Monthly Archives: March 2010

My unseamly new sweater

About this time last year, I finally got round to buying some yarn and a pattern to try re-learning to crochet. Last time I crocheted, I was about 12 and my efforts were limited to creating hair bun nets (as in the kind of things little girls wear – and indeed I wore – to ballet lessons). I think the last one was bright red for wearing to school on No Uniform Day for Red Nose Day. After that, I got bored of it and lost interest.

So after completing a smaller practice project last Spring, I decided to tackle something I’d actually wear. And as it was July, I figured it would be timely to make a jumper for the Winter (or even the Autumn, in my more optimistic moments). So I chose the Unseamly Sweater from a book I have called Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: The Happy Hooker. This weekend (8 months later, and on the verge of Spring),  I finished it.

Here’s a photo of me modelling it, catalogue-style:

Magazine pose for my completed crochet project.

I’m really pleased with how it came out. There was a moment last weekend when it seemed I wouldn’t be able to complete the second sleeve because I’d run out of yarn, and my original supplier was permanently out of stock. The combined wonders of Google and Ebay saved the day.

So, being a good little IBMer, I now turn to Lessons Learned:

  • Hold the crochet hook; don’t grip it. I struggled for the first two-thirds of the body (crocheted as a tube – front and back at the same time) to get my ‘guage’ right. Guage is the number of stitches to the inch, and is determined by a combination of weight of yarn, size of hook, and how tightly you hold the hook and yarn.
  • Use the right size of hook. Related to the point above, I started the jumper about 5 times before it was neither fit for a child nor fit for two of me at once. I actually used the right-sized hook for the arms (a size bigger than the pattern suggests) but, for the body, I used a size smaller and I ended up having to increase the wrong number of stitches to make it the right size of jumper. This also meant that I ended up buying more yarn than I should’ve needed.
  • Buy enough yarn first time. Every book tells you that this is the only way to ensure a consistent shade throughout – something only guaranteed by all the balls of yarn being dyed in the same batch. Because of the previous two points, I ran out of yarn not once but twice. Consequently, the body and the first quarter of one of the arms is a teeny bit darker shade than the rest of the arms.
  • I enjoy the decorative bit more than the…um…mundane bit. This is the same as for the sunflower pots I made two years ago. Being crochet, it was actually quite quick to get through the mundane bits and I enjoyed it more than I expected. I do, however, much prefer making the fun frilly bits and changing stitches. So while I really like the finished effect of this particular pattern, it did get rather repetitive along the way.

Incidentally, the yarn I used (for both this jumper and my previous project) is Anchor Bamboolo, which is actually made from bamboo mixed with some cotton making a lovely soft, light, shiny yarn – similar I think to mercerized cotton, which is what I’d looked for originally. Bamboo is probably better for the environment than cotton, which is usually really bad for the environment because of the phenomenal amounts of pesticides that have to be used to grow it (though this article and its comments ponder the pros and cons of bamboo as a material from a furniture design perspective).

So, bearing those lessons in mind, I’m now keen to find my next crochet project. I seem to have acquired a few patterns already and they might make more sense now that I’ve done a relatively easy one!

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first computer program in 1843. The computer on which the program would have run, Charles Babbage‘s Analytical Engine, was never built, though Babbage continued with his designs until his death and is remembered as the father of computers. The purpose of Ada Lovelace Day is to sing the achievements of women in technology and science – often their contributions go unnoticed.

On Ada Lovelace Day, today, anyone and everyone is encouraged to blog, podcast, videocast, tweet about the achievements of a woman in technology and science.

Laura Czajkowski

I met Laura Czajkowski last September when part of the Ubuntu UK Podcast team shipped off to Dublin to attend her OssBarCamp conference, have a weekend of geekery, and an evening of BBQ and cocktails. Since then, I’ve seen Laura working passionately to help kickstart the Ubuntu Women Project and I’m aware that she is also on the Ubuntu NGO project which looks at how to make it as easy as possible for charities, not-for-profits, and other NGOs to benefit from Ubuntu and Open Source Software.

After I tweeted a few weeks back that I was working on OggCamp10 planning stuff, she replied, offering her help. I wasn’t sure how serious she was but as we had a load of large tasks that needed doing around that time, I figured it was worth asking. Within a week, she was a fully signed-up member of the OggCamp planning team (ie she gets all the emails and can edit the wiki), despite having her own conference to organise as well. OMG Ubuntu published a great interview with her today.

Ana Nelson

Another ace woman I met in Dublin that weekend was Ana Nelson, who Laura had finally convinced to present about her documentation automation work. I swear (as a former technical writer), the stuff she develops on should be used by corporations everywhere to maintain their vast documentation libraries and to save their skillful writers from spending hours manually updating screenshots and code snippets. Her talk at OssBarCamp was fascinating and understated – she sat on a chair, speaking her way round a printed, illustrated mindmap, punctuating it all with physical props like wooden toys and knitting needles. Her tweets are no less insightful, witty, and slightly off-beat.


So they’re just two of the women in the Open Source world (in particular, the Irish Open Source world) who’ve inspired me recently. Go check out their blogs to find out more.

Installing Rational Software Architect 7.5.4 & WAS 7 on Ubuntu Karmic

N.B. I updated the bit about dash/bash on 23rd March after feedback from Gavin and Dom (see below). 🙂

This week, I decided to install Rational Software Architect so that I could try out (again) the User Interface Generator which comes with IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management Server–and other products too, I believe. You can find out more about what user modelling is and how you can use the UIG in RSA (lovin’ the IBM TLAs yet? 😉 ) in this series of articles on developerWorks. The rest of this post is not about the UIG but about how to install and configure Rational Software Architect for WebSphere, which is relevant to anyone wanting to do this, regardless of whether they’re wanting to use the UIG.

So I wanted to install Rational Software Architect (RSA; an Eclipse-based piece of software) on to Ubuntu, which is what I run on my work machine, a Thinkpad T61p. Not only that, but I wanted to install RSA for WebSphere, which includes WebSphere Application Server Test Environment (WAS). This meant that I was installing not one but two pieces of software that are not officially supported for Ubuntu Karmic (or indeed for Ubuntu/Debian as far as I know). But as the Linux binaries are .bin files rather than .rpm, life should be easy.

And indeed installing it is. It’s when you want to create a WAS profile that the fun starts. And that’s where it had all fallen apart for me when I tried much the same exercise this time last year. That time, I gave up.

This time, I tweeted my predicament, knowing there were people who might know the answer. Unfortunately, the person I thought might know the answer had failed in much the same way as me only 6 months ago and was now relegated to using Windows. Still, others came back to me, including Gavin Willingham, who I’d not met before but who works possibly 10 minutes walk from my desk, and Jay Limburn, who I’ve known for a year through Twitter and internal instant messaging but, though he also works max 10 minutes walk from my desk, never met in person until yesterday (he’s shorter and blonder in real life).

So, if you’re trying to install RSA for WebSphere 7.5.4 with WAS Test Environment 7.0 (other versions probably work the same way), I’ll end the suspense and start here:

Running the installer

  1. Download the many parts of RSA for WebSPhere 7.5.4 and WAS Test Environment 7.0 with licence/activation bits and pieces. (NB this isn’t free software; you have to buy it from IBM so I’m assuming you’ve got that far by now.)
  2. Extract all the zip files. If you do a right-click > ‘Extract All’ on the zip file in Ubuntu, the extraction tool doesn’t like to overwrite directories of the same name, so you end up with directories called ‘RSA4WS’, ‘RSA4WS (2)’, ‘RSA4WS (3)’, and so on when actually, you want the contents of each of those directories to be in the same place. So move the directories around so that you have just 3 directories:
    • RSA4WS (contains 7 directories called ‘disk1’, ‘disk2’, ‘disk3’, etc)
    • RSA4WS_SETUP (don’t do anything with the contents of this one)
    • WAS70 (contains 4 directories called ‘disk1’, ‘disk2’, etc)
  3. In the RSA4WS_SETUP directory, as sudo, run to start the installation process.
  4. Follow the installer through but when it asks you for a user name and password to create a WAS profile, select that you will create a profile later and that you don’t want to create one now. The installation should run cleanly (if you let it try to create a profile, it will fail part-way through the installation).

You should now have a nice installation of RSA with WAS on your Ubuntu box. Next, you need to create a WAS profile so that you can use the in-built WAS server for development and testing (or in my case, to run the user interface generator).

Creating a WAS profile in RSA

There are a few things that prevent this just happening (some are generic Linux things and some are specific to Ubuntu):

  • On Ubuntu, /bin/sh uses dash, not bash, but WAS scripts seem to use bash specifically, so the profile creation scripts fail.
  • Something extra that I have no understanding of is required in the eclipse.ini file (which is key in starting the Eclipse-based RSA environment).
  • The default location in WAS’s profile creation wizards is in the /opt part of the main file system which you typically won’t have write-access to as a normal user.

So here’s what you need to do (at least, this is what I did and hopefully will work for you to to get a running WAS server in RSA):

  1. Change Ubuntu’s /bin/sh to use bash instead of dash.
    In a terminal (sorry it’s the command line but you’re changing some system settings here that you would very very rarely have to do normally, or just if WAS didn’t specify bash specifically), run the following command and select the bash option as the default for /bin/sh:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure dash

    (As pointed out by @oldmanuk (Dom Evans), this is the proper way to reconfigure where /bin/sh points to (though I used Gavin’s method). )

    After you’ve created your WAS profile and everything’s up and running nicely, run the command again to change back to using dash. The benefit of using dash is speedier boot time, which is lost if you leave the setting as bash (see – thanks Dom).

    Now you’ve sorted out the bash/dash problem. One down; two to go.

  2. Check that you have a version of xulrunner installed (I have no idea what xulrunner is for but, looking in Synaptic Package Manager, my Ubuntu installation included xulrunner-1.9l.1-gnome-support, but not the xulrunner package itself, which seems to be fine for RSA purposes).
  3. In your RSA installation, find the eclipse.ini file. I installed RSA to the default location so mine was in /opt/IBM/SDP. In a terminal change to that directory:
    cd /opt/IBM/SDP
  4. Open the eclipse.ini file in a text editor, such as gedit:
    sudo gedit eclipse.ini
  5. Add to the end of the file the following line:

    (From an Ubuntu forum post.)

    Now you’ve sorted out the ‘xulrunner’ problem and you can actually start RSA. Two down; one to go.

  6. Start RSA from the Applications menu: Applications > IBM Software Delivery Platform > IBM Rational Software Architect for WebSphere 7.5.4.
  7. RSA should suggest a directory in your home directory in which to put the RSA workspace. That’s fine; I just accepted the suggested location.
  8. When RSA has opened (NB, my Welcome view doesn’t load – I don’t think that’s a problem), give it a moment to think, then it’ll pop up a wizard to create a WAS profile.
  9. In the profile wizard, clear the option about security unless you know what you’re doing with WAS security and have a need to use it in a development environment.
  10. You’ll also notice that there’s a warning about the currently selected location for creating the profile. This is the third problem I listed above. The default location shown is for creating the profile in the installation directory of RSA. Change the location to a directory in your home directory. For instance, I told it to use /home/laura/IBM/profiles.
  11. When the wizard has created the profile (which will take a few moments – you can see the activity in the bottom-right of the RSA window), the default server for the profile is listed in the Servers view on the right-hand-side of the RSA window.
    The server is listed as ‘stopped’.
  12. Right-click the server then click Profile. This opens a dialog box about the profile; I just accepted the defaults then it failed to start the server (the error said it had failed to start within 300 seconds). But when I repeated this step, the server started.

And that’s as far as I’ve got but it’s further than ever before. If I come across any more gotchas, or take some screenshots, I’ll update this post.

Yes, it is a pain to have to do all this but remember that WAS isn’t supported (as far as I know) on Ubuntu Karmic. If you want it easier, install it on something that is supported. If you want it on Ubuntu, I hope this post (and the others I cribbed information from) helps. 🙂