Code and Life

Programming, electronics and other cool tech stuff

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Rails template caching intricasies

You just have to love coding. I mean, unless you don’t, you’re not likely to put up with two hours of nearly useless debugging, when you realize your WeBRICK or Mongrel development environment do not work as it should. That’s exactly what I just did, and in order to help others, I’ll give you the details so you can get some decent results when Googling.

The problem: I wanted to do some quick template prototyping. Hitting my WebFaction rails development environment, I started to make changes to a page template, update it, make changes, etc. Only this time no changes were shown after initial load! Only a server restart would make the changes visible. WTF. This isn’t how the development environment should work at all!

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Django – next stop after Ruby on Rails?

Having done web development on several platforms (Perl+CGI, ASP.NET and PHP), I was introduced to Ruby on Rails about two years ago, and it was love on first sight. The separation of code and layout was a bliss after PHP require statements (and vaguely similar to ASP.NET, by the way), and database abstraction was on a wholly different level.

And, you don’t need semicolons after statements in ruby, just how sexy is that? What more can a man need (write a comment, if you disagree :).

Now Rails does have some annoyances, like painful configuration for multiple applications running on a same server. If someone actually likes writing Lighttpd rules and making special provisions for it in routes.rb, again, let me know. It also seems that in some cases, all the abstraction and “there is a really clever hack to do this with just one line of code” -mentality has taken over good sense, which for me has meant that my “Rails 0.9” skillset has been mostly deprecated, and replaced with layers upon layers of new stuff I should be continuously keeping up with.

Now a recent Slashdot article (the one linking the page-long rant from Mongrel developer) had some positive comments related to Django, and I decided to check it out. And guess what? It just rules.

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Nokia acquires Trolltech!

Just a short note on this Slashdot newsbit that almost got me falling off my chair: Nokia is acquiring Trolltech, the makers of QT graphics library behind the popular Linux window manager (/platform) KDE.

I mean, if I had been asked a month ago the top three companies making money with open source software, I would’ve replied RedHat, MySQL and Trolltech. And since MySQL has already been acquired, I really wonder what is next.

Also, it is interesting that Nokia decided to acquire Trolltech, even though their Maemo platform is based on GTK and Gnome, not QT and KDE. Well, let’s just hope they don’t stop providing a GPL version of QT in the future.

Anyone want to bet who is the next open source shop being acquired by some big players? My bet is RedHat being acquired by Google or Microsoft, because, well, that would just be surprising, wouldn’t it?

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Darkest material yet created using nanotubes

Just a short interesting headline that got my attention on Slashdot:

Nanotubes Form The Darkest Material Yet Created

Picture of this 99.9% light-absorbing monster material can be found from news.com.au coverage. Now as many slashdotters pointed out, this opens up obvious possibilities for solar panels, but once these really get cheap, I’d propose a couple of additional ones:

  • Limiting the light scatter in open areas where adequate lightning (e.g. for safety) and darkness are simultaneously preferred. Theaters, nighttime transportation (ever tried to sleep in a well-lit train?) spring up to mind
  • Ninja clothing. Of course the problem is, that once you actually become darker than the night, you may be more easily spotted.
  • Striking interior decoration. Doors that look like black holes? Check. Really black borders for your home theater projector canvas? Check. Sofa that just doesn’t seem to be there? Check!

And of course there is my absolute favourite: MacBook Night Air, as shown below.

MacBook Night Air

Like Nigel Tufnel says in the movie This Is Spinal Tap: It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.

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Nice hosting for Django and Rails nuts

Just thought to post a brief and shamelessly positive note on my current hosting provider, WebFaction. It was actually their one-click WordPress installation procedure that got me playing around with blogging, which then lead to founding this blog. I ran into it when searching for suitable site to host Django-powered software, which lead me to this comparison of Django-friendly web hosts.

Now this probably wouldn’t be worth noting otherwise, but WebFaction is the only provider so far (leave a comment if you find others), that fulfilled all my stringent requirements for a hosting provider:

  1. Support for PHP, Ruby on Rails and Django (this alone is hard without virtual servers)
  2. Support for MySQL and PostgreSQL (to suit the daily mood)
  3. No arbitary limits on subdomains and domains within plans (it’s not like they cost anything to the provider)
  4. Starting cost must be below $10 a month (I’d rather scale up when I actually have traffic, not beforehand)

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Widget-ready WordPress sidebars without headlines

A lot of people are asking me (of course I have to make this stuff up because I don’t have any readers) how I’ve done the menu bar (the horizontal thing containing static pages and categories, just below the name of this blog). This is a good question, because the menu bar is actually widget-ready, so I don’t have to change it when I add new categories. “But how have you avoided the widget headers and still remained strictly XHTML compliant?”, I hear some of my imaginary readers say. Well, I’ll tell you how.

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