Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting Things Done via your Inbox

I've been Getting Things Done long before it was cool to GTD. My method is simple: I keep my list of things to get done in my email Inbox. Once I get a thing done, I move it to a different folder, and I forget about it. This forces me to deal with incoming email at a very rapid pace. I either keep it in the Inbox because I know I'll work on it in the next few hours (or days), or I reply to it and I delete it, or I file it away, or I simply delete it. There are of course cases when my Inbox grows, but then I take drastic measures to reduce its size. I try to have no more than 25 messages in my Inbox at all times. OK, sometimes I have up to 50, but that's my limit.

Just thought I'd throw this out there in case it might help somebody in organizing their workload.

MS SQL Server is brain dead

Another post in the series "Why does this have to be so painful???"

I had to insert some data in a MS SQL Server database (don't ask, I just had to.) The same data was inserted into a MySQL database using a simple statement of the form:

INSERT INTO table1 (col1, col2, col3)

I tried to do the same in MS SQL Server, and I was getting mysterious 'syntax error' messages, with no other explanation. In desperation, I only left one row of values in the statement, and boom, the syntax errors disappeared. I thought -- wait a minute, there's no way I can only insert one row at a time in MS SQL Server! But yes, that turned out to be the sad truth. I finally found a slightly better way to deal with multiple rows at a time in this blog post -- something extremely convoluted like this:

INSERT INTO table1 (col1, col2, col3)
a, b, c
d, e, f
x, y, z

(be very careful not to end your statement with a UNION ALL)

What can I say, my post title says it all. Another thing I noticed while desperately googling around: there is precious little information about SQL Server on forums etc., in comparison with a huge wealth of info on MySQL. And the best information on SQL Server is on pay-if-you-want-to-see-the-answers forums such as experts-exchange.com. Not surprising, but sad.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Installing the TinyMCE spellchecker in SugarCRM

I had to go through the exercise of installing and configuring the TinyMCE spellchecker in a SugarCRM 5.0 installation today, so I'm blogging it here for future reference and google karma.

Here's my exact scenario:

- OS: CentOS 4.4 32-bit
- SugarCRM version: SugarCE-Full-5.0.0a (under /var/www/html/SugarCRM)

I first downloaded the TinyMCE spellchecker plugin v. 1.0.5 by following the link from the TinyMCE download page.

I unzipped tinymce_spellchecker_php_1_0_5.zip and copied the resulting spellchecker directory under my SugarCRM installation (in my case under /var/www/html/SugarCRM/include/javascript/tiny_mce/plugins).

I edited spellchecker/config.php and specified:

require_once("classes/TinyPspellShell.class.php"); // Command line pspell
$spellCheckerConfig['enabled'] = true;

The command-line pspell uses the binary /usr/bin/aspell, which in my case was already installed, but YMMV. If you want the embedded PHP spellchecker, you need to recompile PHP with the pspell module.

The main configuration of the layout of TinyMCE happens in /var/www/html/SugarCRM/include/SugarTinyMCE.php. I chose to add the spellchecker button in the line containing the definition of buttonConfig3:

var $buttonConfig3 = "tablecontrols,spellchecker,separator,advhr,hr,removeformat,separator,insertdate,inserttime,separator,preview";

I also added the spellchecker plugin in the same file, in the line containing the plugins definitions inside the defaultConfig definition:

'plugins' => 'advhr,insertdatetime,table,preview,paste,searchreplace,directionality,spellchecker',

I restarted Apache, just to make sure all the include files are re-read (not sure if it was necessary, but better safe than sorry), and lo and behold, the spellcheck button was there when I went to the Compose Email form. After entering some misspelled text, I clicked the spellcheck button. I was then able to right click the misspelled words and was offered a list of words to choose from.

If it sounds painless, rest assured, it wasn't. The documentation helped a bit, but it was sufficiently different from what I was seeing that I had to do some serious forensics-type searches within the SugarCRM file hierarchy. But all is well that ends well.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dilbert should get a life

I'm subscribed to the RSS feed for the daily Dilbert comic. I'm still enjoying it, but lately I've started to think -- why on Earth doesn't Dilbert just quit? Why do all the characters in that comic need to be so passive-aggressive about everything? Yes, I know it wouldn't be Dilbert without it, and Scott Adams wouldn't put so much bacon on the table either. But I can't help thinking that there's a big lie in it too, as if there's no escape from that shitty workplace. Dilbert dude, just don't go back there tomorrow! Let's see how your life turns around.

Update 2/12/08

Thanks to all who commented on my post. Many people seem to think, as I do, that Scott Adams is hypocritical and profits quite handsomely from the corporate culture he apparently despises. I also decided in the mean time to walk the walk, not only talk the talk, so I unsubscribed from the RSS feed.

Friday, February 08, 2008

And then there were 10

...where 10 is the current number of people who signed up for the Practical Applications of Agile (Web) Testing Tools tutorial that Titus and I will present at PyCon08. What this means is that the tutorial is in good standing, since each tutorial needs at least 10 attendees in order to actually happen. If you haven't signed up for a tutorial yet, check out ours -- it'll be fun.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Got OpenID?

After reading this post from O'Reilly Radar on several big-name companies joining the OpenID Foundation, I decided to give OpenID a try myself. One of the providers recommended by the foundation was VeriSign, which sounded reputable to me, so I went ahead and got one from their Personal Identity Provider (PIP) site. Easy enough -- you choose a user name, a password, put your email in, then you get a so-called "OpenID access URL" of the form username.pip.verisignlabs.com.

To test my brand new OpenID, I went to one of the sites referenced on the PIP page, stikis.com. I chose the OpenID authentication method, entered the id I got from VeriSign, then I was redirected to the VeriSign PIP page, which asked me to specify for how long I want my trust relationship with stikis.com to last. I chose 1 year, clicked 'Allow', then was redirected back to the stikis.com site, already logged in to my personal start page. When I clicked on 'My Account' inside stikis.com, I saw my VeriSign access URL page at http://username.pip.verisignlabs.com. Pretty clean process. I hope more and more Web sites will accept OpenIDs. Since Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all joined the OpenID foundation, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to use an account you have with any of them as your OpenID (and indeed all of the above companies have announced that they'll be offering OpenIDs).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Podcasts from PyCon 2007 are available

Some podcasts from PyCon2007 are starting to trickle in on this page. You can listen for example to the Web Frameworks Panel and to the Testing Tools Panel.

James Shore's litmus test for a new language

Implement FIT. Sounds reasonable to me. After all, self-testing and acceptance testing should be a big part of a new and cool language. I'll make sure I ask Chuck Esterbrook this question about his Cobra language during our next SoCal Piggies meeting :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Next SoCal Piggies meeting: Feb. 28th

Steve Wagner from Gorilla Nation graciously offered to host the next SoCal Piggies meeting at his company's offices in Culver City. We're still waiting for the full line-up of talks, but Chuck Esterbrook, of Webware fame, already offered to present an introduction to a new programming language he created, Cobra. Should be a lot of fun. To whet your appetite, Cobra is, in Chuck's words, "a new programming language with a Python-inspired syntax and first class support for unit tests and design-by-contracts."

So if you're in the area, please consider attending our meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28th, starting at 7 PM. Check out our wiki or the mailing list for more details.

Modifying EC2 security groups via AWS Lambda functions

One task that comes up again and again is adding, removing or updating source CIDR blocks in various security groups in an EC2 infrastructur...