Sharpening the saw, html and graphics.

January 16th, 2008

In my off-season (winter) I am usually traveling internationally – mostly places that are sunnier and warmer than the San Francisco bay area. It’s often the perfect time for me to sharpen my various skills , being unconstrained by the usual grand infrastructure projects I do in the summer.

It’s often these times that I bring back up my html/coding/graphics skills. Wifi Bandwidth here in Puerto Vallarta has gotten much more ubiquitous and reliable and so I’ve got connectivity almost as good as back in SF. I’ve been diving back into apps like
Gimp, Aptana, & Inkscape.

I also enjoy catching up on the avant guard of web artistry and seeing what people are creating with html and css. I appreciate simplistic designs and so I really enjoyed the sites on display at the link below:

25 Beautiful, Minimalistic Website Designs – Part 2 | Vandelay Website Design

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Home Fabrication

May 21st, 2007

This weekend I went to the Make Faire here in Silicon Valley, put on by Make Magazine. make is geared towards folks who enjoy making things with their own hands, inventing and creating instead of simply consuming what’s available at the store.

The most amazing technology at the fair was the home fabrication / 3D printer technology. There were several units there, but one caught my eye. The Fab @ Home unit, designed for hobbyists, is a unit that can be assembled for just two thousand dollars in parts and a weekend of work.

This will prove to be one of the most distruptive technologies to come along. Home fabrication will make the copyright issues with MP3s look like a cakewalk. When you can print your own furniture, clothing, and other housewares, just by downloading designs from your friends.

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Yahoo Pipes, a very neat app!

February 8th, 2007

Well, web 2.0, for me has a lot to do with making data available in an agnostic manner, wether that be via RSS or via a web services API. Data tied to a presentation layer, such as a traditional website, is data that has no future outside that website. The rise of mash-ups is enabled by data being decoupled from it’s presentation. Being combined with other data makes that data more valuable.

Until now you’ve needed to be a reasonably adept programmer to put together different data sources to create mash-ups. But not now. Yahoo has just launched an application that allows anyone with the most rudementary conceptual knowledge of programming to create new mashups.

Yahoo Pipes is the new application, and it allows anyone to easily string together web data sources and funnel them through some rudimentary filters to create new mash-ups. Yahoo has been a bit absent with the whole innovation thing since Google became the industries’ darling but I think this marks their comeback in a big way.

There are a good series of articles on the O’Reilly Radar about why it’s important and how it works. Tech crunch has a good mention about Yahoo! Launching Pipes and There’s a nice bit about it from Yahoo MySQL guru Jeremy Zawodny.

The excitement about this product is very high in the tech community, resulting in someone as big as yahoo having their new service overwhelmed. So be patient when trying it out until they’ve got some new servers spun up!





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Self-healing networks

February 1st, 2007

Last year I wrote an article on building a self-healing network with off the shelf software components. If you are responsible for managing a large UNIX/Linux network it’s a must-read…

An excerpt from the article:

Computer immunology is a hot topic in system administration. Wouldn’t it be great to have our servers solve their own problems? System administrators would be free to work proactively, rather than reactively, to improve the quality of the network.

This is a noble goal, but few solutions have made it out of the lab and into the real world. Most real-world environments automate service monitoring, then notify a human to repair any detected fault. Other sites invest a large amount of time creating and maintaining a custom patchwork of scripts for detecting and repairing frequently recurring faults. This article demonstrates how to build a self-healing network infrastructure using mature open source software components that are widely used by system administrators. These components are NAGIOS and Cfengine.

ONLamp.com — Building a Self-Healing Network

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My client, Avvenu, releases a great app

January 30th, 2007

Avvenu got them selves some very good press after releasing their music player app at CES. They showed up on Techcrunch which linked to the article Go2web2: Your own iTunes PC! They’ve even gotten themselves well Digged. Their application allows you to listen to the music on your PC from anywhere, on most any device. Works for most mobile devices and web browsers. The coolest feature though, is the ability to share your music with your friends! You can share a playlist and your friends can listen to it via a nifty little flash app.

They posted a funny little demo of the Alpha version of the product.

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Project Management Tools.

January 30th, 2007

I’ve been trying to find some project mangement software lately that’s compatable with the Getting Real development methodology. For our new ‘Locomotive’ project I’d love to find a tool where I can set out all the required tasks, and assign an hour value to them to create a timeline for how long each part of the project will take. This should help me decide if parts of the project should be trimmed. It also jives with the “Getting Real” suggestion that tasks be broken into 4-hour chunks.

So I went off into the web (version 2.0) to evaluate several web-based project management systems. The first one I tried was Basecamp, the 37signals offering. I found there’s no time management available in the base product. So I continued on and checked out Zoho Projects . This also was missing the functionality I required. Finally I tried out Devshop. This had really great time mangement tools. I would recommend this one for medium-sized team development projects. The screencasts were very impressive. However it didn’t quite do what I wanted as the smallest unit of time it supported was 1 day. So for now it looks like I’m back to the web 0.0 pen-and-paper method, or perhaps an excel spreadsheet. If you have any project management suggestions please leave them in the comments!

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