Nagios is great. It monitors all your stuff, uses email/sms/text-to-speech/carrier pigeon to notify you when stuff goes down and has a handy-dandy web interface for keeping track of everything, however sometimes you want more, because you’re greedy.

This helpful floaty-widget thing will keep you notified of any changes to the status of your Nagios-monitored devices, lets you acknowledge & recheck services and supports multiple Nagios instances.
cnagios is a full-screen terminal interface for viewing Nagios host and service objects and the durations of their current states, using ncurses. It’s very handy if you’re limited to SSH connectivity to your Nagios server. The site it’s hosted on appears to be down at the moment, so hopefully the author won’t mind me hosting a copy of it for the time being: cnagios-0.29.tar.gz
Nagroid is an unofficial nagios client for android devices, which is handy because the standard web interface doesn’t play nicely with smartphone-sized screens.
Nagios Checker
Nagios Checker is a Firefox addon that presents a status bar display of the status of your Nagios-monitored devices, similar to nagstamon. It’s very handy if you spend most of your day stuck in a web browser.
Nagios Checker

So there you go; now you’ve got no excuse for missing that service or server down alert.

Well, the BBC iPlayer for Android has been released and I’m really disappointed.

Before the app I could go to the iPlayer website on my phone and stream recorded TV and Radio programs over 3G or Wi-Fi; no Live streaming, but otherwise pretty good.

With the app, however, I can’t stream anything unless I’m on a Wi-Fi connection and as far as I can see there’s no way to override it, so the fact that they now offer live streams is all but worthless as if I’m somewhere with Wi-Fi I’m usually somewhere with a TV or Radio. What’s even worse is that they’ve now applied the same fucking policy to the mobile version of the iPlayer website too, so I can’t even stream *that* over 3G any more.

Why have they done it? No idea, but it’s bloody stupid. By all means make it default to Wi-Fi only to stop all the idiots complaining when they stream the entire Eastenders back catalogue over 3G and run up for £3,000 phone bill, but I’m not one of those idiots; I want live 3G streaming and at the very least I want my recorded 3G streaming back. I can only imagine that the mobile networks threatened to block all iPlayer traffic if the BBC released their app with 3G support, because we all know that’s easier than actually upgrading your networks to support demand.

Oh, and it can’t run in the background either, or if your phone switches off the screen.

It’s been removed from my phone after a grand total of 8 minutes. Not happy.

Update: According to the FAQ here “[they] are working to make the service available on 3G networks in a future release of the BBC iPlayer Android App.” So that’s all OK then…

I am well aware that not everyone is an update-whore like me, but even those who generally abhor updating their beloved software will have to do it sooner or later; fixing that show-stopping bug or plugging that security hole can’t be avoided for ever. However, when it comes to installing new versions of certain software, I can’t help but feel that the developers have it in for me.

When you release a new version of your software, there are a number of ways you can facilitate upgrading from previous versions in increasing order of annoyance:

  1. Do an “upgrade” – i.e. Replace changed files, delete obsolete ones, remove cached data. For updates without an installer, this is the “unzip over the top” option (e.g. Firefox)
  2. Do an integrated remove/reinstall – i.e. As part of your installer, launch the uninstaller, remove the old files – excluding config files and user data – and then run installer as if it were a clean install. (e.g. VLC)
  3. Do an ugly remove/reinstall – i.e. Tell the user they have to remove the old version before they can install the new one, but don’t actually do it for them or tell them how to remove it or which files they need to keep. (e.g. Apache)
  4. Provide the user with a zip file of random files, some SQL scripts & a WISE installer circa Windows 3.11 and have them run the SQL scripts in a non-specific order, copy the files to some folder somewhere then run the installer to register some DLLs with Windows and randomly change some registry settings. (e.g. Every niche “enterprise” application I’ve ever come across – the healthcare software sector are masters at this)

Why is it so hard to write your updates to do #1? – or at least #2 if you really do need to remove all traces of the previous version of your software (for example, when you’re a substantial number of versions out of date or have made significant changes to your core application).

One of the 3rd party suppliers I’m dealing with at the moment sends out quarterly data updates as well as fairly regular application updates and every one of them requires an hour or so of fucking about with SQL and copying files to apply. I appreciate that many of these are 2 or 3-man shops and they don’t always have the resources to focus on this kind of thing (or, seemingly, making their applications vaguely stable), but seriously, spend a couple of days and make a solid updating framework for your app that you can use for all your future updates and save all of your users a massive headache. Please.