Launched: WorkBeast.com

I don’t usually post about work-related stuff on this blog, but I’ll make an exception in this case:  The site I’ve been working on for the past seven months:

http://workbeast.com

just went live on Monday!

Workbeast is (currently) a social network for SAP consultants and managers who hire SAP consultants.  The traditional recruiting model is expensive, slow, and doesn’t give managers any confidence that the candidate will actually be qualified for the position.  We’re improving on that by offering the lowest markup in the industry and leveraging the speed and power of social networks to provide competent candidates faster than ever before.

Although we’re focusing on SAP professionals right now, we plan to expand to other specialties very soon… watch this space!

Finally, I want to give a shout out to our awesome development partner, Hashrocket… you guys did an stellar job!

Circuit City and the Failure of Customer Service

I’m a big fan of NPR’s “This American Life”, and I often listen to their weekly podcast on my walk to and from work.  Recently, they rebroadcast a show that originally aired in March 2009, called “Scenes From A Recession”.  Each of the three segments was about how the current economic downturn is affecting everyday people.

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A Revolution…In Ugly?

Just took a quick look at the website for Coda Automotive, upon learning that former Tesla Motors marketing director Darryl Siry has joined up. Coda is one of the more recent entrants into the growing EV market, and are attempting to bring an electrically propelled 4-door sedan to market for an MSRP of $45,000.

Unfortunately, as you can see from this gallery, the product is completely hideous. Say what you will about Tesla (Roadster, Model S), Fisker (Karma), and even GM (Volt)… at least they’ve figured out how to make their products desirable.

Mail.app: Worst. RSS. Reader. Ever.

I’ve recently decided that I prefer to read and write Google groups messages in my web browser rather than in OS X’s Mail.app.  The main reasons are:

  1. Google Group’s discussion format is a lot easier on the eyes
  2. I don’t need to keep a copy of every message–that’s what Google’s for
  3. Mailing list messages (future anachronism?) aren’t as important as personal email

Unfortunately, there’s a big problem with this scheme– Continue reading

Gentle Reminder: No Spaces in Your PATH

It’s been several months since I last did any software development on Windows, and in that amount of time I seem to have forgotten all of the defensive little tics that one acquires when working in that OS. Some of these (like rebooting the machine every fifteen minutes)  I’m quite happy to forget.  Unfortunately, it would have saved me some time earlier today if I had remembered to avoid installing command-line tools on a path that includes the space character.  This includes programs like java, ruby, subversion, etc., and means that when using a Windows Installer to set up these programs, you absolutely, positively MUST override the default install location, typically “C:Program Files<program name>”.

I failed to do this earlier today, and then had problems trying to build WebDriver from source.  I had dutifully added the Java bin directory to my PATH environment variable, and had even made sure to wrap that entry in quotes because it had a space in it.  Me so clever!  I could then call javac from the command line without any problems.  

However, the WebDriver build uses Rake, which in turn uses Ruby.  It seems that the “One-Click Installer” version of Ruby that I’m using can’t parse PATHs that include spaces–even if those spaces have been wrapped in quotes.  The net effect was that Rake couldn’t locate javac, as if I hadn’t even installed the JDK.  Reinstalling the JDK at c:javajdk1.6.0 and adjusting the PATH accordingly sorted it all out quite nicely.

Whoops, time to reboot!

Ferran Adria on Web Usability

Yesterday, Mrs. Inferno and I (courtesy of my gracious cousin Jamie) took a day trip down to the Google campus in Mountain View to sample some of the fine, free food and to listen to a talk given by Ferran Adria, the chef who’s usually credited with kicking off the whole Molecular Gastronomy/Postmodern Cuisine/Mr. Wizard Meal movement.  Adria talked quite a bit about the unique nature of haute cuisine vis-à-vis artistic creativity, which had a couple of interesting parallels and contrasts to the world of software development.  
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