The Tools I Use

Inspired by Mike Gunderloy’s recent blog post, I decided to put together a list of the tools I use, both hardware and software. I use a Mac at home and a Windows laptop at work; I plan to cover the Windows tools in a later post. Hardware MacBook Pro My primary computer is a late-2007 17” Macbook Pro with 2gb of RAM and a 160gb hard drive. I love this laptop, but I made two mistakes when buying it.

Generating Realistic Test Data With Ruby

Generating semi-realistic test data for an application can be a pain. If the data already exists, as in the case of an upgrade to an existing system, you can generally create data based on the existing database. But what if you need a large sample of data for a brand new system? If you have simple data requirements, there are some Ruby gems that can help you out. Faker is one such gem, which lets you generate realistic names, addresses and phone numbers.

A Collection of Great Tools for the Ruby Developer

I’ve been a bit heads-down lately, working on a super-secret project in Ruby. More on that in the near future, but in the meantime I wanted to share about a few things that I’ve started using. Shoulda When I started my new project, I wanted to try one of the new testing frameworks for Ruby. The problem is there are a number to choose from. What to do… I settled on Shoulda.

The Programmable Government

We are headed toward a time where the workings of government are much more visible to the American public. Through things like the Freedom of Information Act, this information has technically been available for some time - but not in a form that is easily consumed. This is starting to change. The emergence of open APIs that provide access to information about how the government is operating is a massive step in the right direction.

A Brief Introduction to the Arduino

: For Christmas, I got an Arduino. Well, really I got two coffee pots. Identical ones. So I returned one of them to Amazon, and used the refund to buy an Arduino starter kit. It’s a neat device, with a ton of potential. Here’s why. Ok, so what is it? The Arduino is an open, hackable microcontroller, designed to be easy to program and easy to build things with. Simply put: the ultimate hacker toy.

Interview: Mike Rohde - Designer, Blogger, Sketchnote Artist

Introduction Today’s interview victim is Mike Rohde. I’ve followed Mike’s blog for a number of years, and I had the good fortune to meet him at the inaugural SEED conference (see his coverage here and mine here). Mike has gained fame recently for his Sketchnotes - notes and hand-drawn pictures from events such as An Event Apart, SEED, and the upcoming SXSW 2009, but apart from that he is a talented writer and designer with a large portfolio of websites, logos, and other impressive work.

The Coming Decline of Rss and Atom

Ever since I discovered Bloglines some years ago, I’ve been hooked on RSS. I subscribed to a slew of feeds and treated it like a to do list, always trying to get it to zero. Subscribing to those feeds enabled me to see and learn about a lot of things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Since that time, RSS feeds have been my primary source of what’s new and interesting in the world of technology.

Some Software Was Harmed in the Making of This Site

As noted on the about page, I decided to write my own software to run this site. The following technologies were harmed in the making of this site: Ubuntu Linux on VPSLink VPSLink has good deals on VPS hosting. I pay \$24 per month for a 256mb VPS, with impressive uptime. I originally intended to go with Slicehost, but they had no slices available at the time (and didn’t for several months as I recall), but I have not been dissapointed with VPSLink.

Welcome to the New Site

I’ve maintained a blog since sometime in May of 2005. As with many blogs, posting regularity varied. Sometimes it was daily, sometimes a month or two would go by with nothing new at all. This is something different. The content on the old site changed over time, just like it’s author. Interests come and go, technologies that were once shiny and new have lost some of their shine. I stopped writing short posts that were mostly links to other people’s content, and starting writing longer articles.

In Defense of Twitter

Twitter bashing has become a bit of a past-time for some people. I don’t think that the criticism leveled at Twitter is fair or accurate. It is generally based on a misunderstanding of the technical problems they are facing. In the case of TechCrunch, it’s a desire to drive traffic to the TechCrunch website by fabricating conflict and making personal attacks. Twitter has had a hard time scaling. This is obvious to anyone that uses the service, and is readily admitted by the people behind Twitter.