Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chumby - they're still doing that?

A couple of years ago I saw a device, somewhere, somehow -- some kind of digital wifi toy called a 'Chumby.' It was essentially a very small appliance that could display a variety of Flash-based widgets via wifi. Don't know what I'm talking about? Take a look at your Vista / Google Desktop Sidebar, and imagine those widgets being displayed on an LCD screen next to your bed.

Better yet, click on the link to visit their homepage - currently they've got a "live demo" up and a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

Pretty cute! But, I was honestly surprised to find the website still up. I first heard of the Chumby about two years ago (rough guess -- can't remember) and they still haven't started selling them to the public. Even now, they've got a live demo up to entice people, but there's no ETA on a release date -- just a big orange "contact me when they're available!" button in the upper right corner.

The Chumby to me seems like an impulse buy -- another gadget to play with. I would have bought one then, if they were available, and I would have bought one just now, if they were available, but they're not, and by the time they are I probably won't, because the idea will have lost its shine. (The urge to buy one just now was much, much less than what it was when I first heard of the Chumby).

Even stranger, though, is that their website looks like they're pitching the device hard. They've got a "store," their sidebar is pitching new and updated widgets... they even have a link to activate the Chumby they're not even selling to the public yet. Kind of surreal. Is this some kind of clique-only thing?


Either way, I'm bored talking about it now. See you when I see you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

By the way:

When I started working on my anonymous blogging platform / site / delicious sandwich, I switched in the middle of development from using Aptana to NetBeans 6. It wasn't supposed to be a permanent switch - more of a "feel out the waters" of a new IDE, but it worked very well despite its hungry-hungry hippo's approach to memory usage. Some obvious bugs -- Subversion commit message dialog barfs if you try to use quotation marks (" "), uses jRuby by default for its interpretor... but aside from that, very good user experience.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My first public Rails site!

It's been awhile since I blogged about anything technical, so I thought I'd talk about a site I just prototyped.

It's a Rails-driven site. Top to bottom, its a pretty simple design, but I went through a lot (a LOT) of iterations before I found a design (front/back) that I found acceptable. Thankfully, Rails made this very easy. Ruby is as straight-forward as it can get, and so is the Rails framework. C#/ASP.NET feels a little wooden and artificial now, in comparison.

Speaking of C#/ASP.NET, I didn't really miss it when developing FearlessBlogging. I didn't have a moment where I thought "damn it, this would be easier in C#" or, "How come ASP.NET provides this but Rails doesn't?!"

Then again, the site I ended up deploying as pretty simple. I cut back on a lot of cool-sounding features that really weren't all that useful.

Oh, man, deployment was FUN.

Learning Capistrano before-hand was not. There seriously, seriously needs to be an updated Capistrano 2.0 tutorial for Rails.

I managed to hodge-podge it together from a bunch of incomplete Capistrano 2.0 blog posts and inferring some stuff from Capistrano 1.x, but still, was not the most pleasant of experiences.

After I got everything setup and stuff I could deploy the site with just a "cap deploy:cold" and it worked like a dream. I've updated the site several times since then and its always gone flawlessly. Using XP Pro, SP2, and no bugs reared up, so that was a relief.

Other than that, great experience: A++++, would work with again!

Yeah, I'm a dork.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Attack of the killer corporations.

(rant inbound - profanity - watch your six!)

This is a special blog post: it goes out to the McKibbon Hotel Group, Special Masters McMotherfucker, and anyone else who had a hand in trying to steal my parent's real estate.

First, let me address you old douchebags at the McKibbon Group, or the McKibbon Hotel Group, or whatever you merry band of motherfuckers go by.

For the purpose of exposition, I'm going to drop a backstory on the reader that is almost epic in its absurdity.

About six months ago, you greedy bastards appeared on my farther's door-step with a contract and a check for $7,000 dollars. You wanted a thin slice of property in Savannah that was easily worth a quarter of a million dollars – that's $250k, of which you were offering him, what, 1/35th?

Now, my father is old; he's a 60-something war vet who dodged every bullet but the ones hidden in every pack of cigarettes the government gave him. However, being old, black, and with emphysema doesn't make him stupid or desperate, which is what I'm sure you were banking on.

That DOES makes you racist, by the way.

However, being equally old and stubborn, you cranky douchebags came back with an offer he couldn't refuse -- $9,000! A generous, $2,000 increase! I'm sure one of you was wringing your old, crinkled hands as you cackled “LOL BLACK PEOPLE,” right?

Move forward.

First, you hit him with a lawsuit, because, apparently unwilling to pay market-value for property like every other self-respecting business on the planet, you were going to try and fucking STEAL IT FROM MY OLD INFIRMED FATHER.

Of course, after his lawyer (yes, he had one of those, as I'm sure you were VERY surprised to find out) hit you up with his response, you immediately tried to settle. A little better this time -- $103k, only 1/3th market value this time (property value only goes up with time!). Closer, but after all the hassle they put my father through, he wasn't willing to go a dollar lower than what it was worth – market value, not tax value.

I'll admit the next fuck-up was his lawyers fault – you wanted to use Special Masters McMotherfucker, and his lawyer, after consulting several other lawyers, then pouring over Special masters McMotherfucker's history, saw no reason to argue against it. That should have been her first clue something was wrong, but she seems like the naïve “this lawsuit is bullshit so there's nothing to worry about” type, so I don't blame her too much.

The ruling was in your favor – Special Masters McMotherfucker performed his task beautifully, recommending you be awarded the property with 1 legally vague reason padded by 2 bullshit made-up-on-the-spot arguments (arguing for things that aren't even required by law) that completely blew my father's lawyer's mind. Like I said, she's a bit naïve. Combine that with a judge that apparently rubber-stamps anything that comes across her desk, and you've got a slam dunk!

Yes, clearly he put a lot of thought into that judgment. I can't prove it, but I know what you did there, Special Masters McMotherfucker, I know.

Of course, they're appealing the decision – trying to take it out of the McKibbon Hotel Group's area of influence and somewhere impartial, which is good.

But, no matter what happens – win, lose, or settlement – this blog post is going to be on the Internet. Every time someone googles “McKibbon Hotel Group” or “McKibbin Hotel Group” or however you spell your awful company name, this blog post is going to come up. People are going to read all about how you tried to fuck over my parents, and it's going to leave a bad mental imprint in their minds.

It's going to be a testament to you thieving motherfuckers, and it's going to last forever.

Oh, and PS:

Go fuck yourselves.