Weekly Digest, 3-29-09

Trevor’s Links

Ron Carmel explains 2D Boy by the numbers

2D Boy’s Ron Carmel opened up this year’s Independent Games Summit hoping to somewhat demystify the process of starting your own indie studio (which he summarized with the following three steps: "save money, quit your job, and make a game"), and in doing so divulged their own by-the-numbers breakdown of how their goo-built world was formed.

Tuning the Toad

As we wrote just over two weeks ago, Hoptoad was having a hard time keeping up performance when certain websites were submitting thousands of errors at the same time. Fixing this became out highest priority and, as I promised then, we will outline the changes we made that have helped us to be able to weather the error storm.

Most Time Management Is Rubbish. Here Are Ten Things That Work for Me.

Over the last few years, I’ve read a ton of time management books and tried out literally hundreds of systems and standalone ideas for maximizing the effectiveness of my time, particularly in terms of my work.

Now is a Great Time to Be a Media Maker

The distance we’ve come in the decade and a half since I was driving newspapers over highway 17 in a VW Bug is astonishing. I look at the tools available to media makers today and can hardly imagine a more ideal environment. So why is it that all we hear about the media industry is doom?

TwitterAuth: For Near-Instant Twitter Apps

The public beta of Twitter OAuth support has been released and I’m excited to introduce a new library that I’ve been working on called TwitterAuth. TwitterAuth is a Rails plugin that provides a full external authentication stack for Rails applications utilizing Twitter. Think of it as “Twitter Connect” for Rails, letting you create an application that may be logged into using only Twitter credentials.

How to handle exception while developing api in ruby on rails

If the request was made for an html page then rails will handle the exception and will show the appropriate error page depending on if you are running in development or production mode. However for .xml there is an issue. If it is an API request then ,in the case of an error, you still need to send an xml response with the error message. Question is how to handle exception in a generic way.

The Three20 Project

Last week I released my first iPhone open source project, Facebook Connect for iPhone, and today I’m ready to start talking about the next one. Five months ago I talked about open-sourcing as much of the Facebook iPhone app as I could, and as you can see by the delay, that has turned out to be easier said than done.

Why Facebook has never listened and why it definitely won’t start now

Let’s say you’re walking down University Ave. in Palo Alto, California in a couple of years (or, really, any street in the world) and you’re hungry. You pull out your iPhone or Palm Pre or Android or Blackberry or Windows Mobile doohickey and click open the Facebook application. Then you type “sushi near me.” It answers back “within walking distance are two sushi restaurants that more than 20 of your friends have liked.”

Why Small Payments Won’t Save Publishers

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the media business is being turned upside down by our new freedoms and our new roles. We’re not just readers anymore, or listeners or viewers. We’re not customers and we’re certainly not consumers. We’re users. We don’t consume content, we use it, and mostly what we use it for is to support our conversations with one another, because we’re media outlets now too. When I am talking about some event that just happened, whether it’s an earthquake or a basketball game, whether the conversation is in email or Facebook or Twitter, I want to link to what I’m talking about, and I want my friends to be able to read it easily, and to share it with their friends.

Ruby’s Biggest Challenge for 2009

When new developers come to the Ruby world, lets greet them with Ruby 1.9.x. In the long term, doing so will improve our growth as a community more than any marketing effort ever could (and the two efforts are not mutually exclusive either). Ultimately, Ruby’s biggest challenge may just be our greatest opportunity to improve.

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

Timothy’s Links

T-Mobile "My Account" App

This another of those "it should have come out with the launch of the phone, but what they hey–now that it’s out, all’s forgiven" kind of apps. Basically, it’s your complete T-Mobile account data in application form. Very Apple-like.

The politics of the command line

Pass this along to friends and family who need a primer in F/OSS, GNU, etc. Tell them that taking 10 minutes to read it carefully is easier than watching an hour long Stallman documentary. For a number of reasons.

Fox News Pictographic Synopsis

Normally I try not to think or care about infotainment–I just sort of hope Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly will cancel each other out and the whole phenomenon will un-happen–but this is too good a compilation of Fox News screencaps to leave it un-bookmarked.

Teleportation, the last battle, and the Creator talks: How the world ends inside an online game

This is a fun blurb from CT on "eschatology as a design challenge" that, unlike good sci-fi, suggests an interesting idea, hangs just enough metal on it to make it run and then walks away from it without beating it to death.

Op-Ed Contributor – Dear A.I.G., I Quit! – NYTimes.com

lolcano. Nice try, PR guys, but if a heartfelt resignation letter full of dubious logic, apple pie cliches and evasive non-facts is the best you can do by way of laying out a decoy and deploying chaff, then you have, once again, failed utterly to succeed.

Election Fraud in Kentucky

Normally I wouldn’t bookmark a Schneier post, but this one is kind of special. Using clips from other articles, he basically makes the point (in a very reductive, minimalist, Bonsai-gardener kind of way) that the security "industry" is 90% sales, 5% hype and 5% actual security solutions: there’s a lot of talk about the implications of this, the vetting of that and what it boils down to is the fact that the entire commercial edifice is just an elaborate front end for one poorly designed user interface.

Core Duo Vista Powered Super Famicom

I’m pretty sure that this is a modern computer inside a Super Famicom case. Which, I’m also pretty sure, makes it the coolest case mod I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Hitachi Settles Price-Fixing Case for $31 Million

In case you didn’t know, Korea’s LG, China’s Chunghwa and Japan’s Sharp constitute something of a cartel. Not unlike the old-timey RAM cartel, these Mega Corps work as a sort of monopoly of convenience, setting (i.e. fixing) prices on LCD’s in everything from phones to monitors in order to maintain a balance between profitability and existential security (too much freedom in the marketplace, while potentially good for consumers, isn’t in the best interest of government-subsidized Mega Corps whose business models depend on anti-competitive legislation in order to maintain profitability). Add Hitachi to the list.


This is a fun kind of "get your toes wet with linux" type of project that you could suggest to your "I want to learn about linux, but I’m not ready to junk my MacBook just yet" friends. The gist is that you "install" this cat’s .py script on your remote machine and this script acts as an interface between the box and a Google calendar you set up. You enter bash commands into the calendar entries and it uses the times you set with the gCal interface to tell cron when to pop them off. What it lacks in simplicity (by being an incredibly convoluted "work around" for spending 10 minutes with the cron man page) it makes up for in colorful, user-friendliness.


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Trevor Turk

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