Archive for April, 2009

Books w00t

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

A few days ago I took stock and realized I was in the middle more than 4 technical books at the same time. So I went to the library and picked up some pulp. This happened to me before, though that time I was in an airport with my brains feeling squishy after two days of conference with only the GEB to comfort me.

Then I bought The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, which in my opinion deserved its long bestseller status. Speculative fiction rocks.

In a similar vein, I am reading another alternate universe mystery novel, though there are goblins and vampires in this one. It’s called Stalking the Vampire and has so far proved to be exactly the sort of book I need. It pokes fun at noir style, while having suitably ridiculous mythical situations.

I attended a stats course today. It took all day. Ugh. Now my brain is reeling abit. Which makes Stalking the Vampire a good choice, even though my hard copy of Ruby in Practice has arrived.

Ah, can’t think anymore. Pinky and the Brain is on.

Up Too Early

Friday, April 10th, 2009

beartooth highway morning

Mostly I am talking about today, but I was then too.


Friday, April 10th, 2009


But less of a hassle than I expected.

I also got some laundry done.


Ueno Zoo or Pandas are Popular

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Lost Japan files series:
The zoo


My hometown has a zoo. While I think that it is more modern, in some ways than the Ueno Zoo, as far as size goes, it is, well it loses that one pretty handily.

I went to the Zoo on a weekday. It was in midmorning in January and most people were at work. On the way there, I saw school kids playing with kites.

The park was pretty cool. The weather was a little chilly, but it was January and compared to Montana it was great. The park has a number of interesting shrines in it as well as paved walking paths etc. There are also cats, but I didn’t get any pictures of those.

I did however get some of a small temple — left over from one that burnt down. And a small Inari shrine( thats the fox-ish god for you not down with the shinto folks).


The zoo was fun. It had pandas.


Also, praire dogs, no joke.

Praire dogs, Really?

 Afterwards I went to akiba. but thats for another day.

Merb in Action: Ch 1 Thoughts

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Last night I read the first chapter of what will become Rails 3 in Action. So far, I really am enjoying it.

One of the things that frustrates me the most in my own projects is this feeling that things need to be big and get abstracted before they can be useful. I guess it might be a hold over from being a student and wanting to over achieve, or maybe just the classic problem of the hobbyist who tinkers but never manages to really build anything.

It is a gumption trap, to use a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-ism; a thought that sort of stalls my work on a project.

“How will this be useful to anybody?”

“How can I get this to a usable state?”

I think I am getting better at this problem, but sometimes I feel like I have this irresistible urge to over-architect things that gets me into trouble.

What this has to do with Merb in Action?

Well, the thing I thought was really cool was where the authors linked to the pastie that started it all, clocking in at ~120 lines.

I look at that and I think two things.

  1. I usually over think things
  2. I can do this.

The beginning of merb is completely grokable. It reminds me that something doesn’t need to be fully designed. It just needs to be useful enough.

or you could just say:


You Ain’t Gonna Need It.

YAGNI is part of the reason why I have been trying to use BDD in a more disciplined way. By using the Feature->Spec->Implementation workflow, there is less temptation to add neat features on the backend that are never used. I have worked on a number of projects where I ended up writing more code than I needed, than was used.

Writing from the outside in helps to manage that some. After all “no code is faster than no code.”

New Books

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I just ordered Ruby in Practice and Rails 3 in Action from Manning(they had a one day only 45% off promo).

The Rails 3 book won’t actually be coming out for a while, but in what I think is an ingenious publishing move, people who preorder can look at drafts of chapters as the book is worked on. It reminds me a little of how Lawrence Lessig is doing the next edition of his books. Except of course totally different.

The thing that makes them similar is the added participation of future readers. It isn’t that this is a new idea. People have been soliciting comments on publications for as long as they have been around. Technology just changes the timescale and the scale of the projects.

Anyway, cool.

Right now, I have Ruby in Practice and through the fourth chapter of Merb–Rails 3 in Action. More later.


Up too late out of ideas

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Play is important. Must institute changes in life. again.
Also, TED is awesome if you didn’t know already.
I give you Stuart Brown’s presentation.

I miss Japan

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

daibutsu snot

Diving In

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

As, I said earlier, I have been reading Time Management for System Administrators and trying to take the useful things out of it, while ignoring the bits that don’t particularly apply. Like any book of advice, much of it has a sort of “well duh” quality but sometimes those are the very things you aren’t doing because they seem too easy.

One bit of good advice that everyone already knows but few actually do anything with is to write down your goals and to set goals that are reachable. Or, more aptly, testable, like “I will do X by Y.”

So rather than my usual, “Hey, I want to be more involved in the ruby community.” I should set some goals that are more reachable. One of those is to add a patch to some bit of software maintained by someone else.

So, I have been looking at projects on github and poking around at them. One thing I would really like to do is to make it easier to test file uploads on rack apps without using rails. Mostly with webrat. I have this killer sinatra app that I would like to write features in cucumber for, but file uploads refuse to be easily testable.

I kludged some stuff together that I have been working on, but it is not working yet. Essentially, the problem is that webrat for rails uses some bits of rails that handle that stuff, while the sinatra code doesn’t. In fact, the sinatra code makes things more difficult–maybe. I have had some trouble following stuff up the call stack.

Hmm. Maybe I should have tests for my tests. and send mocks to the code that I am going to use for testing to figure out what it does that I should change.

I git cloned the webrat repo from github and got its specs running, mostly. Then I installed more gems, like redgreen and running rake spec still didn’t work. But, I found the problem.

There was a spec in the merb session code which used setup instead of before which was breaking.

Now, all the current specs pass, except the pending ones. That leaves where I am this weekend, trying to figure out where my changes fit. I think I should build a small sinatra app to test my testing, so it will be more in context.


In Progress

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I am currently working up something dealing with testing sinatra with webrat and a review of Time Management for System Administrators, but I haven’t had time to work on them much recently.

Monday I had fencing.
Tuesday I went to game night at the GSLIS building
Wednesday I went to the CUtweetup.

So, busy.