Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

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expectnation
a conference management web application


XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

On Rails, conferences and execution

Another collection of bits from this month.

Like everybody and their aunt, I've been working with Ruby on Rails for the last few months. It's been fun, and there's lots to learn. One snippet learned along the way was to avoid MySQL ENUMs, which meant some re-engineering of a legacy table. There's also trouble where tables don't have integer primary keys.

A new deployment toolkit for Rails has been released, SwitchTower, which I intend to test out soon. One of the impressive things about Rails compared to my previous PHP or Zope based solutions is the recognition of the different production and development needs.

I've been doing more work on BlueZ in Debian. The latest 2.19 release of the bluetooth tools is now available. Meanwhile, Bastien Nocera has pushed another release of GNOME Bluetooth--his help and involvement in the project has really rescued it from my lack of free time. We hope to push the web site and releases all over onto gnome.org soon. I plan to finally come through on my promise to get GNOME Bluetooth into Debian.

The conference carousel continues to whirl. OSCON was good, but I'm exhausted with west coast US travel right now. In addition to being photographed and finger-printed on the way in to the US, I had to be photographed and finger-printed on the way out as well. Add to that a special TSA scan, and it made the 24-hour door-to-door journey even more weary. I've many friends in the US, and always enjoy my time there, but each time I go it gets a little more inconvenient.

EuroOSCON, this October in Amsterdam, is a lot nearer. I'm a bit last-minute on this (despite being part of the program committee), but I'm attempting to get a repeat of the Mono tutorial from OSCON going here.

Transatlantic travel woes nonwithstanding, I'm planning on heading to XML 2005, for which the schedule has just been published. I'm also looking at the ETech 2006 call for participation. I know I've got things of interest to talk about at ETech, I'm just struggling to sort them out into a coherent proposal. I really want to talk somehow about desktop Linux, linked in to all the other current topics in the call for proposal (productivity, web 2.0, user interfaces). Especially within the corporation and the developing world, desktop Linux has the potential to act as a huge magnifier on new ideas of productivity and UI.

Talking of magnifiers, I loved this succinct explanation on the relationship between ideas and execution in a successful enterprise. Execution is worth millions. That's why alpha geeks rarely make it rich: we're always moving on to the next big idea. Right now I'm in an "execution" phase, working at a company I co-founded in 1998. Part of the reason for making the move was a recognition that as a writer I never got to do the execution phase. Now I can tell you, execution is the difficult bit.

I'm hearing an increasing amount about identity, always a topic that's burbled on in the background ever since Microsoft's Passport program (ah, what cruel overtones the name carries in the light of today's current travel security woes). Now I see that Mozilla's Mike Shaver is working on identity. I'll have to start following the debate a little more closely now, after dabbling around the edges of it with FOAF and PGP.

Finally, some Ubuntu notes. I've installed Breezy, the current unstable release, onto my main development PC and it's playing pretty nicely so far. Highlights include Evolution running faster with my IMAP, and the Beagle search tool. Annoyingly, the Rails-related Ruby in Ubuntu bug is still an issue--I suspect the news that people run scripting languages other than Python is still a shock to some folk. While Breezy will fix this, it's a shame that no backport is yet available for Hoary.

It would be good for Linux in general to get this sorted: Ubuntu is starting to have an OS X-like role in moving people over to Unix-like systems, and to have it run hot ticket packages like Rails flawlessly is a good way to get people into Linux.

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