My first ruby on rails application…

May 13th, 2006
…was a lot of fun to write. The problem was building a very simple system to automate the checkout process for a silent auction. Literally just recording the winning bidders and amounts for each item and then producing itemised bills for them. I sat down in front of Access (which I’ve never used seriously) and whilst laying out the tables was easy and reports would probably have been pretty easy too it felt that it would take a while to put some polish on it.
So, instead I used this as an excuse to try out ruby (and ruby on rails) – which I’ve also never used. I tend to start programming new languages by pattern matching and trial and error so the scaffold I generated from a couple of tables was a good start and it didn’t take long to customize a few new screens to do what I wanted. The added bonus that it’s all free software and that it’s web based so we could have ten people on check out as easily as one is just gravy.

Hard-Fi in Brooklyn

April 3rd, 2006

We went to an excellent Hard-Fi concert in Brooklyn on Saturday night. The album is great but in this case it didn’t do the live show justice. Just a lot of attitude from Richard Archer on stage finishing up with the excellent “Living for the Weekend”. A lot of Brits in attendance – it felt like we were back in London for an evening.

The kleptones return with 24 hours – where’s Jack Bauer?

March 30th, 2006

The kleptones are back with 24hours. So far it sounds good – if you liked A Night at the Hip-Hopera then you’ll probably like this too.

Hard-Fi in New York

March 3rd, 2006

Got my tickets to see Hard-Fi in Brooklyn on April 1st today. Definitely looking forward to that. I loved the whole Stars of CCTV album but especially Cash Machine, Feltham Is Singing Out and Living For The Weekend. Maybe this would be a good reason to finally upgrade to a new digital camera and start getting some photos onto the blog.

Flickr Captcha

February 18th, 2006
A cross between this and this would be a fun way of sorting out the people from the bots?

Pursuit Force demo on PSP – looks like fun

February 18th, 2006

Got a demo of Pursuit Force for PSP in the mail. Signing up for all those Sony sites might pay off after all. The demo has three levels on it and judging from them the game will be plenty of fun with a nice mix of driving, shooting and platforming style acrobatics. That’s two of my favourite genres covered. Added it to my Gamefly queue.

I was always a little disappointed at the time it took to turn around games on Gamefly (which, for me, was simply the time in the mail). However now that there is a Fast Return scanner somewhere between my local post office and California which my returns go through the turnaround is now about 3-4 days from mailing in a game to getting it’s replacement instead of 6-7.

That’s another March release to squeeze in along with Daxter and Me and My Katamari on the PSP and the one I’m looking forward to most (as are all the game players in this household) – Kingdom Hearts II on the PS2.

Is there a white label prediction market service?

January 7th, 2006

What I’d like (am I the only one?) is a white labelled (or co-branded) service to run a prediction market for me. I’d like to be able to create both public and private invitation only markets. The service would be set up to assure participants in invitation only markets of their anonymity. I’m thinking about corporations who want to run prediction markets and employees who might be reluctant to express negative views on a corporate web-server.

The creator of a private invitation only market would be able to set the terms of the contract, manage the list of people allowed to participate and determine the result of the contract (or provide appropriate “market-data”). Beyond that they would not have any access to how the participants were trading on a day to day basis. Incentive could be by making the ranking of participants visible (ego) – although this might also allow people to imply something about how they traded. Alternatively, the service could distribute a pot supplied by the creator of the market based on rankings without making those rankings visible (probably a ton of regulatory issues with doing that though).

It seems like a logical extension for people like Zoomerang. There are also a few open source packages out there that something like this could be based on.

StrategyWiki – game guides with the power of Wiki

January 7th, 2006

As a reasonably frequent user of GameFAQs, StrategyWiki looks like a great idea to me. I wonder what the uptake will be. There’s clearly a community out there who produce game guides as a labor of love – just dip into GameFAQs if you haven’t seen it – but there also seems to be a lot of personal pride involved in the production. Will they get the community bug?

Adding fotonotes to this would be cool. It looks like there is a mediawiki extension for it but fotonotes wiki is down just now – the google cache still has a trace of it.

Exceeded your minutes on Verizon Wireless?

December 14th, 2005

From the “things I wish I’d known a month ago” files. I found out today that Verizon Wireless will apparently allow you to backdate calling plan changes to the beginning of your current billing period. If I’d known that as I’d watched last months excess minutes mounting up I would have done it in a shot. The overage charges would have easily paid for 12 months of the difference to a bigger plan!

I didn’t actually get my calling plan change backdated but I did ask the service rep and she indicated I could even if I was over my minutes allowance – if you can confirm that this does work (or doesn’t) leave a comment.

It is a small change for the better – I remember last time I changed plans spending 30 minutes on the phone debating with the service rep how I’d managed to switched to a larger plan, used less minutes over the month than my previous plan allowed and still got hit with overage charges because of the way the minutes were pro-rated.

P2P Backup for your PC

December 10th, 2005

I’ve been waiting for something like Allmydata for a while now. The 1:1 plan looks like a good deal – for $2.99 you get as much backup space as you’re willing to provide on your own PC. And although the free plan is probably not for me it’s a clever way for AllMyData to get their storage.

It would be really interesting to understand the parameters for the service – how the files get distributed to ensure availability in the face of thousands of machines each of which will be online only intermittently. The problem is not a typical P2P one.

Of course bandwidth will still be a limiting factor if I want to back up my photos, my music, my videos etc. Maybe this is the reason to get FiOS!