Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Now that I've got Mephisto setup, I've started blogging over at Agile Disciple. Please update your subscription!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

History of Agility

Tonight at the Agile RTP meetup, Rick DeNatale gave us a nice walkthrough of the History of Agility, or more precisely, the pre-history of Agility as he put it.

One of the interesting points he made was that in the early days of programming, things were more Agile. For example, they had the "punch card rooms," where programmers would all be in the same room working on problems together. And after that they had Terminal rooms (which I experienced in college) - again collocated programmers.

It wasn't until someone (IBM?) commissioned a study where one of the conclusions was that the optimum setup for a programmer was in an office with a window, all by himself. Of course, for many programmers, this has turned into a small cubicle in the middle of a farm.

Rick had quite a bit of information, and that from someone who actually lived through much of this history. And hey, I won an IPod shuffle!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Top Ten Moments at RubyConf 2007

10. Twitter-net 
9. Getting my picture taken with Adam Keys.
8. Winning a game of Werewolf as a seer.
7. Watching Sam Stephenson nearly win the "experts" no-reveal game of Werewolf.
6. Matz's Python shirt.
5. Evan's Rubinius talk.
4. Marcel's beard.
3. The Story Runner from Chelimsky and Astels
2. Refactotum showing me how easy it is to contribute to random open source projects.
1. Laurent's presentation on "Mac OS X loves Ruby."

And how about an Anti-Top list of moments?
The elevators.
Seating during lunch.
Room 2 having some of the most popular talks.
LowFi network.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

RubyConf Registration is open!

And yours truly is registered.

Now, anybody looking for a roomie/carpool?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Gradual Agile

This week's Agile RTP meeting will feature local speaker & ARTp founder, Jared Richardson. Jared is a fascinating speaker, so I would highly recommend this talk. He'll be doing one of his talks from the NFJS tour, but you get to see it for free.

The topic is Gradual Agile. If you've ever wanted to introduce Agile at your shop (and, unless you're already Agile, why wouldn't you??), this is the talk for you; coming from a guy who actually did just that.

It's Tuesday night (unless you're reading this within a half hour after I post it - that's tonight!) at 7pm at Misys Healthcare in Raleigh. More info here.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Do you care about software?

You should.

RichFaces - it just works

At my current gig, we are using JSF, which is a pretty complicated framework, IMHO. I've recently enjoyed playing with the RichFaces libraries. We had a need come up to put a popup date picker on one of our pages (itself, embedded inside a popup). I scoured the web, looking at various implementations and didn't find one that satisfied me. The various *Faces implementations were overly-complicated to get working in our current tech stack. I found an okay JS implementation, and was about to wire that in, when I noticed that the new version of RichFaces (which I found mentioned in the user forums) had a calendar component. So, I grabbed the latest snapshot, dropped the jars in place (okay, I deleted the old jars and dropped the jars in place, since the new version of RichFaces was merged with Ajax4JSF, which we were also using). Put in a single line: <rich:calendar />, and voilĂ , I had a working calendar component. Slick.

I just want to say thank you to the RichFaces/Ajax4JSF team(s), this library has been great for doing rich UI in our JSF app. With the Red Hat Developer Studio coming along nicely, this could turn into quite a nice environment for developing web apps.

Of course, I plan on doing Rails development next month; but there is hope for the Java guys.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Werewolf, Ruby Hoedown '07 edition

The Ruby Hoedown was cool. But it's over now, and a group of us are in a swanky hotel lounge playing Werewolf.

Here's the cast of characters:
Chad Fowler
Marcel Molina, (Jr!)
Rick Denatale
Ryan Daigle
A special shoutout to Stu & Justin who were unable to join us this evening.

Chad, Marcel and Joe are all expert players, and it's fun just to watch them. I've played many times before (but we called it Mafia). Everyone else is noobs.

First game I was the Seer. I found out early on that Joe was a Werewolf. Watching him closely, I easily deduced Ted was the other Werewolf. Unfortunately, I was nominated the next round by an easily misled Villager (Lyle!) and lynched in the town square. However, during my defense, I pointed out who the lyconthropes were. Chad picked up on this, which unfortunately, doomed him that night. After yet another killing, the Villagers finally found the evil in the village.

Round two, I'm a villager; and the first one killed off during the night. Giving me time to discover that this hotel provided wireless, and to write this blog.

Round three. I get to play another dead villager. This time Marcel & Chad are still in the game - and it is fun just watching the two of them. One thing that's really cool is that they are giving so much advice while they play. I've played with people that don't care about improving the other people they play with, they just want to be the best out of the group, which makes no sense to me. This remind me of the days I first jumped into Java and I got to pair with Adam Williams & Matthew Todd and learned I wasn't as good of a programmer as I thought I was. I'd say this is the best game of werewolf/mafia I've ever played. If only I could make it to the end of one. Maybe next time.

Finally, Round four - werewolf. This time I actually made it to (nearly) the end of the game. We whittled the villagers (or Visitors, in Chad's case) down to a Seer and 3 villagers, against me and Cody. The Seer says I am a werewolf, I try to defend it back to him, but no good, I go down in a unanimous vote. However, Cody was able to finish off the Seer, and get Evan lynched the next round. Victory for the werewolf!

Now I have to look forward to RubyConf 2007 for my next game...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Cost of OS X Part II (Leopard)

"Basic version $129
Premium version $129
Business version $129
Enterprise version $129
Ultimate version $129"

Preorder from Amazon.com now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Cost of OS X

It may have been true years ago, but I still hear the old refrain that Macs are more expensive than PCs. Well, for those of you that need more than OS X to make you switch (though, it's hard to empathize with you there...), here's the cost justification that Macs are more affordable than PCs.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ruby Hoedown registration is open.

Attendance is capped at 150 people, so why are you still reading this? Go register! Before it sells out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Review: BestMed Digital Temple Thermometer

I was a little skeptical of this device at first. But it has definitely won me over. My daughter has had a little fever the past couple of days. And after several times of using the rectal thermometer, we decided to pick up this digital thermometer. You just push the button, wait 3 seconds while it adjusts to room temperature, then it beeps and you stick it to your (or your child's) temple. About 6 seconds later, it beeps again and you have a reading. I know that these external ones aren't as accurate as rectal or oral, but I have to tell you that the convenience of the immediate reading on an infant without any fuss and undressing a sick baby is amazing. My daughter doesn't seem to mind at all having it on her temple. Our philosophy is that if it shows more than a low-grade temp, we can then use the rectal.

Plus, I've enjoyed just taking my temperature because of how easy it is!


There are new photos of Inara up at http://redinger.fotki.com

These photos are from January - April. Wow, I can't believe it's been that long since I've uploaded photos of her. We used to do that every month or so.

The last time I wrote about her, she was cruising. Well, no more. She is walking now. And not just little steps and falling. She's walking all over the place. When we bring her outside, she just needs to get down so she can walk. When we bring her to the park, she climbs up the stairs and wanders all around on the playground equipment. It's amazing. And of course, when we chase after her, she picks up speed to get away from us.

We recently installed a couple sheets of rubber flooring on our concrete patio for her. She has a rocking horse out there, and she likes to just wander around. This way, when she falls, she'll hit the rubber, which is much software than the concrete. She has spent the last three days out there as much as we let her. We just leave the patio door open now, and she wanders in and out at will.

Unfortunately, she's also had a fever the past couple days. It never fails, we put her in the nursery on Sunday, by Tuesday she has a cold or something. Other than that she's extremely healthy. Today she seems to have gotten over it, so she's back to her chipper self.

Next week is her big day - first birthday! Amy's parents are flying in, her brothers are driving, and of course my parents live her now. We're inviting a couple of the kids she plays with over and we're going to have a birthday party for her (also provoking us to install the flooring mentioned above.) Looking forward to that. I guess I'll have to post some pictures...

What new baby tricks can she do... We can now ask her how old she is, and she'll hold up one finger. We're trying to teach her to blow out her candle. If we tell her to do it, she'll blow, but when I put a lit candle in front of her, she's mesmerized by it. So, she doesn't blow. But, as soon as I take it away, she blows again. We'll see if she gets it in time. She also recently learned how to blink. We were just making faces at her, and then she started scrunching up her face. Now if we tell her to blink, she'll blink her eyes and make a really cute face. It's adorable (though, impossible to get a picture of.) She loves to clap and dance. If I ask her where her Veggie Tales are, she'll point to them and start clapping and dancing, because she loves the music. This is not really that amazing, until you realize that she only watches 1 Veggie Tales movie a week. And that's all the TV she gets. But she understands that special time.

As I mentioned she has a rocking horse, and she is really good at rocking it. She gets this huge smile on her face and just starts rocking back and forth. I swear it looks like she's going to flip over. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

We're also going to dedicate her at church the week after next. We talked about this for a while, and decided we wanted to make The Journey in Cary our home, and we figured it would be nice to present her to the church on her first birthday.

As for me, I've off from work for a few weeks. It's nice to be home during the day with her, usually I miss her during this time and only get evenings and brief mornings.

So that's the quick overview of our lives. Now, Inara wants you to go enjoy those beautiful baby pictures.

Done with my .Net project

In an interesting turn of events, we got a call from our client that was having us do .Net work asking us to stop. Apparently there's some kind of political movement afoot, and our product was no longer going to be needed. Of course, this happened with one week left to go. So basically we worked out a deal where the client would get some consulting time to make up for the last week of work, and we still got paid.

Overall, I like the .Net framework. I especially loved the GridView stuff. They definitely made it easy to wire in the database and allow you to add/edit/delete (ie: CRUD) with no difficulty whatsoever. Having done that by hand previously, I really appreciated it.

I'd like to do another .Net project if the opportunity came along. Preferably C#, so I could actually use some of the tools like Resharper. I don't feel I've spent enough time with it to make an unbiased decision about how much I like/dislike .Net.

So, now that I've got a few weeks off between gigs, I'm playing with Ruby on Rails. I can say without a doubt, I love RoR.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

.Net again

So, I've been working on this .Net project for about a month now. The thing I've enjoyed writing the most? A ruby rakefile to handle our migrations. I started to use NAnt. But, found it lacking. Particularly, I wanted to be able to get a sorted list of files (so I could store my migrations as 001_something_cool, 002_something_else_cool, etc) But, that was easier said than done without writing C# code. A few minutes later I had a rakefile that would do just what I wanted.

I guess if I had to pick a most enjoyable component that was actually in .Net - it would be the comparer (comparator for the Java folk; you say color, I say colour) that allows us to sort our GridView using reflection. Yeah, I love reflection.

I'm sure this is just because I am familiar with Eclipse, but I have to say Visual Studio IDE blows compared to Eclipse. The code browsing/navigation, refactoring, and code shortcuts that Eclipse provides are just amazing. I've tried Resharper and the DXCore & Refactor! Pro add-ins from Developer Express, but neither of them replace the power I get from Eclipse. And those are CommercialWare! SlickEdit does make a pretty cool add-in called Gadgets that provide some neat utilities. I especially like the CommandSpy that keeps track of all the menu commands you've selected, and shows you the shortcut keys when available.

Another piece of CommercialWare that is disappointing is VisualSVN. This is just basically a front-end for Subversion, but all it seems to do is launch TortoiseSVN and refresh your project when you are done in there. Admittedly, it gives you some menu choices to work on specific files. But, again, Subclipse is free - and much more useful.

Ah well, I'll keep on looking for useful add-ins (especially of the free as in beer variety), but I'd like some suggestions to which ones you find indispensable.

The Google 15

This is a pretty cool little Google widget that you can put on your Google Homepage.

You put in your scale weight every day, and it tracks the moving average for you. I've found it useful, since I use Google as my homepage, everyday I see the widget, reminding me I need to enter my weight. Of course, right now, it's also screaming at me: "Danger! You're heading away from your goal!" So, that reminds me every day that I need to work out. This provides me with a nice little feedback cycle, which is what I need right now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sick Cat

Dale, this is dedicated to you - what good is a blog without a post about a cat?

One of our cats has been pretty sick the past few days. Vomiting-type of sick. This is very unusual for her, we always joke that her stomach is made of iron, because she seems to be able to keep anything down. And she hasn't left my room much lately either. She just sits there on my futon. She doesn't even leave the room to get food, we had to start bringing it in here. It's really quite disheartening.

Of course the first thought, with the recent pet deaths in the news, was that it was related to the pet food recalls. However, we only feed her dry cat food, and it's not one of the ones on the list anyways. So, we brought her to the vet this morning. Renal failure. That didn't come as a huge surprise to us, her and her sister were actually diagnosed with failing kidneys as kittens. But that was more prevalent in her sister, who continually gets bladder infections. So, the surprising part is that it's this one that's having problems now. Way back then the vet didn't give them much time to live, and they are about 9 years old now, so definitely not a bad life for a cat.

She still seems happy, if I go sit by her and pet her, she looks up at me and purrs. They took some blood and will get back to us on whether or not it's Chronic Renal Failure, or Acute. I guess the acute one is fatal pretty quickly, whereas chronic is more treatable. So, we're just waiting to hear back on that.

For those of you that know our cats, this is the one we lovingly refer to as "the fat one", Eponine.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Oracle on Intel Mac

Very disappointing, Oracle. I have been doing Oracle development for the past 7 years. I've finally decided it was time to install it on my beautiful, shiny (literally) Intel Mac; one more nail in the coffin of my Wintel box.

So, I grab Oracle 9i Release 2, Developer Release for Mac OS X. I chose 9i, because that's what my current client is using, so I figured I'd try to be compatible. It installs just fine, then when I go to bring up the server - I get a shared library error. After googling for a while, I determine that running 9i on a Mac is a waste of time.

Okay, how about 10g, release 1, which also has a Mac release? Download that - can't even run the install for that one. Some more googling, and it looks like installing Oracle on the Intel Macs is not supported at this time.

Thankfully, I have Parallels, so now I'm installing Oracle on the Windows side of things, so at least I can get my database up and running.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meta Review: Soapadoo.com

In a bit of self-referential fun, I feel the need to give a shout out to

As the front page says "Say Goodbye to official editor reviews and anonymous opinions." This is a great site for searching reviews. But more than that, it's a review site built upon the web 2.0 wunderkind "social-networking."

Of course I can go the normal route of a review site, and search for specific reviews. Or, I can go read what the contacts "in my network" have reviewed. Assuming my friends are like-minded, this should introduced me to things I might not have even considered searching for, but are worth my time to try out or alternatively to avoid.

Beautiful Day, Isn't It?

2 years ago I moved from Maine, where the high yesterday was 58°F and the low was 41°F.

I know live in North Carolina where the high was 81°F and the low was 54°F.

Definitely feeling that was a great decision.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Well, all the Cool Kids are Blogging

I figure it's time to jump on this bandwagon. It seems all of my friends have blogs now - I always hear comments about how I need to read their latest post(s). So, now I have a place to make such comments. Why anybody would want to read this - I'm not sure, leave me a comment, and let me know!

One of the things that is motivating me to blog is my current contract. Well, that and my 11 month old daughter. Probably a good amount of my posts will be about her. But not tonight, there'll be time for that in the future.

Back to my current contract ... I accepted a one month contract to build a VB.net app. I have never worked in the .Net world, so this seemed like a good opportunity for me. It would give me a chance to see what all the hype from unacoder is about, but not lock me into something long term if I don't enjoy it. I've been doing Java and Ruby, so this could be a nice change for me.

The part I didn't realize is that it's hard to find examples in the VB.net community. Most of the examples I find are in C#. So, many times I am looking at C# examples, and then figuring out the best way to do something similar in VB.

For instance, I am an agile, test-infected, object-oriented developer. So, I run out and get nUnit, nHibernate and Watir. Then I start Googling for some quick start guides on getting this to work under VB.net. Wow - spartan. There are some guides out there, sure, but it seems most of them are geared to C#. So, my pair-programming partner and I are talking about whether or not it would be useful to prepare some of these guides as we go along. If we weren't under such a time crunch, I'm sure we would. We'll see though, maybe we can drop some breadcrumbs for some of the later adventurers.

Well, I'm starting to get a cold, and I haven't worked out at all this week(!) so I should probably think about getting to sleep soon and getting up early enough to exercise.

Good night.