Discussions (53)

Amberjack Media, RevealCMS

It’s official – I’m now Amberjack Media (amberjackmedia.com). The papers from the city just arrived, but the process with officially registering the DBA with the county is not yet complete.

I have the domain, but it’s not yet set-up with any hosting space just yet.

On another note, I’ve named the CMS i’m working on: RevealCMS. Development has been really slow as of late due to long work hours (contract developer) and trying to balance a social life with web dev and learning how to trade the stock market. It’s a full plate… I know!

I hope to have a demo of the CMS running a live site within the next couple months. The one I have in mind doesn’t have a huge amount of traffic, but it does get roughly 30k hits/month. I’ve spent a lot of time making sure the code is pretty optimized so we don’t have to worry about a lot of overhead spent going back and forth with the database or file I/O. Reveal will also have a caching system built-in, though it won’t be very mature in the initial release. I think one of the best features for developers is simple add-on development: plugins, page modules, and site-wide templates.

My company name?

Now that I’m officially an independent contractor/developer, I thought it would be good to have a company name – something that sounds like a good Web 2.0 outfit. Likewise my CMS will need one as well, though I already have a few ideas…

If you have a good idea, let me know. If I like it enough I’ll do something nice for you.

Drop me a line!

I venture towards Ruby on Rails

I now own my own Ruby on Rails book, a kind gift from my good friend Doug. I can’t get started on it right away due to certain looming deadlines called a content management system, written in PHP. I am, by the way, trying to come-up with name for it, if you have any ideas!

A couple things I’ve thought about since receiving this book:
1) The RoR people have it pretty good – the framework has already been built and pretty much standardized.
2) The PHP folks have a really strong, broad community, but it’s too bad there is no de-facto framework like Rails.
3) I’m still going to keep PHP as my primary language for some time, as I don’t see widespread RoR adoption in the near future. This is usually due to shared hosting being a couple years behind on their software updates. I’d like any software I plan on distributing needs to meet the lowest common denominator (at this point I’m pretty sure PHP5 adoption is still beyond RoR adoption rates)
4) I’m actually kinda excited to see what this stuff is all about. Now that I’m a professional developer I better start acting like one, right? I think it’ll be fun to give the “other side” a try!

And with this post, a new blog tag: RubyOnRails.

Interview questions… for a PHP job

Last week I went through one and a half hellish days of interviewing candidates for my replacement – one position for PHP and another for the research coordinating. Larry and I talked to over a dozen people. It wasn’t bad, per-se, but I wouldn’t do so many all at once again. It really made me realize how the whole interviewing process must run like a well-oiled machine so it won’t kill you in the process!

We didn’t have a lot of people apply for the PHP job, but it was a good experience for me nonetheless. I gave each person 6 questions to answer as part of the interview so I could gauge where they’re at:

Changing scenery… Downtown!

It was a bitter sweet week this week. I took a job with a company in downtown (San Diego), thus marking my remaining two weeks at UCSD. Sweet, of course, because I’m finally at the level where my skills are (very) marketable. Bitter? I’ve been in research for over four years now – under Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Frank at the Center for fMRI and the Center for Scientific Computation in Imaging. I’ve poured a lot of my life into the Digital Fish Library as the sole web designer/developer, and I can safely say it’s a project I’m proud of. Of course, there are things that, given the time, I would change about it – mostly to spruce-up the design aspect, but such is life and I’m pleased with my work overall.

It’s time to move on. Opportunity knocked and I took it. I’m excited to start at 212Interactive on October 25 doing PHP/MySQL development…

Pre-QA isn’t good for interviews

I’m just going to throw this out there… if you have a piece of software, site, etc that isn’t quite at the QA stages, no matter how rockin’ in might be, you might want to consider holding off on showing it to others until you know the demo is going to work. I think I’m done showing people demonstrations of Mr. Fish Lite until the backend VTK issues are ironed out, which thankfully is *not* my job. There are some pesky UI issues I need to iron-out with IE box models and transparent PNG support as well, but at least those are things I can fix pretty quickly.

My advice, show some screenshots or maybe even make a snazzy video demonstration where you can control all the variables.

In the meantime you can see a screenshot of Mr. Fish Lite here

Wireless mesh networks in Africa

I’ve never been to Africa before, but I have many friends who have. I know that their internet access there (in Malawi, at least) could often be a lot better. The problem most likely arises from the lack of a solid data infrastructure. There are DSL solutions, but from what I’ve read they can be fairly unreliable, depending on where you are. Furthermore, Malawi often sees rolling black-outs. I don’t know exactly why they do this, but I imagine it probably has something to do with budgets.

Propagating network connections over long distances using wireless isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s something many companies and municipalities across the world are considering in rural areas. All one needs is a pair of unidirectional, high-gain antennas pointed at each other and you can create a link between nodes miles apart. I’ve even seen experiments in the San Francisco bay area using nothing more than the asian frying scoop (round, mesh ladle of sorts) and a USB 802.11 adapter to connect to another one several miles away. But this isn’t the purpose of my post – just a little side note and something which may be a feature of my ideas later on.

What I AM thinking about:
My church, Flood, works closely with the African Bible College in Malawi. They’ve been around for quite a while, and even have a very good reputation for the quality of education they provide. But it’s only now that they’re getting broadband installed. All of a sudden they have an opportunity to connect their computer lab, their administrative offices, and their professors to a (faster) connection. The major hurdle, however, is that there’s probably no data cabling installed anywhere between buildings (or even within, for that matter). So the idea came to me when I read about MIT’s RoofNet project. Perfect! You buy a bunch of Netgear routers, flash them with a special distribution of linux and other customized software packages, and all of a sudden you have a pretty nice 802.11b/g mesh network. I could imagine littering these all over the campus, thus negating the need for dedicated ethernet links, additional switches, etc. I’m going to continue looking into this idea and talk to Flood’s resident networking pro, Seth Eaton, to see what he has been thinking of for this project. Perhaps the folks over at Meraki Networks (spin-off from RoofNet) wouldn’t mind donating some units in the perfect test location?? Seriously guys, please consider it and we can work something out =)

Maybe I’m going to Africa sooner than I thought!

A friendly reminder

A friendly reminder from your local web developer/designer:

How to Ruin a Web Design – The Design Curve.

A little bit less abstract: How to live happily with a great designer.

Maybe I’m not a great designer, but I will say I may be a better designer than a lot of other web designers (and average Joes, for that matter). Hmm sounds a bit cocky, doesn’t it? Consider it an attempt to balance confidence with the proper humility.

Diggnation in La Jolla

Just got back from the taping of Diggnation from the La Jolla Brew House with my good friend Chad Martin. Kevin and Alex are down with the crew (including Martin Sargent) for Comic-Con. Kevin Gamble (aka Johnny Johnny, Mixologist) of TikiBar made several on-camera appearances offering the guys shots. Honestly, I was expecting them (especially Alex) to get a LOT more sloshed by the end of the night. Probably better they didn’t. Couple other podcasters and online personalities showed up – none of whom I recognized. Meh.

Overall it was a pretty good time. Definitely try the Brew House’s hefeweissen (I think it’s their Belgian Wheat). Fantastic.


I just wanted to plug the php|architect (phparch.com) Magazine. It’s not too expensive and there are a lot of good articles each month.

One thing I plan on implementing to one extent or another is the PHP Clustering on Linux – comes from a set of articles by Joseph H. Kouyoumjian. Most likely I won’t use it exactly as described in the articles, but the idea will be useful for the load balancing approach on the new DFL web servers (and to some extent the imaging servers).

Another article worth looking at is the main feature this month (Vol 5, Issue 6): Total Eclipse of PHP Development: Banish your text editor to the dark ages! by Alexander J Tarachanowicz II. I’m already running eclipse for most of the editing needs, and it’s really something more people should consider, especially when faced with growing needs that your typical text editor can’t handle (or you don’t want to spend a load of change on other commercial IDEs).