≡ Menu

Wallet containing cash and credit cardsMobile phone charger? Check! Spare underwear? Check! Overseas wallet? Errr, what’s that?

As someone who has made travel into a bit of a hobby, I experienced a bit of a Eureka moment when I read this post on MoneySavingExpert: An overseas wallet… do you have one?

It struck a chord with me because it’s such a neat solution to two annoying problems: carrying too much/too little stuff in your wallet when on the road, and of avoiding paying to much money to banks!

Since then (and driven partly by my plans to take a travelling sabbatical) I quickly applied for a Halifax Clarity credit card (0% load worldwide) and bank account that allows fee-free foreign cash withdrawals (Metrobank, uses Mastercard FX rates).

With my European Health insurance card, and travel insurance details, and some foreign currency, my overseas wallet is now complete!

Actually, I’m kicking myself I didn’t do this much much earlier – over the years, the savings would have paid for a lot of foreign beer.

MoneySavingExpert also has an excellent list of money-saving tips when travelling abroad, and for UK residents a list of accounts that are optimal for overseas travel here.

Do you have any finance tips for spending abroad?


Shortly I’m going to be backpacking around South America for 4 months.

My question is whether to take a laptop with me? It’s a 13inch Macbook, weighing around 2kg.

The upsides are many, for example, in hotels/hostels/cafes, I could easily do what I would normally do at home. I could research stuff to do while on the road, keep in touch with people, read the news, post photos, post updates, listen to online music, watch movies. I could happily use Internet banking/trade shares without worrying about key-loggers on PCs in Internet cafes. I could also work on a side project (or is that wishful thinking…?)

The downsides are pretty self-evident and mostly apply when I’m on the move: having to carry it, having to worry about it. We also plan to do some hiking…

So do the hassle/worry and extra weight justify the benefits listed above?

Perhaps I should just pack it, and be damned with it. Or maybe I need to let go, throw my laptop to the wind…

Has anybody else gone backpacking with a laptop? Did you regret it?


It’s been a quite a while since my last post. I guess I must have been busy!

So far in this blog, I’ve written about software development and connected topics, in an attempt to keep it as a professional blog. But actually, I’ve been finding that a little stunting.  I am into so many other things in addition to software. Why not write about those too?

So, after this reflection, and in an attempt to get some creative juices flowing (perhaps hanging out in the uber-creative city of Berlin has helped…), I’ve decided to broaden the scope of this blog and from now on I will write about anything that I might be thinking/reading about or experiencing, as well as the original purpose as a professional blog.

I welcome any input anybody has, including generally how best to keep the momentum going for a blog!


Today, I crafted some XML to build a console application using a csc task in NAnt. The app built fine (hooray), but then I spent the best part of the afternoon trying to work out why I kept getting the following error when trying to run the application:

EventType clr2or3 error text

That’s right, the dreaded “EventType clr20r3” error. I’m sure everyone has heard of it… (yes, I’m joking.)

After some sanity checks I then googled the error description, which lead me down the path of checking my dependencies. They were all accounted for in the XML. I opened the app in Reflector and all looked fine: the dependencies were all there, and all the assembly versions being referenced were correct. I repeated this process until my mind started contemplating chaos theory.

So what was the solution? Besides jumping in front of the nearest double decker bus? Well, after much banging of head on table, it came down to a simple cut and paste bug. I had inadvertently set the target of the csc task to be “winexe” instead of “exe” (winexe is also a valid option, but simply not the correct target option for a console app). I changed this, rebuilt and all was fine.

From the sample code in the NAnt documentation:

NAnt CSC Task sample code



I recently came across a unit test that looked like this (note that this code has been re-constructed by me to protect the guilty):


I have cut the list short, but there were around 75 such test data items. Crikey!

I can understand why the particular set of test samples was chosen: it was dumped from the production system and chosen to give a representative set of test data.

But this test code was in a unit test. And the behaviour being tested (in this case it was some statistical analysis) didn’t strictly require that many samples. Three samples would have sufficed.

So why is having the additional test data a problem? In general, it’s a productivity issue. Tests with lots of data take longer to write and to work out what the correct answer should be. It makes it harder to maintain. It makes it harder to debug.

It even makes the test class harder to browse because in this case, I needed to scroll past five separate sets of such data before finding the set I was looking for! (No, I don’t like regions, either, before you ask…)

I think the test data for a unit test should be the minimum required to fulfill the test: no more, no less.