My Life As A Blog

Archive for August 2008

More Olympic Medal Visualisation

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After speculating what this year’s medal table might look like, I came across this visualisation of the medal standings in this year’s Olympics.  As you scroll into the map, the total number of medals for a country splits out into gold, silver and bronze medals won.

Written by remark

August 14, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Design, General

Ruby Tuesday #18 : Ruby meets .NET

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted that John Lam had announced a binary release of IronRuby.  So, I downloaded the zip file and extracted it to the root of my C drive.  That created a folder called IronRuby on my C drive containing all the IronRuby goodness.  In the IronRuby folder, there’s a bin folder in which is ir.exe, so I added C:\IronRuby\bin to my system PATH variable.  I opened a command window and typed ir and saw this:


Now that I had IronRuby running, I did the obvious stuff – putting Hello World, adding some numbers and so on.  Next, I tried calling .NET from IronRuby.  I typed the following lines into the console;

require ‘mscorlib’
require 'System.Windows.Forms, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089' require 'System.Drawing, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a'
Form = System::Windows::Forms::Form
$f =
$f.Text = “Hello World!” $f

I’m using $f (a global variable for those new to Ruby) because, as the console says, local variables aren’t supported yet in console mode.  And, this is what I saw:


.NET written in Ruby.  There’s a lot more here to explore.

Written by remark

August 12, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Posted in .NET, Development, Ruby

The new ility

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As an architect, you’ll be concerned with a number of qualities that you need to ensure your systems, applications, services and infrastructure have.  I use PASSME as a handy mnemonic to remember the most common of these qualities (performance, availability, security, scalability, maintainability and extensibility.)  It’s fairly common to use the shorthand "ility" to refer to any of these qualities.  When making architectural decisions, you will be keenly aware which ility you are trading for which other ility.  A key ility is affordability.  Most of us do not treat money as an infinite resource.  However, when it comes to energy consumption, there are many among us who do assume there is an infinite supply.  Pretty soon if not already, energy consumption and environmental impact are going to become an ility – and a very important one.

Written by remark

August 6, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Visualising Olympic medals

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Via the ever interesting FlowingData, I discovered this visualisation in the New York Times of medals won by country.  There’s a slider that lets you select which Olympics and a choice between a ranking view and a geographic view.  Selecting a country will show you the medals won by that country in that Olympics.  This is an interesting and engaging way of presenting the medal data.  I wonder how the results from this year’s Olympics will look.

Written by remark

August 6, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Design, General

Ruby Tuesday #17 : Ain’t no party like an HTTParty

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This week, I noticed on RubyInside that there’s a new gem called HTTParty that simplifies calling APIs over HTTP.  Since this is exactly what I have been doing with Twitter and SSDS I thought I’d have a look at it.  First port of call is the example on RubyForge.  There’s some more examples on github – the Twitter example is here.

The next step is to take the Twitter client I wrote before and refactor it to use HTTParty.  Here’s the resulting code:

require 'httparty'

class Twitter
  include HTTParty
  base_uri ''
  format :xml

  def download_public_timeline

  def download_friends_timeline(username, password)
    download_timeline("statuses/friends_timeline/#{username}.xml", username, password)

  def download_user_timeline(username)

  def update(update_text, username, password)"update.xml", { :query => {:status => update_text}, :basic_auth => {:username => username, :password => password}})

  def download_timeline(path, username=nil, password=nil)
    self.class.get(path, {:basic_auth => {:username => username, :password => password}}

Add a little code to call the class to make sure it works:

require "Twitter"
require 'pp' 
$KCODE = "u" 
username = 'Put your username here'
password= 'Put your password here' client = puts "Public Timeline\r\n" puts "***********************" pp client.download_public_timeline puts "***********************" puts "Friends Timeline\r\n" puts "***********************" pp client.download_friends_timeline(username, password) puts "***********************" puts "User Timeline\r\n" puts "***********************" pp client.download_user_timeline(username) puts "***********************" client.update("Tweeting with Ruby via HTTParty", username, password)

And it all works – apart from a few of the usual timeouts and grumbles from Twitter.  Less code and simpler code.  This time around I’m using pp (pretty-printer) to format the output – this gives a good view of what HTTParty is returning.  My next step with HTTParty is to use it for the SSDS code I wrote.

Written by remark

August 5, 2008 at 7:30 am

Posted in Development, Ruby

Made Up Technical Terms #14

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Napplication – An application that freezes intermittently.

Written by remark

August 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in General, Software

Made Up Technical Terms #13

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Emptyty – a class that is simply a data structure, i.e. it has no behaviour.

Written by remark

August 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Design, Development, General