Archive for February, 2009

Interleave Just Got Better

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Toot my own horn.. thanks to me.

I just wanted to toot my own horn and let everyone know that a modification I made to our local Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies “Client Relationship Manager” (AKA any other set of words that match CRM) called INTERLEAVE will be incorporated into the next release.

Interleave is a (business) process automation application and what I implemented to track my own work at Brock University. It allows me to stay on top of issues and names, and ultimately be able hand-off issues with some accountability and be able to report on the work I do year-to-year.

Our installation was getting a little slow, and I had tracked it to having a lot of clients and that creating a lot of communication between the web server and the database in certain situations. INTERLEAVE has it’s own caching infrastructure to speed this situations up so I took a look at it and just wrote some simple PHP code around it to have it store the cached items inAPC’s cache instead of the database.

This is an advantage because APC implements shared memory in PHP (among other things) and that allows to be stored between transmission between the web server and the client WITHOUT the need for a database, or the internal communication and overhead that requires. There a number of tools that do this for PHP, but APC is the one that should be included into PHP 6.

How shared memory works

If a web server fronted to a database could be considered a place like the post office, having shared memory copies of things is like walking up to the person at the front desk and asking “Is there any mail in back for me?” and the immediate response from the top of the postmaster’s head being “Your mother says you don’t write enough and Rogers wants you to buy a home phone” — with similar security concerns.

Google Sync Rocks!

Friday, February 13th, 2009

google-mobile-sync-20090212-thumbI am loving Google Sync for my iPhone!

Google recently announced their Google Sync service for the iPhone. The highlights are it leverages the great Google Mail (plus Contacts) and Calendar services with the best sync/push protocol out there: Microsoft’s Active Sync.

At work, Brock University, migrating our small department to MS Exchange has been an option for a while, however I’ve been waiting to recommend it until the labour and confusion involved in the transition would balance-off the benefit. Now that essentially the same service has come to the rest of my life once I had it working I immediately started trying to get my wife to add it to her iPod touch!

The value of Google Sync is all of those features that the corporate world has been using over the last decade can now be enjoyed by us promiscuous web users with the ubiquitous web tools Google has developed — a big class silo that anyone can jump into and radiate out of, unlike corporate Exchange systems.

Not only do I have all my Google calendars, contacts and all of my E-Mail in my pocket but I can also get new items instantly added to my calendar.

I installed it today after waiting a few todays to confirm that all the buzz was positive. Here’s the positive experiences I’ve had today:

  1. I was mid-way through writing an E-Mail on my iPhone when I realized I had an old address for someone. I then quickly looked up on my desktop the person’s new address on Facebook and changed it in my address book. I then picked my iPhone back up and it was ready to auto-complete the new address — without even having to open an close Mail on the iPhone!

Tomorrow’s GTA Gas Price Today!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

If you haven’t been there yet I highly recommend MP Dan McTeague’s “Tomorrow’s Gas Prices Today” web site. It delivers what it promises based on a formula that factors in today’s closing price for bulk gas on the New York exchange and projects tomorrow’s price.

–Updated Friday; March 12, 2010
The site even provides an RSS feed of the prices (featured above)!

If you have a phone with a mobile browser I recommend bookmarking either the web site or one of the RSS feeds. You could even use that RSS feed and a service like RSSFWD to forward that information to your E-Mail (or Blackberry, etc.)

Groundhog Day Coin Flip

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

After learning today that Groundhogs have about a 30% accuracy record for predicting the end of winter I’ve decided to get in the game myself: I’ve flipped a coin.

The rules were:

  • Heads: Spring comes early (good for a head cold)
  • Tails: 6 more weeks of winter (a long tale)

This year’s result: Tails – 6 more weeks of winter

6 more weeks of winter agrees with with Wiarton Willie and the rest. I don’t know if that is a good start.