Category Archives: Media

One Line

One line. 15 hours and all that stood between me and functionality was one line. I’d be mad if that didn’t happen so often. So what did happen? I had the code for ActiveRecord’s Multiparameter attributes on one screen, and I had mongoids old Multiparameter extension on the other. My original plan was to put a variation of ActiveRecord’s code into a monkey patch and then put it into mongoid if it work. But as I read the mongoid code more carefully, I found that while it was a little harder to read, it was a little more concise than the activerecord code.

In activerecord, you called the assign_attribute method, then if you had a multiparameter attribute you called the assign_multi_parameter_attributes method, then you executed the callstack which extracted the callstack, and then you determined the time zone, intstantiated the objects…

In Mongoid, you made sure the keys and values went into the right place, determined the class of the attributes you were working with, “mongoize” it, and relegate the rest of the logic to the superclass. Since that was slightly less incomprehensible, I decided to take another look at the module.

The tests were failing because Rails did not recognize the permit= method. I didn’t know yet just what this was for, so I commented the line out to see what would happen. I still got a forbidden attribute error from activemodel, so I figured that it had something to do with the strong parameters method in the controller. I tried permitting the split time attributes every which way I could with single quotes, double quotes, no quotes, but I was still getting this error. I took another look at the line with the permit = method that I had commented out. I looked up the method and found out that it had been deprecated in favor of the permit! method. Not only that, but it was being used on a new attributes object that had been instantiated within the module. I changed permit = true to permit! and it worked!

Even though I just made I tiny modification to one of Mongoid’s deprecated module’s, I’m still going to try and put it back in through a pull request. Why? Just because that issue took up so much of my time doesn’t mean it has to ruin anyone else’s day. The gem shoudl work as advertised, or at least as documented! Also, I still don’t really know why there were so many issues with the module in the first place. This might be the best way to find out! And finally, hopefully, we can do something about those failing friendship tests today.

 

6 Ways to Get 100+ Twitter Followers Overnight

No, this blog has not been taken over by spammers, but I have used some best practices that has so far doubled my number of twitter followers. I know most Social Media “Experts” wait until they’re making $100,000 a month or have a million followers to reveal their secrets, but I can’t be bothered wait that long. I want to make sure this works for other people first. So here’s my “social media strategy” in 6 easy steps:

1. Organize your current followers into lists using TwitListManager.com

If people aren’t reciprocating your fake social media points, it’s time to unfollow them. But what if you’re desperate to keep up with various celebrities you’ll never meet? Just put them into a handy twitter list. Twitlistmanager.com makes this really easy, and you can make sure that everyone’s in their proper lists. The lists will fall into 3 categories: People you actually want to talk to, people you admire, and Spammers/bots/ foreign language accounts you can use to boost your twitter score.

2. Unfollow the non-followers using JustUnfollow.com

Once every user is in his/her/its proper list, you can easily unfollow the non-followers with JustUnFollow.com. The Free version gives you a limited number of unfollows, but with just $10 a year, you can unfollow as many people as you want on your account.

3. Follow Back using JustUnfollow.com

It’s just common courtesy. Following people doesn’t cost anything, so quit acting like it does. Accept that many of your followers will either be spammers or Brazilian.

4, Find some real people using Twitter Local Search

It’s fun to see your follower count go up, but eventually you should use twitter the way it’s meant to be used: To talk to people. It’s best if you do this with people who share your interests. Twitter search can help you find key words, like “Canucks” or “Rihanna”, but to find really meaningful conversation, it’s best to talk to people in the same city as you. Hootsuite does this really well by providing a button in its search bar that allows you to search using your latitude/longitude coordinates.

5. No Lurking!

Nothing kills an online community like lurkers. You can only get as much out of a community as you put into it. If you have something to say about a tweet, say it. Twitter was meant for speed and brevity, not crafted retorts in iambic pentameter. If you’re wondering what to tweet about, sending link-free tweets is a good start. I find I get the most replies by making progress on a clearly stated goal. This can be anything from housework to Gundam models. Consider your account an on-line pokemon battle…against life!

6.  Rinse, and Repeat.

Give new follows a 72-hour window to follow you back. After that, fit them into the list, and let them run free in cyberspace. Your time and attention is limited, so don’t feel bad about unfollowing. If you meet them again in real life and you exchange twitter ids, then just follow them again.

So that’s how I play the Twitter game. Software is more of an art than a science, and Twitter, like Facebook, is just another way we try to make communication more efficient. If we lay out expectations instead expecting people to “just get it”, we put more people on the network and we make it more effective.

Pax Part 2: Tanto Cuore

The most fascinating game at PAX was not to be found underneath the life-sized statues of dragons, wizards, or space marines. No plasma screens depicting high octane gameplay were found at this bright pink little booth. Instead there was a picture of a young chamber maid with long blond hair and frilly white apron. This was my first encounter with deck-building card game, Tanto Cuore.

In Tanto Cuore (Tawn-tow Kwo-ray) you are placed in the role of a Lord of a large mansion. The object of the game is to hire maids until you have the most capable staff in the land. All of the maids have their own unique abilities that affect the flow of play. You build your staff with resources like “Love” and “Actions”. You can also hinder your opponents by causing their maids to get sick or pick up bad habits.

As I played the demo, I could just hear the gnashing of teeth over the nature of the game.

What’s this? You’re “buying” young girls with “love” so they can “serve” you in your mansion. It’s sick! It’s perverted! It’s negative gender stereotyping!

Even so, it was mostly women who were checking out the booth. The promo bag – which you could only get by buying the game at PAX – was mostly being carried by women, and my female friends were talking about the game, saying how cute it was.

When people decry games, movies and other things that feature pink, lace, and good manners, I wonder what kind of society they think they are building. Are we really better off when Barbie, Hello Kitty, and the Disney princesses are only mention in the hushed tones of heretics? Do we want everybody to just wear business suits and boss each other around?

Tanto Cuore is a welcome departure from more traditional card games. Instead of summoning monsters to do battle with each other, you are assembling a group of young ladies that can put together a household filled with love and prestige. It feels a lot like Settlers of Catan in the building aspect, but because there are so many cards in play, you feel like you have more leeway in your strategy. It’s not a collectible card game, so everything you need to play is contained in one box. I can see how it would be controversial, but the art is beautiful, the gameplay is solid, and my wife has found her gateway drug to complex tabletop games. Today Tanto Cuore, tomorrow Magic the Gathering! (Yeah, right!)

Tanto Cuore can be purchased online at Cardhaus Games and other fine games retailers.

 

Huffington Hubbub

Much hubbub and several hilarious cartoons have been made over the sale of the Huffington post to AOL. The deal resulted in a  315 million dollar paycheck to Arianna huffington, and a big fat zero to the dozens of unpaid bloggers working under her charge (they gathered under the #huffpuff hashtag). It’s a sticky story to say the least. Arianna Huffington, champion of the poor, downtrodden and the not quite yet poor and downtrodden (some would call it the “middle class”) takes a dump truck full of money for selling work that other people did for free. The Hypocrisy would have been delicious if only it were true. It turns out that the unpaid bloggers made up only a small portion of the site’s traffic and advertising dollars. Still, the controversy begs the question: How much is writing worth?

The bloggers who were incensed by the AOL deal may be victims of old world media thinking, where people are supposed to get their news through large media companies like the Huffington Post. They haven’t realized just how much the game has changed. Exposure can only take you so far. A small audience can be much more valuable, especially if they take action based on your words. This action could take the form of buying a book, attending a speaking engagement, or even just attending a meetup. The power of your words comes from their ability to move people, not just their ability to grab eyeballs. Unfortunately, this involves a real direct engagement with readers, which is uncomfortable to people used to dealing with only editors of newspapers and sites like the Huffington Post. Still, people are willing to invest a lot of trust in an individual human perspective. There are many writers who realize this idea and profit from it even today.

Sources: New York Times, Bors Blog

Axe Cop vs. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood

I wonder if Axe Cop is what Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood had in mind when they talk about creative play for children. If you haven’t read Axe Cop yet, go there now to right this injustice. I’ll wait. See, he’s a cop and he’s got an Axe, and he partners up with all these superheroes to fight the likes of Dr. Stinkyhead, King Evilfatsozon, and Vampire Man Baby Kid. The kicker is that it all comes from the head of a 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle and drawn by his 29-year old-brother Ethan.

This comic is just pure fun. Axe Cop runs into wish-granting unicorn-babies, robot zombie worlds, and rides a rocket-powered dinosaur dragon named Wexter (who has guns for arms). Best of all, he defeats bad guys with his axe. Although this is all springing from the mind of a small child, parents groups would be outraged if something like this ever made it to television. The main character is literally an axe-wielding maniac. He uses violence to solve his problems, not words.  His all-birthday cake diet sets a terrible example of healthy eating habits. Worst of all, he only has one girl on his team. Talk about gender stereotyping!

As long as I could remember, adults were always trying to impose their insecurities on kids’ playtime. I can distinctly remember as an eight year old finding out what the words “violence” and “influence” meant from a TV Guide column. GI Joe, Transformers and Robotech were supposed to influence me to commit violent acts. Even as a kid I could tell this was pure garbage. It’s a children’s cartoon, not mind control! In fact, I remember many episodes warning against the dangers of mind control.

The problem is we don’t recognize childhood for what it is. We’ve got this idea that childhood is an idyllic paradise free of problems where everyone plays nice and no one calls anyone names. Malachai is a nice, normal 5-year-old boy who did what any 5-year-old boy would do when presented with the opportunity of infinite possibility. He took the most extreme elements he could find in his world and mashed them up into a story that’s entertaining for him and everyone else on the internet. If we really want children grow up to be more creative and think for themselves, we need less social engineering and more Axe Cop!