Goldberg - turn-key user auth & CMS for Rails

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One of Rails' most commonly mentioned faults is the lack of a turn-key user authentication & content management system as part of the standard install. While a good point, there are a number of open-source projects that have stepped up to the plate to fill this gap. After looking around for some time I've found one which I suspect I'll be using often: Goldberg. Though not the most feature rich, Goldberg does the basics well - user authentication, user access controls, a basic CMS for handling static pages, which is all wrapped up in an easily extensible structure. Well worth trying out.

Rails tip - run FCGI if you can't do Mongrel

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A small tip, but one I just encountered. If your web hosting provider can't allow you to set up a nice proxied Mongrel cluster, your best bet is to use the FastCGI (aka "FCGI") interface to Apache as the plain-Jane CGI interface is just slow as a dog. I ran into this little issue when using RedMine for my project management, and let me tell you it was slow. Well, it finally dawned on me to take a look see if it was using CGI or FCGI - low and behold by default it is set to use CGi, no wonder it was so slow! All it took to give it a 3x speed boost, i.e. make it run like a regular app, was to edit the public/.htaccess file and change the line that said

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.cgi [QSA,L]

to say

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.fcgi [QSA,L]

et voila, RedMine instantly turns into a much more usable application.

Apache+SSL for Windows

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There's a site called Apache Lounge that has put together a collection of binary files for Apache for Windows. What's notable about these is the inclusion of the SSL module, which the Apache Foundation don't distribute in their Windows binaries anymore. Along with the core Apache install they also have some some plugins/modules for Apache that are worth using - a log rotator (so that the traffic log doesn't fill your drive), an interesting looking security plugin, and updated plugins for PHP and Perl. Well worth keeping an eye (and a bookmark) on if you use Apache on Windows.

Why IT magazines are worthless (updated)

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Today the Harry McCracken, editor-in-chief of PC World magazine, resigned because he was unhappy with the company's new CEO pushing the magazine to be "nicer" to vendors who advertise in the magazine rather than being honest in their reviews & coverage. That pretty much sums up my feelings on the whole IT industry print media - it's all a circlefudge, everyone patting themselves on the back afraid to say anything that might upset the applecart, and I applaud Mr McCracken for standing up against it.

UPDATE: Well it turns out that maybe IDG, PC World's publisher, are trying to clean up their act because... (drum roll) they demoted the CEO and hired McCracken back again! Who'd a thunk?

Rails on OSX tip: MySQL access

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After wasting lots of time trying to get a database connecting to Rails on my MacPro at work I finally found the magic combination for MySQL.

  • Install MySQL.
  • Install the MySQL GUI Tools set.
  • Using the MySQL Administrator from the GUI Tools add a new user.
  • When adding permissions for the use set the hostname to be "(computername).local", e.g. "mymac.local".

It is that last part that had me pulling my hair out - using just "%" didn't work for me, it had to be "(computername).local". Silly thing.

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