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Software Engineering

Global XML config for time change rules

Posted in Software Engineering, Tech Industry, Technology on February 15th, 2007 by leodirac – Comments Off on Global XML config for time change rules

I’m sure by now most of you have heard that last summer congress legislated a new start to Daylight Savings Time this year. Instead of the first Sunday in April it’s going to start on the second Sunday in March from now on — March 11 instead of April 1 this year. Overall I think this is a good change — I’d prefer daylight savings time year ’round, except for that part where kids get run over going to school in the dark. But it is of course playing havoc with computer systems everywhere which have the DST rules built…

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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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Rhapsody.com comes out of beta

Posted in Ego, Music, Software Engineering on October 5th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Rhapsody.com comes out of beta

Small note of personal pride and pride in my team at work: www.rhapsody.com has stripped off its “Beta” branding with a fresh new design and cool new AJAXy features including an improved web player and better personalization. We launched last night, which was unusually stressful. Our load test numbers weren’t glowingly positive. And if the servers couldn’t handle the load, things could get really bad. Normally, we’d just roll back to a previous version of the code, but because of marketing requirements around a new product launch, we couldn’t do that. So last night after we launched and the servers…

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RealTime: The Newest RSS Reader on the Block

Posted in Software Engineering on September 26th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on RealTime: The Newest RSS Reader on the Block

“Be the first to know.” “The feed reader your mom can understand.” Whatever tag line you want to hang on it, RealTime has launched and it’s pretty cool. It’s a web-based feed reader with an integrated browser/desktop toolbar and screensaver. My good friend Mason has been dedicating his life to this product for a while, and it shows. It’s slick and pretty and is built on some pretty darned cool technology. The toolbar is a win32 shell hosting MSHTML frames (which probably still has a few lines of code in it that I wrote way back in the day) with…

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