Vita Rara: A Life Uncommon

Technology

Setup (RESTful) Authentication First


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Well, I've learned a lesson, so learn from me, and don't repeat it. If you're going to use either of the Rails authentication plugins (restful_authentication or acts_as_authenticated), just set them up first, before you start into your own user models, etc. It's much easier that way.

Thank You Zed


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Dear Zed,

About that long Ruby on Rails rant against its core developers, the Rails community, those of us coming late to the party from other languages and platforms, and just about everyone else in sight... ok, credit where credit is due, Obie Fernandez and Mingle came in for some praise. Anyway, I won't hash it all out again. I really don't care. I will say though I strongly disagree with how you went about it. Bile is bile, and what you wrote is bile. I'm reasonably qualified in the taxonomy of Internet writing to make the identification. (Yes, I've written my share of flames, but none quite so base as yours.)

How I Use Rails Migrations for a New Project


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Yesterday I started a new Rails project and it got me thinking about how I use migrations at the start of a project. I generally start with models and migrations when I begin a new project.

My usage of migrations tends to differ in the first day(s) of a Rails project. I will frequently roll the version of the data schema between 0 and the current version. I do this because if I forget a field/property on a model I don't define a new migration to add it, I just roll the schema back to 0 (rake db:migrate VERSION=0), change the create table migration, and then do a rake db:migrate to bring the schema right up to date. I find this the most pragmatic method early on and I continue to use it until I can't.

The Future That Has Already Happened


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January second's Daily Drucker dealt with the future, but not as most business prognosticators or futurists might. As Drucker states it, "The important thing is to identify the 'future that has already happened...'"

The action point for the day is to identifying those trends in our market that have already happened, write about their longevity and their effect on our life and organization.

Software as a Service For the Rest of Us

Over the past few years, and particularly in 2007 Software as a Service (Saas) has really broken out and has become a force in the software industry. The first large scale SaaS offering that really broke through to my consciousness was Salesforce.com, then for me came Basecamp from 37signals.com. Salesforce.com represented a high level enterprise offering, with a high level of complexity and expense. Basecamp brought software as a service home to us all.

2007: A Retrospective


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Personal Life

Sylva and I got married on April 28. It's been a real whirl wind since then. We are expecting our first child on April 1, 2008. My time with Sylva is special and precious. I have a great partner, and look forward to raising a family together.

Overall business issues have dominated this year. I doubt that will be that case next year.

Business

It was a hard business year, but prospects for the future look good.

Quadran

Quadran has arrived. About 63,000 lines of Groovy, Java and JSP, with some XML files to wire it all together, and it's up and running. We turned on our first Quadran installation on December 5, 2007. This was the culmination of a process that began with an initial meeting in September of 2004, and the consummation of the development agreement in July of 2006.

Quadran: Shakedown Run


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Today is the first day we have our client's complete staff using Quadran. It's a good feeling. This is a day years in the making. We had our first meeting about this project in the fourth quarter of 2004. That's a long time ago. We started the actual project in July of 2006. Today we have everyone in the business running on Quadran, and using their old system in parallel. There are issues, but nothing fundamental, no burning houses, or staff jumping off the ship. Overall it has been a calm deliberate test.

We have created more automated test cases for this project that any other project I have ever worked on. In the early going I opted for Struts 2, POJO service beans, and JPA, because they were testable. I think this has paid off pretty well, because it's quiet here. I'm not hearing screaming and gnashing of teeth. We'll see what the rest of the day brings.

Solution for Very Slow Time Machine Backup


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Tonight I added an additional external disk to my Time Machine managed backups. This leaves me with the following configuration:

  • Drobo with 2 * 500GB HD acting as the Time Machine Disk
  • 250 GB Internal being backed up by Time Machine
  • 2 * 250 GB FW External Drives being backed up by Time Machine

After adding the second external drive to the Time Machine Backup I kicked off a backup manually. I proceeded to ignore it and do some coding. After a few hours it hadn't completed backing 40G of data. I did a rough calculation and it was averaging aproximately 300-400 kBs. Needless to say that's is quite disappointing. At first I suspected the Drobo. (I'll admit I'm not a USB fan.) After some searching I realized it probably wasn't the Drobo.

Replacement Systems are Really Hard


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Create a list of the hardest things to accomplish in software development and I'm sure near, if not at the top of the list, will be replacing an existing system. Especially a system that runs the lion's share of a business' operations. Especially when you can't look at the source of the system you're replacing.

For the past year I've been working on my Quadran project. Quadran is a drop in replacement for a system my client has been using for about five years. Completing Quadran has been just about the hardest things I've ever done. It has felt like an IT death march.

Multi-Model Forms in Ruby on Rails


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This isn't going to be an exhaustive tutorial on multi-model forms, but more of some observations from my learning to work with them over the past week. For a great introduction to multi-model forms see Railscasts. The major issue I've found if that the error messages when things go wrong, particularly at the view layer are almost meaningless or at worse utterly and totally misleading.

Walking into the Light: A Week With Ruby on Rails


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This past week or so two developers whom I greatly respect and admire really opened my eyes. It's been an interesting time since then. On October 23 on the Struts Developer list Craig McClanahan wrote:

Why the long winded diatribe? Because while I'd *love* to see life made simpler for Java web developers, and a lot of the things happening in Struts2 are going that way -- it won't be me doing it. I've gone over to the dark side :-) and much prefer to develop in Rails -- for the conciseness mentioned above, but also because I don't ever have to do a "build" or "deploy" step during my development cycle any more. But you guys and gals need to be reminded that *this* is the kind of thing you are competing against if you expect to attract Rails developers ... or to avoid even more "previously Java web developer" defectors like me :-).

To which Ted Husted followed up:

Personally, I'd characterize going over to Rails as walking into the light :)
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