Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Link: Why I don't have a startup yet

Great post called Why I don't have a startup yet. Snippet:

"I love what I do at Yahoo, and I care enough about what we create that I want to focus all my energy on creating value for users. It’s good practice. But as long as I work at this job, I won’t have enough left over at the end of the day to seriously invest in anything else."

But further to that - there's so much in the world to do. Doing work is part of that, but if it's the only thing in your life, then "All work and no play makes Taryn a dull girl". Sure, some coding is play - and I do love to code my own stuff too... but I like so many things, that if I focus my off-hours on coding, I'd lose sight of all the rest that life has to offer.

So sure, I choose to spend some time coding, but also a lot of time reading books while sipping great coffee, getting together with interesting bunches of people, travelling to far-flung places, writing up my travels or even writing fiction (however badly), taking photographs, attending medieval feasts and wars, making home-brew mead, or even just walking outside and enjoying the sun.

Life is an adventure... make the most of it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tact filters for geeks

I just stumbled into this great article. It described the difference between how geeks vs "normal" people filter their social discourse for tact. It makes a lot of sense, and explains my frustration with non-geeks not "talking straight"... as well as, no doubt, the shocked reactions of these same people when I do. Interesting reading.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Updating gem to 1.2.0 on Ubuntu

Like several others, I tried to gem update today and failed. It gave me weird error telling me it couldn't find the update gem in the repository:

%> sudo gem update --system
Updating RubyGems
Bulk updating Gem source index for: http://gems.rubyforge.org/
Updating rubygems-update
ERROR:  While executing gem ... (Gem::GemNotFoundException)
    could not find rubygems-update locally or in a repository

Googling gave me a fair few other links to people with the same issue. The main one seems to be listed under this ruby-forum topic which started as the release-notes for the Gem update to version 1.2.0. People that had problems updating to this gem listed their steps-to-reproduce in the replies below, and I tried all the suggestions.

sudo gem update --system was the original command I tried and it gave me the error as above. All the fora on the topic insisted that the workaround is to run: gem install rubygems-update -v 1.1.1, but this just gave the same error. I did note that most of these people were on various flavours of Mac, and the pleas for help from those on Ubuntu were drifting away into the sky unheard...

One forum user said he tried the above from his gem directory and that worked for him...
but not for me...

I even tried reinstalling ruby/rubygems via apt-get, but the former was latest version, and the latter doesn't exist...

I was about ready to nuke the site from orbit... and reinstall from scratch and went to the rubyforge page for rubygems. This lists the source code, but I also noticed it had individual "upgrade" gems available for download. This saved me from my previous scorched-earth plan, and eventually resulted in success. For future reference:

  1. copy rubygems-update-1.1.0.gem to a local directory
  2. then run: sudo gem install rubygems-update-1.1.0.gem
  3. repeat with rubygems-update-1.2.0.gem
  4. then run update_rubygems

Now it's all fine and sudo gem update --system happily fetches my new gems as before.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Explaining anti-virus suckage to the tech-averse

Being the most IT-savvy member of my extended family, I'm often called upon for random tidbits of IT information. This is regardless of whether or not I'm actually likely to know anything about the subject at hand... because obviously I'm "into IT" so I should know how to network an ancient dot-matrix printer to an ageing pentium... (clue: it's probably not working for you because it's time to replace the hardware).

The one I dread most, however, is "why is my internet so slow"... the obvious candidate being "have you considered the possibility that you might have a virus?" - which is usually met with the same sort of scandalised reaction reserved for asking somebody whether they have a venereal disease.

Surely computer viruses are something that only happens to *other* people? After all, we're good, clean types that don't take part in *that* sort of behaviour... why would we have something so dirty as a virus? besides... which we always use a condom anti-virus software... so there's no possible way we could have anything right?

Depending on the tech-savviness of the audience I'll then launch into an explanation as to why anti-virus software doesn't always work... This generally goes down like a lead balloon. With the usual response being "but I have the latest <insert expensive AV software name here> and keep the signatures fresh up-to-the-minute!"

The problem being that I know this subject only enough to know that even with the latest virus signatures, it's not perfect. I don't know it well enough to really describe in laymans' terms *why*.

Today I came across an article on Coding Horror about how blacklists don't work. but it also neatly segue's into the reason why anti-virus software is always going to be one step behind the competition. I think it summarises the issue nicely - far better than I have ever been able to describe.

I know I could never give this to my grandma, but I think it's a step in the right direction - and I can probably point my partially-tech-savvy aunts and uncles in that direction from now on.