A Little Time Off

2010-12-16 07:36:01 by jdixon

I always wondered what I could accomplish with a few weeks of free time. Never thought I'd have the chance to find out. Yeah, funny thing about that...

I've been Product Manager for an online monitoring service over the past 15 months. I've learned a lot about the full product cycle, building up all the components of a startup web company: cranking out a business plan, analyzing the competition, defining the roadmap, performing QA, etc. It's been a ton of fun, growing an Open Source trending application into a full-blown ECA/BSM suite. Now is the right time for me to hand it off to a full-blown sales organization and see it thrive. Which means I'm taking some time off to look for my next challenge.

I'm happy to report that the job market looks very strong right now. I'd love to believe that all the interest I'm getting is a byproduct of my years of experience and varied skillset, but I'm too self-loathing for that. Regardless, I'm still interviewing and haven't made up my mind yet. So if your startup/Web/SaaS/DevOps company is looking for a seasoned ops/network/security/engineering/product-managing type, drop me a line and let's chat. My CV/resume is available online.

Working with the Mojolicious Framework

Thanks to my reorganized shed-yule, I have the chance to catch up on some side projects. The first one is the evolution of NetFlow Dashboard as a SaaS service. Devon O'Dell has been doing some nifty stuff with the collector, while I've been focusing on the user-facing web and API stuff. I stumbled across the Mojolicious framework, and zomg, you can color me impressed. Compared to Catalyst, "Mojo" is a breath of fresh air. The syntax is actually quite similar to Dancer, but it goes a few steps further, adding placeholders (with optional regex constraints) and named routes. Take for example, the following snippet:

use Mojolicious::Lite;

    # Route with placeholder
    get '/:foo' => sub {
        my $self = shift;
        redirect_to('login') unless ($self->session('username'));
        my $foo  = $self->param('foo');
        $self->render(text => "Hello from $foo!");

    # Defaults to login.html.ep
    get '/login' => 'login';

    post '/login' => sub {
        my $self = shift;
        redirect_to('login') unless (
            $self->param('username') && $self->param('password')
        # [ ... some code to authenticate user ... ]
        $self->render(text => "Welcome!");

    # Start the Mojolicious command system


    @@ login.html.ep
    <!doctype html><html>
            <%= content header => begin %>
            <% end %>
            <%= content body => begin %>
                <form action="post">
                <input name="username">
                <input name="password" type="password">
                <input name="login" type="submit">
            <% end %>

This epitomizes everything I enjoy about Perl code. TMTOWTDI, but without all the crufty framework directories and files that remind me of Ruby on Rails. Mojolicious::Lite is easy to read, easier to write, with all the shortcuts a strapping young web hacker might want. It's smart enough to inject common sense where it should (e.g. searching for templates by named route and format) but powerful enough to let me extend any of the underlying Mojolicious classes (like Catalyst). Good stuff.

Let Your Mutt Growl

2009-10-18 00:30:45 by jdixon

Like any self-respecting UNIX user, I consume most of my email through the console. Mutt has been my client of choice for a few years now. I used to be a die-hard Mail.app fan on my Apple systems, but the performance was abysmal. As time went on, I evolved from running Mutt on my laptop to running it in screen on a home server. Combined with imapfilter's client-side "push filtering", this allowed me to keep my existing mailserver architecture intact (outside the scope of this post) while gaining all the functionality I missed from a traditional fat mail client.

Recently my Facebook and Twitter Attention Span Syndrome (FaTASS) has peaked, motivating me to find creative solutions for managing the extra load. Growl is a very popular notification system that Mac OS X users have enjoyed for years. I've haven't found myself wanting for it before, mainly because I don't use an abundance of GUI apps for my daily tasks. And yet, Growl's unobtrusive nature and support for network events seemed the perfect fit.

Read the rest of this story...

Updates on Blogsum

2009-08-30 21:07:54 by jdixon

Minor features are still being added to Blogsum. It supports searching by author (effectively treating authors like tags) and the ability to disable comment submissions. There is also readmore support, allowing you to define a portion of an article that should only be seen in full "article view". You simply insert a <!--readmore--> tag where you'd like the "preview mode" to stop.

I'm also adding email notifications for comment submissions. This way you'll know the instant a new comment requires moderation. I should be done with this very soon. The last couple of items on my To-Do list are pagination and cleaning up the template usage. Once these are complete it should be ready for submission to the OpenBSD ports framework.

Update: Email notifications for comment submissions are complete.

Shiny Objects and WTFs

2009-08-13 03:42:54 by jdixon

I've never claimed to be a prolific hacker. I take much longer to complete a simple piece of code than even your typical hobbyist programmer. I'm easily distracted by shiny objects and WTFs.

Nevertheless, I finally gave in and threw together something resembling a blogging app. There are no fancy features yet, and likely never will be. It currently does about 90% of what I want it to do, which is closer to 2% of what the typical blogging/CMS application is capable of. It's my own KISS approach with a healthy peppering of careful input handling and a simple SQLite backend.

If you've been looking for a small blog application, particularly one designed for running in OpenBSD's default httpd(8) chroot, then Blogsum might be good for you. If not, that's ok too. Let the next guy have his World Domination. I just want to blog some.

Introducing Blogsum

2009-08-10 19:16:13 by jdixon

This is an in-development version of blogsum. The goal is a simple, secure blogging application that doesn't come with useless knobs or hurdles.

The anti-wordpress.