my recent reads..

Top 10 Twitter Trending Topics in your City (or not)

Tweet: "How to Find the Top 10 Twitter Trending Topics in your City on a Google Map #twitter"

It is actually pretty amazing - see the screenshot below for what was trending just now in Manila.

But, aren't we missing a whole lot of information? Apparently nothing has been trending recently in the whole of South East Asia. Despite the fact I just watched a bunch of tweets from friends in Singapore/Thailand/Malaysia/Indonesia just scroll by. Hmmm.

It is a nice experiment, and a good start, but big gaps like this will inevitably raise the question whether any of the information can be trusted.
read more and comment..

jTab 1.1: Guitar tab for the web gets an update and a mailing list

I announced jTab back in July, and there have been some nice improvements over the past month which I just tagged as a "1.1" release.

jTab is a javascript-based library that allows you to easily render arbitrary guitar chord and tabulature (tab) notation on the web. Automatically. It is open source (available on github).

I've also established a mailing list for jTab. All are welcome to join in to discuss internal development issues, usage, and ideas for enhancement.

Some of the key new features:

  1. All chords can be represented in any position on the fretboard e.g. Cm7 Cm7:3 Cm7:6

  2. Now allows shorthand tab entry of 6-string chords e.g. X02220 (A chord at nut), (C chord at the 8th fret)

  3. jTab diagrams now inherit foreground and background color of the enclosing HTML element

  4. When entering single-string tab, can reference strings by number (1-6) or by note in standard tuning (EAGDBe)

  5. The chord library with fingerings has been extended to cover pretty much all common - and uncommon - chord variants (m, 6, m6, 69, 7, m7, maj7, 7b5, 7#5, m7b5, 7b9, 9, m9, maj9, add9, 13, sus2, sus4, dim, dim7, aug).

  6. It has been integrated with TiddlyWiki: jTabTwiki combines the guitar chord and tab notation power of jTab with the very popular TiddlyWiki single-file wiki software. Together, they allow you to instantly setup a personal guitar tab wiki/notebook. No kidding. And it's free.

read more and comment..

Rails dev pattern: collaborate on github, deploy to heroku

Heroku is an awesome no-fuss hosting service for rails applications (I think I've raved about it enough).

It works great for solo development. But what if you want a large team work on the app, while limiting production deployment privileges? Or if you want the application to run as an open source project?

Since git is core infrastructure for heroku, it actually makes setting up distributed source control trivial, like in the diagram:

Here's a simple pattern for setting up this way. It may fall into the special category of "the bleeding obvious" if you are an experienced git user. But many of us aren't;-)

First, I'm assuming you have a rails application in a local git repository to start with. Like this:

$ rails test
$ cd test
$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "initial check-in"

Next, you want to create a new, empty repository on github. Github will give you a clone URL for the new repo, like

Now we can add the github repo as a new remote location, allowing us to push/pull from github. I'm going to name the destination "github":
$ git remote add github
$ git push github master
Enter passphrase for key '/home/myhome/Security/ssh/id_rsa':
Counting objects: 3, done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 209 bytes, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
* [new branch] master -> master

At this point, you are setup to work locally and also collaborate with other's via github. If you have a paid account on github, you can make this a private/secure collaboration, otherwise it will be open to all.

Next, we want to add the application to heroku. I'm assuming you are already registered on heroku and have the heroku gem setup. Creating the heroku app is a one-liner:
$ heroku create test
Created |
Git remote heroku added

You can see that this has added a new remote called "heroku", to which I can now push my app:
$ git push heroku master
Enter passphrase for key '/home/myhome/Security/ssh/id_rsa':
Counting objects: 29, done.
Delta compression using up to 2 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (17/17), done.
Writing objects: 100% (17/17), 2.17 KiB, done.
Total 17 (delta 12), reused 0 (delta 0)

-----> Heroku receiving push
-----> Rails app detected
Compiled slug size is 208K
-----> Launching....... done deployed to Heroku

4429990..4975a77 master -> master

So we are done! I can push/pull from the remote "github" to update the master source collection, and I can push/pull to the remote "heroku" to control what is deployed in production.


PS: Once you are comfortable with this, you might want to get a bit more sophisticated with branching between environments. Thomas Balthazar's "Deploying multiple environments on Heroku (while still hosting code on Github)" is a good post to help.
read more and comment..

Launched: I Tweet My Way - Getting things done for the twitter generation

I Tweet My Way is a twitter application to help you to set goals and get things done with the support of your friends and followers.

It's an application I've had in stealth for a while, but decided it is about time to let it out in the wild.

Do you have a goal you really want to work on? Quitting smoking, losing weight, paying off the credit card, or learning a new skill - these (and anything else you can imagine) are all suitable objectives to set yourself with I Tweet My Way.

I've had a long-standing interest in goal setting and tracking, but I must admit it was the advent of the "twitter-application" fad that got me thinking about how you could do a "getting things done" style personal trainer with Twitter. Now I'm looking forward to see how it gets used for real. I'm very interested in any feedback you may have. Did it help? Does it work? Why didn't it help or fit your needs?

Technically, it was built with rails and uses the Twitter OAuth support for authentication (you can read more about that here). I have it hosted at heroku (my favourite rails hosting service, although I am a bit leary about performance in the Asian region at the moment).

NB: the site currently comes without soundtrack, but think "mbube, the lion sleeps tonight";-)
read more and comment..