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Archive for October, 2006

Missing GEM causes misleading “use_transactional_fixtures” error

Posted in Ruby on Rails on October 31st, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

A lot of people out there on the net are getting frustrated by this error message coming out of their unit tests: undefined method `use_transactional_fixtures=’ for Test::Unit::TestCase:Class (NoMethodError) I was recently getting this in my unit tests on my continuous integration server. The problem is that this has message nothing to do with the actual error. Rake has this bad habit of silently swallowing useful errors. Sometimes is just stops without saying anything, and other times it gives a completely incorrect message like this one. In my case, the problem was a missing gem on the continuous integration server. I’ve…

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Treo 700w: Daylight Savings SNAFU

Posted in Ego, Gadgets, Personal Growth, Technology, User Experience on October 30th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling like a zombie and was happy to figure out that with the end of daylight savings time, I had an extra hour to do homework. I started turning the clocks in my house back. They were all pretty easy except one. My inappropriately named “smart phone” just needed to reboot (not at all uncommon) to get its clock reset. But before too long I realized that not only was my smart phone was smart enough to move back its own clock, but that it also moved back every appointment in my calendar by an…

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Google vs. Microsoft: MS Retreats to Hardware

Posted in Business, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Music, Tech Industry, Technology on October 25th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Google vs. Microsoft: MS Retreats to Hardware

A couple of recent product announcements out of Redmond have me thinking about the current big struggle in the software industry: GOOG vs MSFT. Frankly, GOOG is eating MSFT’s lunch on the consumer software front. But MSFT still dominates in the enterprise, and will for a long time. GOOG’s model is hosted solutions, which enterprises are really hesitant to deploy. And with good reason — if you were a CIO would you trust all of your company’s IP to somebody else? Regardless of what promises they make, I wouldn’t. So Microsoft continues to turn into IBM. The two announcements I’m…

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Reading Enron’s E-mail

Posted in Business, Humor, Societal Values on October 23rd, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Reading Enron’s E-mail

Ever wonder what Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay were saying to each other before it all fell apart? Now you can read it for yourself. Check out the Enron Explorer. It lets you browse over 200,000 internal Enron e-mails. It’s got a nifty java applet for exploring connections and even has shortcuts for interesting topics like the FBI and shredding. Let’s hear it for information democracy! Thanks to Charles Armstrong for putting this together.

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Ultimate Ears: Isolation Headphones

Posted in Biking on October 23rd, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

This article has been federated to Safety Fourth: Outdoor Gear and Adventures.

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So you want to climb Mt. Rainier?

Posted in Climbing, Health, Personal Growth, Seattle on October 21st, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on So you want to climb Mt. Rainier?

I’ve climbed Mt. Rainier twice now. Once in 1996 and once in 2006. (I hope in 2016 I’m still up for it!) I get a lot of questions from friends who are interested in trying the climb themselves. So I thought I’d write some notes on how you could prepare. First off, if you don’t have a fair amount of rock climbing experience and mountaineering experience, or have a lot of experienced friends who are willing to babysit you, go with a guide service. This year I went without a guide service and I’m really glad I did it. But…

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Isolate your Continuous Integration Server!

Posted in Electronic Security, Software Engineering, System Architecture on October 20th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Isolate your Continuous Integration Server!

Here’s a little food for thought about hacking into a development system. If you wanted to gain control of somebody’s network how would you do it? Well, you’d probably try to figure out a way to get one of the computers on the inside of their firewall to run some code for you. If you could get it to run an arbitrary block of code that you wrote, then you’re probably pretty close to 0wning it. Now think about the continuous integration server in your development farm. What does it do? Whenever anybody checks in new code, it runs all…

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The Magic Wand of Encapsulation

Posted in Geek, Humor, Software Engineering on October 18th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on The Magic Wand of Encapsulation

I have a hat in my office. It’s a magic hat. You can ask it any question about software engineering, coding, or object-oriented design, and it will give you the answer. Just reach in and pull out a slip of paper and be amazed at the wisdom of the hat. Follow its advice and you’ll never go wrong. Every slip of paper says the same thing: “Encapsulate it.” Back in the 1980’s we all knew that global variables (or common blocks in Fortran) were evil. They led to subtle, hard-to-find bugs. We all know the kind — you call a…

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Chinese characters in Mysql: Dont forget the collation

Posted in Databases, Ruby on Rails, Software Engineering on October 16th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Chinese characters in Mysql: Dont forget the collation

I recently conquered another oddity in using chinese characters in MySql. Apparently, it’s not enough to set the database’s character set to UTF-8. You also need to set the collation to a utf-8 collation. You might think the collation is only important for sorting, but theres’ more to it. If you have selected a case-insensitive collation, then it is also used to determine equality. If the collation doesn’t understand character boundaries properly, then you run into strange problems. The database was convinced two very different chinese characters were the same because their UTF-8 encodings when interpretted as 1252 had similar…

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Grooving to the Moscow Beat

Posted in Humor, Music on October 12th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Grooving to the Moscow Beat

I recently noticed that Red Elvises got added to the Rhapsody catalog. Yay! Last time I checked, which was a while ago, they weren’t there, which effectively means I’ll never listen to them. (Like I’m gonna dig up a plastic disc to listen to music! Okay, I might dig through my fileserver for some mp3s, but it’s such a mess, I rarely bother.) If you don’t know them, take a listen to their first album: (how about that URL, eh?) It brings up fond memories of repeatedly running into them playing on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica….

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