11/04/2010 at 12h22
Because URL shortening services can go away at any time, I decided
to install my own. In the spirit of your-own-dogfood, and to make hacking
it as enjoyable as possible, it had to be in Ruby (this ruled out
YOURLS, which otherwise does exactly what I want). There are tons
of URL shortening projects in Ruby on GitHub. Unfortunately, they all
lacked one feature: password protection for the adding of URLs. In the end,
I picked a nice simple one and changed it to my liking. The result can be
found in my fork of turl.
Why is this safer than using one of the existing services? The reason tr.im
went under is that they couldn't make it pay for itself, and there was a
lot of abuse from spammers. Both problems are absent for my own service: I
don't need to make any money off of it, and I'm the only one who can create
new short URLs.
Some observations on developing this software:
For a small project like this, putting everything in one file is very,
very nice. Ramaze allows you to do this (as do other frameworks),
Ruby on Rails does not. I wonder how seamless the transition is if
your project starts small like this and then gradually becomes big enough
that you need to split it into different files.
Ramaze's documentation needs some love. Everything is documented well in
principle, but with the split-off of the
innate library, it took me
ages to find the documentation for the
a method and friends.
I really like the idea of
[Sequel][sq]::Model where you define the
table schema right in the model. I'm not sure how or how well it works
with migrations, but for a small project like this, it's nice and clean.
Ramaze could use some more options for session storage. In particular,
something file-based shouldn't be too much to ask for. I'm using the
LocalMemCache option, and keep having to log in.
I really like Ramaze, and am eager to try Sinatra. I have been
ignoring these more light-weight frameworks for far too long.
18/02/2010 at 19h15
Efficiency without ethics is psychopathic
Pecking Order by Peter Lennox via Kottke
02/02/2010 at 09h20
Daring Fireball quotes Zeldman:
Flash won’t die tomorrow, but plug-in technology is on its way out.
Exactly. And good riddance.
31/01/2010 at 12h18
Today I got an email from someone using a hotmail account. At the bottom was the following text:
Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft’s powerful SPAM protection.
Sign up now.
The text “Sign up now” links to a URL that is completely opaque. Not in the old-style non-Web-2.0 company website way, where at least the domain name would tell you it’s a legitimate link to one of the company’s websites. No, it’s domain part was
If we/they/whoever expect people to click such links, how can we ever expect people stop clicking links like
It’s almost as bad as training people to give their email login and password to any site that asks them to.
29/01/2010 at 12h47
Learning about monads is hard, and there seems to be no magic pill. Probably one reason is that they have several different uses. Many articles focus on one of those uses, making it hard to get the whole picture. On the other hand, articles that try to directly explain what monads are leave the reader wandering what they're good for. Some links.
- Brent Yorgey argues that any shortcut by focusing on a particular metaphor (e.g., monads are like burritos) will not work.
- Mark Dominus argues why monads are indeed like burritos.
- [Monads as Containers][cont] fits in nicely by abstracting away from burritos (or space suits) to containers. It goes on to talk about how this relates to IO and other uses for monads. I'm still working on reading through this article.
- sigfpe starts from the other end, showing how certain needs could automatically lead to monads. I haven't finished that one either, but so far it's been very insightful.
- I also found The Continuation Monad in Clojure very insightful. Again, it focuses more in the use and implementation, rather than abstract theory. I'm not yet sure whether the insights I myself got from it are actually correct. More on that later, perhaps.
13/12/2009 at 18h58
You have been running a Typo blog [since 2005][since], but you still can’t
quite get your Apache configuration right. In particular, you still get the
Not found: http://www.matijs.net/blog/2005/07.html/24/from-bryar-to-typo
Note the weird
29/11/2009 at 10h56
We recently returned from a trip to visit Naoko’s parents in Tokyo. We took
lots of pictures. Here are some of them.
A nice bowl of ramen with creamy broth, crunchy bean sprouts and delicious
soft pork. I love ramen.
A wedding at Meiji Shrine. We went to the shrine during
Shichi-Go-San, so there were lots of little girls and a couple of
little boys all dressed up in kimono. Our daughter, having just
turned three, was one of them.
Of course, it is the season of beautiful autumn leaves. It is actually
quite hard to capture the beauty of these maples.
This picture of a female Nephila clavata spider was taken near
Chichibu. This one measured about 6 or 7 cm diameter
(including legs). One of the locals told us that they let the spiders fight
each other for entertainment. Of the locals, that is.
A pile of small raw octopus at the famous Tsukiji fish market,
which I finally managed to visit.
25/10/2009 at 11h25
rake spec and get:
Test::Unit::AssertionFailedError in 'XmlController test_bad_format'
Expected response to be a <:missing>, but was <301>
So, things fail in
xml_controller_spec, right? So, I run:
And I get this:
27 examples, 0 failures
Yes, this turns out to be due to the fact that the spec in question was in its original form as migrated from Test::Unit. But that’s not really an excuse: Either Test::Unit style tests work in RSpec, or they don’t. They shouldn’t work some of the time. Now I suddenly can’t trust any of the Test::Unit style tests in Typo anymore: Are they passing because the code works, or because of some mystical internal RSpec magic?
I am mass-replacing lines of
def test_bla_bla by
it "test_bla_bla" do right now.
18/05/2009 at 09h14
Gnome’s file manager, Nautilus, does not natively support showing the deletion date for trashed items. This has annoyed me, and others, for a very long time.
Long story short, I created a very simple implementation in Python as a Nautilus plugin. You can find it in its github repository.
This solution has one drawback to : Nautilus plugins can only add string columns, so to make it sort right the date is not in a very user-friendly format. I like to think of it more as proof-of-concept.
What’s next? Nautilus has hard-coded support for sorting by each of its possible date columns. It would be nice to make that more generic so as to allow adding arbitrary date columns, or columns with the sort key and user-visible text separated.
26/03/2009 at 12h11
These can all be seen as being about art: Art of programming, video, sound.
Pascal Costanza’s Highly Opinionated Guide to Lisp. A real guide:
Something like “Lisp for experienced programmers”
Just what I needed. Convinced me that Common Lisp will be the next programming language I learn.
Datamoshing: from _why’s article (with examples), to a practical guide (itself datamoshed). The technique uses accidental properties of current video compression: The compression partially separates motion from color, so we can combine the color from one still image with completely unrelated motion from another clip. Perhaps this can be cleaned up by:
- Fully separationg motion and color information (the compression algorithms only do partial separation)
- Allowing partial recombining of the color, creating the possibility of a ‘fade-in’ of the ‘correct’ color, or other effects.
- All this supported by your favorite non-linear editor program, of course.
This would give more control, but less interesting unexpected artifacts. It’s a trade-off.
And finally: sCrAmBlEd?HaCkZ!, automatically recreates one audio track (music, mainly), by glueing together similar-sounding pieces from another track (or set of tracks). Very impressive. Be sure to watch the explanatory video.