Tag Archives: Techiness

I’ll clump web design talk and gadget talk here, I guess.

Chewing on Granny Squares

My knitting colleague E. made the (arguably) goofy decision to refresh her crocheting skills by taking on a granny squares blanket.

It’s a great idea for using up a ton of scrap yarn.

It’s not a great idea if you enjoyed the level of sanity you had when you started.

She quickly ran into the classic self-randomizing problem: given 20 different colored yarns of different weights, how do you put 3 different ones in each square while trying to keep the colors as random as possible? Sounds easy enough, but after 15 or so squares, it gets tricky. If you’re aiming for randomization, the last thing you want is a big diagonal of purple in your blanket when you’re done.

So E. appealed to me and asked me to write her a “script” to randomize her colors. I was on board, look forward to some Python/Django fun before I realized that what I’d been handed was a graph coloring problem with some fun restraints. (Turns out it was easy, but fun to think through.)

Before I get into the technical bits, go make a blanket or two. Then go find some esoteric method to contact me (or comment here) and let me know what you think, especially if you run into an issue.
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Deployment Automation with Fabric: Bee’s Knees

One immensely valuable thing I learned at Skookum was the value of automated deployments. I worked with a gent who took the time to work up Capistrano scripts for each staging and production environment of the whale of a project I worked with him on.

I appreciated it during development, but I didn’t appreciate it until we were deploying single tweaks out to production on Amazon EC2 in rapid cycles. I haven’t worked with EC2 since then (second half of 2009), but let me tell you, deployments were for the birds.

With his scripts though: run the script, enter your SSH or git password(s) a few times, and you have an automated deployment that runs for each person on the team, despite all our separate setups (Mac, Linux, cygwin, etc.).

It sounds trivial and obvious, but how many deployments did I do by hand, or try (poorly) to document for someone else, or forget how to do before that really sunk in?

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Cell Phones: Going Prepaid?

So, I have this iWone 3G. Greg has one, too. It’s something of a boat anchor these days, now that the novelty has worn off (it’s been about a year and a half).

I’m not an iPhone gamer. I don’t really use social networking stuff (Hootsuite) on it except on rare occasions. Email is only for reference rather than composition. It is my primary camera at the moment, sadly, since my real one won’t hold a charge on fresh batteries.

So what do I use it for? Contacts, calendar, phone calls, static music, and Pandora. The first two come from our good friend Uncle Google. The last two are definitely “wants” rather than “needs”.

I’d say making phone calls is a requirement.

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