Category Archives: Coding on the Late Shift

social|median design contest and invites

social|median social|median harnesses social filtering to help you keep up-to-date with news that matters to you.

From their website:

socialmedian is a social news service that connects people with personalized news and information. socialmedian enables you to easily keep up-to-date on the news that matters to you and to people who share your interests.

Currently, they are in ALPHA (heard of web applications in BETA before? eg: Gmail. Alpha is a milestone just before BETA ;)

What I like about them the most is their approach. Jason the founder and his team at TrueSparrow are not churning up code all the time (like you would like to believe of a product in ALPHA) but constantly looking for feedback from their ALPHA users. At the time of writing this post they already had 2468 alpha users signed up and most of them active.

Now, it is this approach of theirs which I highly appreciate and when Jason announced the social|median design contest I had to pitch in.

I throughly enjoyed the whole experience of participating in the design contest while the product is in its ALPHA and probably help shape its vision/roadmap. My participation in the contest is a story in itself and it will probably unfold sometime soon on this blog (may be partially).

Interested in seeing my entry for the contest? For you all I have a special annotated version of the files I sent to Jason unlike the ones uploaded in the contest.

(I would recommend you to see the first and the third at its original size by clicking on the preview images below. The notes would also help you figure out what’s the application about.)

User’s signed in homepage:

home-compact-profile-notes

User’s signed in homepage after clicking on expand profile:

home-extended-profile-notes

Web 2.0 network on social|median:

network-web-20-notes

You can go through all the entries here. To vote for me you can follow this link. I would highly appreciate if you take time out and make an informed decision by going through all the entries. Since, all the designs are also effectively ALPHA ;) do leave your comments here or on the individual design pages for the designs.

Thanks for taking time out and participating in the voting process. Looking forward for your feedback.

Update
Jason has been grateful and has extended some ALPHA invites to social|median for you! Grab them soon before they are gone. Leave me a message along with your email and I shall send you the code for the ALPHA invite.

Results are out:
Results are out and you can read more about it here. I didn’t win but I hope I did add value to the whole process. In all I am extremely happy with the contest and my entry for the feedback I received from fellow contestants, unknown friends (from what I noticed there were atleast 3 comments which went missing from that post after I read them. so if you see your feedback missing do push it to me on my email as I really value it) and well wishers. Thanks once again for your support.

Look who’s talking about PHP :)

David, creator of Ruby on Rails recently made a post on his blog related to PHP. He did have some good things to say about PHP and as he rightly pointed out that it deserves some more respect from the community in general.

From his blog post:

I’ve been writing a little bit of PHP again today. That platform has really received an unfair reputation. For the small things I’ve been used it for lately, it’s absolutely perfect.

I love the fact that it’s all just self-contained. That the language includes so many helpful functions in the box. And that it managed to get distributed with just about every instance of Apache out there.

For the small chores, being quick and effective matters far more than long-term maintenance concerns. Or how pretty the code is. PHP scales down like no other package for the web and it deserves more credit for tackling that scope.

I have always respected and utilized them for tasks which leverage their inherent strengths :)

Recent Category Posts – K2 Sidebar Module

Do use WordPress? Heard of K2? If not, then you really have to give it a good look.

From the K2 website:

K2 is an advanced template for the blogging engine WordPress developed by Michael Heilemann, Chris J Davis, Zeo, Steve Lam and Ben Sherratt.

It won’t make you coffee, sing songs of sweet regret or sit at your bedside when you’re ill, but it might make life just a tad bit easier for you.

Think of it this way: Where WordPress is everything that goes on behind the scenes, K2 is everything that reaches the readers of your blog.

WordPress itself takes care of authenticating users, fetching and sending data to and from the database and provides you with the backend administration interface.

K2 on the other hand is the frontend of WordPress. It’s main concern is displaying the data fetches through WordPress in the right way at the right time. Furthermore, where more basic themes like Kubrick have little situational awareness, K2 cares about you and is always trying to make sure you are presented with exactly the tools and data you need.

K2 supports syles. Much like the main theme can be styled by using different CSS files.

K2 also has a stellar Sidebar Module(SBM) which is much like WordPress Widgets on steroids. Though, WordPress Widgets do have a more cleaner approach as they hook onto the WordPress Plugin API. On the other hand, SBM has a better UI to configure and more granular control for the users. Couple it up with solid API for the programmer. You can even disable SBM from the K2 admin panel to support WordPress Widgets.

So, here is my first SBM for K2.

Recent Category Posts – K2 Sidebar Module

Someone also had requested this as a sidebar module at the K2 forums.

The programmers and the ABCDEFG problem

Again and again I am reminded of the ABCDEFG problem I read in “The Nudist on the Late Shift — and Other True Tales of Silicon Valley” by Po Bronson.

“The ABCDEFG Problem.” I call it that because all good programmers have tons of choices to work on, A through G. Some choices seem cooler and some seem dumber, some possible and some improbable, but as to the payday lurking behind the door, they all look alike. They’re just A through G, take your pick. Choice A may be 3DO, and choice G may be $2 million of Microsoft stock, and Choice C may be a quarterback with four Super Bowl rings, but you just don’t know. It’s sort of like choosing one million units of foreign currency by which country’s paper bills have the splashiest colors, or making a million-dollar bet on the NCAA basketball tournament by whichever team has the sexiest cheerleaders. The variables that programmers have to go on (A-G) are not the variables that determine the outcome (X, Y, and Z).

And rightly said, “The variables that programmers have to go on (A-G) are not the variables that determine the outcome (X, Y, and Z).” So, do what you love and have fun coding :)

You can read an excerpt from the book here.

P.S. Hanisha, I still have the book I borrowed from you. Thanks :)

ErlyWeb: ErlangOnRails

Erlang
I have been playing around with Erlang for some weekends now and I find it to be really interesting. I like the functional programming paradigm too. The syntax reminds me a little of Prolog (from my engineering days).

Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World is the Pickaxe book for Erlang written by Joe Amstrong. Joe designed and implemented the first version of Erlang in 1986.

What’s all this fuss about Erlang?. This and recent articles on reddit got me interested in Erlang.

ErlyWeb - The Erlang twist on Web Frameworks

Yariv Sadan has also developed a web framework on Erlang named ErlyWeb. ErlyWeb is in its 0.7 version and has some Rails kinda feel to it but doesn’t look as clean as Rails because its on Erlang. Not many people get it but its actually because of Ruby that Rails does most of its magic its said to do. ErlyWeb is a commendable effort and I really want to give it a fair shot before I form a opinion about it.

I have a very interesting project in mind where Erlang fits the bill perfectly. More about it sometime later ;)

Enhance GMail – Use keyboard shortcuts

I have made a switch from Yahoo to Gmail for my primary mail address in the last few months and its been a pleasant experience.

Have been using the keyboard shortcuts of Gmail now and I must say I am addicted to it. Highly recommended for anyone who loves to use the terminal or like editors like emacs and vi. I feel the shortcuts have more of a vi feel to it.

I would recommend Gmail if:

  • Volume of mail you have to respond to is huge. On Gmail alone I have had 226 mails in my sent folder in the last two months. Most of them were related to CodeCampMumbai
  • You want to receive the registration confirmation mails quickly. I have noticed that its faster on Gmail than on Yahoo.
  • Discover Archiving. Yeah, archiving is beautiful.
  • You are looking for a GTD app.(link)
  • Oops, I just figured out that I can go on and on…

Which reminds me I have to update my Contact page.

Jaagte raho ;)

I am here at the CodeCampMumbai and we are hitting our keyboards real hard at this time in the night(2:00am). It’s 8 of us here still remaining and the enthusiasm is contagious. Me and Pavan are sitting in the balcony with our laptops while Deepak, Kurund, Ankur, Fenil, Latesh and Varun are sitting inside. It’s chilly out here and you have the balmy breeze making us feel comfortable all the time. We can hear birds chirping even at this time in the night.

It feels sublime and I feel I should enjoy the moment and the code and not blog about it now ;)

‘Jaagte raho’ is hindi for ‘Keep Awake’

Announcing CodeCampMumbai on Nov 17th & 18th

[FlashBack-Cut-1] Little less than a month back Ankur and me had a couple of mail exchanges over how we should try and bring the hacker/developer community together.

[FlashBack-Cut-2] During the closing session of BarCampMumbai2 there were some participants who were not satisfied with the technical depth of the sessions at the BarCamp. I took this opportunity and quickly created a simple CodeCampMumbai page on the barcamp wiki and announced the event on the stage.

[Present-Cut-3] Thus, emerged CodeCampMumbai and a format which is heavily influenced by some popular philosophies.

Here is what we have taken from other popular manifestos/cultures:

CodeCamps:

  • By and For the Developer Community
  • No Fluff – only Code

Read more: CodeCamp Manifesto

Hackathons:

  • Race against time (24 hours)
  • Do something cool/complex/brainy

Read more here, here and here.

BarCamps:

  • Share and learn in a open environment
  • No Spectators. Only Participants.

Read more here.

In short:
CodeCampMumbai caters to the community of CodeCampers, bound by the culture of Hackathons and is based upon open participative and collaborative nature of BarCamps.

Date:: 17th – 18th Nov 2007
Register here:: http://barcamp.org/CodeCampMumbai
Venue:: IIT-B Mumbai
Mailing list:: http://groups.google.com/group/codecampmumbai

If you love to code and code for the love of it you ought to be present. See you there ;)