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Mike Grafton

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SF Standup 5/6/2011: Bundler Blah Blah Blah Blah

Interesting Things

  • A certain Pivotal project runs 'bundle update' often, since they have a shared gem that gets updated a lot. They were wondering why it was so slow, and supposed it was due to slowness at, and thought a local mirror would help. They were wrong. Turns out the slowness is in the implementation of rubygems, whereby a 110K list of gems is marshalled and unmarshalled.

SF Standup 5/5/2011: The Most Interesting Standup in the World

Interesting Things

  • jQuery mobile: awesome!
  • jQuery 1.6 is out and will break you. Read the change notes and upgrade with care. [Ed.: you do have JS tests, don't you?]

SF Standup 5/4/2011: Tête-à-tête

Interesting Things

  • Josh and Alexander are pairing at a new iteration of the tête-à-tête pairing desk, where they've hacked (with a bandsaw) a traditional Ikea desk to allow for better ergonomics and pairing dynamics. Expect a blog post with pictures soon.

Standup 06/09/2010


Are there any good alternatives to OmniGraffle (for Mac)?

We are trying to do some network diagrams and are having troubles with OmniGraffle's grid-snapping. Is there any tool out there that is well-suited to this task and perhaps less full-featured?

Somebody suggested

Election Day Standup, 06/08/2010


How do I migrate paperclip attachments from one model to another?

A Pivot wants to do his civic duty of embracing change. This means refactoring his domain model to suit the emerging requirements of his product team. Unfortunately, this also means he has to move a paperclip attachment from one model to another. Paperclip does not appear to have a built in way to do this.

The opinion of the group was to use the brute-force solution: write some code to do the migration yourself. If you are using Amazon S3 for storage (which this project is), you can do an S3 'cp' command to move the assets from one path to another. At the end, you can use the rake command 'paperclip:refresh:thumbnails' to re-generate the thumbnails.

If you want to do this by hand, cyberduck has a nice interface for batch re-naming of files on S3.


Amazon CloudFront now supports HTTPS

They also dropped their prices.

IE has a limit of 31 CSS files.

This has bitten many Pivots over the years. Your 32nd (and up) CSS file will be silently ignored.

Standup, 6/7/2010


Our custom Chef recipe stopped working on EY cloud

We have some custom Chef recipes that we have been running on EY Cloud for some time. The code for these custom recipes was using the chef-deploy gem, which was apparently always available in the environment in which the recipe ran.

However, when we ran our recipe last week, it blew up trying to require the gem. We fixed this by removing the require and folding some of the code from the gem into our recipe.

There is a corresponding issue in the EY community forums:

Standup 10/7/2009


String#to_xs behavior can change if you happen to have the fast_xs gem installed.

Rails tries to require the 'fast_xs' c-extension to implement String#to_xs (it falls back to a pure Ruby XML escaping algorithm if it can't find it). Unfortunately, fast_xs is not API compatible with the built-in version provided by Rails (it escapes double quotes, for no apparent reason).

This is all well and good if that's what you decide go with. But unfortunately, fast_xs is a c-extension, which means that if it's been installed on your system for whatever reason (say, installing Hpricot), then Rails will start using it, and there's no good way to turn it off (unless you consider hacking your ActiveSupport gem "good"). So the behavior of your app could change without any explicit intention on your part.

fast_xs also exists as a gem that wraps the c-extension, and if you use to_xs (i.e. your app emits XML), it might behoove you to depend on the gem explicitly. It was noted that for apps that emit a lot of XML to be performant, you will need fast_xs, anyway.

Standup 10/6/2009


Why is upgrading to Ruby 1.8.7 so painful?

More specifically, a Pivot was wondering why there seem to be so many ways to install Ruby and Rubygems on a Mac. There are a lot of different places where gems end up being installed depending on which version of Ruby you have installed, and the specifics of how you installed it. The conversation turned into one about RVM and Yehuda Katz' Bundler, two technologies that appear destined to make it much easier to easily combine a version of Ruby with a set of gems under a particular project.

What is that technology that allows for more complex condition hashes in ActiveRecord?

This must be ActiveRecord::Extensions, which allows for an expanded syntax in the conditions hash of AR finders. A debate was had as to whether hashes and arrays could possibly comprise a reasonable DSL for complex query logic, but surprisingly, the final word on the subject was not reached during standup.

We are using curl to talk to a Mongrel/Rack server that is running some specs. That server is emitting dots (just as any Rspec process would), but we cannot get those dots to show up in real-time on the client. The only way we've been able to force a flush is with a newline character, but that gives us an ugly vertical column of dots. Any suggested hacks for this?

The Bay Area Chef Meetup Group is meeting on 10/14 in Mountain View. If you're into Chef (and here at Pivotal we use it extensively), you might want to check it out.

Standup 10/5/2009


Has anybody seen memcache clients suddenly stop being able to talk to the memcached server and mark it as dead?

In fact many people have seen this. The Pivot with the question is using the memcached gem, while others noted that the memcache-client gem had special retry logic within it to deal with such a situation. In the latter case, some have still seen connections to memcache timeout despite the retry logic and despite the fact that memcache appears to be up and operational by all other checks.

That being said, nobody had any notion of what the root cause was - anybody out on the interwebs have insight on this?

Anybody seen random segmentation faults and bus errors happening in Ruby?

One of our projects is seeing intermittent crashing of the Ruby interpreter (MRI) while running the app. It seems to happen in a random place inside of Rails, but never the exact same place. We can't find anything suspicious about the code where it is crashing.

It was noted that the project in question is using libxml (to support Nokogiri) and that various combinations of libxml and MRI are known to be incompatible; in fact a few previous Blabs posts exist on this subject. However, in this case the crashes do not happen deterministically, which is unlike the cases described previously.

Standup 3/13/2009


What is better for optimizing the load time of pages on the iPhone: minifying or packing your javascript?