Weekly Digest, 12-14-08

Here’s the latest installment of super sweet links from yours truly, Trevor and Tim. Also, don’t forget about our good friend Nick, who is also doing a weekly link digest over on his blog.

Introducing Cache Money

A version of this code is in production use at Twitter and is one part of the reason Twitter’s uptime has improved so much over the last several months. This is real, pragmatic, unmagical, production-ready code that can be a big part of your Rails scaling strategy. It is designed with massive datasets and real-world operational challenges in mind. And it’s almost effortless to use, since it requires no changes to how you use ActiveRecord.

jeremymcanally’s context

A super tight library to add contexts to tests. If you’ve ever wanted contexts in your Test::Unit tests, then context is for you. Your tests will be easier to read and write without all the magic and extra code smell!

Hacker News: I don’t want to work very hard

"The thought of having to expend my creative energy on things that make practical everyday life more refined, with a bleak capital gain as the goal, was unbearable to me." – Einstein

McDonald’s New Packaging

The new packaging takes on another major area of criticism – the content of its food. So, for example, in the new design the box for a Big Mac is adorned with clean photographs of the fresh ingredients inside – a mound of ‘100% pure beef’ sits atop scales. There’s a real onion and a real lettuce. This is packaging as advertising in a very explicit form, campaigning heavily to convince the customer that this stuff is made from real things.

10 things you could be doing to your code right now

Upgrade Test::Unit. Try out some TDD. Upgrade your fixtures. Install (and learn and use) a SCM. Investigate Continuous Integration. Know your code. Automate your deployments. Collect some statistics. Read other people’s code. Blog about it.

Learn Merb

[Another interesting comment feed on Rails/Merb…]

Writing My Twitter Etiquette Article: 14 Ways to Use Twitter Politely

With the usual exceptions, people on Twitter tend to fall into two main camps. There are responders, who use Twitter as a channel to interact heavily with other users, and broadcasters, who use it primarily as a micro-blogging platform.


After that moment of conception, what it is, however nascent, however raw, becomes part of the process. You’re adding to it. Changing it. Removing parts of it. But there is an it, where before there was not. There’s something magic and magnificent and frightening about that part in the creative process before there is an it, when you decide just what it should be.

HTTP Client – Mac Developer Tool for HTTP Debugging

A Mac OS X Leopard developer tool for debugging HTTP services by graphically creating & inspecting complex HTTP messages. [Fun fact: "http://google.com" returns a 301 Moved redirect!!!]

WordPress 2.7 “Coltrane”

The first thing you’ll notice about 2.7 is its new interface. From the top down, we’ve listened to your feedback and thought deeply about the design and the result is a WordPress that’s just plain faster. Nearly every task you do on your blog will take fewer clicks and be faster in 2.7 than it did in a previous version.

Yehuda Katz explains Merb

In this interview from RubyFringe, Yehuda Katz talks about Merb, its design principles, and how it differs from Rails. Yehuda also mentions Yard, an RDoc replacement.

How to reset postgres’ primary key sequence when it falls out of sync?

SELECT MAX(id) FROM your_table; SELECT nextval(‘your_table_id_seq’); SELECT setval(‘your_table_id_seq’, (SELECT MAX(id) FROM your_table)+1);

Grow Then Cull

Good product leaders have the vision and balls to be bold with experimentation, and equally bold with cutting all but the very best features and functions. A mature product is a phoenix which has burned to the ground and reformed hundreds of times. Each time it grows a bit closer to being the ideal solution to a real problem that users need solved.

Ray Ozzie Wants to Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode

To Ozzie, software’s soul does not lie in the accumulation of features. Instead, it lies in his dream of connectivity. "Live Mesh is very Ray," Mitch Kapor says. "It’s the son of Groove, which is the son of Notes." Which was, of course, the son of Ozzie’s beloved Plato. Thirty-three years later, Ozzie is still trying to build on what he saw in sophomore year. But it’s no longer the Ray Ozzie vision. It’s Microsoft’s.

Not My Gorilla

There are a lot of people who’d be a lot happier if they stopped worrying about other people’s 800 pound gorillas.

HTTParty Divorces ActiveSupport (and more updates)

…removed ActiveSupport as a dependency and added the JSON gem. Proxy Support. Format Detection Based on Content Type. Automatically Follow Redirects. HTML format. HTTParty.get/post/put/delete.

Hacking Billy Mouth Bass in Linux

Yeah, I know it’s old. But it’s Friday night and I’ve been drunk-WP-hacking. php makes me whimsical.

Motivation: Forty Inspirational Speeches from the Movies in Two Minutes

I have seen all of these movies. And yet it is so rarely the case that I triumph gloriously over adversity in the face of overwhelming odds. Strange.

Should Coffeehouses Do Something About Drink Loopholes? | coffee …

This article about Starbucks "loopholes" is exactly the type of knowledge that does /not/ need to be spread so far and so wide that it makes it back to Corporate. If, for example, the cornflower blue crew realizes that you can get a grande Americano (two shots) for under $3.00 at most locations while those two shots by themselves cost $4.00 or more, then those of us who occasionally have to drink Starbucks (on account of not acting like the pinkos we secretly are whenever the client wants to dip out of the office to speak candidly or the vendor wants to meet up in a totally neutral location bereft of anything that might cause anything to think even for a moment about anything other than the business at hand) will have no way to do so without dropping an unacceptable amount of paper on the worst McCoffee-house in the game. Basically, these hacks/exploits/whatever need to stay unexposed.

Giz Explains: Everything You Need to Know About Hard Drives

On the eve of the rise of solid state storage media, Gizmodo publishes a nice love letter to the HDD. Worth reading on a slow day; informative and casual.

16 Useful .htaccess Tricks and Hacks For Web Developers : Online Marketing Blog – Website Development & Website Marketing tips and Strategies

This is helpful is 1.) you find yourself working on someone else’s computer and can’t modify your own apache conf or 2.) you are setting up a home dir for someone who you can’t allow to access his own apache conf.

Is your subway system a platform? (Scripting News)

This isn’t a particularly great article, but it is worth reading if only for the fact that it suggests a future in which municipalities provide public access to some kind of API that allows people to develop applications based on their data (a la your favorite Web2.0 products).

Tools for your Slice // Slicehost – VPS Hosting

Slicehost is basically awesome. This is the first thing I’ve seen on the Internets–and I see a lot of things on these ‘ere Internets–that ever made me wish I had an iPhone. Perhaps I need to start the Android project for using the slicehost API…

Best options for coffee drinkers who like it "light and sweet"

Full disclosure: I don’t put any dairy in my coffee (seriously–why even drink coffee? if creaminess is what you’re after, may I recommend chocolate milk? seriously: you should try it) and I’m too old and poor to fuck around with lattes anymore (except on special occasions). That said, what you’ve got here is a nice summary of sweetener options: you’ve got mentions of setiva and turbinado and a quick nod in the direction of nutrition mythology (if you’re into that sort of thing). Mostly valuable as a primer on sweeteners.

NoFo: Proposition Hate

This is probably the best get-fly-off-the-handle-mad-about-prop-8 blog post. I’ve added it to my del queue because it seems like it’s going to be the genre-closer: it’s short and it goes back and forth between cloyingly maudlin (complete with developmental disabilities and child abuse) and threateningly vituperative in a way that I think represents the spectrum of acceptable responses to the passage of the proposition.

Gmail Labs’ New Task Manager Can Add Email to Your To-Do List

I’ve only added this to my del.icio.us queue on account of the fact that I was recently told by a friend that, contrary to what you might expect, not everyone subscribes to LifeHacker. And while I find this almost impossible to believe, they got the scoop on the integrated Gmail to do list manager (as far as my RSS queue was concerned) and therefore get the credit.

Google Offering Unlocked G1’s to Developers | AndroidGuys

On the one hand, basic ethics dictate that this probably should have happened (or at least been announced) at launch; on the other hand, even a child can tell you that basic ethics have no place in Corporate Media it’s hard to hold T-Mobile accountable for having been less than forthcoming with this news when the phone was launched. Still: this is an awesome loophole for people who aren’t ready to get into bet with T-Mobile but really want a G1.

Graffiti Wall Distillation: Tourist Scams, 2005

I generally wouldn’t ever recommend a list of common tourist scams to anyone who wasn’t my mother; it’s patronizing and, basically, if you’re an adult and you haven’t got the wherewithal to seek out this information on your own before doing your recreational thrill-seeking in the tourist traps of the First and Third worlds, then you deserve whatever happens to you. I would, however, recommend a list of common tourist scams to aspiring writers, creative and otherwise. Such a list as this one is exactly the kind of invaluable resource to which writing teachers and professional novelists often refer as their "secret weapons". Very interesting and inspiring stuff.


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Trevor Turk

A chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, promoted as an automaton but later proved a hoax.

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