Glenn Gillen

Thoughts

  1. Appreciating the craft

    As I pull into Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, I make a dash for the Degraves Street subway exit. Everyone else floods out of the beautiful and ornate arches at either end of the platforms, so it's a rare chance to escape the crowds at such a busy interchange…

  2. On empathy

    Making things is fun. There’s a special sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something from a series of parts that previously seemed to be nothing…

  3. On hiring

    Articles talking about the importance of finding the right co-founder for a company are a dime a dozen. Finding a co-founder is the very first hiring decision a business has to make, it may actually have happened before anybody realises a business exists…

  4. Nobody cares what tools you use

    I’ve spent almost all of my career with something along the lines of “freelancer”, “consultant”, or “contractor” on my business cards and the forms HR departments make me sign. On the two occasions that hasn’t been the case I’ve been working for as part of a development team that was primarily developing solutions for external customers, or managing a team of contractors working on launching a start-up…

  5. Getting started with MongoDB

    I've been playing with a few new database technologies lately, and the NoSQL movement seems to have come into vogue. Getting up and running with MongoDB is quick and painless, and it offers a lot of the benefits of key-value stores along with the query power of you're used to from a RDBMS…

  6. Capturing a form cancel

    I've been meaning to write this one up for months now, ever since I originally posted the sexy forms in rails. The form builder I talk about in that post makes it easy to put a submit and cancel button on a the form, and a few people have asked how to handle the cancel action…

  7. scRUBYt! Gets Plugins!

    Yes! You heard right! As you may have gathered, it's been a rather frantic month of development for scRUBYt! and currently this is the addition I'm most proud of. One of the most common requests used to be along the lines of "when do you plan to support xxx format output?"…

  8. Ruby on Rails Tutorials

    There has been a few occasions over the previous months when various people I meet have asked me to point them in the right direction to get started with ruby on rails. I remember when I started, it was a pretty easy question to answer… everyone just got pointed in the general direction of why_'s poignant guide, the pickaxe book, and agile web development with rails…

  9. Web Spider Creation with scRUBYt! - Part II

    Continuing on from the previous post, Web Spidering and Data Extraction with scRUBYt!, this article will help you delve a little deeper with the scRUBYt! scraping framework both in terms of your understanding of how to use it… and actually delving deeper in your crawl to more pages. So as far as we got last week was to go off to Google, put in a search for the word "ruby", and then list the link text for each of the results…

  10. DataMapper Migrations

    I've been working on some merb related things of late, and I'm planning on writing a more detailed article on creating a merb application from scratch as so many of the tutorials out there kind of leave you hanging. In the interim though, I'm just going to touch on a little nugget of information that isn't very well publicised regarding DataMapper, one of the ORMs that gets used with merb…

  11. Make your own IM bot in Ruby, and interface it with your Rails app

    In a super secret project I'm currently working on, I've been looking for ways of making it easier for people to interact with the system without the need to log in to the website. That's included the obvious things like having a RESTful API so they can put their own services and interfaces on top, but that only works for developers or 3rd party application providers…

  12. Rails god config

    If you're anything like me, you're not a big one for shelling out needless money to host the various development sites your working on. That inevitably means you'll end up with a whole host of small applications running on the one server, each needing a mongrel or two, and of course you want to make sure they are up and running…

  13. Using rspec have_tag

    Not everyone realises that that rspec havetag assertion is simply a wrapper for the Test::Unit assertselect. And even if you do, do you really know how powerful a tool it is? I've seen many tests and specs where people jump through a whole heap of hoops to check that the desired element exists, well no more! Fresh for today, a quick run down on some of the most useful and powerful selectors you can use with havetag (and by default, assertselect too)…

  14. Moving over to Git

    So you've seen that Rails/Capistrano now natively supports Git? You've bearing hearing all the hype about it but don't really know what it is, how to use it, or how to install it. But like most, you know it was invented by that Linus guy that invented Linux, so it can't be all bad…

  15. Free ATOM feed loving

    Chris over at Err the Blog have a great article about how you can very quickly and easily create ATOM syndication of your content with a gem called mofo. I'll avoid any misrepresentation by taking the definition straight from the microformats site There are already formats defined for people, places, and business cards, events and calendaring, voting, reviews, friends and connections, and tags to name but just a select few…

  16. Playing with Merb

    So there has been quite a lot of talk of late about merb, the new up and comer vying for the rails crown. It was initially developed by Ezra of EngineYard fame, and it's generally considered that 'They know their stuff'(tm)…

  17. Touched by god (process monitoring)

    The tag ling from the god website simply states 'Like monit, only awesome', and having played with it for a couple of days over the break now I have to agree. Monit was very handy at the time, but I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with it when things wouldn't restart properly (stuck sockets with backgroundrb being an example), and it's lack of logging only compounded the situation…

  18. Testing XML output in rspec and rails

    Have you ever tried testing that you get the expected XML output from your rails respond_to block? Did you take the lazy way like me and think it would be as simple as comparing the body of the response with a string matching the expectant XML? Well there is a problem, if you've got multiple attributes on any elements you can't always guarantee the order that the attributes will be output. So lets do it properly, and check it is valid XML and has the attributes we want…

  19. Simplifying rails controllers with make_resourceful

    See the content of the picture above? Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could reduce all of your controllers down to 3 lines? Well you can't do all of them, but if you are adhering the a RESTful approach then chances are most of the controllers can be condensed considerably using make_resourceful. Firstly I have to thank Jeremy McAnally for putting me onto this wonderful new plugin for rails…

  20. Engine Yard Bounty Pays Off

    Engine Yard, the current big daddy of rails hosting, decided to put a bounty out to solve a problem all the newly converted rails/nginx users would have to some degree but have previously been ignoring. The load balancer in nginx works in a round robin fashion meaning that any long running request has the potential to cause another user to queue behind it, rather than getting served by one of the free and waiting mongrels…

  21. Ebay launches rails app

    Not that there haven't already been high profile players talking about ruby and rails, but Ebay have just recently launched own rails app called MicroPlace. It's a micro-donation site like Kiva where you can invest directly into those in the 3rd world and help them escape the poverty cycle…

  22. Securing SSH access

    So you've got a shiny new server, it's connected to the net, and you (or your hosting company) has done the right thing by turning telnet off and forcing the much more secure option of using SSH to connect. But it doesn't end there, there are quite a few little things you can do to further tighten access and keep the boogey men at bay…

  23. Installing Apache 2.2.4

    Working for various clients and deploying a full working rails stack on their hardware and environments is not always as straight-forward and easy as it should be. What distribution are they using? Which package manager? Does the package manager even currently have the right versions I need? So over the coming days I'm going to write a few tutorials on getting the latest software, from source, and compiling it…