Archive for the_time('F Y')

Ruby on Rails 1.1
29 March 2006 in Tools | Comments (0)

Just a quick entry for anyone who is at all interested in keeping an eye on RoR but doesn’t check out their blog – Ruby on Rails 1.1 is now out. It includes over 500 changes from 100 contributors. Not bad since 1.0 only came out a wee while back. Great to see so much progress being made (I’m not sure how good that is for site hosts who will need to test the changes before rolling them out however).

For more information on the “wow” features of 1.1 visit the Ruby-on-Rails blog

For more information on some of the lesser known features that just make every day better check out this entry by Mike Clark.

As for the quietness lately, I’ve been playing around a fair bit with Ubuntu and trying out some new technologies (like RoR). I’ll try and post more of what I’m finding soon.

- JD

Delayed postings in WordPress
21 March 2006 in Blogging | Comments (1)

Recently I’ve been reading Geek’s blog quite a bit (the multiple author thing is looking to be a winner) and I was talking in one thread about how I’m looking forward to more content management features that are meant to be coming in the next version of WordPress (the software that powers my blog).

One thing in particular that I wanted was the ability to delay a posting being published. Today I realise that feature is already in WordPress – just set the “Post Timestamp” to a time in the future.

The reason for finding this, unfortunately, was not by my own investigation but due to a bug that cropped up when editing an entry with w.blogger. It set the timestamp to 2 days in the future. It was causing me no end of confusion as to why it wasn’t appearing on the site but was in the admin area. Looks like a bug helped educate me this time :)

- JD

UTF-16 and XML
21 March 2006 in .Net & Code | Comments (0)

Part of a current project I’m working on involves creating an RSS feed. After developing an XSLT and the xml to be parsed it looked like everything was going to work out just fine. Loading it up in FireFox was OK however then I loaded it in IE 6.0… Error.

IE complained bitterly about trying to open the XML however everything else seemed to work. On closer inspection there was an issue with the XML declaration tag:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-16"?>

It should have been UTF-8, not UTF-16. At it turns out the StringWriter in .NET can only create UTF-16 (StringWriter has an encoding property on it however this is read-only). This was also despite changing the encoding in the XSLT:

<xsl:output omit-xml-declaration="no" method="xml" encoding="utf-8"/>

Of course it seems somewhat short sighted that Microsoft would develop .NET to default to encodings that their own products can’t even support. So after some hunting I’ve changed it to do this:

XmlWriter xtw = new XmlTextWriter(Response.OutputStream, Encoding.UTF8);

_xslTransform.Load(Server.MapPath("rss.xslt"));
_xslTransform.Transform(doc, _argumentList, xtw, new XmlUrlResolver());

Now the encoding is correct and everyone is happy :) Not the most clever feature of .NET.

- JD

Windows XP on Intel Mac Confirmed
17 March 2006 in Apple | Comments (2)

A hacker has managed to successfully install Windows XP on a new Intel Mac and has had it confirmed.

You can download the required files and instructions here.

The jackpot ended up at $13,354 and has been awarded to the successful individual (who goes by the handle narf2006). The original context page can be found here.

There goes one of the last reasons I had not to buy a MacBook Pro…

- JD

Getting Real
15 March 2006 in Business | Comments (0)

John Lewis recently pointed me in the direction of 37 Signals new book – Getting Real.

The book is about developing web applications from a business point of view. It includes contributions from Seth Goodwin, Andrew Hunt (The Pragmatic Programmers), Marc Hedlund (O’Reilly) and many others.

You can download it for $19 off the 37 Signals site (it only comes in PDF format).

I’ve always been a fan of books that blend technology with business so I was already holding high hopes for this book before I read it. I’m not about half way through the book and it’s pretty good. Don’t go expecting pages dripping in theory and academic proof of why certain things should be done one way and not the other. The organic nature of the book makes great to print out and just have a flick through when you need some inspiration on a project.

Most of the subject matter is common sense but often flies in the face of conventions that most people use. Certainly worth $19 :) The only small thing so far that doesn’t seem so good is that it doesn’t appear to print very nicely (fonts are not strong enough to make easy reading).

- JD

Search Technologies Seminar
15 March 2006 in Google & Search Technology | Comments (2)

I’ll be presenting next Wednesday in Auckland on the challenges of creating a great search experience on your website, and what you can do to make it better. This is a twilight seminar run by Intergen (where I work).

The session will cover topics such as:

  • Why you don’t want Google
  • How to improve the performance of your existing search
  • What benefits you can gain from having a great search
  • How to make your website more search engine friendly
  • What search tools are available (including free tools, search products, etc)

At the session we welcome comment and feedback from the audience on their search solutions and the problems they may have faced. The intention is to cover both searching within a site and information on how to make sites rank better with international search engines.

To register or for more information click here to go to the Intergen website.

- JD

What the TradeMe sale has started
14 March 2006 in Business | Comments (7)

With the recent sale of TradeMe it’s no surprise that I’m hearing all sorts of people talking about starting some form of online business. It’s interesting to see that existing online businesses are all getting a bit more of an uptake thanks to the sale.

I noticed last week comments about NZDating.co.nz and how they have more than half a million members now and talking about how much traffic they’re getting. It seems like some of these sites are now salivating over how much they could be worth based only on how much traffic they receive.

The interesting site that seems to be gaining strongly from the TradeMe deal is Zillion. Zillion is a competing online auction site and they’ve received some good press in the last week. So much so that on the 6th of March their sever was overloaded. Then they increased their traffic by 100% in a week. That’s not too bad – they must be pretty happy.

What I’ve found interesting about the TradeMe sale is how it’s brought big business to the kitchen table. It seems most people aren’t even aware that big deals happen all the time. Perhaps because so many people are involved in using TradeMe they take notice. Perhaps because they were acquired by a publishing company they get more press than other deals? It seems most people discussing the TradeMe sale are completely unaware, for example, of the 3.3billion dollar take over attempt on CCH.

So what’s my point?

I’m really just happy to see more people taking an interest in what’s happening in business circles. Even if most of them are just wowed by the 700m dollar figure :) I just hope that people take a moment to look at what other activities are going on in our own backyard.

- JD

Ruby on Rails: My first application
14 March 2006 in Code | Comments (4)

Details about how blindingly easy it was to make the cookbook

Following on from my install of RoR in the weekend I went through and did a tutorial. Nearly all the tutorials for RoR are for building a recipe book application so that was what I started with. I jumped on the tutorial at ONLamp.com which leads you through setting up RoR and starting your application.

For most of my readers this is a quick tutorial to run through – you can quickly skip over the database section and just download the SQL script (unless you don’t know about databases) and you’ll be up and running in no time. The only small issue I had with the tutorial was that it is about 1 year old and some things don’t quite apply any more. Some of these are addressed in part 2 of the tutorial.

So in no time at all I had my application so that I could add, edit, delete and list all the recipes in my collection. I also had a categories collection that the recipes belonged to (Snacks, Desserts etc) which you could also add, edit, delete and list. I updated the listing of recipes to allow you to display based on category as well.

The tutorial demonstrated what I thought was a cool tool:

rake stats

Rake is pretty much a Ruby version of Make and running it with the stats command gives you information about the lines of code in your application (How many lines in your controllers, model, tests etc) and also gives a nice ratio of lines of code to lines of tests. Nice. I like stats :-)

So my entire application ended up being 51 lines of code – 2 more lines than the example because I AJAXified the deletion of recipes from the list (you clicked delete and the row faded off). 51 lines seems insanely efficient for all that I was doing. I think I’m in love :)

Does anyone else have some RoR stories, experiences or horror stories they want to share?

- JD