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Full-time web developer. Part-time smart ass.

I'm Brent Collier.

After a year and a half as an engineer on Twitter's Trust & Safety team, I'm looking for my next gig. Contact me if you know of something interesting.


A little Fone-Fu...

Posted on 03/01/2008

I ran across this post last night in which the writer was commenting on my friend Brendan's text messaging plugin, sms-fu.  He evidently had a problem with the typical plugin install method, so his workaround was basically to just move Brendan's code into his app. I was a little curious about this, so I thougt I'd give it a try...

First I created a new app to test with...

$ rails -d mysql smsapp

Then I installed sms-fu...

$ script/plugin install

I generated a controller, model, and view...

$ script/generate scaffold sms number:string carrier:string message:string

Then all I had to do was update the create method in the controller like this..

def create
      sms =[:sms])
      deliver_sms sms.number, sms.carrier, sms.message
      respond_to do |format|
          flash[:notice] = 'Sms was successfully created.'

That was pretty much all I needed, except for one more thing.  I need to actually be able to send the message, so I decided to use Gmail via the action_mailer_tls plugin that I found here on Daniel Fischer's blog.

Once I had the mail server setup, I fired up Mongrel, hit localhost:3000/sms/new, entered my info and viola!  Next thing I know my phone is beeping and my Verizon bill just got 5 cents bigger... 


I Can Has Productivity

Posted on 02/20/2008


I attended a talk by Rob Sanheim, a priciple at ThinkRelevance, on productivity entitled "I Can Has Productivity".

He talked about ways to increase your productivity like automation of repetitive tasks, meta-programming (something I need to spend some time on), pair-programming, and yak-shaving -- Nathaniel, the guy that runs these meetups, gave an explanation on what yak-shaving was, but I still didn't quite get it so I'll have to look it up...

Rob also talked about efficiency vs effectiveness, or in other words, doings things right vs doing the right things.

Something else he talked about, which is probably the hardest for me, is time management and how it can help you determine your time-wasters and find more time in the day.  This is something we could all use, because who doesn't need more time?

He also recommended a few books, including "The Pragmatic Programmer", which I've read, "The Effective Executive", and another gtd-related book from someone at 37signals.

Despite having already heard a lot of this from various other places, all in all this was still a pretty interesting talk, especially with the comment/questions from the group and the heavy use of LoLcats in his slides.


Capistrano and beyond...

Posted on 02/15/2008


capistranoIf you don't know what Capistrano is, then you've probably never deployed a Rails app.  Formerly known as SwitchTower, Capistrano is a tool that takes the pain out of deploying a Rails app.

By simply typing "cap deploy", Capistrano will grab your code from Subversion, push it up to your host, restart your server, and even run any necessary migrations.  Ain't that slick?


WebistranoCheck out Webistrano. It's a UI for managing Capistrano deployments, which they claim wil help in dealing with multiple projects in multiple environments.





Vlad the deployerIntroducing Vlad the Impaler, uhh...  I mean Vlad the Deployer.  No, its not a vampire, its the Ruby Hit Squad's attempt at cleaning up the code and simplifying the use of Capistrano.






Social Matchbox DC

Posted on 01/31/2008

Brendan and I at Social Matchbox DC
Brendan, Theo, and I at Social Matchbox DC the other night.  More Pics.

Initially we thought this was going to be a venue for local start-ups to talk about themselves and what they were up to.  Unfortunately it turned out to be more like a job fair.  One after another, company representatives briefly spoke about what their company was about and then proceded to rattle off a lits of positions that they were looking to hire for.

During the social segment of the evening, everybody I talked to that I didn't already know sounded more like a recruiter than a like-minded web entrepreneur.  Despite opting for the "Socializer" name tag rather than the "Job Seeker" alternative, I begrudgingly accepted a handful of business cards from various people in need of web developer/software engineers.

Aside from the job fair atmosphere, it was good to hear about local IT-related businesses that were doing something besides government contracting.  Also I was pleased to hear that a good portion of them were developing on a Rails stack.  Oh, and there was free pizza.  Thanks Intridea...