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Archive for September 2008

HTC, now in a faster version!

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One of the bits of feedback I got doing the Neon Guild presentation a couple weeks ago is that the site was kinda slow, and the uptime rate was pretty bad! I’ll blame this on it being mostly a research project, but now that I’ve shared it with the Guild, I realized I better look into this.

A couple of changes, from big to little have been made:

  1. Reducing # of SQL queries to generate a page. Used to be that the common pages would require up to a couple hundread SQL queries to get all the data, now it’s a handful.
  2. Caching the Blog section on the homepage. The RSS feed for this blog was pulled into the homepage every time someone visited. This obviously was inefficient, and added to how slow the site was. I am now caching the content, and using the ETag header from the RSS feed to see if I need to update content. By the way, a lot of credit for making this visible goes to NewRelics Rails Performance Monitor tool.
  3. Background jobs are now more “backgroundy” and shouldn’t take up so many resources. They are also running more reliable, and I am able to monitor them through the Job Log interface. You too can monitor them if you join the site!
  4. And a little change, on an organization page we would query Yahoo for the GPS coordinates of Charlottesville every time. I realized that since Charlottesville isn’t likely to moving, barring a major Ike or Katrina hurricane, that I could probably hard code the coordinates to 38.032125, -78.477519.

Written by Eric

September 25, 2008 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

How many ways can you spell Charlottesville? At least 5.

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I recently went to the search tags page to see how many companies are based in Charlottesville. I typed in “Char” and was surprised to see in my AJAXy search box that 5 suggestions for “Char” were entered. At first I thought it was a bug, but then I realized that indeed there were multiple misspellings for Charlottesville: Charlotesville, Charlotsville, Charlottesvile, and Charlotteville.

What is ironic is that this data was loaded from the data compiled as part of CBIC’s survey of high tech business in the Charlottesville area! Clearly whoever was supplying that data was hand entering it into the spreadsheet.

To help deal with bad tags like this, I have moved up to the main navigation a “Browse Tags” link that shows you all the tags, and reformatted the tag pages. By the time you read this, the various tags that should be part of Charlottesville should be!

Please feel free to login to the site with your OpenID and start cleaning some tags up!

Written by Eric

September 23, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tags are now properly microformatted as Tags!

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A somewhat odd title, but what I mean is that the various links to tags in HighTechCville now have an extra attribute in the url:

rel ='tag'

That extra piece of markup is an example of Microformatting, which is an attempt to add machine readable meaning to dynamic content. If you look at Matt Dawson’s you will see that he is tagged with CSS. The URL is marked up like this:

<a href="/search/tag/CSS" id="CSS" rel="tag">CSS</a>

Now, any search engine or other tool will know that CSS is a tag. The interesting wrinkle is that the value for the tag is now what is the text of the link, but the end of the url! So in the below example the tag is CSS, not I Love CSS:

<a href="/search/tag/CSS" id="CSS" rel="tag">I Love CSS</a>

To learn more about the rel-tag microformat, visit the microformat.org page. Also, to easily see what rel-tag are defined on a page, use this little JavaScript Validator

A big thanks to Michael Herndon for bringing up the use of the rel-tag!

The next step is to find a real use for rel-tag! Technorati uses tags heavily because they index lots of blog content. However, HighTechCville isn’t a blog, so we’ll see if this extra meaning gets reused!

Written by Eric

September 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Moving up to Rails 2.1! See events in your Timezone!

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So I finally wanted to sort out a lot of the timezone issues that have been in HTC. Things like an event being imported at 2 PM EST, but stored in the database as 2 PM GMT! Which is 5 hours off!

Rails 2.1 offers a couple of features that will simplify the HTC codebase including:

  • Timezone support, and make comparing dates and time easier
  • Built in support for “scoped” data, like show me all folks opted out, or opted in to HTC
  • Tracking data changes aka “Partial Updates” or “Dirty Objects”. Right now it’s a bit of pain figuring out what data for a Person/Organization has changed, and therefore should be tracked for provenance usage

The upgrade has been the usual battle, partly caused by trying to do it on a new laptop so I had to install all the prerequisties, but also because many of the plugins I use now have moved from SVN to GIT, and so I need new software to handle that!

Some of the changes are:

  • Update strip_attributes
  • Install Git
  • Update Rspec and Rspec Rails plugins
  • Tweak specs since I moved from 1.0.8 to 1.1.4
  • Remove scope_out plugin

Written by Eric

September 10, 2008 at 9:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Launch of HighTechCville to Neon Guild Members

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Cross posted from http://www.opensourceconnections.com/2008/09/10/hightechcvilleneon-guild-91508/

I’ll be presenting HighTechCville to the Neon Guild next Monday, September 15.

I’ve been looking forward to this for months because most of the people information in HighTechCville comes from the Neon Guild public membership database. My initial success in finding Communities of Interest came about by looking at the over 200 people in the Neon Guild and finding 8 folks who were all technical writer folks! I would never have guess that there are enough people in the Neon Guild who do technical writing to do a group dinner together!

See you’all there!

Here are directions from Debra Weiss:

Inova Solutions
110 Avon Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Directions from downtown Cville:
Take Market Street E to Ninth/Avon St, turn right.
Go over the bridge, get in the left lane.
Look for Spudnuts on the left.
Turn Left at Spudnuts, and then another immediate left.
Follow around, you’ll see a large brick building. That’s Inova.
Go around to the front of the building and park.
Take the elevator to the second floor. We’re in the cafĂ©.

Written by Eric

September 10, 2008 at 9:13 am

Posted in OSC

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