Monthly Archives: July 2007

This week in review

This week in review has a surprise at the end after all of the work stuff.

It’s been another busy week at work – trying to get our latest offering out the door.  We hit a snag when moving our database from dev to stg.  A dba came in groggy and deleted our development db by mistake.  All of our work was based off of this db.  At my urging, we had our stored procedures under source control and continuous integration, but the table definitions and data weren’t.
Bit of a tense time until we got Thursday night’s backup restored.
I got to show my coworkers the benefits of learning new langugages.  Ruby on Rails has a really good approach to this issue.  In RoR you write your table definitions, etc. in ruby code in a series of files.  As you make changes you add files.
Each file has a roll out section and a roll back section.
For the next project at work I’m going to approach it in a similar way.  We run off of cruise control and subversion, not rake, but I think we could have a similar method.  You have a directory with database scripts. Every time you want to change the database, you add a script. CruiseControl picks up the script, runs only the new scripts in the directory.  If the script fails, it rollsback these changes and runs the rollback scripts.

In other news, I was chopping wood with an ax up at Matt Scott’s lake house this weekend and I chopped my foot instead of wood.  I’ve got some stitches and all of my toes, which is nice.  I’m working from home because walking is no longer fun.


The Ideal Gas Law.
Pressure and volume are inversely related. Temperature is related to both. This means that the more stuff you have, you either are putting it in a bigger space or putting it under greater pressure. This is why rockets, guns, cars and jets work. If you increase the pressure on your stuff but don’t change the volume, you are going to see an increase in temperature. This is why pressure cookers work.

I really enjoy Manhattan Special. It is carbonated, sweetened coffee and it tastes heavenly. Though it is called Manhattan Special, it’s very hard to find in Manhattan and very easy to find in Brooklyn. I recommend it highly, except for one caveat. When you buy a warm bottle of Manhattan Special, do not, however much you want to, drink it. Stick it in the fridge. Let it cool. Because the Ideal Gas Law applies very heavily to Manhattan Special. If you try to open it warm, the bottle will fizz and spit and shoot everywhere quickly. This is not because you shook it up or because this one bottle was extra fizzy. This will happen every time you try to open a warm bottle of Manhattan Special.

A chilled bottle will behave nicely and will not overflow. Chilled, temperature T is much lower, and correspondingly, there is less pressure p in the bottle of constant volume V. Opening the bottle, the delicious beverage will not try to expand to occupy as much space and you will not be covered in brown liquid, cleaning up your kitchen. This fact is brought to you by me paying attention in physics class.

This week in review

I’m trying to get in the habit of doing a weekly review now.  This should help me focus more on getting the things done that I care about.

I’ve started a few self-improvement projects recently and I’m sort of sticking to them.

  • Start learning a new programming language.  I’m picking up Ruby and specifically Ruby on Rails as my language of choice.  It seems to be perfect for very quickly creating small project websites, which is the sort of thing I enjoy.  This week I finished reading and coding along to Agile Web Development with Rails and I think I’m going to put up a simple dive log application on the web.  Hopefully my friends and I can log our dives there.
  • Start learning a new language.  Since I live in NYC, I’m trying to pick up Espanol. Sam’s better than I am, she’s listened to a lot of tapes.  I’m mainly reading the Easy Spanish Reader on the subway occasionally.
  • Eat less Meat.  Everyone yells at me when I say I’m a crappy vegetarian in a way they never did when I said I was a crappy pacifist.  The past week has only involved a little seafood and no red meat.  The rest was veggies.

Both Sam and I have been doing well on career development stuff.  She’s doing a new design of her website and it seems to be coming along.  I’ve gotten comfortable enough with Ruby on Rails that I’ll be trying a small project on my own and offering some help to the Downtown Bar and Grill down the road.  I think alot of what I have done is just repeating the magic incantations without knowing what they mean though.  I’m going to try to storm through Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby to get a better idea on what the language is.

At work, our big project is still steaming along.  We’ve gotten the features done, now we are working out bugfixing and deployment stories.  VSTO deployment is definitely where you get the feeling Microsoft didn’t finish the work before shipping their product.  I’ve also been learning all the crappiness that is nant scripting for our CruiseControl build server.  The documentation seems complete but only on the surface.

Last weekend Sam and I got to hang out in Maine on a houseboat with Jaymie v.V.  Her Aunt Karen was a great host.  She lives on a wooden houseboat built in the 20’s with a couple of cats.  She was one of the first women ever in the Merchant Marines and told us some chilling stories about it.   Portland was an awesome town to hang out in.  Sam and I are both definitely up for going back…

Things to do next week:

  • Hang out with Jaime while she is in town.
  • Finish build and deployment stuff at work.
  • Work on my dive log website.
  • Book tickets and hotel for Jonad’s Wedding.   I’m way overdue on this and I don’t know why.

On a personal note, Sam and I think our cat Magic has some sort of cancer.  He isn’t eating and is throwing up.  Hopefully he’ll make it, but if you are a fan of Magic Man you may want to come by and say hi.

Gliffy makes diagrams easy

Sometimes the best way to say it is with a picture. My experience has been that a picture is worth 900 or so words.

For drawing work diagrams, Visio is typically the king.

  1. It is made by Microsoft and big corporations typically have a volume license deal.
  2. It is pretty decent desktop software and fits most uses.

I was frustrated at Visio diagrams in our wiki when I was doing some user experience articles and creating lots of wireframes. I’d have to make a change, export to jpg, upload to wiki, reference the picture.

I’m way too lazy for that. I just want to make the change one time, and see it everywhere. I don’t like to repeat myself.

Since our wiki at work is running off of the excellent (but not free) Confluence Wiki from Atlassian, I was able to convince our architecture group to buy us a license for the Gliffy Plugin for Confluence. After some initial slowness issues, which the Gliffy folks fixed, it’s a dream.

You create a diagram, you reference it in the wiki – if you need to change it, it’s easy. Change it back – no problem. Gliffy has versioning.

All told, it took much longer to get through the paperwork to buy the software than to install the software, but it’s well worth it so far!