Noel Rappin Writes Here

This American Life

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.

Rails Rx Standup: April 12, 2010

Agile, Apple, Git, RSpec, This American Life, Twitter, standup, testingNoel RappinComment

Top Story

For a while, it looked like the top story was going to be Apple's new developer Rule 3.3.1, described here by John Gruber. More on that in a second.

But the real top story is the news that Twitter has bought Tweetie, intending to rebrand it as Twitter for iPhone, and dropping the price to a low, low, free. Eventually, it will be the core of Twitter for iPad. Wow.

Tweetie is probably the only case where I actually prefer the iPhone experience to the desktop experience, but I'd also be very sad if Tweetie for Mac was orphaned. (Not least because I just bought the MacHeist bundle in part as a way to get the Tweetie Mac beta sooner...). Later update: Tweetie developer Loren Brichter said on the MacHeist forum that the next Tweetie/Mac beta will come out.

I actually suspect that at least some of the existing iPhone Twitter clients will be able to continue -- there's clearly room in the ecosystem for apps that have much different opinions than Tweetie. It depends on how aggressive Twitter is planning to be. Dropping Tweetie's price to free strikes me as agressive, although it may just be that the Twitter team is averse to direct ways of making money.

As for the Apple story, it's a familiar space. Apple does something -- in this case, blocking apps not originally written in C, C++, or Objective-C -- that might have a reasonable user or branding component (keeping the iPhone platform free of least-common-denominator cross-platform apps) and taking it just too far for users or developers to be comfortable with it. That's, of course, an understatement, as a lot of developers are really angry. Gruber's point about the Kindle apps is good (and was later cited by Steve Jobs), but on the whole, I think this is a bit to far for Apple, or maybe I'm just upset that that the door seems to have been slammed on MacRuby apps for iPhone ever being feasible.

Book Update

Still working on the Webrat/Capybara chapter. Describing two tools that are so similar is really challenging for me -- when there's a difference, keeping it clear which tool is under discussion.

Also I've got the probability that I'll have an article in an upcoming issue of the Pragmatic Magazine. This will probably be based on material from the book, but edited to fit the magazine article format. Probably either factory tools or mocks. Or maybe Ajax testing. Haven't decided yet.

Tab Dump

Don't think I've mentioned this yet, but here is a cool presentation of RSpec tricks. Some of these don't work in RSpec 2, though.

While we're on the presentation kick, here's a nice intro to Git from James Edward Gray.

If you've ever tried to deploy Agile in a hostile environment, then the recent This American Life episode about the General Motors/Toyota NUMMI plant will resonate for you.

And Finally

A comparison of a boatload of Ruby test frameworks, being used in Iron Ruby to test some .NET code. I admit that I was not familiar with all the frameworks used here.