Development

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Twitter: downtime as a matter of course

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

What is it about Twitter that makes it such a success in spite of frequent and continued service availability issues? If you ask me it’s a rabid user base (like me) willing to use the service in the face of hour after hour of downtime, tweet after tweet lost to the ether. Any other service this unreliable would be hard pressed to keep the numbers of users around that are causing Twitters instability in recent months.

Why so rabid a user base? You have me at that one – I’m hooked and have no clue why.

A little housekeeping

Monday, May 19th, 2008

As per my usual 6-12 month cycle I have tired of the old presentation of Futurist Now and have thus abandoned the old look and feel for something fresh. Thanks to the high degree of flexibility afforded by WordPress the whole affair took less than an hour and aside from a few things moving around a bit there should be no impact to Futurist Now readers. Let me know if you see anything broken.

Well, carry on then.

Metaspark

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Or: Further experimentation with personal aggregation services

After my initial experimentations with personal aggregation basically failed I’ve decided to take another stab at it, but this time with a DIY bent. I registered metaspark.net and am working a complicated series of WordPress plugins to attempt to create the functionality I want.

Unfortunately it’s not entirely baked yet, but keep your eye on that domain – once I get a few RSS aggregation, twitter update, and posting date issues sorted out it should be ready to go fully live, and with style no less.

Stay tuned!

The winds of change

Monday, February 4th, 2008

The last 7 days certainly have been packed with activity. Last week we had some production fire drills at work which resulted in a lot of hard work, 20 hour days, and general chaos-induced stress. To top it all off the end of the week also brought news that funding for my project has changed and come April my position is being eliminated.

This somewhat bittersweet news. Obviously being laid off is never a great thing, but in this case it may actually end up being the a good thing for me long term. Of late I’ve been rather frustrated with the speed and direction of my group so I guess this is the kick in the ass I needed to do something about it and find a position where I can exercise my passion for technology in a more direct fashion, and perhaps have a more direct impact on bringing about the coming technological singularity.

That being said – if you, my reader need a technologically passionate problem solver let me know!

Losing the faith

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

It’s weird how tests of faith seem to come in as many different forms as faith itself comes in. Recently my faith in technology as the future of mankind has been on shaky ground. Developing Traskpro has been strangely cathartic – almost like opening my eyes up to what software development can be: fun, rapid, iterative, and responsive to user input. Working for a large software company seems to be the polar opposite of my experience with Traskpro. It’s slow moving, overly precise, and so large that changing direction takes years if it happens at all.

This start contrast (combined with the weary weight of too many hours put into work and Traskpro) is leaving me depleted – worried about the future I strive so hard to bring about. My vision of the future seems at times so within my grasp – mere years away if everything goes right. Then I realize that nothing is going right: the world is a glacially slowly moving monstrosity. While technology continues to evolve in leaps and bounds it’s the rest of the world that’s too slow to adapt to it and seemingly unwilling embrace its change.

So what is the point? If the world won’t embrace the change technology offers is it worth the effort to produce the technology? Should radical technologists like myself simply give up? Should we all go back to farming goats and continue our tried and true biological ways?

Living the Traskpro life

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

I’ve been so busy and productive of late that sadly Futurist Now has suffered from it – barely a post a week on average. Aside from the normal work stuff I’ve been slammed with tons and tons of development work on Traskpro. I’m becoming extremely proud of Traskpro – it’s becoming a very robust solution and I’m all but running my life out of it now.

What makes Traskpro so great? What do I do with it?

Amazing ehh – give it a whirl or check out the Traskpro blog – you can do all these things and more! With Traskpro’s flexible design you can track almost any kind of information – all for free!

Now what would a big Traskpro advert like this be without a few power user tips? Traskpro uses the URL to determine what tag you are viewing – this means that you can bookmark frequently used tags for quick access. I am able to use this feature by setting my internet home page to my “work” tag at work, my “personal” tag at home, and the high priority view on my iPhone – whenever I open a browser I immediately see a highly contextual view of tasks related to my current environment.

Further to URL bookmarking when setting a sort preference the sort preference is added to the next page view URL. This allows you to bookmark not only a specific tag, but also to make it so whenever visiting the bookmark the sorting options can be left intact – useful for power users looking to really take control of a large list of tasks.

Prelude: CES

Friday, January 4th, 2008

It’s the Friday before CES starts and I’m finishing up the last details so as to be ready for a flight that leaves frightengly soon. I finished up work yesterday, set my OOF (Out Of Office) and checked out – for the next 11 days I don’t even have to think about work; something that hasn’t happened in a really long time.

So far I’ve actually made good progress. I made it up to Broadway to pick up some Gear Live branded business cards for CES, have done 5 loads of laundry, packed most of my stuff, and cleaned up. I still have a little work to do, but over all I’m feeling much better about leaving – thanks to Traskpro

Amazingly with all the CES stuff I did today I even found time to do a few usability tweaks to Traskpro. Now tags can be entered separated by spaces, commas, or semicolons, and tags can be marked as high or low priority by tagging them ‘high’ or ‘low’. I got some great user feedback from two of my users and hopefully this will make entry more intuitive for new users by sticking to the arching design goal of flexibility.

Not too sure if I’ll be doing much personal blogging from CES – I will be pretty busy this year between doing video production and writing up the sights and sounds of CES. Check out the Gear Live coverage of CES, or you can click to see Gear Live filtered to only my content.

Twitter added to sidebar

Friday, January 4th, 2008

I’m again experimenting with adding my Twitter stream to Futurist Now. People detested the old post style integration so this time I’m trying a live feed view in the sidebar. Leave a comment if you love it or hate it.

I can configure the number of tweets to display – how many do readers find useful? If I just put a single one it shows real-time context without visually overpowering the main content column. On the other hand more gives a better context of what I’m doing, but adds a huge block of text to the sidebar.

Refactoring is fun

Friday, December 28th, 2007

During the last couple of days I’ve been toying with Traskpro development tasks while I’ve been home ill. Until today I didn’t actually implement any new functionality, but rather spent my time re-factoring ‘old’ code from the 0.1 and 0.2 versions. Re-factoring is a low strain on my brain and a great task for idly doing while drifting in and out of sickly sleep – once I got the new architectures and designs on paper implementation of the new pattern happened on a feature by feature basis.

Most notably I took a lot of hacky if loops to select SQL queries and moved them into a net-new function which builds the queries based in inputs so the code is both easier to read and easier to maintain long term. I also moved a lot of in-line functionality to within functions which has made long term maintainability and new feature development a breeze.

Not only does this re-factoring provide more readable code, but having everything generalized into functions made adding a few new features a breeze. For instance I just added a capture feature to Traskpro for capturing more than one task (and tag array) at once. This makes capturing action items in a meeting brain dead simple and removes the need for a round trip to the server between each individual addition. Because of the functions for adding/editings tasks, or adding tags to tasks this new feature was developed in a far more efficient fashion – rather than building from scratch I could re-use code.

Simple stuff I know, but not developing for a living really does give me appreciation for elegant, maintainable, and readable code.

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