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NY Standup: Documentation interpolation and RVM, Brew and autolibs FTW

Interestings Grant Hutchins / David Lee

If you wrap the opening name of a Ruby heredoc in single quotes, its insides will act like a single-quoted string.

If you wrap the opening name in backticks, the heredoc will be immediately …

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Installing Rails development stack on OS X Lion

I recently started working with OS X Lion at home and started researching the best way to get a Ruby on Rails environment up and running quickly.

After a little searching, I found a really well written article by Frederico Araujo over at

Fred's blog post walks you through step by step getting Homebrew, RVM, Ruby 1.9.2 and MySQL up and running.

It worked perfectly.

Thanks Fred!

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Yaml, Psych and Ruby 1.9.2-p180 – Here there be dragons

As mentioned in yesterday's standup blog, my pair and I encountered some problems with YAML parsing over the last few days, and now that I think I understand it I wanted to document it for posterity.

Psych is a new YAML parser which presumably is better than what came before it, but can't merge hash keys correctly and doesn't work with delayed job. The merging of hash keys is serious, as our standard databse.yml defines a common section, and back references it merging in individual database name and settings. When psych is loaded, we get a blank database name, which makes active record pretty much useless.

Ruby 1.9.2 optionally compiles psych into ruby if you have libyaml installed on the computer. Some gems will require psych if it's available, thus poisoning any future YAML parsing which does not expect psych's pedantic (and currently broken) behavior.

You can always look at the value of the YAML constant - it can varry between YAML, Syck and Psych, depending on what's loaded. You can switch the yamler by adding YAML::ENGINE.yamler = 'syck', but you need to make sure this happens at every code entry point.

For now, I'm no longer install libyaml and libyaml-devel on servers, which got there because I had been following RVM's information ruby prerequisites. I'll also write a chef recipe to assert that libyaml is not installed.

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Standup 12/17/2010 Comparing indexed date columns, git subtrees, Headless Selenium for CI


Is there a way to get MySql indexing to speed up queries involving greater and less than operators on date columns?

Postgres handles these operators a little bit better than MySql, but may not actually solve this problem.

Using millis instead of dates would give the DB the best chance of handling this scenario.

We are using Git's subtree merge facility instead of submodules to stay synced to a different repository for part of our project. How do we push changes back to that repo?

See Tim Connor's blog post "Git sub-tree merging back to the subtree for pushing to an upstream". Early in that post is a pointer to an article describing the the subtree merge operation. Tim goes on to explain how to push your changes back through the chain.


  • Some cloud environments leave the names of temp files visible even when their contents are not accessible. Be sure to use obfuscated names for your temporary files!

  • The "Headless" gem allows you to easily set up an alternate "display" that allows programs to execute in a headless environment. See this blog post about how to use Headless to run Selenium tests on a CI box:

  • Ccrb will bog down to painfully slow levels if more than a couple of CC Tray clients are pinging it repeatedly during a build.

  • Cron will not honor your .rvmrc file unless you do some work to set up the environment. If you set up your cron job like this:

0 6 * * * /bin/bash -l -c 'echo /home/someuser/.rvm/bin/rvm rvmrc trust ... && cd ... 

the -l & -c parameters cause bash to load your environment as if your were logging in before running the specified commands. Someone also mentioned that rvm-shell can be used as a solution to this problem.

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Standup 9/1/2010 – Rspec2 + RubyMine and Testing for Class methods


Testing for class methods in Ruby

How do you test for the existence of a class method? Test it using #respond_to?

class Foo
        puts "Hello, World!"

 => true

And to make sure we are really just talking about class methods and not instance methods:

foo =

 => false


RubyMine and Rspec2 Bug Fixed!

We use the latest and greatest RubyMine version available at Pivotal, but sometimes technology choices such as Rails 3 and Rspec 2 are still ahead of it. The formatter that analyzes test output breaks on Rspec 2's output before any tests run. The bug is further discussed Luckily this bug will be fixed in the next EAP release.

Excuting .rvmrc commands and cruisecontrol

We've had a difficult time getting .rvmrc files to work with cruisecontrol.rb builds. Specifically, ccrb seems to launch the rake task in the project working directory. This means that the .rvmrc file is ignored. A workaround is to have your CI script directly use RVM or to add "cd .. && cd work" before your project cruise script or rake task.

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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.

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