31 October 2006


Originally uploaded by Chris Bailey.
I'm taking today off. I'll be doing two primary things: cooking and coding. I'm going to do some coding work on my side project, as well as cooking for the little family Halloween get together we're having. As you can see from the pic, I'm grilling various peppers, some of which will be eaten as is, others are diced and put into a salsa I'm making. I've already got the chili simmering on the stove, and the immense cheese platter is up next. But, right now, it's time to take a break and code for a little bit. Happy Halloween!

30 October 2006

Fall Leaves of Beauty

Originally uploaded by Chris Bailey.
Here's a beautiful leaf from one of our backyard trees. Nearly all the leaves on this tree look like this right now, and it's just stunning. Taken this past weekend - the leaves have already changed quite a bit since.

21 October 2006

Moving to Eugene, Oregon?

My wife, kids, and I have been thinking about moving for a while now. We can't stand the heat here in Rocklin, CA, and have been wanting a different kind of town - less strip malls, more outdoor and healthy living oriented culture, better coffee ;-) and so on. We're now planning to move to Eugene next year, which is relatively shocking to me. I had thought we'd pick Bend or Portland, and was fairly biased against Eugene, but then being thorough, went to visit last week. We wound up liking it quite a lot. Also, we went into 10 houses with a realator and liked a lot of them, and it's reasonably priced (by CA standards).

The main downside from my perspective so far, is that the startup and tech culture is relatively minimal, Portland being quite superior. But, I have a ton of experience working remotely (did so for 6 years for multiple employers), so know it can work. Mainly I'd just miss the energy of being colocated with your other startup cohorts. For the time being I'd simply plan to work remotely in my existing job.

All in all, quite exciting. We've even found a house we love, so the question now becomes whether we go for that, and own two houses until we can move and sell ours, or wait a bit. Might be a crazy next few months.

New Camera Gear

I'm quite excited, as I just ordered a new camera. I'm getting a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. I chose to get the "throwaway" 18-55 lens with it, which we did not do when we bought our Rebel XT, as instead we got the super sweet EF-S 17-85 lens, which is awesome. But, since we had the 17-85, and I also ordered a 70-300 IS lens, and knew I couldn't take the 17-85 away from my wife much, I got the cheap 18-55 to mostly fill the lower/wider angle end. We also recently got the EF-S 60mm macro lens which is pretty damn cool if I do say so.

Photography is a new thing for me, but I've been really enjoying it, in large part to using a DSLR. I used to use point-and-shoot digital cameras, and they were fun, are good for carrying on a mountain bike ride, etc., but the DSLR is just so amazing in comparison. I take much better pictures with it, in part I think because it makes me take a bit more time and simply the heft of it makes me more serious about it I guess.

I chose the XTi this time almost completely on price. Dell had this superb deal going on them, combined with a 20% coupon, which got me the body and 18-55 for $635 which is a screamin deal. I'd been debating between it and the 30D, which my father-in-law just got, as well as a friend. The 30D is super nice, but the Rebels are quite fine for me, and the nearly $400 I saved payed for most of the 70-300 lens.

10 October 2006

GMail Package Tracking Rocks

One of the things that's been added to Gmail somewhat recently (AFAIK), is that it senses package tracking numbers in emails, and adds a little link to track it in the upper right of the mail window. This simply rocks. It's a little thing, but darn if it isn't just a big time saver and great convenience. Small things like this can really set services apart.

09 October 2006

Bookmarklet for Pandora mini player

Matt recently turned me on to the Pandora music service. Very cool - check it out if you haven't. I always like to use their mini-player, but I wanted to be able to just bookmark that and have the mini player open. So, I created a bookmarklet for it. Drag the link below to your bookmark toolbar (in Flock or Firefox; other browsers use the appropriate mechanism). Now, whenever you click that link, it'll open a new window with the Pandora mini player.

Pandora mini player

Resources for Restful Authentication in Rails

I've been doing a fair bit of REST web service work in Rails apps lately. One of the interesting parts is doing the authentication pieces, and coordinating this with your regular interactive authentication. I've also been ramping up on the whole Simply Restful thing. I'm not totally sold on it, but the one thing that is definitely appealing about it is the further constraint it places on your code for which that primarily comes down to enforcing more consistency.

Anyway, in terms of REST WS API's, and authentication, there's a new Restful Authentication plugin that uses acts_as_authenticated. The San Diego ruby user's group had a video podcast and slides that touch on it briefly. These point to NAME's blog entry on using this for REST WS and authenticated feeds as well. Good stuff.

Why SSH stopped working on my Mac - with solution

I use SSH a lot, and recently it stopped working on one of my Macs here at home. I couldn't figure it out for a long time. The only thing I'd changed was that I got a new Linksys router (a WRTG54, which has WiFi and a switch). Previously I was using a Linksys router that was single port, and no WiFi.

Long story short, it came down to the DNS setting on my Mac. Even since I used SonicWall's, I had set my DNS entry to that of the router, not those of my ISP. This was nice, because then if the ISP changed DNS entries (which I pick up via DHCP), I'd be insulated. Well, apparently with the new Linksys, this somehow messes up SSH. It doesn't seem to bother anything else.

The one other nice change though, is that SSH connections now happen noticeably faster than they used to. Thought I'd pass this along in case it ever happens to anyone else.

08 October 2006

Installing Rails, Apache 2.2, and Mongrel on Ubuntu Dapper 64-bit

I am setting up a system at SliceHost, on one of their Ubuntu Dapper slices. First, I'm not as familiar with Ubuntu as I am Fedora, but this is one reason I chose Ubuntu (to get more experience). Anyway, I found several other blog posts and such on the web about this, but none worked perfectly. I glommed mine together by using them though. Here they are:

And, here's what I did. First, uncomment the universe lines in /etc/apt/sources.list. Then...

# apt-get update# apt-get dist-upgrade
# apt-get install ruby ruby1.8-dev ri rdoc
# ln -s /usr/bin/irb1.8 /usr/local/bin/irb# wget http://rubyforge.org/frs/download.php/11289/rubygems-0.9.0.tgz
# tar xvzf rubygems-0.9.0.tgz
# cd rubygems-0.9.0
# ruby setup.rb
# cd ..
# rm -rf rubygems*
# gem install rails --include-dependencies
# dpkg --purge apache apache2 (this removes Apache if it exists, which it didn't)
# apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev
# wget http://apache.rmplc.co.uk/httpd/httpd-2.2.2.tar.gz
# tar xzvf httpd-2.2.2.tar.gz
# cd httpd-2.2.2
# ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache2 --enable-mods-shared=all --enable-deflate --enable-proxy --enable-proxy-balancer --enable-proxy-http
# make
# make install
# cd ..
# rm -rf httpd*
# apt-get install postfix (Then, use the "Internet Site" default setting, and picked "WeighPals.com" as the name)
# apt-get install mysql-server mysql-common mysql-client libmysqlclient15-dev libmysqlclient15off
# apt-get install libmysql-ruby1.8
# gem install daemons gem_plugin mongrel mongrel_cluster --include-dependencies

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06 October 2006

Friday Night Coding

Some might consider it sad, but I'm really enjoying spending my solo Friday night coding.  My wife and kids headed to the Bay area earlier this evening to spend time with the grandparents and some of my wife's friends.  I have a project I've been wanting to work on for a while, so I'm taking the opportunity to hack for the evening.

Right now I'm enjoying:

  • listening to Pandora, a very cool service
  • sipping a decaf espresso (I don't need to stay up that late, and I had a regular espresso earlier this afternoon :)
  • Hacking Rails code in TextMate, with ZenTest's autotest keeping me on track.  The project involves a few interesting things:
    • Amazon's S3
    • Music files
    • Some "Web 2.0" features (natch)
    • Client side code (just for Mac so far, but hopefully Linux and Windows as well)
  • Figuring out where I'm going to host it.  I believe I will have one of TextDrive's new containers soon, but we'll see.

Hope you're enjoying your Friday night as well.

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