Ambient Orb is very cool. Inside of the Orb is a tiny wireless pager, so you can take the Orb with you almost anywhere in the U.S. while monitoring anything of interest. To send it signals in response to a custom event you want to monitor, you need to purchase a premium account for a nominal monthy fee. With the premium account you can send the Orb signals (e.g., "change color to red") simply by posting to a URL that contains your Orb's id. They also sell a serial port adapter that you can control with a developer kit.

One downside I've heard is that, depending on your location, it may take the signal a while to arrive, so if you want near real-time feedback you'll want to investigate the serial port adapter. But at that point you've lost the real advantage of the Orb -- its mobility.

I've yet to play with this device, but I look forward to doing so soon.

Mike
[ September 21, 2004: Message edited by: Mike Clark ]
 
David Harkness
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Originally posted by Mike Clark:
Lava lamps work great as visual feedback devices because they're cheap, easy to set up, and just plain fun!

I'll admin that that sure sounds better than my idea of hooking up all the developers' chairs to electrodes. Kudos, Mike!
 
Ilja Preuss
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Another interesting idea I read about (don't remember where) is using sound to indicate the current build status...
 
Mike Clark
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:
Another interesting idea I read about (don't remember where) is using sound to indicate the current build status...


Perhaps you read this article

http://www.pragmaticautomation.com/cgi-bin/pragauto.cgi/Monitor/ListeningToComplexSystems.rdoc

The X10 device I use with the lava lamps makes a fairly loud clicking sound when it turns on and off, which makes for a nice audible alert. The <sound> task in Ant can also be used to trigger sounds based on the build status.

Mike
 
Gregg Bolinger
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Something interesting I just had to chime in with. Here in the great city of Wichita, KS, at the Wichita Eagle news center, a girl I work with used to work there.

They used dumb terminal for everything way back when (she's old) and she said in the main press room, there was a big street light (red, yellow, green) and the server admins would flip switches manually depending on the state of the servers.

Green - All is well
Yellow - Better click save, servers are going down
Red - Servers are toast

Sometimes yellow was skipped all together. You can imagine how the journalist felt about that.

Anyway, somewhat related to this discussion. I found it interesting.
 
Bear Bibeault
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Another interesting idea I read about (don't remember where) is using sound to indicate the current build status...


Cool! Hook it up to iTunes and play an appropriate song when the build breaks! Perhaps "Shattered Dreams" or "Broken Wings"? Or just "Help".
 
Ilja Preuss
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Originally posted by Mike Clark:


Perhaps you read this article

http://www.pragmaticautomation.com/cgi-bin/pragauto.cgi/Monitor/ListeningToComplexSystems.rdoc
e


Yes, that was it - thanks for the link!
 
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