Weekly Digest, 1-18-09

Links. Enjoy.

Also: only 2 more days until Barack Obama is our President!!!


Dan Gilbert researches happiness

Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness — sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.

A Fresh Look at Callbacks

The entire Rails request cycle is around 4ms. This may have shaved off 1/2ms, which isn’t going to be that big a deal for any app, but like I said, a few more of these optz and the full Rails request cycle will moot Metal.

Gently exceeding expectations

Exceeding expectations is the point of this post, but if you go too far, you don’t just exceed them, you change them. The next time your client comes back for more work, not only will they not believe you when you said that you haven’t completed the work in half the time, they’ll be disappointed that you didn’t go to the same effort as before. It’s a vicious, unfair reality.

Google Quick Search

Mac OS X only: We’ve been crazy about Quicksilver—a free application launcher for Macs—for years now. Today Google is releasing a new search-and-launch application called Google Quick Search developed by Nicholas Jitkoff, the developer of Quicksilver.

Your idea sucks, now go do it anyway

…people could share game objects by dragging them into chat windows… plans for the game fizzled out the engineers created a Flash application for real-time chat plus file-sharing with a particular emphasis on image-sharing… people were interested in the sharing part more than the real-time part… in yet another upheaval they rewrote the Flash application as a regular website and lo, Flickr was born.

Requests Per Second

Durations are a much more useful, and more honest, metric when comparing performance changes in your applications. Requests per second is too wide-spread for us to stop using it entirely, but please don’t use it when talking about performance of your web applications or libraries. [Fantastic to see this blog back in action!]

path to * mastery

Tutorials tend to go by the assumption that the listed code works as advertised, and that you’ll be massively productive. That rarely happens to be the case. There are many times when little edge cases make the code blow up in strange ways. Don’t panic, just learn how to debug the errors and fix the issue. I don’t mean just commenting out enough code until it starts working, but actually finding the root of the error.

Regarding The Personal Web

I don’t think it’s possible to have a successful presence or brand today without being a part of the social networks, without contributing more than just one kind of content, without using multiple channels. But I have no plans to stop writing and publishing here. Actually, I still feel like I’m just getting started.

10 things to be aware of in moving to Ruby 1.9

I thought I’d share my personal list of things you need to be careful of as you go from 1.8 to 1.9. This is not a list of changes; it’s a list of changes that you really need to know about to get your 1.8 code to work in 1.9, things that have a relatively high likelihood of biting you if you don’t know about them.

Writing Decisions: Headline tests on the Highrise signup page

We’ve been rotating some headlines and subheads on the Highrise signup page to see if they have an effect on signups. Answer: They do, sometimes significantly. [Amazing that these small changes could make such a huge difference!]

Subdomains in Rails

A quick how-to for creating Basecamp-style subdomains with Rails.


Extended G1 battery life anyone? | Android Community

Thinking about getting that extended life battery for your G1? Take a look at the graphic on this page and notice the size increase. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but definitely a game changer.

InformIT: Software [In]security: Top 11 Reasons Why Top 10 (or Top 25) Lists Don’t Work > The 2009 Software Security Bug Parade

Courtesy of Schneier’s blog, this is an interesting take on software bugs and security from the security perspective: good reads for admins, programmers and CSO’s, I think.

Online gamers in China must soon register with real names

China, re: Internet censorship, has once again FAIL’d /mightily/. The complete and utter failure of the Chinese government hivemind to grasp the basic necessities of privacy and how fundamental they are for the survival of a civilization would be hilarious if it weren’t certain to end in buckets of tears and bathtubs of blood.

Meet Son of Storm, Srizbi 2.0: next-gen botnets come online

In a nutshell, Ars explains the recent lull in spam and how the current up-tick is correctly understood as a mild prelude to the impending deluge. Good news for people who like bad news.

A diagram of the apt system

This dude basically used dot to diagram the under-the-hood of apt-get and aptitude; a must-read for anyone administering Debian boxes.

Ask reddit: What LaTeX resume template do you use? : programming

Fair warning: henceforth any links to any LaTeX projects and templates will be submitted to delicious. The world needs /MUCH/ more LaTeX and less word processing.

Make it All Opt-in and Stop Worrying So Much | AndroidGuys

AndroidGuys’ Scott Webster is completely off-base (and by "off-base" I mean "dumbfoundingly ignorant of the basic human right to privacy and the increasingly urgent battle between the privately owned Mega Corps and citizens for control of public spaces and resources into which we were all conscripted when Phil Knight declared open war on us in the 70’s") in his blithe response to the growing concern among the dudes at the Digital Democracy project re: Android’s capacity to a.) gather user info and b.) facilitate location-specific advertisements, but he does provide a handy entree to the debate.

What You Should Know Before Going to America – Topic Powered by Eve For Enterprise

Yeah, this was on reddit, but it really is too hilarious to pass up: a guide for (novice) Japanese tourists by (seasoned) Japanese tourists about how to get by in America. Mostly valuable as one of those exercises in trying to look at yourself the way that other people are looking at you.

Feb/13/2009 at 23:31:30 UTC – the Unix time number reaches 1234567890 seconds. : programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited.

demongin6 – Rat’s Nest Edition – Anki – Latin Deck

In what was perhaps the F/OSSiest moment of my life, I responded to my dismay at the lack of a widely available anki deck in Latin by scraping an online dictionary and creating one. The raw .txt file from my scrape can be downloaded here and imported on any contemporary version of anki.

The Sweetheart Brigade: Chicago hip-hop » The Grossest of Faux Pas

My new band just released our debut EP. In the course of the last two months we’ve a.) configured a vanilla WP install (with Disciple theme) to suit our needs, b.) set up a mediawiki install for our private, back-end stuff and c.) recorded a debut EP. The release part for same is this weekend. The Sweetheart Brigade so far has been, for me, an exercise in applying GTD principles/tools and the Linux admin and desktop publishing skills I’ve learned as an office drone to a meaningful, real-world project.

Web 2.0rhea hack mistaken for end of universe • The Register

The best postmortem on last week’s Twitter "hack" (complete misuse of word "hack"); calls the h4x0r’s lack of vision and creativity the result of "pussification". I am inclined to agree.

EU to ban plasma televisions in battle against climate change – Environment, News – Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Ban plasma TV’s for failing to meet environmental standards? Sure–why not? It would be better to ban them for being unreliable wastes of money that are generally unloaded on unsuspecting marks by unethical, mildly-hungover hard-selling sales-kids in Mega Corp retail chains, but this’ll do.

Skype Launches on Android Platform and more than 100 Java-Enabled Mobile Phones – About Skype

Personally, I only use skype three or four times a year–I can’t stand voice communication. If, however, you need it for biz or for overseas peeps or whatever, you may now holler on your Android phone.


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Trevor Turk

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