Rant about Ruby on Rails

Zed Shaw rants quite a bit, stating that Rails Is A Ghetto. Most things I read about RoR are good things, and I guess that some of it is written by the people that Zed grumbles at. It is quite refreshing to hear other opinions, even if they might not be what I want to hear.

A generic XML visualization with Graphviz?

Why can’t I find an XSLT file that that converts any XML file to a Graphviz DOT file that visualizes elements and attributes? It’s almost like I’m beginning to doubt my Google “skillz”! I’ve found some scripts that are specially targeted to various XML-based formats, but no generic one. Maybe it’s so simple that I could have made it myself on the time I spent searching and writing this?

Bus Watch, a quite useless idea

My route from Ronneby to work in Karlskrona usually include the bus rather than the train. In the mornings I wait for the bus from Karlshamn to arrive in Ronneby. It is usually a few minutes late.

A recent feature of the bus line is the onboard wireless network. (See also Webbsurfning på bussen in my Swedish web diary.) Yesterday and today I used my Nokia 770 web tablet to listen to web radio on the bus. Unsurprisingly it did not work without interruptions but I expect that web surfing or sending mail works quite alright for the moderately patient commuter. The first idea I got after trying this was to install a WLAN-equipped computer at the bus station to scan for available “bus networks” (very funny, right?) in order to log arrival and departure times for the WLAN-equipped buses. The SSID in the bus is called BUSSONLINEn, where n i a single digit, so they are easy to spot.

This would be slightly more useful if a similar equipment was installed at the Karlshamn bus station too, because it would allow be to find out the average time it takes for the bus to go from Ronneby to Karlshamn, and then predict when the bus arrives in Ronneby based on the departure time from Karlshamn. That way I would know at what time I need to be a the bus station in the morning with better accuracy than the timetable.

All in all, a quite useless idea! It also made me think of the cute Gumstix computers that could be used for this purpose. I still haven’t found a good enough reason to buy one of them.

I leave it to someone else to figure out how to abuse these networks. You don’t even have to be inside the bus to do it…

Good domain names are hard to find

As the The Project is a web site, I had to look around quite a while for suitable domain names. Many of my desired names were already taken, but IIRC none of them was actually used for something. Some are probably a case of domain name speculation, some may be registered by people with a project idea similar to mine. I found and registered a .se domain but I couldn’t find a good .com domain available.

Maybe .com and .se domain names are too cheap, so people buy them at a whim? I have another idea for a neat domain name that could contain a useful web site, requiring the .im TLD. The Isle of Man does not sell their domain names cheap! One year is £40, two years £68 — not including VAT! That’s actually not a lot of money, but when making web sites for fun like I do, you don’t get much revenue.

I’ve found two really good competing sites for the original use I intended for the .im domain name. If I get it I need to broaden the scope, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing. Most websites on related topics usually have really lousy web design, so even I could make something better! I have some ideas but when will I have time to realize them?

The humble beginnings of The Project

Yesterday and today I took some time to work on The Project. (Tomorrow I’m back at work, so much for a holiday project.) I tossed aside requirements on a strictly Swedish interface, so the controller names are in English and I don’t use Ola Bini‘s Swedish Rails yet. Honestly I haven’t done any TDD/BDD yet either. The excuse I tell myself that I only cannot learn everything at the same time.

I lookup things in the Rails 1.2 book but as I’m using Rails 2 I’m browsing the web quite a bit too. One very useful resource I’ve found so far is Akita’s tutorial. So far I have restful_authentication working (from the restful_authentication gem), a “welcome” controller and two domain-specific models. I’m working on two related controllers.

A few words about using an activation step when registering a new user. I started out with the Restful_authentication & Activation instructions but I thought that having a HOST global variable was really silly so I found the retardase_inhibitor plugin and now I can properly generate URLs in the ActionMailer.

“Daily Scrum” at home?

I’m I crazy or not?

Me and my wife usually have a chat in the evening about what we’ve done during the day (“started painting the bedroom”) and our plans for the day after (“continue painting the bedroom”). When I realized how similar this is to the Daily Scrum, I smiled and started asking her and myself for impediments too (“we may not have enough paint left”).

I could call our common to-do list a “Family Backlog” too, if I wanted to take the analogy a step further… 🙂

Lock screen when I close the laptop lid

I’m quite sure that Ubuntu 7.0.4 (Feisty Fawn) with GNOME 2.18 locked my screen when I closed the lid of my laptop. Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) with GNOME with 2.20 did not until I made this change under the hood. The XML below can be imported with gconftool --load.

<gconfentryfile>
  <entrylist base="/apps/gnome-power-manager/lock">
    <entry>
      <key>blank_screen</key>
      <schema_key>/schemas/apps/gnome-power-manager/lock/blank_screen</schema_key>
      <value>
        <bool>true</bool>
      </value>
    </entry>
  </entrylist>
</gconfentryfile>

I want to read “Peopleware” again

Bruce Eckel recommends Peopleware — Productive Projects and Teams (by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister) in his recent weblog entry The Mythical 5%. When I ordered a bunch of book recently I was thinking of including both The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick Brooks and Peopleware, but I didn’t. It is probably a good idea to read both of them again as I haven’t read them for five years or so and I’m trying to be one of those 5% mentioned by Bruce Eckel…

I have plenty to read anyway though, and yesterday I spent some time on my latest project. I want to use Rails 2.0 but I keep Googling and reading pages like Rails 2 Upgrade Notes a lot when things don’t work exactly as they did in previous versions. A complicating issue is that the web interface for my project will be in Swedish so I will give my controllers Swedish names, but I want English names in the database so it will either be a kind of mix under the hood or I’ll use set_table_name in the models. I hope that Swedish Rails can help me out a bit!