Subversion 1.4 released today

Hang in there—if you make it past the first paragraph you'll discover a non-technical article...

boy with computer

Subversion 1.4, the popular open-source version control system, was released today. For the technically minded, Subversion can be described as a compelling replacement for CVS released under an Apache/BSD-style open source license. For the not so technically-minded, it is simply a tool allowing multiple developers to work without conflict on a single “repository” of files, tracking and comparing each other’s changes, allowing rollbacks when errors occur.

The not so technically-minded may also feel some empathy with the manner in which I actually use Subversion. Let’s just say that in the great hierarchy of computer programming language developers—a subject so ego-buisingly sensitive it is normally not spoken out loud—were we cooking a meal I would be the one who brought the ranch sauce! (“I picked it up on the way...”)

It may then seem a little hard to believe that I did computer science when I was at university. Many years ago now mind you, and only a single paper, in which I was the student who had the distinction of being one of the very few not to miserably fail or pass with stunning grades.

There was a running joke in the computer science department about the bell-curve formed by the first-year grades. It wasn't so much a curve but a two-humped camel, with almost no-one in-between. Of course there were many other jokes—mostly told by my fellow travelers in the arts and humanities departments about the people who actually did computer science...

While with the benefit of hindsight I can say that continuing in this particular pointy-headed academic direction may have been of assistance in my current web-development occupation, it meant a rather large change in direction at the time, and even despite this untraveled path things seem to have worked themselves out just fine. I now actually making a living from doing something—web development and design—which I never even studied.

To the hardcore this may be little short of an admission of massive technical inferiority. Back on topic, I am not only the one who buys my dinner condiments at the supermarket, but in regards to the just-updated Subversion I actually use a client to do the work for me—push a single shiny "GUI" button and relax as my changes are committed, as opposed to command-line Unix sophistication. Partial admisson of failure ahead: I did spend several hours learning the necessary Unix/subversion syntax to be able to do this, but being my first foray into the dreaded "Terminal", the abbreviated wizard-like incantations of code failed to stick. Perhaps I will try again—when I get the time to stop doing my tasks long enough to actually learn how to do them!

The truth of it is that I have a serious credibility gap as a computer language developer or system administrator. I know enough to impress people with little or no knowledge—but honesty tells me that I would be in their shoes next to an actual developer of ability.

For now that’s fine by me. And by way of truce I will promise to reserve judgement on the design abilities of the coding-hardcore.

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