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more uses for git notes, and hidden treasures in Gerrit

By , October 2, 2013 2:05 pm

I recently blogged about some tools I wrote which harness the notes feature of git to help with the process of porting commits from one branch to another. Since then I’ve discovered a couple more consumers of this functionality which are pretty interesting: palaver, and Gerrit.

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Easier upstreaming / back-porting of patch series with git

By , September 19, 2013 9:22 pm

Have you ever needed to port a selection of commits from one git branch to another, but without doing a full merge? This is a common challenge, e.g.

  • forward-porting / upstreaming bugfixes from a stable release branch to a development branch, or
  • back-porting features from a development branch to a stable release branch.

Of course, git already goes quite some way to making this possible:

  • git cherry-pick can port individual commits, or even a range of commits (since git 1.7.2) from anywhere, into the current branch.
  • git cherry can compare a branch with its upstream branch and find which commits have been upstreamed and which haven’t. This command is particularly clever because, thanks to git patch-id, it can correctly spot when a commit has been upstreamed, even when the upstreaming process resulted in changes to the commit message, line numbers, or whitespace.
  • git rebase --onto can transplant a contiguous series of commits onto another branch.

It’s not always that easy …

However, on the occasions when you need to sift through a larger number of commits on one branch, and port them to another branch, complications can arise:

  • If cherry-picking a commit results in changes to its patch context, git patch-id will return a different SHA-1, and subsequent invocations of git cherry will incorrectly tell you that you haven’t yet ported that commit.
  • If you mess something up in the middle of a git rebase, recovery can be awkward, and git rebase --abort will land you back at square one, undoing a lot of your hard work.
  • If the porting process is big enough, it could take days or even weeks, so you need some way of reliably tracking which commits have already been ported and which still need porting. In this case you may well want to adopt a divide-and-conquer approach by sharing out the porting workload between team-mates.
  • The more the two branches have diverged, the more likely it is that conflicts will be encountered during cherry-picking.
  • There may be commits within the range you are looking at which after reviewing, you decide should be excluded from the port, or at least porting them needs to be postponed to a later point.

It could be argued that all of these problems can be avoided with the right branch and release management workflows, and I don’t want to debate that in this post. However, this is the real world, and sometimes it just happens that you have to deal with a porting task which is less than trivial. Well, that happened to me and my team not so long ago, so I’m here to tell you that I have written and published some tools to solve these problems. If that’s of interest, then read on!

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new music video: acoustic version of Jóga by Björk, with Emma Smith

By , September 18, 2013 1:20 pm

I’m a long-time fan of Björk, and was recently lucky enough to snarf a spare ticket to a show here in London at the end of her Biophilia tour. It was a fairly insane show (in a good way), involving an all female Icelandic choir, a drummer, an organ, a musically aware lightning bolt generator, a pin-barrel harp, and David Attenborough (obviously). Really impressive to see how she’s still trail-blazing rather than just churning out the old favourites (although some of the latter were presented in imaginative new ways).

On a related note, back in February I revisited my old haunt the Royal Academy of Music to record/film a version of Björk’s famous tune Jóga, arranged and sang by the amazing and consistently entertaining singer Emma Smith. Yesterday I finally finished the video editing (done with the awesome Kdenlive video editor which is Free Software), and here is the result. Hope you enjoy it!

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announcing the Scale Matcher!

By , August 23, 2013 7:00 pm

I’ve been a bit of a hermit the last few weeks, burning the candle both ends and spending the majority of my spare time building a new toy … well actually it started out as a toy, but now I think it’s good enough for musicians to use as a serious tool for improving their improvisation / compositional skills, and harmonic understanding.

So I’m very pleased (and relieved) to be able to announce … <drum roll> … the Scale Matcher!  It should work equally well on your computer, phone, and tablet.  Please try it out and let me know what you think!  You can also click the About and FAQ buttons to find out more.

Thanks to Barak Schmool for providing the original inspiration to do this, and for the time he spent testing it out and suggesting improvements.

Scale Matcher home page

Scale Matcher sample results page

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London Tango Orchestra featured in BBC Persia documentary

By , February 28, 2013 10:06 pm

These days I have the regular pleasure of playing in the London Tango Orchestra with some wonderful musicians. A while back we did some filming for a BBC Persia documentary, and we recently received copies of the videos, which came out pretty well! Take a look …

This next one is the gorgeous Piazzolla tune Milonga del Angel. Unfortunately the video and audio don’t match for the first half, but it gets back in sync at 3’35″:

and finally …

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