Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

PGCon 2008 - Call for Papers

Posted by Fri, 28 Dec 2007 15:58:00 GMT

Are you using PostgreSQL (the world’s most awesome open-source database server) with Ruby on Rails? Do you have any interesting experiences that you might want to share with an audience? Well, you might consider submitting a talk proposal for PGCon 2008, which is taking place in Ottawa, Canada.

Details follow…

PGCon 2008

PGCon 2008 will be held 22-23 May 2008, in Ottawa at the University of Ottawa. It will be preceded by two days of tutorials on 20-21 May 2008.

We are now requesting proposals for presentations.

If you are doing something interesting with PostgreSQL, please submit a proposal. You might be one of the backend hackers or work on a PostgreSQL related project and want to share your know-how with others. You might be developing an interesting system using PostgreSQL as the foundation. Perhaps you migrated from another database to PostgreSQL and would like to share details. These, and other stories are welcome. Both users and developers are encouraged to share their experiences.

Here are a few ideas to jump start your proposal process:

  • novel, unique or complex ways in which PostgreSQL are used
  • migration of production systems to PostgreSQL
  • data warehousing with PostgreSQL
  • tuning PostgreSQL for different work loads
  • replicating data on top of PostgreSQL

Both users and developers are encouraged to share their experiences.

The schedule is:

  • 19 Dec 2007 Proposal acceptance begins
  • 19 Jan 2008 Proposal acceptance ends
  • 19 Feb 2008 Confirmation of accepted proposals
  • 19 Apr 2008 Final papers/slides must arrive no later than this date

See also

Instructions for submitting a proposal to PGCon 2008 are available from:


Rails Business: Year Review for 2007

Posted by Tue, 25 Dec 2007 01:54:00 GMT

Happy Holidays!

Wow, 2007 has gone by really fast. I’ve been fairly busy wrapping up projects and getting ready to start new ones at Planet Argon. I’m sure that when many of you start a new project… you look back at what you’ve learned from previous ones. Even throughout iterations in a project, we try our best to have retrospectives to be sure that we’re all learning from what has and hasn’t worked. A few weeks ago, I decided to drop a note to the members of the Business of Rails community to ask people to share some of their lessons from the year. My goal was to get people to share their experiences from over the year with other members of the community and see where the dialogue takes us into 2008.

As expected… I got some great responses, which I encourage you to read for yourself. You might even participate in the conversation(s) and share your experiences. We’d love to hear them.

Side note… I’d like to thank all of you who have participated in the Business of Rails community over the year. It was an idea that came to me during RailsConf 2007 after I participated on a panel with other business leaders in the Ruby on Rails community. We now have over 800 members on the mailing list! I’ve learned a lot from the community and hope more of you decide to join. :-)

Putting Tumblr to work for you

Posted by Wed, 19 Dec 2007 19:27:00 GMT

I’ve been using Tumblr off and on since early April. I tend to neglect it because I’ve found the interface a bit clumsy. The recent redesign hasn’t improved on the things that I consider obstacles in getting things quickly added to my tumblr. Since the concept behind the tumblr is to quickly share things with people, the interface doesn’t facilitate this workflow as quickly as I think it could.

In any event, I tend to not login to my dashboard very often (few times a week?), which means that I don’t post as often as I’d like.

A few months ago, I finally started to use the Feeds feature in tumblr, which will automatically add things to your tumblr from an RSS feed.

The first feed that I started to use was my Flickr account.

Flickr to Tumblr

This solution for this was to tag photos that I want Tumblr to automatically with ‘to:tumblr’.

Next, you just need to grab the URL for the Flickr RSS feed for photos tagged with to:tumblr.

Next, you’ll want to add this feed to Tumblr.

Voila… in a little while, your photos tagged with to:tumblr will start to show up on your Tumblr. to Tumblr

Links to blog articles, web sites, etc… are things that I generally use for… so doing it once for each was taking too much. So, I’m now using the same tagging formula with to get Tumblr to automatically add links to my Tumblr.

Now, I can use the RSS feed for items tagged with to:tumblr on my account with Tumblr.

Pretty simple. :-)

Google Reader to Tumblr

Another place that I find myself wanting to post to Tumblr is from within Google Reader. Well, it’s actually really easy to do this by taking advantage of the RSS feed that Google Reader provides for your Shared Items.

google reader shared

Just grab the RSS feed from here…

Then add this RSS feed to Tumblr like the examples above.

Putting Tumblr to work for You!

I’m hoping to continue using this pattern with other sites as well. I’d be interested in hearing how other people are using Tumblr to aggregate focused content in an easy to browse way.


It appears that Tumblr currently only allows you to use five feeds to import. Until they upgrade this limit, you can use Yahoo! Pipes to do some of the heavy lifting.

Embracing Chaos, part 1

Posted by Tue, 18 Dec 2007 03:21:00 GMT

Consider this part one of several posts on my thoughts of the art of embracing chaos.

Don’t let the books fool you. The construction of custom software is an unmastered and volatile cesspool of chaos. I don’t adhere to the belief that there is a perfect methodology or process that will work for every project… as I’m sure many of you don’t.

Unlike bowling, you’ll never achieve a perfect score. Even in bowling, It’s unlikely that anybody will learn how to bowl a perfect score and do so on every game for the rest of their career.

You’ll never meet every expectation that a client has on every project.

You’ll never meet every expectation that a user has when they interact with your application.

Expectations are an interesting thing.

Your project might get widely adopted and embraced, but you’re still trying to control chaos.


It’s chaos. Pure chaos1.

So, why do we bother? Why do we try so hard when the odds aren’t in our favor?

To be continued…

Related Posts:

1 Chaos Theory, Wikipedia

SkitchCasting was so 2008

Posted by Tue, 18 Dec 2007 02:37:00 GMT

After reading my post on how we’re using Skitch at Planet Argon for adding some life to bug submissions and feedback, Ana Nelson came up with an ingenious idea for taking a collection of Skitch images and creating a slideshow an alternative to screencasts.

In her post, Screencasts are so 2005, Ana walks you through her process of finding a useful slideshow tool for her Skitch slideshow.

I’ll take this a step further and call this… SkitchCasting! ;-)

It’s really great to see that people are finding all sorts of uses for Skitch.

For more information on Skitch, visit or read my post, Skitch… my favorite desktop application of 2007?

For more examples on how our team is using Skitch… here are a few recent blog posts by my colleagues where Skitch was used.

Btw, I still have a few invites left. ;-)

Get to Know a Gem: Rak

Posted by Tue, 11 Dec 2007 16:10:00 GMT

A few months ago, I posted about an article that showed you how to colorize your grep search results. Since then, I’ve heard people talking about ack, which describes itself as…

“a tool like grep, aimed at programmers with large trees of heterogeneous source code.”

It’s written in Perl, which is fine and dandy… but before I installed it, I heard that there was a Ruby version named rak, which describes itself as…

“a grep replacement in pure Ruby. It accepts Ruby syntax regular expressions and automatically recurses directories, skipping .svn/, .cvs/, pkg/ and more things you don’t care about. “

Sounds great. Let’s see what this thing can do.

Installing rak

Daniel Lucraft, the author of rak, was kind enough to package it up as a Rubygem. So, all we have to do is install it via gem install rak.

   > sudo gem install rak                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  Bulk updating Gem source index for:
  Successfully installed rak-0.8.0
  Installing ri documentation for rak-0.8.0...
  Installing RDoc documentation for rak-0.8.0...
  ~ >

Great, let’s move on.

Using rak

Now that it’s installed, we can use Rak by typing rak from the command line. You’d typically want to run this from within the root of your application.

For example, basic usage would look like the following.

$ rak search-pattern

In my first test, I ran rak README.

Immediately, I see a greater advantage to rak over using grep and that’s because it’s giving me line numbers for free, which takes remembering a few extra options with grep.

Like grep, we can specify a specific path to search with. For example, we use a view helper named link_to_unimplemented to help us track actions that aren’t implemented yet. Looking at a current project, I can run rak link_to_unimplemented app/views and produce the following results.

I’m going to keep playing with it, but wanted to help get the word out. If you have any tips on using it, please share them in the comments. :-)

Older posts: 1 2