Noel Rappin Writes Here

Neil deGrasse Tyson

June 8, 2010: iPhone, iPhone, it's off to work iPhone

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Rails, RailsConf, Ruby, iPhoneNoel RappinComment

Okay, There's a New iPhone

Don't really have a whole lot to say beyond what's already been said. It looks very slick, and if anybody can actually pull off getting people to use video chat, it's Apple. The form factor of video chat from a phone seems at first glance to be significantly better than from either a laptop or the iPad, in that it seems easier to hold the phone in a position to get a good angle. And as much as everybody is kicking around Google vs. Apple, it sure seems like the company that lost big was Flip. (Oh, and I'm not the first person to say it, but there's now flash on the iPhone... well, an LCD flash for the camera, at least.)

And a new Safari

Safari 5 was released with a lot less fanfare. Big new features include an extensions system similar to Chrome, which will fully launch later this summer. There's also a nice Reader function which is similar to the Readability bookmark. So far, I find it very pretty, a touch flakey about what sites it decides to pop up on, and downright magical at automatically following next links to stitch together a multi-page article. It also adds support for a bunch of HTML 5 features and a new JavaScript engine.


All the RailsConf keynotes are being live streamed at

Feature Flipper is a simple little gem to allow you to semantically tie certain features to certain environments, making it easy to have a specific feature live only in development until it's ready.

Oddly, this came up in conversation just yesterday. Chris Lowis points to a number of full Rails apps that are open source and can be used to learn how Rails apps are put together.

Quick snippet -- an Array#only method for when you know an array only has one element. I think I would actually use this.


Neil deGrasse Tyson, speaking off the cuff on a rant subject near and dear to my heart, namely how it's socially acceptable for otherwise lovely people to say "I'm no good at math".

May 5, 2010: Aaiieeee

Craftsmanship, Languages, Neil deGrasse Tyson, REST, RailsRx, Teaching, This American Life, UsersNoel RappinComment

Book Status

Working toward beta 2, which will probably come out early next week. It'll include chapters on integration testing, and webrat/capybara, and maybe the Cucumber chapter, depending on if I finish the redo. Also, the setup appendix with at least partial Rails 3 info -- still sticking on how best to integrate the user plugin.

Thanks to Dan Benjamin and Jason Seifer for mentioning Rails Test Prescriptions (still on sale) on The Ruby Show episode 115.

Lulu raffle will be tonight.

And then...

Interesting article by Michael Bleigh on the divergence between the popular definition of REST with the technical definition. Bleigh argues that the popular definition is popular for good reason, but that the technical definition can still be useful.

If you are a web developer, then you probably hate Internet Explorer, or as I always pronounce it, "Aaiieeee". (Drives the people I pair with crazy, I think.) So it's kind of nice to see that IE's market share continues to drop. Though, of course, your milage probably varies -- the site I work on these days is still about 75-80% IE.

The first story in episode 406 of This American Life is interesting for it's discussion of Steve Poizner's experience teaching in a public high school. Leaving aside the details of Poizner's claims, which I'm not really competent to discuss, what came across to me was the common misconception about what teachers do. Thinking "I know stuff and I'm just going to to go into a classroom and be all knowledgeable and the students will learn" followed by "it's the student's fault if they aren't engaged" is such a sad and depressing view of what teachers do and what it means to teach. For a more contrasting, inspiring view, here's Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Two posts inspired by presentations at this year's Chicago Code Camp:

The similarity and difference between programming languages and human language fascinates me. This blog post talks about how programming might change if Chinese language grammar components were used to build the programming language constructs. Reminds me of Damian Conway's old Perl Latin paper.

Michael Norton has posted his slides from a talk on technical debt from the idea that most of the time when we say "I'm building technical debt" we really mean "I'm writing bad code". Love the slides, wish I had seen the talk.


So, in the past, I asked the Kathy Sierra question, "How can we help our users Kick Ass" so often that people began to think we were a martial arts studio. Here's Kathy Sierra from Business of Software '09, expanding on the point -- I've only watched some of this so far, but she's one of the best on building a passionate and awesome user base.