January 1st, 2008

Thac0 scared

(no subject)

The future is already here. Why wasn't I notified? This year, we've apparently had over 300,000 hours of unmanned aircraft flight time on our side of that cute little skirmish in Iraq. Mostly that's little drones that squads can toss up in the air that get remote controlled to scout their immediate area, but it also includes unmanned aerial drones that fire missiles, among other things...

Unrelately, the girl and I went to La Fondue for New Years this year. Yay for the best girl ever!
damned if I won't try

(no subject)

I don't really have any New Years' resolutions. But I'm going through one of those "learning a bunch of new stuff" phases that I do, and that's similar enough that I'll cheerfully mention it.

Characteristically for me, this "learn stuff" phase is all about computer programming. While I've had a decent grasp of basic HTML and (really) basic CSS for awhile, I'm refreshing my knowledge of that while hitting Ruby and Ruby on Rails pretty hard. I started off with tutorials, practice projects and open source stuff, and I'm now reading the expected books on those topics. Javascript is also on the list this time -- it's really, really time for me to learn some decent Ajax stuff. I'm still doing Rails first since I'm already pretty deep in it.

Ruby on Rails stuff seems to assume you'll need to do significant sysadmin work. I've intentionally avoiding doing much of that for awhile... and it's really time for me to learn. So I've figured out basic SQL and MySQL, database creation and backup, simple app deployment. Now I'm sifting through firewall and DNS stuff. We'll see how much of this I actually stick with, but so far, so good.

And I'd never looked into a lot of how you, y'know, actually stick an app on the web. MemcacheD, caching proxies, reverse proxying with Apache and NGinX, clustering, load-balancing, all kinds of database optimization... Wow. There's really a lot to it. We'll see how much of it I actually learn and/or use, but I've learned the basics of it, at least, so I could really dig into it if I needed to.

And while reading many, many web sites on all of these topics and many more, I'm again struck by the differences between web and print. There's a lot of web documentation that is simply not available in print, and which is absolutely worth the time. However, really serious in-depth documentation on how to do something complicated just works better in a book, and web sites are rarely available on those topics. To learn to do some specific, small task in Ruby on Rails, the web is the way to go. To learn the basics of Rails overall, somehow all those many, many web doc sites still miss most of what's in the basic Rails book.