Life is a Mystery

26 February 2010 . Comments Off on Code4Lib 2010

Code4Lib 2010

I just spent a wonderful week in Asheville, NC, attending Code4Lib 2010. Code4Lib is an energetic community of library hackers who communicate all year round via IRC, email, and other media, but like to also meet annually to grab some face time with each other and share a bit of play in the process. What struck me most about the meeting was how well Code4Lib lives up to its ethos of “no spectators.” It was a meeting that demanded real participation, not simple proximity. I wrote a report about this first look at Code4Lib, take a look if you want to know more.


21 February 2010 . Comments Off on Wherein I figure out the iPad

Wherein I figure out the iPad

I have not been alone in musing about the iPad for the past few weeks. Just what is it? What will it do? Why would I want one? What is it for? Today I stumbled upon an answer. The iPad is not a device to read electronic books, the iPad will help us invent electronic books. More “below the fold”…

Read the rest of this entry »

10 February 2010 . Comments Off on Google wants to bring fiber to your doorstep

Google wants to bring fiber to your doorstep

Google today announced its Fiber for Communities initiative. They want to bring 1 gigabit per second connections (20 to 100 times faster than what most of us have access to) to 50,000 to 500,000 homes. Google figures it can (1) do something cool, (2) learn how to run a network, and (3) demonstrate the benefits of the kind of open network it advocates by putting some money where its mouth has been. This looks like a really great opportunity, now the challenge is to get our community to make a concerted response by the March 26th deadline!

9 February 2010 . Comments Off on FFR: Color

FFR: Color

I love color. One of my favorite college courses was a class on color theory where I learned that color was a lively thing, capable of surprise and even deceit. I enjoyed this article on The Meaning of Color today. I also want to recall this nice color theory tutorial.

The course was taught by Richard Lytle and was, I think, largely based on the plan set out by Josef Albers in his book Interaction of Color. I wish more art departments had such welcoming courses, so many jump right into drawing and never look back.


8 February 2010 . Comments Off on Customizing the Ruby on Rails scaffold

Customizing the Ruby on Rails scaffold

I’m trying to learn Ruby on Rails this week. I found a wonderful book called Learning Rails that takes a non-evangelical tone, works from the ground up, and seems to match my style pretty well (also, I love the errata). But I quickly ran into an issue not covered in the book, how do I customize the Ruby on Rails scaffold?

I wanted to customize the scaffold so that I could replace the space indents with tabs (I know, silly me) and add JSON support to the scaffold. I found a post about how to accomplish this in Rails 3, but my Mac and the book both talk Rails 2. So I dug in a little bit. Here’s what I came up with for doing this in Rails 2.2.2 on a Mac.

Copy the original Ruby scaffold folder to a new folder somewhere reasonable with the name “my_scaffold”. (For the rest of these instructions you can replace “my” with anything reasonable.)

% cp -R /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/rails-2.2.2/lib/rails_generator/generators/components/scaffold /Users/myhome/Ruby/my_scaffold

Use a symbolic link to hook your new folder back to Ruby.

% ln -s /Users/myhome/Ruby/my_scaffold /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/rails-2.2.2/lib/rails_generator/generators/components/.

Change the name of the generator script to reflect your folder name.

% mv /Users/myhome/Ruby/my_scaffold/scaffold_generator.rb /Users/myhome/Ruby/my_scaffold/my_scaffold_generator.rb

Edit the generator script to modify the name of the object it creates. Change “ScaffoldGenerator” in the first line to “MyScaffoldGenerator” (adjust that name as necessary).

Now you have your own scaffold. You can edit any of the templates in /Users/myhome/Ruby/my_scaffold/templates and use the command “ruby script/generate my_scaffold MyObject my_field:string” to get rolling.

Note, the stylesheet.css name still conflicts with the same file in the original scaffold. If you want to resolve that conflict you can edit another line in the generator script. The line “m.template(‘style.css’, ‘public/stylesheets/scaffold.css’)” would be made to refer to your new stylesheet name and the layout template should be changed accordingly. Notice that you don’t have to change the name of the actual “style.css” file.

Fair warning, I am on day two of Ruby and Rails. I know almost nothing, so use the above hint with care. Feel free to comment if you know more and want to offer a better suggestion!


5 February 2010 . Comments Off on MPR goes off the rails

MPR goes off the rails

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) just announced that it is suing the Central Corridor project. That is a line I am not willing to cross, so Mary and I have suspsended our membership. I love MPR, but this is a boneheaded move! Here’s the note I sent them:

Please suspend our sustaining membership of MPR.

We are not willing to support an organization that is hindering as important a civic project as the Central Corridor rail line. We have been uncomfortable with your position for years because the Central Corridor plans were well known long before MPR renovated its space. As far as we are concerned, it is wholly MPR’s responsibility that it built studios as close to a known future rail line as it did. You should not be suing the state, but rather asking funders like us to up our contributions a bit to help you make necessary remediations.

Now that you have decided to sue the Central Corridor project we can no longer in good conscience support MPR. Maybe once this suit is over we will consider rejoining, we will see what the consequences of your action are. If this in any way leads to the demise or diminishment of the Central Corridor project, though, then you have lost us as member for good.


2 February 2010 . Comments Off on Mosaic on a Stick

Mosaic on a Stick

Years ago when we were renovating our attic I made the naive choice to do the tile in the bathroom myself. I was inspired by Hundertwasser, but really knew nothing about tile. Many calls around town revealed a new little shop near the fairgrounds, Mosaic on a Stick. Lori Green and Maria founded the Stick as not only a source for the materials that mosaic artists need, but also as an open studio and learning space to invite people to discover the artform and fall in love with building a world from broken pieces. Today I read this wonderful article about Mosaic on a Stick.

I enjoyed it immensely. The broken plate had been sitting on my dresser for months, and every time I looked at it, I had a twinge of sadness, remembering the whole plate it had once been. But once I started breaking it up into half-inch pieces, it turned into something else entirely. Raw bits ready to be reassembled into something new. Possibilities.

I enjoyed arranging the pieces onto the wood picture frame, like pieces in a puzzle. It required a quiet concentration that was soothing, and I soon lost track of time.

If you live in the Twin Cities, you should really stop by some time. It is a healing experience!


Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /