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Petri Wessman's weblog

Weekend approaching

End of the week nearing, which is nice – except that it doesn’t look like a weekend full of rest. Hopefully some fun, though. Teemu is running some VTES tournaments on Saturday, a quick Duffin Draft starting at 10am, followed by a normal constructed tournament at 12am. I still don’t have a deck ready, looks like I’ll have to play with an untested deck yet again. Defeat is always an option!

Sunday will have me doing cutting practice with sharp swords. Never done that before, should be interesting.

A funny thing with exercise: I’ve been feeling less dead after the 3h sword practice sessions lately. Very tired, yes, and often aching in various places, but less physically wiped out. Which is nice. Yesterday was mentally a catastrophe, though, the first 2 hours of longsword was no problem but the last hour of backsword just totally overwhelmed me, I probably got whacked on the mask more that I managed to parry anything. Somehow I just could not process the (simple) stuff at the pace we were going, and was just perpetually confused. It happens, sometimes. Not sure why, since on other days the same things flow by with no problems.

I’ve been playing around with Rails again a bit, I have a small project going on which might even end up being useful but is mainly intended as a exercise in trying out all sorts of cool Rails stuff. I’m still waiting for my physical copy of the 2nd edition of Agile Web Development With Rails to get here, in the meantime I’m making do with the PDF edition. Yesterday I noticed that O’Reilly has a “buy 2 books, get 3” deal that also applies to PDFs, so I bought myself PDF copies of Rails Cookbook, Ajax on Rails and CSS Cookbook, 2nd ed, for a total of a bit over $40. Not bad. Haven’t had time to read them yet (obviously), but a quick browse leaves me happy with what I bought, they look like good additions to my tech bookshelf.

I should probably also mention dokuwiki. I’ve played around with various Wiki engines so far, some have been horrible, some have been ok, and some have been very good. Up to now I’ve preferred mediawiki, since it has a nice layout and features, but I’ve always found the setup and configuration of it to be more cumbersome and complicated than I like. Enter dokuwiki, which is ultra-simple to set up; it doesn’t even use a database, just flat files. In spite of the simplicity, it offers a nice selection of features and nice, clean default layout. All in all, it looks like just the right balance of features vs setup/config complexity for me, and I set up an instance for a personal wiki. I also have a private instance for (duh) private stuff, the fast and simple setup makes creating a new wiki a breeze. Me likes. Sure, the thing probably doesn’t scale all that well with no database, but who cares; I’m not running wikipedia here. Also, it’s PHP which I normally avoid like a plague due to security concerns, but this app is just so good I’m willling to ignore the evil of PHP.

A fact of life, which I’ve discovered, is that most people are absolutely horrible programmers. Even the ones who make their living as one. Especially some of them. If I had a dollar for each utterly horrible piece of code I’ve had to see (or fix), I’d be somewhere warm with a drink in my hand and “should I buy a Jaguar?” as my main concern. Take that into account, and enter PHP into the equation. PHP, which lets people who have no business writing anything more complicated than Excel macroes suddenly become “web developers”, with naturally no idea of what a “web exploit” even means let alone how to protect against one. Stir into that pot the fact that the PHP development team has a Microsoft-like attitude about security, i.e. features and ease of use are always seen as more important… and voila!, you have a framework which is singlehandedly responsible for a massive amount of server compromises. Sure, a competent person can use PHP responsibly and write a secure app, just like a competent person can write a massive transaction processing system in Visual Basic. Doesn’t make either of them into good tools, or change the fact that PHP is what is technically known as a ”massive piece of shit”.

Ahem. Anyway… Rails good. Dokuwiki good. PHP bad. Beer good. Wife cute.

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Typo

Ok, I’ve been playing around with Typo a bit now and it seems a lot nicer than Wordpress. A lot of the “nicer” comes from it being written with Ruby On Rails, which is a kick-ass platform, especially when compared to the steaming pile of dung that is PHP. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is very nice – but Typo suits me more.

It helps that I’ve done some stuff with Rails, and I know how the framework is organized and is intended to work. This, together with Ruby being a nice and concise language, makes peeking under the hood in Typo a pleasant experience, as opposed to the “aaaagh, I want to claw my eyes out!” reaction I get from PHP and WordPress. I’m already thinking of writing a sidebar plugin or two, they seem pretty straightforward. I also want to add a text filter to generate DriveThruRPG links easily.

The installation and setup was pretty straighforward, the new installer defaults to a Mongrel server which suits me fine. I ended up with Mongrel listening to a port on the local interface, with Apache proxying requests that way. Rails is not thread-safe, so Mongrel wraps most of the app in a sync block – which is fine for a small site like this, but would not scale for more traffic. Luckily, Mongrel has support for running a cluster of Mongrel instances, and Apache 2.2 and later have a load balancing proxy module that is reported to work. I don’t need that now, but it’s good to know that stuff like that exists. All in all, it seems that the Mongrel + proxy solution is a very painless way to deploy and administed Rails apps. Nice. Production deployments have always been the slightly ugly side of Rails, up to now at least.

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