Noel Rappin Writes Here


Old Stuff

With respect to this request to link to early web stuff, I think the oldest HTML page I coded that’s still online is my Georgia Tech home page, circa 1997-8. Note the creative use of ugly nested tables. I don’t think that any of my earlier web stuff has survived… no, wait, one other thing. The site dates to, I think 1997, it can’t be much earlier because it has a broken Java applet (which was basically just a fancy animated gif).

Read these books

I’m granting myself amnesty for about six months of unreviewed books to mention a couple of recently read books. Pirate Sun, Karl Schroeder I think that of all the authors I enjoy, Schroeder is the most criminally under-read. If you like SF, I tell you that Virga – the background of Pirate Sun and its two predecessors – is the coolest SF construct since Ringworld. Schroeder could write novels in it for the next forty years and only scratch the surface of what’s possible.


It’s been a while since I lost my geek heart to a TV show that was so obviously doomed. Which brings us to The Middleman, on ABC Family of all places. I had been avoiding this on the grounds that it was just a silly-looking summer series and also the whole obviously doomed thing but a series of positive mentions on io9 and other Web sites (including a plug by Justine Larbalestier) led me to try the thing once.

Things I Need To Write About, Part Two: The Dark Knight

I have about seventy-million little things to say about this movie. I will try, and probably fail, to keep this brief. Spoilers definitely ahead: The movie is really, really good. It’s not flawless, but it covers it’s flaws through a very strong sense of what Batman means and doesn’t mean as a character, and also because it’s very intense. The movie spends most of the time feeling like its on the very edge of chaos and conflagration – it’s probably the first time that I’ve genuinely felt that the hero wouldn’t “win” in superhero movie.

Thing I Need To Write About, Part 1: Dr. Horrible

It seems like I’m forever mentioning that I’m not posting here as much as I’d like. I said a while back that between here and the Pathfinder blog I’d be posting two to three times a week. Turns out that’s actually been more or less true, just that all of it has been on the Pathfinder side. I do miss it here, and there are a few big genre/geek things in the last couple weeks that I really wanted to write about here, where nobody can interrupt me.

The Not Too Distant Future

If you see RiffTrax at a party, say “Hi” from us. That’s what Joel Hodgson said about the relationship between the two different groups of Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni roving around the country skewering bad and pretentious movies. Hodgson’s group, is Cinematic Titanic, while Mike Nelson’s group is called RiffTrax. The two groups have a different approach to making fun of movies, although the personnel differences seem to be more a matter of geography then any long-simmering feud.

Ruby on Rails article

Just a quick mention that part 1 of my article series on using Rails to write iPhone apps is online at IBM Developerworks. Parts 2 and 3 will be published sometime in the rather near future. In other notes, Pathfinder has updated the company blog URL to Individual authors now have unique pages, I’m rappin. Recent pieces there include a quick welcome to RailsConf, and a two-part article on HTML and code markup in Rails, available here and here.

Notes and Notes

A couple of recent life, the universe, and everything notes: I realize I’ve been away from here for most of the last couple of weeks – a side project has been eating up a lot of time. I should be done with in next week, and back to posting here more regularly. I know, I always say that. I’ll be at RailsConf 08 later this month, and I’ll probably have some number of copies of Professional Ruby on Rails to do something promotional with, but I haven’t exactly decided what.

Rails Development for iPhone with rails_iui

I’ve been doing some web development for iPhone and Mobile Safari lately, not least because of a series of articles that will be showing up in IBM DeveloperWorks soon. I was using the iUI toolkit, which contains a number of CSS styles and JavaScript event handlers to make iPhone Web apps look and feel somewhat like native iPhone applications. As I was working with iUI, I realized I was building up a library, so I converted everything to a Rails plugin: rails_iui.

Bind is actually rather an understatement...

Battlestar Galactica 403 (or 405) “Ties that Bind” That was dark even by the really, really high standards this show has set for being dark and unsettling. It was an unrelenting parade of deeply screwed up people in torment, and the relationships that torment them. Naturally, I loved it, but if it wasn’t so well written and acted, it’d be insufferably gloomy. Bullet points – if you haven’t seen it, and plan to, look away.

Quick Program Notes

A couple of updates on book and article news… It looks like the screencast/video thing is going to happen, thanks to Jim Minatel. The main constraint is that they’d like the videos to be about five minutes long. I think the first one will be setting up a Rails project in Subversion (chapter 2 of the book, essentially), and I’d do a remix of that chapter using Git if there’s interest.

Two Parter on Hide And Seek

Two articles on the Pathfinder blog on adding show and hide toggles to a Rails application:

You Say Tomato, I Say To-Mato

In the last week, I’ve had two separate editors at two separate companies make a bulk change in something I was working on. Specifically, they changed “plugin” to “plug-in”. This is driving me a little bit crazy. Which is right? Should I care? Quick research, designed to shore up my point of view… Wikipdia has it as “plugin”, with “plug-in” as an alternate. has it as “plug-in”, although that’s clearly an antiquated reference based on the definition (“capable of or designed for being connected to an electrical power source by plugging in or inserting”).


Battlestar Galactica 402ish “Six of One” Some quick bullet points before the next one comes down the pike. Very pleased with the first two episodes of the season – I think it’s encouraging that this episode, credited to a writer whose last couple were not that strong, was arguably better than the first. Katee Sackhoff had an amazing week – Starbuck was all over the place, on the very edge of hysteria of not past it, a lot of great scenes.

Video Killed the Radio Star

When you have a blog with as few comments as this one, you can give every comment the kind of personal attention it deserves. This one came through from an anonymous commenter: Noel, have you considred making a DVD video tutorial of your book? This will really help those who learn by watching videos. So what do you say? The short answer is not as any kind of official adjunct to the book.

Video Still Working On Killing The Radio Star

Annnddd… This, of course, is what I get for posting anything about Wiley late at night without checking. Jim Minatel from Wiley added the following comment: Noel: I’m interested in getting Wrox authors to to videos related to their books…. I can tell you what’s involved and see what we can do. So, contacting in progress. Further bulletins as events warrant. Or as events don’t warrant, I think further bulletins are inevitable.

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

5 Things About: Doogie Howser, M.D. Why Doogie? Because the parody at the end of How I Met Your Mother a while back, plus a desire to wander through So I watched the Doogie pilot from 1989. And now I’m writing about it. I was really not expecting the show to hold up at all. It’s actually a pretty solid piece of late 80’s TV, despite the cheesy theme music and classic 80’s opening sequence.

I Believeth, I Believeth, Don't Die Tinkerbell...

Battlestar Galactica 4-1 “He That Believeth In Me” I’m relieved, frankly. Not surprised, exactly. I liked Season 3 more than a lot of people seemed to, and I’m optimistic that Ron Moore and his crew understand what the problems were and how to avoid them. Still, it’s good to see the show starting out it’s final season with a strong episode. This was basically the episode I was hoping for, with two extra plusses, and one kind-of minus.

BDD: Book Driven Development

(This one is also on the Pathfinder blog, but since it fits in here, I wanted the full text here…) Jay Fields, who has been posting a very nice sequence of nuts-and-bolts Ruby and Rails guidelines, pauses to talk about creating examples. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to write about here for a while, and this is as good a lead-in as any. Plus, I’m generally interested in how principles of software development apply or don’t apply in odd cases, and software being developed specifically for example purposes certainly qualifies as an odd case.

Book Recommendations

I’ve been meaning to do this sooner, but, wow time flies… Here are some brief comments about books I’ve read so far this year and would recommend. I think I’ll pass on doing negative reviews here at the moment, unless I can make a larger point somehow. Captain’s Fury, by Jim Butcher Book four in the Codex Alera series continues pretty much everything that’s enjoyable about the series. I particularly like the way Butcher continues to move the story along, as well as how he’s resisted the easy way to manage the hero and his lack of fury powers.

My Favorite Monkeys

New post at Pathfinder on monkey patching.

Beep Repaired

I don’t know what this says about me, or anybody else for that matter… I’ve been a huge Tom Lehrer fan ever since my 8th Grade Social Studies teacher decided to warp all our minds by playing “That Was the Year That Was” during a reading period. (It was 1985, so it’s not like the recording was current or anything…) I was pretty instantly hooked, and a few years later when his albums were re-released on CD, bought them instantly, and have more-or-less memorized them.

The Average Programming Book

One weird aspect of being a published writer is that you get very little information about sales. You see your own numbers (several months after the fact), but there’s no larger context, and no sense of what a reasonable expectation of sales might be. Which is why I love it when O’Reilly Radar puts up one of their periodic looks at the computer book market. I haven’t pored over stat line like this since I collected baseball cards when I was ten.

iPhone SDK

I’m trying to figure out exactly why I’m so psyched by the Apple iPhone SDK announcement. The basic announcement wasn’t a surprise, and I don’t even own an iPhone. I did, however, dig out my Cocoa programming book and start studying. Further thoughts: The tools themselves seemed somewhat slicker than what was expected – a lot of Mac developers were pleasantly surprised that Interface Builder was included (although apparently it’s not in the first beta).

Pathfinder Post: Using Null Objects with ActiveRecord


Cuts Like A Knife

SF Movie Review: Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Continuing the enlargement of things I write about on this site, and I think this will be the last post containing a disclaimer about topics…) I’m not sure what this says about me or my relationship to this show, but the following is all true: I bought this DVD the day it came out (I don’t get Sci-Fi at the moment…) I then let it sit for three entire months while waiting for the right time to watch it in one sitting.

Using Active Record For Migrations

New post on the pathfinder blog: Using ActiveRecord to Migrate Legacy Data Enjoy!

Buy My Book! (Please?)

![223888 cover_df.pdf (3 pages).jpg]( cover_df.pdf (3 pages).jpg)This week, my book Professional Ruby on Rails will be officially released. You can see sample chapters here, and you can buy the book at Amazon (affiliate link). This book is designed to meet the needs of an intermediate to advanced Ruby on Rails user. The first wave of Rails books could not assume that the user had any pre-existing knowledge of Rails. As a result, they spent a lot of time covering the basics.

10 Print Favorite Books, 2007

For my first real non-techy post on this site (I’m a little nervous about that….), here’s one of my favorite things to write about – a list of favorite books that I read in 2007. All the books on this list were published recently enough to qualify as “new”. I also group books in the same series more or less on whim. My tastes… well, they tend toward Fantasy and SF, beyond that, you’ll just have to infer from the list.


Amazon is now saying that Professional Ruby On Rails is in stock! I haven’t seen my copies yet, and I suspect Amazon purchases will actually go out next week, but it’s a real page and everything. The link to purchase is right here. I’ve also added a [running list of errata and updates]( j8npddd&hl=en). Check back on that every now and then. Much more on the book over the next week.

Lesser Known Test Processes

New post on the Pathfinder site. I had fun writing this one. It’s on some lesser known variants of test-driven development.

State of the Blog

This is for any intrepid readers out there who have been following this blog for any length of time. Executive summary: this blog should be getting more content (and more varied content) in the future. Really. Here’s the thing. At the moment, I’m trying to maintain the following: This blog Entries on the Pathfinder Agile Ajax Blog. A private blog where I review books and the like. Two Twitter accounts (one for book updates, one for me) Two del.

Hey, Free Book Samples!

As I’ve mentioned here a few times, I have a book coming out, “Professional Ruby on Rails”, available later this month. If you’d like a sneak peek, Wrox has put some samples online as PDF files. You can also just buy the book. Chapter 1 – This sets up the sample project used in the book, and talks about the new REST features in Rails. Table of Contents – Take a look at this to see if your favorite topic is covered.

Pre Macworld stuff

Haven’t done an Apple post in a while, just a couple of pregame things I want to get down… I would not have projected that the remaining three music companies would go DRM free on all other services just to spite Apple. It’s probably their smartest business move in a while, at least for some definition of smart, but it’s not exactly consumer friendly. It does make the Amazon store pretty compelling though.

Publication And Other Updates

First off, several pathfinder blog posts to catch up on… A two part series on a quick little testing tool that I wrote called testbed. Part 1. Part2. Predictions for 2008 How to test custom form builders in RSpec. I wrote this in the hope that somebody else won’t have to spend two hours Googling this. Coming soon, “Why I stopped using RSpec…” My contribution to a discussion on duck typing, Save the Duck!

Versions: Another promotion from the comments

Somebody anonymous asks: As most of the currently available books cover Rails 1.2, are you providing the code in the books also as Rails 1.2? The sample example in the book is Rails 2.0, which was Edge Rails when I started, and I just validated all the tests against 2.0.2 last week when I turned in the finished code samples. Where there’s a significant change between 1.2 and 2.

Copyright 2024 Noel Rappin

All opinions and thoughts expressed or shared in this article or post are my own and are independent of and should not be attributed to my current employer, Chime Financial, Inc., or its subsidiaries.