The garden in bloom

Late June and the garden is in full swing.

I’ve never been much of a one for flowers, mostly because you can’t eat them; a lot effort and all you do is look at them. And there’s also the fact that the flower beds tend to get  bit neglected and any nice plants succumb to the weeds; I’m well known for having trouble telling the difference.

But with a bit more attention to maintaining the beds, I actually don’t mind how the flowers are looking. It almost seems like we know what we’re doing.



Mystery brassica solved

While weeding the flower bed a couple of months ago my wife spotted some cabbage-like plants that we assumed had self-seeded following our rather poor efforts at growing green veg last year.

We quickly transferred them to pots and kept them under cover away from the cabbage whites and other bugs.

They survived. And after getting some decent netting – as much for keeping randy pigeons away from the onions – they went into the soil while we waited and hoped for what would undoubtedly be our best bit of veg growing to fully develop.

The plants continue to grow but after a closer look during today’s weeding session we have to declare that we have actually got broccoli and kale.

Although we have tried growing both of these in the past, it hasn’t been for a few years now and we had pretty much given up on the idea; we’re just not good enough at gardening to pull this off.

And even though I had said I wasn’t going to work on the garden this year, we have actually ended up putting in more effort than usual, but more targeted at keeping control of the weeds and it certainly seems to be paying dividends: the courgettes and potatoes are just about ready to start picking.

I just hope we can keep it all going for a vote more months.

If only software was like growing veg

My mean time before failure with server applications is getting shorter: the simplest sample Python code I have been trying with Rabbitmq just doesn’t work and I am really bored with trying to get this stuff to work.

It’s at times like these that I really miss the therapy of weeding and planting and digging and watering; basic stuff like putting seeds in some mud; watching them grow and providing the best environment for them.

I know I said that I wasn’t doing any planting this year because the rewards don’t justify the effort, but the relaxation and therapeutic benefit certainly does.

Oh yeah, and it tastes great!


Troubleshooting lifecycle

I seem to have hit on a troubleshooting pattern for trying to get new services up and running: this time Rabbitmq.

Most of the application stuff I have been working with recently has been  disaster (and I know I’m of the opinion that most software – even, particularly my own – is rubbish) having to abandon development with Rails and Django because of basic stuff that just doesn’t work (or fails silently), and I’ve following the message queue posts on and rather than sign up for a CloudMQTT account I thought I’d install rabbitmq locally. It can’t be that hard.

The web pages for Rabbitmq aren’t terribly inviting and I immediately suspect that there will be some winging it.

I installed the packages and start the service and try to use the rabbitmqctl command to see how things are going

# rabbitmqctl status
Status of node rabbit@fnunbob ...
Error: unable to connect to node rabbit@fnunbob: nodedown


attempted to contact: [rabbit@fnunbob]

 * connected to epmd (port 4369) on fnunbob
 * epmd reports: node 'rabbit' not running at all
 no other nodes on fnunbob
 * suggestion: start the node

current node details:
- node name: 'rabbitmq-cli-97@fnunbob'
- home dir: /root
- cookie hash: 63+eNTCkMJ1cMwrAcJ88rg==

Now, first off, ‘* suggestion: start the node’. What’s all that about! I thought I had started the node; there’s nothing I could find (easily) on the website to suggest anything else. Perhaps provide a clue on how to start the node!

Okay, so let’s try starting the node:

# rabbitmqctl start_app
Starting node rabbit@fnunbob ...
Error: unable to connect to node rabbit@fnunbob: nodedown


attempted to contact: [rabbit@fnunbob]

 * connected to epmd (port 4369) on fnunbob
 * epmd reports node 'rabbit' running on port 25672
 * TCP connection succeeded but Erlang distribution failed

* Authentication failed (rejected by the remote node), please check the Erlang cookie

current node details:
- node name: 'rabbitmq-cli-75@fnunbob'
- home dir: /root
- cookie hash: 63+eNTCkMJ1cMwrAcJ88rg==

Huh? I’m beginning to think that Rabbitmq is yet another piece of crapsoftware that just doesn’t work out the box: netstat and ps show plenty pof rbbitmq processes running. But, I’ll try some troubleshooting to figure out what I’ve done wrong.

Now, my troubleshooting pattern is to search (Google – expect Facebook adverts for message queue services in a few days) for the application and problem and ignore the links to the application vendor and start with the first StackOverflow page.

This leads me to and even the link is promising. And sure enough, it mentions the rabbitmq-server command, so we give it a go.

# rabbitmq-server
RabbitMQ 3.6.9. Copyright (C) 2007-2016 Pivotal Software, Inc.
 ## ## Licensed under the MPL. See
 ## ##
 ########## Logs: /var/log/rabbitmq/rabbit@fnunbob.log
 ###### ## /var/log/rabbitmq/rabbit@fnunbob-sasl.log
 Starting broker...
 completed with 0 plugins.

Maybe something’s happening, maybe not: CTRL-C; man rabbitmq-server. There’s a ‘-detached option@. Ah, okay, let’s try that.

# rabbitmq-server -detached
Warning: PID file not written; -detached was passed.

So, let’s see if that makes a difference.

# rabbitmqctl status
Status of node rabbit@fnunbob ...
 {ranch,"Socket acceptor pool for TCP protocols.","1.3.0"},
 {ssl,"Erlang/OTP SSL application","8.2"},
 {public_key,"Public key infrastructure","1.4.1"},
 {asn1,"The Erlang ASN1 compiler version 5.0","5.0"},

That’s more like it.

The important thing here is that StackOverflow is more useful for working with applications than the application documentation itself. Because there are so many thing that go wrong with modern software and they won’t likely be mentioned in teh official docs, SO catches all the efforts to fix things.

P.S. This is one of the most annoying things about Puppet. They must have a deal with Google to make sure only official documentation is returned, it links to the most recent puppet version (and enterprise to boot) and selecting from the version dropdown takes you to a 404 page: Just show the SO pages where people have fixed stuff and be done with it.

Who said gardening was difficult?

After rescuing a few stray cabbages before the caterpillars munch them has prompted an attempt to actually try and let them stay the course.


That’s only one row of cabbages; the rear net is to stop the pigeons trashing the onions; there’s a row of parsnips between the two. The courgettes to the fore seem to have survived the cold. The beetroot are coming on very slowly.

The raised beds aren’t looking too bad either.


There’s radishes, lettuce, peas, spinach and rocket.

The peppers, cucumber and tomatoes have stay hidden away in the greenhouse and no signs of any fruit yet; this time last year, the cukes were already producing.

And I have already had good usage from the (indoor) herbs: basil, chervil and dill.

Limited time for Django?

Having decided that Rails development had run its course and that the future was all things Python and Django, it looks like I’ll be reining back on the web development front and sticking to simple stuff with Flask and uwsgi.

I started rewriting an application with Django following the standard tutorials and make some progress, even getting as far as a form that can subnit new records.

But, staying true to my original goal of ensuring that testing is a fundamental part of the project, I tried the simplest possible scenario,

from django.utils import timezone
from .models import Commission, Enquiry

# Create your tests here.
class CommissionMethodTests(TestCase):

    def basic_test(self):
        a = 1
        assert a == 1

Nothing could be simpler,

$ python test commissions
Creating test database for alias 'default'...
System check identified no issues (0 silenced).

Ran 0 tests in 0.000s

Destroying test database for alias 'default'...

When something this simple doesn’t work and gives no error or any kind of output, there’s not a great deal of point trying to continue.

I did find another Django tutorial that suggested using ‘self.asert’, but that just give an error; I’m not a fan of failing at the first fence.

So, while I’m still like writing Python and will continue with Flask and keeping things simple, it’s time to abandon Django and look to see if WordPress plugins are up to the task.