deep geek

dotTel API announced

Telnic's dev site now includes details of their JSON API for provisioning and manageing dotTel domains. Looking though the examples this morning it should be easy to roll up a Ruby engine for managing provisioning and as landrush release isn't due until early February that will give spikyblackcat and I lots of time to devise something interesting.

There's also the possibility that I'll be doing another public presentation next month on Push using EventMachine, and if I can find a way of spinning in a dotTel component to that I will.

Those of you who know the tempestuous relationship that spikyblackcat and I had with Telnic will probably be surprised that we're still following this project and attempting to get the technology to a wider audience, but egos and personalities aside this stuff is just so damn addictive once you get into it that we would both love to see dotTel succeed.

I know DNS is considered both an obscure black art and a bit of a backwater, but dotTel along with ENUM are the first of a new generation of DNS techniques that will make it indispensible to software developers deploying large-scale distributed applications. Admittedly there are some issues with using DNS at the boundary of its dynamic behaviour (not least the relative inefficiency of caching with a 60s or lower TTL) but the same's true with media serving and many other applications which have far heavier bandwidth and transaction costs.

The other shakeup is going to be in forcing the pace of adoption of ENDS0 as a reasonable subset of dotTel zones will require TCP connections due to their packet size. This could be the start of a move to a more persistent relationship between clients and DNS servers, and given that DNS traffic needs to be fairly efficient it may even open the way to equivalent protocols based on RUDP. spikyblackcat and I have been considering these issues for a couple of years now and working on solutions but it's only going to be when an identifiable demand is established that people will finally get what we're talking about and why.

Anyway, here's to a successful launch of dotTel!

I'm a mummy!?! SQUEEE!!!!!

This news is massively overdue as I've been busy with a new job and all the other chaos that follows the arrival of a baby, but I would like to formally announce the birth of Thomas Peter Gearoid Loughlin-McHugh, born 23:02 on 7th October 2009 at a whopping 9lb 2 oz. He's absolutely gorgeous (photos to follow later on my flickr stream).

goth_twiglet and little Thomas are both doing well and the menagerie all seem to have forgiven us for acting in an inexplicably doting manner!
sexy cool

RailsConf Europe 2008 Wrap

Okay, so I kept this one under wraps as it was all a bit fraught. But suffice to say that spikyblackcat and I made it to Berlin in one piece and then proceeded to the usual last-minute flurry of coding mayhem.

Wednesday we attended an interesting talk by the people behind the Juggernaut project - a Flash-oriented Push server based on Ruby EventMachine - and I was inspired to go without sleep hacking up an extremely inadequate Push server of my own just to see what's involved. Adding this sort of content to a talk at the last minute is probably not a good idea...

Anyway our session seemed to go well, as usual running over time and causing many baffled stares. I expanded on some of last year's themes by rewriting examples to use thread-based concurrency and added some discussion of its shortcomings.

Yet again we seem to have doubled attendance! We easily had over 100 punters, some sat on the floor as well as many many bums on seats and a fairly low escapee rate :)

I refuse to believe that we'll ever be a huge draw thanks to the preposterous volume of code I alwayd include, so all told 100 attendees is not bad at all - especially considering that we were bumped to this slot at almost the last minute!

Aimee? You can consider yourself upgraded from facebook stalker to proto-friend for putting up with my mad post-talk wibblings ;) This is a concept my friend ingenue_the came up with a couple of years ago to describe people that she'd like to be friends with if time and circumstances allowed!

And Nina, it was great to finally meet someone off DevChix in the flesh. If you're ever in London let me know and we can arrange a serious geeking session :)

Berlin as usual was fun and the food mostly lived up to expectations, especially the fish of which I ate copiously. As in Whitby copiously >8D

Unfortunately we had little free time for the conference itself due to coding crises so there's not much to report on that front. Just a couple of meetups with Marcin and Robert from TrafficBroker. I must arrange to catch up with them properly in London for some beers sometime.

It's probably a bit early to be making plans for next year but if RCE's back in Berlin we hope to be as well, extemporising madly and spewing yet more dubious and poorly documented code.

Thanks to Dave Black for having us on the bill again, and a special mention to Shirley and the rest of the O'Reilly team for making our lives as easy as possible during our stay (not to mention the geek chic skinny fit t-shirt she found me). Hope you all have a safe and relaxing return trip to the US.

We made the 21:36 (21:45 due to engineering works - obviously a German attempt to make us feel at home) overnight service to Brussels, so no travel adventures like last year. Oh, and if you ever need wi-fi and a cup of tea whilst waiting at Berlin Hauptbanhoff try the Segafredo coffee bar - nice people and comfy seats too.

Anyway after a hectic day of travelling I'm reunited with goth_twiglet and the non-rodent collective for a restful weekend visiting my folks. Finally, a chance to catch some zzz's...

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]
sexy cool

Berlin beckons again :)

I'm pleased to be able to announce that spikyblackcat and I will be appearing at RailsConf Europe 2008 in Berlin. This is the third year in a row that we've managed to secure a speaking slot so we must be doing something right - although I've yet to figure out quite what!

This year we're scheduled for 11:35 on the morning of September 3rd where we'll be talking about rolling your own dedicated Ruby clients for HTTP applications using the Shoes toolkit and whatever else we can fit into the forty-five minute runtime. We'd like to show a browser-based SproutCore equivalent as well but I suspect other commitments will get in the way of my relearning javascript in time, and there's also backend technologies which will be competing for time.

I really would have preferred to do a tutorial session, but those are very difficult to come by - not to mention that a sustained two hundred and ten minutes of the pair of us would probably have a very negative effect on the nerves and sanity of our audience...

Aside from the presentation we're also making plans for a BoF session to follow on from last year's creative madness. These are a great opportunity to test out ideas with a small group without the usual formalities and we're currently deciding whether to go with a security theme or maybe discuss some of our ideas related to democratising the internet.

Then of course there's the current top-secret project bubbling away in the labs, which would make for a fascinating hands-on session. I'm keeping very quiet about that, but as goth_twiglet can attest I've done more coding in the last three weeks than in the rest of the year before that: much burning of the midnight oil and - shockingly - a fair number of earlyish mornings too.
deep geek

(no subject)

Today I've been taking a quick spin with MacRuby, which is a port of Ruby to Objective-C with the Cocoa frameworks. Not being a Mac programmer (which is shameful considering that I've been coding on a Mac for about five years now) I blagged some example Cocoa code written in Objective-C and nu from the Hackety Hack blog and came up with this little dittie:

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This looks simple enough that I'll have to make time to play further - perhaps during my pre-RailsConf coding bash in August.
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deep geek

Looking to get a startup off the ground - again ;)

This year's SeedCamp competition is almost upon us so spikyblackcat and I are looking to get our grand project into some sort of order. Last year we had too many things clashing, and in hindsight that was a good thing, but this year the basics of a business plan seem to be writing themselves.

However not all is rosy in the garden. Financially I'm now running on less than empty, having plowed a fair amount of my personal resources (not least time) into the research that underpins what we're doing. I hope I can keep everything up in the air for just a couple more months to see if this is really a breakthrough opportunity but right now things are looking... fraught. Meanwhile spikyblackcat is off in Brussels from the 14th doing security work with Mastercard.

I'm therefore looking for one or two additional collaborators who fancy getting involved in a somewhat weird and potentially groundbreaking software project. Ideal candidates would be a javascript hacker who gets the point of SproutCore (so I don't have to spend the next few months becoming a JS guru) and someone who wouldn't mind doing backend development in Ruby (not Ruby on Rails).

I now there are people reading this who match those profiles, so if you've not much planned between September and November of this year and are in or near London... well don't be a stranger!
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sexy cool

My ego just got a welcome boost :)

It seems the Skyforce Observer Website has had a bit of an update, including the wonderful opening paragraph:

Since the launch of the original Skyforce Observer MKI in 1998, Skyforce has been at the forefront of digital moving map technology and task management.

I wonder how customers would feel to now that yours truly wrote that system all by herself in the comfort of her bedroom between the summers of 1997 and 1998 ;)

More on the David Davis campaign

David Davis for Freedom has gone live today with a basic outline of his campaign. It will be interesting to see how this grows over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile there's strong support on Conservative Home for his decision to make a principled stand over an issue that many of us feel has up until now been largely ignored by the mainstream media.

In other news, I was horrified to see the wife of one of the 7/7 bombers sentenced to 15 years for not informing the authorities about her husband's planned actions. On the surface of it many people would instinctively feel that she is complicit and that therefore this is a good thing, but if you think about it how can a society function when the most intimate of all contractual bonds - that between a married couple - is considered less important than the non-contractual and enforced bond of subservience to the State.

It was not that many years ago that a spouse could not be forced to testify against an accused party. The law stood like this for hundreds of years and even during the much more numerous and deadly terrorist outrages of the 1970s and 1980s I don't recall anyone in mainland Britain clamouring for this level of intrusion.

Die Lisbon Treaty!!! Die!!! Why won't you die?!?

In a few minutes Ireland will officially announce the results of the referendum on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. They're expected to announce that ratification has been rejected.

As a eurosceptic this is an unexpected Godsend, but not one that I expect will derail the EU project.

Already there are voices from Brussels suggesting that the treaty can go ahead without Ireland and Jose Manuel Barosa continues to act like the EU is a state rather than a treaty organisation.

Doubtless we'll have 26 states ratify the damn thing and then some backroom deal or other will get the provisions though in Ireland in a form other than a constitutional change, and the damn federalist agenda will roll on undeflected.