Monday, 20 November 2006

Fixed-width suffocation

This blog was getting strangled by its own fixed width. Yick. So I've just updated the layout CSS to remove the set-pixel-width sections. Unfortunately this also required mucking about with the background images (quick application of gimp and an upload to my own website). The parchment background doesn't look quite so pretty without its "slightly burnt" edges - but at least it won't repeat said edges over and over.

If I get more inspired later I'll update the layout to include the left/right edges individually. Right now I don't have the brain-space to figure out how do that in an elegant way.

Ruby on Postgres on Ubuntu

Agile web devlopment in Rails [1st ed] is a great book - really. But when it comes to installing Rails on postgres - lets just say that it wasn't really written with ubuntu in mind. This page has far better installation steps (including setting up your pg_hba.conf for dapper).

The new edition is available now and I've just ordered myself a copy... this one looks great too - but is still based around MySQL. They do point at the RailsOnUbuntu page for installation, though - which is good. Definitely follow the "recommended way"!

Citizen #20494799631

Wow, getting an ABN as a sole-trader was much easier than I expected. I have this left-over memory of having to scramble for random and bizarre information from when I applied for Renaissance Fence's ABN - but I guess it was because I didn't know all of Rick's vital statistics then.

For future reference, apply online here If you are on a mozilla-browser (eg Firefox) - ignore their "we don't support your browser" warnings. Their "you don't have scripting turned on" warning is equally useless. Luckily they have provided a "continue if you are sure" link or I'd get really mad.

Their password security is borken - 5-8 characters only? They actually stop you from typing a longer password! They have some other wierd restrictions too (eg letters can't be doubled... but I found out that digits can); that don't *really* add that much more security to them... <sigh>

Their html forms are ugly-as - requiring only a bit of human eyeballing to tell them that, for eg, date field do not need to stretch across half the page - whereas an email field would probably do better with more than only ten characters visible.

Otherwise it's all pretty straightforward. You can even save and return to it later if you need to go find your TFN (I had that handy, this time around).

Saturday, 18 November 2006

Ruby Slippers

We're not in Kansas anymore...

So... after a few years working in the bog-standard IT job I've decided to venture out into the big, bad world of contracting. The stomach fills with butterflies just thinking about it. I am ever mindful of the market situation that surrounded my first IT job. The bubble was bursting and belts were cinched ever tighter in a last, desperate bid to grasp at whatever straws were on offer.

Is the market so different now?

The net is filled with buzz over the new "(r)evolution" of Web 2.0TM and I have happily upskilled into that area. Ruby-on-Rails is indeed a dream-come-true compared with the outmoded efforts of only a few years back. It provides a heady mix of powerful scripting with whizz-bang AJAX GUI effects that can turn the average online business into something really special.

But is that enough? I have the tech-skills, my micro-business has given me customer-service and admin skills. But I'll admit I've never left the protective support-system that the average tech-company provides.

Sticking my head outside the womb is a scary thing! The first breath of cold, sharp air will be a painful shock. I am, however, reminded of that quote:

"Life wasn't meant to be easy, but take courage, child, for sometimes it can be pure delight"

So all I can say is that I've just begun. I don't know how I'll go, but I plan on having a hell of a ride while I'm here!