28 May 2008

I'm at RailsConf 2008 This Week

I'll be at RailsConf this week. Looking forward to it, and to time in Portland which I always like. Already scouting out places to eat, which it appears I'll have to watch the time on given there are many BoF's and other sessions in the evenings that sound good. See you there...

23 May 2008

Jelly - work at my house

Jelly, what is it? It's not something you spread on toast, or not this kind anyway. Jelly is "casual coworking". It's popping up in different cities, and what it really boils down to is, someone opens up their house/apartment/some space, and folks get together to work. They aren't collaborating (although they could), it's just a way to get that social interaction for folks (like me) who work at home. You get to meet and interact with other interesting folks in your area, maybe do a bit of work, and get that social interaction you miss while working at home.

To learn more, check out this video that NPR did, or Amit Gupta's (who started Jelly) video.

This is pretty interesting to me, and I'm actually thinking I might do it here in Eugene. I'll have to consider whether I want to invite a bunch of strangers (as great as you all might be (hopefully ;-) to overrun my house for the day or not, but it seems pretty interesting. I always have to think about balancing this with privacy and having a bunch of random folks that I'm not directly aquanted with knowing my house/where I live, and so on. I consider it a bit different than say the 20-something single person living in a random apartment in a city. This is my house, and where my family (wfie & kids) live, etc. Still, it intrigues me. Plus, I have the space, WiFi/net, etc. to do it, and the tech folks (shout out to the Django group) I've met here in Eugene are all cool so far.

21 May 2008

Monitoring Mongrels on an F5 BigIP

Almost a year after I raised the issue of problems monitoring Mongrel instances on an F5 BigIP, I still get occasional emails asking whether I got it working and how, etc. So, firing off this blog entry to hopefully provide a more findable solution for folks (the mailman mongrel-users archive seems broken, and clearly people find my initial query on the subject, but not the response with the solution).

So, if you need to monitor Mongrel instances with an F5 BigIP, and are doing so with an HTTP monitor health check, you want to set your Send String to be along the lines of the following:

GET /heartbeat/index HTTP/1.1

The key point here is to have the "\r\n" lines (the "\r" is what I was missing and many folks seem to get tripped up by the proper way to specify the line breaks needed for the HTTP request).

Here's a link to the solution provided by Jason Hoffman of Joyent, on the mongrel-users maiing list.

Note that I haven't worked with F5's since September 2007, so likely can't answer any further questions.

08 May 2008

Webcam Recommendations

I'm back to needing recommendations for a webcam. On the site (Basecamp Silverton), we will only show images/stills taken from the camera, probably at some interval in the "minutes" range. The camera will be pointed at the local mountain from a house in town (the mountain is pretty darn close, but still, it's a mountain/in the distance, as compared to say a security or other similar application). We're looking for a camera that can automatically upload images to a server via FTP/SSH/SCP at regular intervals.

Our criteria are the following, and I was hoping folks could make some recommendations:


  • video doesn't matter, must be able to produce still images of "reasonable" quality

  • lens and such must be sufficient to shoot a pretty high depth of field to maximize focus across long-ish range (I will explain that it'll be pointing at a nearby mountain from house in town, etc.)

  • Must do automated image upload via FTP and/or SSH/SCP.

  • Controllable interval on automated upload (nothing too fancy, but we may want as fine as say every 2 minutes or every 5 minutes?)

  • Wireless/WiFi (in case we want to mount it outside, or just to make it easier inside)

  • web/browser based configuration, or configurable via a Mac (we do not have a Windows machine)

  • $500 or less. We may have some flexibility here, if for example it includes the outdoor enclosure/is weatherproof.

  • Really prefer not to have any separate software solution, other than what's in the camera, but if that is the best way to get the FTP/SCP upload, because we won't have a machine to dedicate to running it.

Nice to haves:

  • Ability to be mounted in an outdoor enclosure, or weatherproof itself. This will be in Silverton, Colorado where they routinely see temperatures below zero, and have snow, etc.

  • user adjustable zoom

We already had one camera, a TrendNet TV-IP201W, which was nice and cheap, but the thing appears to just have up and stopped working. Plus, we had a lot of problems with it's FTP upload (and weird limitations on length of user login names and so on). Also, this camera seemed to just "crash"/need reboot every so often (often enough that it was annoying).

06 May 2008

Bring Light's New Facebook App

At Bring Light, we recently released a Facebook application to serve as a companion to our main site. You can now use the Facebook application to show what projects you've contributed to, what your favorites are, what groups you're in, and tell the world about your philanthropic activities on Bring Light.

If you're already a Bring Light user, you can get to the Facebook application two ways. If you're logged into www.bringlight.com, there is now a Facebook link in the upper right. Or, you can go directly to the app on Facebook, by going to http://apps.facebook.com/bringlight/.

Here's a look at what the wide profile box on Facebook looks like after you add the app:

Facebook | Chris Bailey
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

05 May 2008

Announcing ShipFu!

Have you ever needed to quickly compare UPS and USPS shipping rates, and just wanted a simple web page/app to do it? If so, check out my new ShipFu app. It's incredibly simple. No gratuitous web decoration, no hidden motivation behind it to promote some other product or shipping service, etc., just a simple calculator. Enter your package origin and destination, and dimensions and weight, and voila, you'll be presented with all the rates available for that from the two services.

I built ShipFu to address a need of my own, and the fact that I just didn't seem to like any other solutions out there - seemed to be too many hidden agendas or ungainly UI's, etc. Also, I built this as a bit of an experiment with a few technology aspects. It's a Rails app, and is running on the new-ish Thin server, etc. I plan to have a blog post that goes into a lot more depth on some of the fun things that occurred as part of building this super simple app.

Also, please, by all means, send me feedback (use the feedback link shown near the bottom of the site) if you'd like to see some feature or enhancement or what not. Or, just use it to help you quickly gauge shipping rates.