Speaking Engagements 0

Posted by chris
on Wednesday, July 02

I recently found out that I'll be speaking at both RailsConf Europe and the Lone Star Ruby Conference with a few of my Intridea colleagues..

RailsConf Europe

RailsConf Europe 2008 Michael Bleigh will be presenting our RailsConf Europe talk: Hacking the Mid-End: Unobtrusive Scripting and Advanced UI Techniques in Rails, on September 3rd. Here's the talk overview:

As web application development advances beyond the static page, a whole new field of development is emerging. In the Javascript behavior layer and markup abstracting helpers lie the ’Mid-End’: advanced user interface problems that don’t fit traditional ‘back-end’ and ‘front-end’ models. Explore this new field with case studies and real code such as usage of Lowpro Javascript behaviors to keep the behavior separate from the markup. Learn how to give back-end developers the tools to create simple, repeatable, quality markup through block-accepting helpers. Discuss the methods that allow for rapid development of complex interactions in new and exciting ways and see real examples. Finally, look into the future of the Mid-End and what lies ahead for user interface development.

Then, immediately after my talk, I'll board my plane to head off to..

The Lone Star Ruby Conference

Adam Bair, Pradeep Elankumaran, and I will be leading a training on the first day of the LSRC. The training is titled: Rails Refactoring: Triage, Prevention, and Performance. And the overview:

Maybe you inherited a mess of a Rails project – or perhaps your own codebase is poorly-tested, not very DRY, or just generally confusing. Worse yet, maybe your Rails site has slowed down to a crawl or even stopped working entirely. Whatever the reason, it’s time to consider refactoring these rough spots and boosting your site’s performance.

In the first half of the day we’ll go through real-life examples of (shameful) code we’ve written and refactored, give tips on how and when to start, and show you how to avoid the need for a future refactor. In the second half, we’ll introduce common Rails performance pitfalls, how to diagnose them, and how to solve them. We’ll also talk about other ways to speed up your app.

If you're attending either conference, stop by and say hi!

Launching CrowdSound - Easy User Feedback 1

Posted by chris
on Wednesday, May 14

Intridea just launched our newest product - CrowdSound. CrowdSound is a tool that allows companies and websites to gather, organize and respond to suggestions from their users. It is available as a customizable widget that you plug into your own site.


Here my own CrowdSound widget. (The typical widget is 250px wide - I customized this to be 650px):

Please try it out, and then sign up at CrowdSound for your own!

Speaking at RailsConf 2008

Posted by chris
on Monday, March 24

RailsConf 2008I recently found out that I'll be speaking along with Josh Owens at Railsconf 2008. We'll be speaking about our experience rapidly building web applications during the first Rails Rumble, a 48-hour contest for developing a Rails site from concept to completion.

Railsconf 2008 will be held in Portland, OR on May 29th - June 1st. Stay tuned for scheduling details.


Emerging from hiding - and launching VisualCV.com!

Posted by chris
on Monday, February 11

Seeing how I haven't posted a single thing in over a month, I can see how you might expect the worst. Have no fear, I have not been abducted by aliens, nor have I been jailed for embezzlement (yet). I have merely been toiling day and night with my Intridea teammates on an exciting new project for our VisualCV clients. I am pleased to annouce that all of our hard work has finally come to fruition, and www.visualcv.com launched early this morning.

From the start we knew VisualCV would require a lot of effort and long hours, and we were right! Thanks to the coding efficiency Ruby and Ruby on Rails allow us, as well as the agile methods we put in place, we were able to meet very tight deadlines.

VisualCV aims to replace the traditional paper resume with an online version that allows you to present images, audio, and video alongside traditional resume content. The VisualCV management team and advisory team is impressive, headed up by Phillip Merrick, former CEO and Chairman of webMethods, so we're expecting good things from this endeavor.

Stay tuned for updates on VisualCV, as well as some more technical posts about some of the technology we used and some tips and tricks I've picked up.

Check VisualCV out now!


VisualCV has been generating a lot of media buzz so far - check out some of the coverage below:

In the News

Posted by chris
on Sunday, December 16

Intridea is starting to get a national reputation for Ruby on Rails knowledge - several of us were recently contacted by eWeek.com for an article on Ruby on Rails 2.0. Adam Bair and I both had some comments that they chose to run - check it out to see what we had to say:

Ruby on Rails 2.0 Users Give Thumbs Up

ActAsTaggableOn - Advanced Rails Tagging Plugin

Posted by chris
on Tuesday, December 04

One of my Intridea co-workers, Michael Bleigh, has put together an excellent tagging plugin, called ActsAsTaggableOn, which is meant to be a replacement for acts_as_taggable_on_steriods. ActsAsTaggableOn allows for multiple tag sets per model - for example, a user could have tag sets for sports, interests, music, etc. You can then reference the tag lists as user.sport_list, user.interest_list, and user.music_list, in addition to getting them all at once with user.tag_list

Here's his blog post with more details

RubyConf 2007

Posted by chris
on Friday, November 16

The 2007 RubyConf was a couple of weeks ago (Nov 2nd-4th) in Charlotte, NC . I attended with a few of my Intridea colleagues – Pradeep, Michael, and Jeremy. So this post is not all that timely, and I imagine anything worthwhile to say about RubyConf 2007 has already been blogged about to death. Not only that, but I was part of a panel at last week’s DCRUG meeting, where we discussed RubyConf, so I have already probably talked the topic to death. And yet, still I write… must be the egotist in me that assumes my 2 subscribers want, nay – need, to know there weren’t enough men’s restrooms, or there should have been more coffee on the last day. Here on the Better Endeavor Blog, we get into the meat of things and tell you what’s really important.

Amazon Web Services Startup Challenge

Posted by chris
on Wednesday, October 31

Intridea has officially entered three products into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Start-Up Challenge. We're very excited about the products, all of which should be launching on November 5th.


Scalr is a complete turn-key hosting solution that’s self-curing and self-scaling. It based on EC2 and provides an easy, web-based interface for setting up and managing your servers.


With MediaPlug, website operators can add social media (images, audio, and video) to a website in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and without the need to learn complex video transcoding systems. In addition, uploads are offloaded to MediaPlug servers to reduce the burden on the customer website.


SocNet is built on Intridea’s MediaPlug and Scalr products, and allows customers to quickly create a social networking site that can scale to millions of users easily.

Startup Weekend DC - Suggestions For Future Dev Teams

Posted by chris
on Tuesday, October 30

Startup Weekend DC has come and gone – in 54 hours we envisioned, designed, developed, and deployed HolaNeightbor. We had a large development team full of talented programmers, and I had a great time working with them all. I’ve had some time to think about the experience – what went right, what went wrong, and what I’d do differently. So, without further adieu, here are my:

Suggestions for future Startup Weekend development teams

Startup Weekend DC - Day 3

Posted by chris
on Monday, October 29

Day 3 of Startup Weekend was a bit of a blur, contributed to by a lack of sleep combined with a rushed deadline. Early in the day, things were looking positive for a midnight release with a significant batch of features. We were continuing to add and improve upon features, and designers were working on getting mockups of key pages together. Unfortunately, things did not continue to go smoothly throughout the day.

Startup Weekend DC - Day 2

Posted by chris
on Sunday, October 28

Day 2 of Startup Weekend started out with a surprise. The night before a consensus had been built by a small group, and two members were going to combine those ideas into a 5-7 page powerpoint. Apparently they had their own ideas, because what was agreed upon by the small group, and what was presented were far apart.

Continue reading...

Startup Weekend DC - Day 1

Posted by chris
on Saturday, October 27

This weekend I'm participating in Startup Weekend DC, which is, to quote the blog - "an idea, an experiment, a chance to gather the tech community and create a company over one jam packed weekend." I just returned from the first day...

Test-Driven Development with Rails Studio

Posted by chris
on Friday, October 19

I recently returned from the Pragmatic Studio's Test-Drive Development with Rails studio. I've been to several Pragmatic Studios, and have come to expect very high quality instructions from people who know what they're doing and are actually using the stuff they are teaching - the TDD studio definitely lived up to my expectations. The instructors were Joe O'Brien and Jim Weirich (of rake, rubygems, and flexmock fame).

I'm a bit ashamed to admit I have not been much of a tester in my Rails development thus far. I've always recognized the value behind testing, but just hadn't had the impetus to really get me going. The main reason for me attending this studio was to provide the kick in the ass to get me started with testing... and it succeeded.

The first two days covered traditional Rails unit and functional testing, while the third covered rspec. The best parts, in my opinion, were the pair-programming live code demos put on my Joe and Jim. In the demos, Joe would write the test while Jim would implement the code for that test. It really cemented in my mind the idea behind Red (initial failing test), Green (passing test), Refactor (cleanup and refactor code).

We also covered some other really cool technologies like cruisecontrol.rb (a tool for continuous integration) and Selenium and FireWatir (tools for automating testing in the browser).

Now that I've seen some real-life TDD, I'm looking forward to incorporating it into my own development practices.

Rails Rumble

Posted by chris
on Monday, October 15

Last month I competed in the first annual Rails Rumble, a Ruby on Rails coding competition. The idea behind the competition was to design, develop, and deploy a fully-functional Rails application over the course of a weekend - 48 hours. Teams could consist of up to 4 people, but I chose to go solo. Why? Probably because I'm a little bit nuts...

New Beginnings

Posted by chris
on Thursday, October 11

Hi, I'm Chris, your friendly neighborhood Ruby on Rails programmer. For the last 10 years I've moonlighted as a freelance web developer, spending my evening and weekends coding and designing, while also holding down full-time jobs. Most recently I've been employed by George Washington University, where I've worked full-time as a web developer for the past 2.5 years. Today was my last day at GW, and is also my last day as moonlighting freelance developer.

Why the big changes? I've accepted a position at Intridea, a DC-based Ruby on Rails development shop. Though I enjoyed my time at GW, and my many late nights of coding for my freelance business, I'm really looking forward to focusing all my efforts toward building Intridea. I've already been chatting with some of the guys there, and I know I'm going to learn a lot, because they're all really sharp. I'm also going to be able to play with cutting-edge Rails stuff that I've wanted to take for a whirl - stuff like unobtrusive javascript, Amazon Web Services, sass, and Rspec (among others).

Making the leap is helping to kickstart a few other projects that I've been putting off for a while. This blog, for one. I've been meaning to put this blog together for almost a year now, constantly having ideas that made me say "hey, I should blog about that." Now I have a place to do that. I'll be cross-posting some of the more technical articles on the Intridea blog, but some of the content here will be unique. I hope this blog will eventually be a good place for Rails tips, tricks, and wisdom, though you'll have to be the judge of that!