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Archive for May, 2007

A Tough Engineering Decision

Posted in Databases, Ego, Societal Values, Software Engineering on May 22nd, 2007 by leodirac – 2 Comments

Here’s the scene: It’s 1:30 PM. In 30 minutes the CEO of your company starts a conference call with analysts to announce quarterly earnings. PR told you he is going to tell the Wall Street analysts how cool your team’s website is. It is quite a success — in 18 months it has rocketed from non-existence to the world’s fourth most popular site in a very competitive industry. Sounds great to get some recognition, right? Only problem is, today your site’s kinda broken. The night before a database upgrade got confused half-way through with no possibility to roll back. One…

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Rub your nuts!

Posted in Health on May 13th, 2007 by leodirac – Comments Off on Rub your nuts!

This is a public service announcement and reminder. Men: please make a habit of periodically feeling your testicles for new growths or lumps. Women: same for breasts. If you have close friends who can help you with the task, then it can even be fun. But please try to remember to check regularly. Once a month is good. And don’t think that you’re safe because you’re young. You’re not. I bring this up because a one of my favorite people just got testicular cancer. I’m impressed but not surprised by my community’s reaction to the news — a hugely generous…

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Model Security: Such a good idea

Posted in Electronic Security, Ruby on Rails, Software Engineering on May 9th, 2007 by leodirac – 2 Comments

Why it’s good to break the MVC pattern Bruce Perens hit on a really good thing when he wrote a package for Ruby on Rails called Model Security. It’s too bad the project is gathering dust. But even if you don’t use the whole thing (I haven’t been able to) there are some really valuable ideas and chunks of code in there. The idea behind Model Security is to centralize security rules in the model classes. Certain objects can only be accessed by certain users. Perens talks about multi-layered security. But in my mind the real benefit is that you…

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Best Rear Tail Light Ever: Planet Bike Super Flash

Posted in Biking on May 8th, 2007 by leodirac – 1 Comment

This article has been federated to Safety Fourth: Outdoor Gear and Adventures. To read about why the Planet Bike Super Flash is the best real tail light for a bicycle, follow the link.

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Rhapsody Artist-Linker Greasemonkey Script Part 2

Posted in Music, Software Engineering on May 4th, 2007 by leodirac – 3 Comments

I’ve made some updates to the Rhapsody Greasemonkey Script I mentioned earlier. The script scans your web pages for the names of the most popular 1,000 or so artists and marks up the page with links the Rhapsody Online for playback. So anytime you’re reading a web page that’s talking about popular music, the names of the musicians will be hyperlinks that when you click them will let you listen to the artists’ music. The biggest change from the previous version is that instead of running the regex on the HTML of the doc, it just runs on the text…

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Offbrain: Externalizing Memory

Posted in Ruby on Rails, Transhumanism, User Experience on May 3rd, 2007 by leodirac – 1 Comment

I’m ready to introduce a little pet project to the world: Offbrain Mobile Memory Services. Right now it’s a very simple web app that just keeps track of lists of things. The only thing that makes it at all interesting right now is that the UI is optimized for display on mobile browsers. It’s modeled after the fabulous mobile gmail interface. Offbrain’s pages are typically between 1k and 1.5k total — they load very snappily on very slow mobile links. (Assuming dreamhost hasn’t swapped the app or the database into virtual memory — a perennial problem with cheap shared hosting.)…

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