tagged 'tech'

Pause tests in Ember

Simply await on a promise which resolves after a timeout.

test("my test", async function(assert) {
  // setup…
  await new Promise(resolve => setTimeout(resolve, 30000));
  // …assert
May 29, 2018 ember, testing, tip, tech

Repo.count in Ecto

I have often wanted to just do the following but Ecto’s Repo module doesn’t have a count method.

iex> MyApp.Repo.count(MyApp.Account)

It is not too difficult to create a count function that will allow you to count the results of any query.

defmodule MyApp.DBUtils do
  import Ecto.Query, only: [from: 2]

  @doc "Generate a select count(id) on any query"
  def count(query),
    do: from t in clean_query_for_count(query), select: count(t.id)

  # Remove the select field from the query if it exists
  defp clean_query_for_count(query),
    do: Ecto.Query.exclude(query, :select)

This will provide a shortcut for counting any query

MyApp.DBUtils.count(MyApp.Account) |> Repo.one!

Now, to enable Repo.count we can modify the repo module usually found in lib/my_app/repo.ex

defmodule MyApp.Repo do
  use Ecto.Repo, otp_app: :my_app

  def count(query),
    do: MyApp.DBUtils.count(query) |> __MODULE__.one!

That’s it. This will enable a count on any query including complicated queries and those that have a select expression set.

Sep 20, 2016 elixir, ecto, tip, tech

Benchmarking in Elixir

Appending to a list in Elixir ([1] ++ [2]) is slower than prepending and reversing [ 2 | [1] ] |> Enum.reverse but how bad is it?

Start by creating a new project, mix new benchmarking and add benchfella as a dependency in your mix.exs file

defp deps do
  [{:benchfella, "~> 0.3.2"}]

and run mix deps.get

Benchfella benchmarks work similarly to tests. Create a directory named bench and then create a file ending in _bench.exs. Benchfella will find these files and run them.

Create a file bench/list_append_bench.exs We will write our functions in the bench file but you can reference functions in another module to benchmark your project code.

This benchmark will test three different ways to build a list, (1) append each element to the list using ++, (2) build up the list using a recursive tail where the element is added to the head but the tail is built up recursively, and (3) prepending the element to a list accumulator and then reversing the list at the end.

defmodule ListAppendBench do
  use Benchfella

  @length 1_000

  # First bench mark
  bench "list1 ++ list2" do
    build_list_append(1, @length)

  # Second bench mark
  bench "[head | recurse ]" do
    build_list_recursive_tail(1, @length)

  # Third bench mark
  bench "[head | tail] + Enum.reverse" do
    build_list_prepend(1, @length)

  @doc """
  Build a list of numbers from `num` to `total` by appending each item
  to the end of the list
  def build_list_append(num, total, acc \\ [])
  def build_list_append(total, total, acc), do: acc
  def build_list_append(num, total, acc) do
    acc = acc ++ [num]
    next_num = num + 1
    build_list_append(next_num, total, acc)

  @doc """
  Build a list of numbers from `num` to `total` by building
  the list with a recursive tail instead of using an accumulator
  def build_list_recursive_tail(total, total), do: []
  def build_list_recursive_tail(num, total) do
    [ num | build_list_recursive_tail(num + 1, total) ]

  @doc """
  Build a list of numbers from `num` to `total` by prepending each item
  and reversing the list at the end
  def build_list_prepend(num, total, acc \\ [])
  def build_list_prepend(total, total, acc), do: Enum.reverse(acc)
  def build_list_prepend(num, total, acc) do
    acc = [num | acc]
    next_num = num + 1
    build_list_prepend(next_num, total, acc)

Run the benchmark with mix bench and you see the results,

  duration:      1.0 s

## ListAppendBench
[10:15:32] 1/3: list1 ++ list2
[10:15:34] 2/3: [head | tail] + Enum.reverse
[10:15:37] 3/3: [head | recurse ]

Finished in 6.66 seconds

## ListAppendBench
[head | tail] + Enum.reverse      100000   20.87 µs/op
[head | recurse ]                 100000   21.25 µs/op
list1 ++ list2                       500   3228.16 µs/op

The results: prepending to a list and reversing it is 200 times faster than appending and only fractionally faster than building the tail recursively.

For more complex benchmarks, Benchfella has various hooks for test setup and teardown. It also has ability to compare benchmark runs with mix bench.cmp and graph the results with mix bench.graph.

Mar 29, 2016 tech, elixir

Install from source using Ansible

TL;DR, All the code can be found here

Sometimes, when you want complete control, you want to be able to install packages from source and still use an automated tool like Ansible to do that.

A simple set of tasks can check for the existence of files to eliminate the need for running tasks that are already complete but that doesn’t help us with making sure we have the correct version installed.

I’m going to walk through creating a play that will build ruby from source. It will not do any work if ruby is already installed and is already the correct version. If not correct, it will:

  • download the source tarball
  • extract the source
  • configure the install
  • make the build
  • install ruby
  • cleanup the build directory

A first pass can be found in this gist If repeated, this build will re-download the archive, extract it, configure it and make it. It won’t install the binary again because it checks for the existence of the file /usr/local/bin/ruby but other than that, all tasks will re-run.

The first step is to create a task that will determine the installed ruby version if present.

- name: Get installed ruby version
  command: ruby --version  # Run this command
  ignore_errors: true  # We don’t want and error in this command to cause the task to fail

  changed_when: false

  failed_when: false

  register: ruby_installed_version  # Register a variable with the result of the command

This task will run ruby --version but will silently fail if ruby is not installed. If ruby is installed, then it registers the version string in a variable named ruby_installed_version.

The next step is to create a variable we can use to test whether to build ruby or not. This is set in our global_vars to a default of false. Then add a task that will set that variable to true if the version string doesn’t match.

- name: Force install if the version numbers do not match
    ruby_reinstall_from_source: true
  when: '(ruby_installed_version|success and (ruby_installed_version.stdout | regex_replace("^.*?([0-9\.]+).*$", "\\1") | version_compare(ruby_version, operator="!=")))'

Now we can add a when clause to all our other tasks. This will skip the task if ruby is correctly installed. That can be seen in this gist

The when clause checks for two things, (1) the task which checked the ruby version failed (i.e. there is no ruby installed) or (2) the ruby_reinstall_from_source variable is true (i.e. the versions don’t match).

An example task with the when clause:

- name: Download Ruby
  when: ruby_installed_version|failed or ruby_reinstall_from_source
    url: "https://cache.ruby-lang.org/pub/ruby/2.3/ruby-{{ruby_version}}.tar.gz"
    dest: "/tmp/ruby-{{ruby_version}}.tar.gz"
    sha256sum: "{{ruby_sha256sum}}"

  # …

We now have a conditional on every test. That seems a bit redundant. This can be improved by using the block syntax. By using a block we can check the condition once, and then run or skip the whole installation in one move.

- when: ruby_installed_version|failed or ruby_reinstall_from_source
    - name: Download Ruby
      when: ruby_installed_version|failed or ruby_reinstall_from_source
        url: "https://cache.ruby-lang.org/pub/ruby/2.3/ruby-{{ruby_version}}.tar.gz"
        dest: "/tmp/ruby-{{ruby_version}}.tar.gz"
        sha256sum: "{{ruby_sha256sum}}"

    # …

The final code can be found in this gist, https://gist.github.com/andrewtimberlake/802bd8d285b3e18c5ebe, where you can walk through the three revisions as outlined in the article.

Mar 22, 2016 tech, ruby, ansible, sysadmin

Using Dead Man's Snitch with Whenever

Using Dead Man's Snitch with Whenever

A quick tip to make it easier to use Dead Man's Snitch with the whenever gem

Whenever is a great gem for managing cron jobs. Dead Man’s Snitch is a fantastic and useful tool for making sure those cron jobs actually run when they should.

Whenever includes a number of predefined job types which can be overridden to include snitch support.

The job_type command allows you to register a job type. It takes a name and a string representing the command. Within the command string, anything that begins with : is replaced with the value from the jobs options hash. Sounds complicated but is in fact quite easy.

Include the whenever gem in your Gemfile and then run

$ bundle exec wheneverize

This will create a file, config/schedule.rb. Insert these lines at the top of your config file, I have mine just below set :output.

These lines add && curl https://nosnch.in/:snitch to each job type just before :output.

job_type :command,   "cd :path && :task && curl https://nosnch.in/:snitch :output"
job_type :rake,      "cd :path && :environment_variable=:environment bin/rake :task --silent && curl https://nosnch.in/:snitch :output"
job_type :runner,    "cd :path && bin/rails runner -e :environment ':task' && curl https://nosnch.in/:snitch :output"
job_type :script,    "cd :path && :environment_variable=:environment bundle exec script/:task && curl https://nosnch.in/:snitch :output"

Now add your job to the schedule. A simple rake task would like this:

every 1.day, roles: [:app] do
  rake "log:clear"

Now it’s time to create the snitch. You can grab a free account at deadmanssnitch.com and add a new snitch.

New Snitch

Then, once that’s saved, you’ll see a screen with your snitch URL. All you need to do is copy the hex code at the end.

Snitch URL

Use that hex code in your whenever job as follows:

every 1.day, roles: [:app] do
  rake "log:clear", snitch: "06ebef375f"

Now deploy and update your whenverized cron job. DMS will let you know as soon as your job runs for the first time so you know it has begun to work. After that, they’ll only let you know if it fails to check in.

Tip: For best tracking, you want your DMS job to check in just before the end of the period you’re monitoring (in the above example 1 day). To do that, I revert to cron syntax in whenever and set my job up as:

# Assuming your server time zone is set to UTC
every "59 23 * * *", roles: [:app] do
  rake "log:clear", snitch: "06ebef375f"

See Does it matter when I ping a snitch?. Remember to allow time for the job to run and complete. For more information, read through the full DMS FAQ

Sep 7, 2015 tech, ruby, rails

Cleaning up a Ruby hash

I’ve found a number of times where I have needed to iterate over a hash and modify the values. The most recent was stripping excess spaces from the values of a Rails params hash.

The only way I know of doing this is:

hash = {one: "  one  ", two: "two  "}
hash.each do |key, value|
  hash[key] = value.strip!
#=> {:one=>“one”, :two=>“two”}

This is a lot less elegant than using map on an Array

["  one  ", "two  "].map(&:strip!)
#=> ["one", "two"]

I wanted something like #map for a Hash

So I came up with Hash#clean (this is a monkey patch so exercise with caution)

class Hash
  def clean(&block)
    each { |key, value|
      self[key] = yield(value)

Now it’s as easy as,

{one: "  one  ", two: "two  "}.clean(&:strip!)
#=> {:one=>"one", :two=>"two"}

Now I can easily sanitise Rails parameter hashes

def model_params
  params.require(:model).permit(:name, :email, :phone).clean(&:strip!)
Aug 31, 2015 tech, ruby

Watch YouTube videos at full window (not full screen)

I use a large 27" iMac which I divide up windows with a browser in the top right of the screen. One thing that often frustrated me is that I could not maximise a video to fill the window completely. I had to fill my entire screen or watch it in the embedded size.

It turns out this is not too hard, change the URL in the browser from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 to https://www.youtube.com/embed/oHg5SJYRHA0

Jul 17, 2015 tech, tips

Skipping blank lines in ruby CSV parsing

I recently had an import job failing because it took too long. When I had a look at the file I saw that there were 74 useful lines but a total of 1,044,618 lines in the file (My guess is MS Excel having a little fun with us).

Most of the lines were simply rows of commas:


The CSV library has an option named skip_blanks but the documentation says “Note that this setting will not skip rows that contain column separators, even if the rows contain no actual data”, so that’s not actually helpful in this case.

What is needed is skip_lines with a regular expression that will match any lines with just column separators (/^(?:,\s*)+$/). The resulting code looks like this:

require 'csv'
            headers: true,
            skip_blanks: true,
            skip_lines: /^(?:,\s*)+$/) do |row|
  puts row.inspect

#<CSV::Row "Row":"some" "Of":"valid" "Headers":"data">
#=> nil
Jul 13, 2015 tech, ruby

Append items to a sorted collection in Backbone.js

I won’t cover all the boiler plate code but you can view that at JSFiddle The project is a ListItem model and a corresponding ListCollection. There is a ListItemView which is compiled into a ListView to create an ordered list. There is a FormView used for adding items to the collection.

The first component of our code is the comparator in the collection which keeps the list sorted by name.

var ListCollection = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  model: ListItem,
  comparator: function(item) {
    return item.get('name').toLowerCase();

With this a simple render method will always have the list in order but it needs to redraw the list every time the collection is updated. Simply bind the add event to this.render and you’re done.

  initialize: function() {
    this.listenTo(this.collection, 'add', this.render);
  render: function() {
    var items = [];
    this.collection.each(function(item) {
      items.push((new ListItemView({model: item})).render().el);
    return this;

What if we have a list that is more complicated or we want to display the item being added. For this we need a couple of things.

  1. Split the creation of the item view out into its own factory method
  2. Call the factory method when building the initial list within render
  3. Create a new addItem method which will append the item to the list
  4. Change our event binding to this.addItem
  initialize: function() {
    this.listenTo(this.collection, 'add', this.addItem);
  render: function() {
    var self = this;
    var items = [];
    this.collection.each(function(item) {
    return this;
  addItem: function(item) {
    var $view = this.buildItemView(item).render().$el;
  buildItemView: function(item) {
    return new ListItemView({model: item});

The problem now is that we’re using jQuery’s append which adds the item view to the end of the list negating the work of the comparator in our Backbone collection. What we need now is a way to insert the new item into the list at the correct index. For that we’ll need at add an insertAt method to jQuery. This new method will take an index and an element and it will place it into the childNodes collection at the correct index.

  insertAt: function(index, element) {
    var lastIndex = this.children().size();
    if(index < lastIndex) {
    } else {
    return this;

Now we can update our addItem method to calculate the index of the new item and then add it into the list at that index.

  addItem: function(item) {
    // Get the index of the newly added item
    var index = this.collection.indexOf(item);
    // Build a view for the item
    var $view = this.buildItemView(item).render().$el;
    // Insert the view at the same index in the list
    this.$el.insertAt(index, $view.hide().fadeIn());

The final working product is embedded here:

Jun 30, 2015 tech, javascript

Tip: View the SQL query behind psql commands

If you want to view the SQL query used to construct the information returned from a psql command (which will help you learn the underlying information schema) then type \set ECHO_HIDDEN

$ psql test
psql (9.4.1)
Type "help" for help.

test=# \set ECHO_HIDDEN
test=# \dt
********* QUERY **********
SELECT n.nspname as "Schema",
  c.relname as "Name",
  CASE c.relkind WHEN 'r' THEN 'table' WHEN 'v' THEN 'view' WHEN 'm' THEN 'materialized view' WHEN 'i' THEN 'index' WHEN 'S' THEN 'sequence' WHEN 's' THEN 'special' WHEN 'f' THEN 'foreign table' END as "Type",
  pg_catalog.pg_get_userbyid(c.relowner) as "Owner"
FROM pg_catalog.pg_class c
     LEFT JOIN pg_catalog.pg_namespace n ON n.oid = c.relnamespace
WHERE c.relkind IN ('r','')
      AND n.nspname <> 'pg_catalog'
      AND n.nspname <> 'information_schema'
      AND n.nspname !~ '^pg_toast'
  AND pg_catalog.pg_table_is_visible(c.oid)

      List of relations
Schema | Name | Type  | Owner
public | temp | table | andrew
(1 row)
May 15, 2015 tips, postgresql, tech

Unique constraint across two rows in PostgreSQL

I recently had a requirement where I needed an account to have zero, one or two actions associated with it. One could be a single action and the other could be one of many repeating types. I didn’t want two single actions and I didn’t want two or more types of repeating actions. To solve this I used two partial indexes to split the data set and apply a unique constraint to each set.

CREATE TABLE accounts (
  id   integer NOT NULL,
  name text    NOT NULL

CREATE TABLE actions (
  id          integer NOT NULL,
  account_id  integer NOT NULL,
  repeat_type text    NOT NULL DEFAULT 'none'

INSERT INTO accounts (id, name) VALUES (1, 'Test 1'), (2, 'Test 2');

If I create a unique index on actions(account_id) then I will only be able to have a single action per account.

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX idx_unique_accounts ON actions(account_id);

INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'none');
-- INSERT 0 1
INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'weekly');
-- ERROR:  duplicate key value violates unique constraint "idx_unique_accounts"
-- DETAIL:  Key (account_id)=(1) already exists.

DROP INDEX idx_unique_accounts;

The solution is to create two partial indexes, one for the single action and one for the repeating action.

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX idx_unique_single_actions    ON actions(account_id) WHERE (repeat_type = 'none');
CREATE UNIQUE INDEX idx_unique_repeating_actions ON actions(account_id) WHERE (repeat_type != 'none');

INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'none');
-- INSERT 0 1
INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'weekly');
-- INSERT 0 1

Now inserting another single action will result in an error.

INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'none');
-- ERROR:  duplicate key value violates unique constraint "idx_unique_single_actions"
-- DETAIL:  Key (account_id)=(1) already exists.

Or inserting another repeating action, even of a different repeat type, will result in an error.

(sql) INSERT INTO actions (id, account_id, repeat_type) VALUES (1, 1, 'monthly'); -- ERROR: duplicate key value violates unique constraint "idx_unique_repeating_actions" -- DETAIL: Key (account_id)=(1) already exists.

May 15, 2015 tech, postgresql

Looping with Fibers

An overview of how Fibers work in Ruby

Fibers are code blocks that can be paused and resumed. They are unlike threads because they never run concurrently. The programmer is in complete control of when a fiber is run. Because of this we can create two fibers and pass control between them.

Control is passed to a fiber when you call Fiber#resume, the Fiber returns control by calling Fiber.yield

fiber = Fiber.new do
  Fiber.yield 'one'
  Fiber.yield 'two'
puts fiber.resume
#=> one
puts fiber.resume
#=> two

The above example shows the most common use case where Fiber.yield is passed an argument which is returned through Fiber#resume. What’s interesting is that you can pass an argument into the fiber via Fiber#resume as well. The first call to Fiber#resume starts the fiber and that argument goes to the block that creates the fiber, all subsequent calls to Fiber#resume have their arguments passed to Fiber.yield.

fiber = Fiber.new do |arg|
  puts arg                   # prints 'one'
  puts Fiber.yield('two')    # prints 'three'
  puts Fiber.yield('four')   # prints 'five'
puts fiber.resume('one')     # prints 'two'
#=> one
#=> two
puts fiber.resume('three')   # prints 'four'
#=> three
#=> four
puts fiber.resume('five')    # prints nil because there's no corresponding yield and the fiber exits
#=> nil

Armed with this information, we can setup two fibers and get them to communicate between each other.

require 'fiber'

fiber2 = nil
fiber1 = Fiber.new do
  puts fiber2.resume     # start fiber2 and print first result (1)
  puts fiber2.resume 2   # send second number and print second result (3)
  fiber2.resume 4        # send forth number, print nothing and exit
fiber2 = Fiber.new do
  puts Fiber.yield 1     # send first number and print returned result (2)
  puts Fiber.yield 3     # send third number, print returned result (4) and exit
fiber1.resume            # start fiber1
#=> 1
#=> 2
#=> 3
#=> 4
puts "fiber1 done" unless fiber1.alive?
#=> fiber1 done
puts "fiber2 done" unless fiber2.alive?
#=> fiber2 done

EachGroup module

Knowing we can send information between two fibers with alternating calls of Fiber#resume and Fiber.yield, we have the building blocks to tackle a streaming #each_group method. Tip: The fiber you first call #resume on should always call #resume on the fiber it is communicating with. The other thread then always calls Fiber.yield. This goes against the natural inclination to pass information with Fiber.yield as in the first example above. Because of how the two fibers are setup below, you’ll see that no information is passed with Fiber.yield, information is only passed using Fiber#resume —confusing, I know.

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
require 'fiber'

module EachGroup
  def each_group(*fields, &block)
    grouper = Grouper.new(*fields, &block)
    loop_fiber = Fiber.new do
      each do |result|

  class Grouper
    def initialize(*fields, &block)
      @current_group = nil
      @fields = fields
      @block = block
    attr_reader :fields, :block
    attr_accessor :current_group

    def process_result(result)
      group_fiber = get_group_fiber(result)
      group_fiber.resume(result) if group_fiber.alive?

    def get_group_fiber(result)
      group_value = fields.map{|f| result.public_send(f) }
      unless current_group == group_value
        self.current_group = group_value
        create_group_fiber(result, group_value)

    def create_group_fiber(result, group_value)
      @group_fiber = Fiber.new do |first_result|
        group = Group.new(group_value)
      @group_fiber.resume(nil) # Start the fiber and wait for its first yield

  class Group
    def initialize(value)
      @value = value
    attr_reader :value

    def each(&block)
      while result = Fiber.yield

Example Usage

#each_group requires input sorted for grouping.

require 'each_group'
require 'ostruct'

Array.send(:include, EachGroup)

array = [
  OpenStruct.new(year: 2014, month: 1, date: 1),
  OpenStruct.new(year: 2014, month: 1, date: 3),
  OpenStruct.new(year: 2014, month: 2, date: 5),
  OpenStruct.new(year: 2014, month: 2, date: 7),
array.each_group(:year, :month) do |group|
  puts group.value.inspect
  group.each do |obj|
    puts "  #{obj.date}"
#=> [2014, 1]
#=>   1
#=>   3
#=> [2014, 2]
#=>   5
#=>   7

This code can be used with ActiveRecord as follows:

ActiveRecord::Relation.send(:include, EachGroup)

Model.order('year, month').each_group do |group|
  group.each do
    # ...

I have uploaded a Gist that shows a previous iteration of the EachGroup module using a nested loop which you may find easier to use to understand how the fibers are used to control the flow of the loop.

  1. The above code with a RSpec spec - https://gist.github.com/andrewtimberlake/9462561
  2. The original code with nested loops - https://gist.github.com/andrewtimberlake/9462561/f0e88cd310614a34693d57c3fc759f5c78e3a264

Thanks for taking the time to read through this. Explaining complicated concepts like Fibers is a challenge, please leave a comment and let me know if this was helpful or if you still have any questions.

Mar 10, 2014 ruby, tech

How to Add Subscribers to a MailChimp List With Ruby

I’m working on an app that creates user accounts and (optionally) subscribes users to our mailing list. Because I’m handling user creation in my app, I need some way to add them to the mailing list which is hosted on MailChimp. To do this, I am using their API to send through subscriber information.

The documentation for the ruby gem is not great. You have a few choices:

Below is some sample code that will get you started.

Install the mailchimp-api gem

> gem install mailchimp-api
# or
> echo 'gem "mailchimp-api", require: false' >> Gemfile
> bundle install

Get your MailChimp API Key

In MailChimp, go to your account settings page, click Extras and API Keys. If you don’t have an API key yet, click Create A Key.

Get your MailChimp list ID

Every list has a unique ID which is needed to add subscribers to the correct list. Got to Lists, Click on your list name, Click Settings and List name & defaults. On the right you’ll see your List ID (a 10 character hex code).

The code

require 'mailchimp' # The gem name is mailchimp-api but you require mailchimp

module MailChimpSubscription
  # These should prabably be environment variables or configuration variables
  MAIL_CHIMP_API_KEY = "0000000001234567890_us1"
  MAIL_CHIMP_LIST_ID = "abcdef1234"
  extend self

  def subscribe(user)
                               # The email field is a struct that can use an
                               #    email address or two MailChimp specific list ids (see API docs)
                               {email: user.email},
                               # Set your merge vars here
                               {'FNAME' => user.first_name, 'LNAME' => user.last_name})
    rescue Mailchimp::ListAlreadySubscribedError
      # Decide what to do if the user is already subscribed
    rescue Mailchimp::ListDoesNotExistError => e
      # This is definitely a problem I want to know about
      raise e
    rescue Mailchimp::Error => e
      # Unforeseen errors that need to be dealt with

  def mail_chimp
    @mail_chimp ||= Mailchimp::API.new(MAIL_CHIMP_API_KEY)

To use this module, you pass in a user object that responds to #email, #first_name and #last_name

user = OpenStruct.new(email: '[email protected]', first_name: 'John', last_name: 'Doe')

Final thoughts

It’s probably a good idea to put mailing list subscription into a background job so that you don’t slow down your user creation response time. You can also handle transient errors, retry failed attempts etc.

Feb 12, 2014 ruby, api, tech

Building my blog in Middleman

Installing Middleman

Adding extensions

middleman-blog middleman-syntax redcarpet

Github source code coloring

wget https://github.com/richleland/pygments-css/raw/master/github.css
def some_code
Dec 10, 2013 ruby, tech

Potential security hole authorising modules in CanCan

I got a message from a client this morning telling me that all users could see all reports on our product. Not good. I use CanCan to manage permissions and until now it has served me well. What went wrong? Whether a bug or not, I discovered that a very recent change I made had openned up the hole.

I wanted to have a permission setting that could prevent anyone from seeing any reports as well as more fine grained control over each individual report. My permissions looked a bit like this:

class Ability
  def initialize(user)
    can :read, Reports
    can :read, Reports::ReportA

When checking permissions for another report within the module, I didn’t expect this:

module Reports
  class ReportBController
    def show
      authorize! :read, Reports::ReportB #=> I assumed it would not be authorized but it is

What I didn’t expect is that when you authorise a module, all classes in that namespace are authorised as well. As I mentioned above, I don’t know if this is by design or not. Some quick googling didn’t help me so I changed my code for a quick solution.

I post this to warn others who may have made the same assumption. If you’re reading this and know the project better and can point out if it is a bug or feature, please let me know in the comments.

Nov 7, 2013 ruby, ruby-on-rails, tech

Using the Highlighting Tool in Logos 5

This tutorial specifically covers Logos 5 but things should also work in Logos 4 though the menus and tools may be in different places.

The Highlighter Tool

To get started you need to open the highlighting tool. Click on Tools and then Highlighting.

Accessing the Highlighting Tool
Accessing the Highlighting Tool
You should see the highlighting tool with the default palettes like so:

The Highlighting Palettes
The Highlighting Palettes

Each palette contains a few highlighters of similar types. To use them:

  1. Select text in an open book
  2. Click on the highlighter
  3. Voila, the text is now highlighted.

Highlighting Text
Highlighting Text

Where the highlight is stored

By default your highlighting is stored in a notes document named after the palette you used. So in this example my highlight is stored in a notes document named Highlighter Pens. I like to save my notes and highlights in specific note documents. This can be done by clicking on the little icon that appears to the right of the highlight palette name as you hover your mouse over the name (or right-click on the name) and selecting “Save in…”

The option I tend to use is Save in: Most recent note file. When I begin work I will ensure that I have one notes document open in Logos for the specific task I’m working on. That becomes the most recent note file and all my highlights and notes go in there. Be careful that you don’t end up with two notes documents open or your highlights will go to the one you last accessed. Remember that you have to change the Save in setting for each palette.

Changing the Default
Changing the Default

Removing Highlights

To remove a highlight:

  1. Right-click somewhere in the highlight
  2. Select Remove annotations

You can highlight a number of different highlights on the screen, right-click and click Remove annotations and all selected highlights will be removed.

Right-click to Remove Highlight
Right-click to Remove Highlight

Creating Your Own Highlighter Pens

I like to have my Logos Bibles look like they’re underlined in pencil just like my real Bible. To do this, I’ve created my own highlighters. It’s super easy to do so I’m going to show you how.

  1. On the Highlighters tab, click New palette
  2. Give your new palette a name and click Enter
    Create a New Highlighter Palette
    Create a New Highlighter Palette
  3. Click on the arrow next to the Palette name (mouse over the name to see) (or right-click on the name) and select Add a New Style
    Add a New Style
    Add a New Style
  4. Create your new style by:

    1. Giving it a name
    2. Open Borders & Lines
    3. Select Natural for the line style
    4. Make sure Single is selected for the number of lines
    5. Select a grey for the colour
    6. Click on the line under the text
    7. Keep an eye on the example window to make sure you’re getting what you want
    8. Click Save to finish
      Creating a New Style
      Creating a New Style

This is a great place to play and personalise how your mark-up your books. Don’t be scared to create various styles or duplicate and modify existing styles from other palettes. You can also move styles between palettes.

Don’t forget to change your Save In: setting for your new palette.

Using the Keyboard

If you have to click the specific highlighter every time you want to highlight something, it becomes a little tedious and you have to always have the highlighters panel open and visible (which means you can’t use the screen for other important documents). To solve this, you can set keyboard shortcuts to your highlighters. Let’s add a keyboard shortcut to our new highlighter style.

Click the little arrow icon next to the highlighter (mouse over the highlighter) (or right-click) Mouse over the Shortcut Key: menu Select the letter you want to assign to your highlighter. In this case I chose U for underline

Assign a Shortcut Key to a Highlighter
Assign a Shortcut Key
Now you can highlight text in your book, click U on your keyboard and your text will be underlined in a nice pencil line.

Text Underlined
Text Underlined
I hope this tutorial was helpful and clear. If it wasn’t or you have a question, please feel free to ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

May 3, 2013 logos, tutorials, tech, theology