Category Archives: Internetz

Dev Days LA 2009

Hey All,

So today I decided to ditch school and participate in Stack Overflow Dev Days 2009. I thought the conference was pretty good and the student price of $10 was amazing! The turn out was a little less than I had anticipated but I suppose that just left more room to spread out for those of us that went. I got there pretty early, 8:15am, checked in and grabbed a seat. They were serving coffee and some muffins.

There was a bit of swag available:

Stuff I liked:

  • The Python talk and dissection of the Google spell check algorithm by Mike Schiraldi of Reddit
    • This presentation was really well layed out, easy to follow and appealed to the geek in me as it ran in xterm on python haha. Pretty slick Mike…
  • The jQuery talk by Cody Lindely
    • This presentation would’ve been much better had the Internet worked. That, or had Cody saved all of his work locally to show the audience. I’m sure we would’ve been in for some really trick eye candy. He did however lead me on to two good sites, jsBin and Cody’s jQuery selector demo.
  • Most, if not all of Joel’s talks were highly entertaining. He talked about Fog Bugz and all the features that the software has, such as:
    • Not technically a feature, but ya….Fog Bugz 7
    • Fog Bugz Kiln, tight Fog Bugz integration with hg
      • I talked to Joel a little during one of the breaks and sadly support for git is not on the roadmap, and he said it probably won’t ever be….*sad panda*
    • Also not a direct feature, but part of a plugin for Fog Bugz, Balsamiq Mockups I think this app has great potential to interact with prospective clients
  • The QT (cute) presentation by Daniel Rocha of Nokia. This presentation really impressed me, he did actual coding (yes typing), compilation and a demo on 3 separate platforms and they all worked flawlessly. Kudos Daniel! This presentation also showed QT’s cross platform power, seamless migrations from one platform to another, that was pretty slick.
  • Jeff Atwood’s talk about random junk. I wished his presentation would’ve gone on longer it was pretty entertaining. He’s actually a really nice guy, I talked with him during one of the breaks and he gave me some coding horror stickers =D

Stuff I didn’t like:

  • The provided wifi was pretty crappy, I found myself tethered to my cell for most of the day. It was just unmanageable. I would have thought they would have gotten this right, especially after Joel’s writeup on conference wifi.
  • A lot of the presentations went backwards in my mind. I think the presenters should show the power of said technology first (get the fancy demos out of the way) and then talk about the code/app/etc. that powered that demo. This probably would’ve worked much better for Rory Blyth and his iPhone presentation. There were a lot of boring coding sessions that didn’t need to take place IMHO, we’re developers and we can figure out syntax on our own….rtfm.

Misc:

  • The Google Apps Engine talk by Jason A Cooper of Google would’ve been more captivating if he had spent more time talking about the product/service and less time typing code. Though he did show off some fancy gChat integration stuff that wow-ed the crowd, that was pretty neat.
  • The keynote was an interesting take on software design, I really liked what Joel had to say on Simplicity vs Power. It basically came down to: write elegant code so your users don’t have to make lots of decisions. Though I don’t think you should take elegant and make your code a giant unreadable 1 line mess. That’s a total maintenance buzz kill.

Well I think that’s it for now, see you all next year!

    Summer is Beginning/Ending

    Edit–

    Oops this post got stuck in “drafts” and was supposed to go out some time ago…I’ll work some magic to the dates 😉

    Hey All,

    So I guess it’s been a month since my last post, shame shame I know, things are starting to wind down for me. ResNet is coming to an end for me and I get a much needed 1.5 week vacation before school. On the upside, development work has been kicking up in the last few weeks so I’ve been keeping busy with some really cool projects.

    I forgot exactly how I found this, probably some link in a link in a link from the Programming subreddit, but I thought it was very comical and some of it fairly true. Unfortunately I see myself as the “The Code Cowboy”, this is something I really want to change in the next few months. I have explored Unit Testing and TDD in the past and realize how powerful it can be when putting all the pieces together, but I have yet to successfully grasp it’s usage in any real application larger than doing simple arithmatic.

    Is Online Accounting ready for Prime Time?

    Hey All,

    *Warning! Long Post Alert!*

    Today’s blurb will be a comparison (or review I suppose) of some online accounting software I’ve been keeping and eye on and trying. To get things started, I’ll post all the software I’ve tried thus far (in no particular order):

    Phew! Yes….I actually spent the time creating accounts for all of those and looking at them, only the ones that passed my initial feature inspection I actually put data into for testing. Now, I’m no stranger to the world of accounting, I had to do much of the accounting for eFireHost (My partner in crime was supposed to, but we won’t get into that…). Given my highly mobile, and unpredictable nature, keeping the books remotely accessible was a must. We had used a variety of techniques for accomplishing this:

    • Run RDP/VNC on a server that had QuickBooks installed
    • Host a private windows VPS server that had QuickBooks installed
    • Use QuickBooks Online Edition

    My business partner was set on using QuickBooks for the accounting and I don’t blame him, it’s industry standard. I eventually got used to the system and quickly learned my way around the interface. Out of all the solutions I liked the QuickBooks Online Edition the best. It automatically updated banking transactions and was available everywhere, well…almost. The MAJOR pitfall to that solution was QuickBooks OE’s dependency on ActiveX controls, and as I’m sure you know these only work in Internet Crapsplorer. So that left Firefox, my primary browser out. To make matters worse, I am a Linux guy, I run Ubuntu on all my machines. So to recap, Ubuntu + Firefox + QuickBooks OE = ?, I don’t think there is an elegant solution to that equation.

    Step forward a few months and I’m on my own now. I’m a very strong proponent of the web application movement and it is my weapon of choice whenever a problem lends itself to being solved by some web app. In the interest of time I’m going to skip ahead through all my testing and ranting to pull out the 4 top contenders, more like 3 but I’ll add more to that later.

    • Clarity Accounting
    • Less Accounting
    • Xero
    • Saasu

    All of these web apps have an API that can be accessed and allow for Bank Statement importing. Less Accounting has automated this feature, but as of this writing they are having some issues with it and it isn’t functional.

    From my testing Xero probably takes the cake in terms of features. Its UI is a beauty and the general work flow is excellent. Those guys DEFINATELY spent some time on their UI design and layout. Their help desk/center is also amazing, by far the most informative of the lot. There were many many many articles in there to help you get up and running and how to handle all the details of the software. Everything sounds peachy right? Well there is one small caveat, for me at least, as great as this software is they are charging $29/Mo (or $290/Yr) for their software. It’s not outrageous really, but at this early stage in the game I can’t see myself paying $30/Mo for accounting software. Maybe when my budget grows and I have a little more money to burn I’ll move over. It’s definitely something worthy of another look down the line!

    • UI – A+
    • Help Desk/Center – A+
    • Reporting – A+
    • Price – C

    Next up is Saasu, this is another feature packed offering. I’d venture to say it probably has more features than even Xero, but this software lacks a great deal of polish. Saasu offers such features as payroll, time sheets, inventory management, and more. It’s pretty rough around the edges, while it does work and it can get everything done, it takes a little more thinking and clicking to do so. Another area I was slightly disappointed with was the Bank Statement importing. Although Saasu is the only one of the bunch that has a Banking Integration Guarantee, they only work with plain csv files rather than a more standardized Quicken/QuickBooks file. As of this writing they did not support importing from my bank, Washington Mutual/Chase. I had to manually enter some of the transactions to validate the functionality of this offering, but the lack of importing left a bad taste in my mouth. I got an email this morning (7-9-09) saying that my bank will be supported in tonights software release, we’ll see how that goes… I got a follow up email (7-10-09) to verify the functionality of the csv import for my bank, sure enough it worked as prescribed! Saasu was 1 of 2 providers that offered a free plan with limited features, above that the prices ranged from $25/Mo $19.50/Mo USD upwards of $95/Mo $74.60/Mo USD depending on storage and feature requirements. All of these monthly denominations are paid in 3 month chunks.

    • UI – C
    • Help Desk/Center – B+
    • Reporting – B
    • Price – B+

    The last two contenders are pretty much neck and neck in my book, Clarity Accounting and Less Accounting. Both of these software offerings offer almost identical feature sets and very intuitive UIs. The Less Accounting devs are very much in the limelight of social media and make it a point to be out there and active to aid their customers, I like this a lot. I think an award that was granted over at Cloudave sums them up quite nicely, the “get off Twitter and do some work” award. The Clarity Accounting devs are very much in the background, but both teams actively participate in making customer feature requests come true, another thing I like about both.

    Less Accounting is more expensive than Clarity, at $24/Mo. (They also offer a Free plan and 2 other plans that are $12/Mo and $20/Mo) Clarity Accounting on the other hand charges a flat $10/Mo fee (or $100/Year). Less Accounting offers integration with Shoeboxed, WeSabe, Shopify; numerous contact importing sources, integration with their time tracking product, LessTimeSpent, and lastly Automated Bank Transaction importing. That last one is what’s really keeping me on the fence between the two. Reporting capabilities are very similar for the two offerings and each present the same information. Clarity Accounting offers a little more advanced accounting functionality with the option to have equity, liability and other types of accounts. Less Accounting only offers income and expense accounts, their reasoning behind this is well founded, they want to be “less” cumbersome than QuickBooks. Ideally I’d like to see Clarity pick up some type of automatic transaction import, but at this stage in the game it’s not really a deal breaker.

    Less Accounting

    • UI – B+
    • Help Desk/Center – B
    • Reporting – B
    • Price – B

    Clarity Accounting

    • UI – B+
    • Help Desk/Center – B+
    • Reporting – B
    • Price – A+

    I’ll be continuing the trials with Less Accounting and Clarity Accounting, but as of now I’m probably going to go with Clarity Accounting due to its advanced accounting options (equity and liability accounts) and its lower price point. At the end of my trial for each I’ll head back here to post which I decided to go with.

    Phew! Good thing I took the “shortcut” and went straight to the main contenders, this post was MUCH longer than I anticipated it to be! If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! Hopefully some of the things I’ve uncovered here save you some time and make your life easier!

    Until next time! L8rz

    Server Fault

    Hey All,

    Well I’m not sure the exact date and time, but I just got wind that Server Fault just started it’s public beta! I’ve been waiting for this for a bit now. Server Fault is based off the same concept of Stack Overflow in that it fosters community involvement to solve problems. It has an excellent tagging system and fantastic voting system (those of you that reddit know how great voting can be!)

    Although there are a few bugs in the system still….it is a beta. I tried logging in with my Google OpenID and Server Fault asked me if I wanted to migrate my account information over from Stack Overflow, I gladly complied….but that broke and nothing got migrated. However, this doesn’t seem like an isolated event as there are a few other people that have experiencedit and there is an open bug? on uservoice

    Kudos to the Stack Overflow team for expanding their service model to other areas, I’m sure Server Fault will be just as successful, if not more =)

    That’s all for now…..laterz

    Git to Testing!

    Hey All,

    Well I was going to include this post with my last one, but I figured I’d separate the two being as they are two completely different content types (for the most part). So I’ve officially jumped ship from SVN to the Git SCM and man….I’ve been missing out on a lot! Branching, distributed-ness, forking….all wonders of the modern day developer!

    With that I’ve also decided to move away from a perpetual trial of ZDE =X to a more legitimate, purchased copy of the Aptana Studio Professional Plugin. The guys over at Aptana were kind enough to bless me with an educational license of their eclipse addon at half price! Thanks again guys!

    Another thing that I’ve been trying to get myself into is TDD (Test Driven Development) to better standardize my coding methodologies and to reap some of the benefits that TDD offers! It’s definitely a monumental shift in my programming paradigm and thinking, but in the end I think it will be well worth it! I’m still trying to get my head around the actual testing and implementation of TDD (the concepts behind it are relatively easy to understand), if anyone that reads this knows what I’m talking about feel free to comment so we can discuss!

    That’s all for now! L8rz