Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

June 1, 2008

Some people have been wondering what Dan and I are up to these days. For various reasons, we wanted to keep quiet about our new project until now.
We’re currently working hard on Devver, which will provide web-based services for Ruby developers. You can keep up with our adventures on our new Devver blog. Since Pretheory/Seekler is on the back burner for the foreseeable future, we won’t be updating this blog, so be sure to check out our new one.
We’re both really excited about this project and can’t wait to release more details about it as it matures. The really great news for us is that TechStars decided to include Devver as one of its teams for its Summer 08 program. We’re incredibly honored that we were chosen and are super pumped about participating in the program.


Moving on…

April 18, 2008

Well, it’s been an incredibly busy month since we last posted on this blog. In addition to coding and pursuing funding, we’ve been thinking hard about our future here at Pretheory.
After a lot of thought, we’ve decided that Seekler, while interesting, is probably not going to be become a viable business for us in the near future. As such, we’ve decided to pursue an entirely new project.
What will happen to Seekler? Our plan is to put it into maintenance mode. We’ll fix critical bugs but won’t be adding any new features for the foreseeable future. We may revisit the project in the far future, but for now, it’ll stay in its current state.
We apologize to those of you who are using Seekler and want us to continue development. We appreciate your support and we don’t make this decision lightly.
But at this point, we feel the best decision is to take all of the lessons we have learned while creating Seekler and pour them into our new venture. This new project is still in stealth mode, but we’ve secured some early funding and have gotten good feedback about the core product. Watch this space for links to more information about this exciting new development.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of our friends, family, and other alpha and beta users who gave us feedback, linked to Seekler, and generally gave us support. We certainly could not made it this far without you.

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2007

Have fun!

Dropping the www

October 17, 2007

www is deprecated. There are many reasons people have been slowly moving away from the www subdomain: most of them are covered on For Seekler, we decided to go for short URLs, hence we build all our URLs for the non-www domain. I think it is nicer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remove the www on old sites as they had already built up a ton of links to both the www and non-www URLs. But Seekler is starting fresh with no-www and supporting

I award you spammers no points …

September 11, 2007

… and may God have mercy upon your soul.
Recently, we’ve had more problems with spam comments on the blog. We’re working on some stuff that will hopefully fix the problem (but still let our valued readers comment on our posts easily).
However, as we make the changes, the blog may look pretty funny and/or have weird problems (especially related to comments).
You can still contact us at our contact page with any thoughts or questions. If you can’t post a comment – please let us know via our contact page as well.
Sorry for the inconvenience – we hope to be up and running very soon.

New look for the Pretheory blog

August 17, 2007

We know this blog has needed some usability and design attention for a long time. We finally decided to put a little bit of work into it. We are trying to keep this blog as simple and easy to read as possible. So, the biggest change is that we are now using more clear, larger, and easier to read fonts. The fonts along with a few splashes of color hopefully give the blog a much nicer look. Let us know what you think, any suggestions are welcome.

An Open Letter to Anyone Asking Me For Computer Help

August 9, 2007

So you’re having a problem with your computer, eh? Yes, you’re right, I do know something about computers and yes, I was a computer science major. Will I fix your problem?
I’ll certainly try. I’m more than happy to help you to the best of my ability. You’re a friend and I’m glad I can help you. I know you’d do the same for me and in all likelihood, I’ll be hitting you up for free financial/legal/medical/automotive advice in the near future. I happen to have an area of expertise and I genuinely don’t mind helping you out.
That said, here’s some friendly advice that will make this experience as painless as possible for both you and me:
1. I probably don’t know the answer off the top of my head. So please don’t get annoyed if I can’t answer your question if we happen to be at a bar, driving around town, or anywhere else I’m away from my computer. You may be surprised to discover that my first step will almost certainly be searching Google. My only real skill in this situation is that I have enough domain knowledge to follow the directions I find on Google.
2. Speaking of Google, I’d really appreciate it if you would try searching before you ask me. I get a lot of computer-related questions, and it’s somewhat aggravating when the answer to your question comes up on the first page of search results. Don’t spend all day, but take five minutes and do a search. If you happen to find your answer, you’ll save us both time, and you might even learn something cool that you’ll be able to apply in the future.
3. If Google doesn’t solve your problem, feel free to ask me. However, please understand that it’s nearly impossible to diagnose a large percentage of problems over the phone or through email. I know you feel like you’ve described your problem adequately, but it’s actually very difficult to accurately describe a computer problem if you’re not exactly sure what to look for.
4. If I drop by to work on your computer, please don’t talk to me the entire time. I know you’re just being polite, but your problem is likely somewhat tricky and I need to concentrate. I almost certainly have never run into your particular problem before, and if I have, it’s not something I fix every day. That means that I’m probably going to need to read up on the issue, and my reading comprehension goes down the toilet when you start telling me about your weekend.
5. However, if you feel like bringing me a drink or a snack, that would be very much appreciated.
6. Please be realistic about the time it will takes to fix the issue. This isn’t the movies – I’m not going to type super-fast for thirty seconds and fix everything. I need to figure out the issue and then work on a solution. It might take half an hour or even an hour. So please don’t invite me over when you have to be somewhere in twenty minutes.
7. If it does take longer than you expected, please don’t repeatedly apologize about taking up my time or ask me to stop because “it’s taking too long.” I really do appreciate your concern, but this doesn’t help at all. First of all, I had a pretty good idea of how long it would take before I came by and I scheduled my time accordingly. Secondly, by the time you say this I’m probably already engaged in the problem and I hate nothing more than leaving problems unsolved. I’ll let you know when I get fed up and decide to quit, but until then, let me be the judge of whether I’ve done enough.
8. On the other hand, please be realistic about my time. If I tell you I can’t fix it in any realistic amount of time, don’t guilt me. If it’s going to take three hours to fix, guess what – I have stuff to do. There are people who get paid good money to fix complex issues like this, and I’m not one of them.
9. If I can’t fix it, comments like “I thought you knew computers” really don’t help. I know the software I use i.e. mostly Unix programming tools, not desktop publishing software written for Windows 98. There’s a lot of software out there and I know the intricate details of a very small percentage of it.
10. Here’s another unhelpful comment: “I thought you majored in computer science.” Computer science is not about fixing computers. It’s much closer to math than it is to tech support.
11. Finally, and most importantly – don’t keep rebuilding your house in a flood zone. If I get done solving your problem, please listen and follow any advice I have for preventing the issue in the future. Nothing is more annoying than solving the same problem over and over, especially if it can easily be avoided. In college I recovered at least three papers for a girl who lived next door. Every time I told her she needed to install anti-virus software, and every time she ignored me. I’m happy to help, but everyone’s altruism has limits.
Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Great. So what seems to be the problem?
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for all the feedback! There’s also a discussion going on at if you’re interested.

One small step…

June 6, 2007

We officially released version 0.1 of our web app today to a very small number of friends and family. If you haven’t been contacted, please don’t take it personally – we wanted to get the site a little more polished before we showed it to everyone (it’s really ugly right now).
I will say this – it was a big rush watching the server logs as the first users (besides Dan and I) started playing around on the site. I was completely fascinated for a good 45 min. anxiously wondering which page they would visit next.
All in all, this first iteration went well. We wrote a lot of important features and the site is coming together nicely. I think the biggest issue was that it took more than a week to get the code into shape and release it. I’d really like to get that down to just two days or less. That’s almost entirely a function of our tests (which are good, but still need a lot of work in my opinion) and our deployment automation (I need to take a weekend and work through Pragmatic Project Automation).
Onto the next release…

The trouble with blogging

June 3, 2007

Yet again, I apologize for the utter lack of posts. I’m shocked and ashamed when I realize it’s been almost a month.
I’d like to say that it’s because we’re so being so incredibly productive – and, truth be told, that’s part of it. Since Dan quit his job, it’s been pretty crazy around here. We’ve gotten a whole lot of code written – in fact, we’re hoping to get an early limited-issue release out very soon. Right now, the site feels like my ’93 Saturn: it might be ugly, but dammit, it works (most of the time).
But another factor is that it’s surprisingly difficult to blog while you’re writing lots of code. I sort of assumed that blogging would be a nice break from coding, an activity that I would look forward to in order to organize my thoughts and keep any interested parties up-to-date.
But man, that code lives with you, day and night. You that feeling when you’re positive you know some name or detail but you just can’t remember it? It’s right on the tip of your brain, and it drives you crazy trying to remember it. And usually a day later, you’re having an unrelated conversation with a friend, and you’re like “Battle Cat! He-Man’s tiger was named Battle Cat”, which really confuses the hell out of your friend.
Well, it’s kind of like that, although the Battle Cat moments come less often, and as soon as you solve one issue, your brain immediately starts working on some other problem without your permission. So I end up thinking about code in the shower. And I dream about it. And I catch myself not really listening to friends’ stories because I’m trying to solve some obscure technical problem, even though I’m supposed to be relaxing.
The point is that I’ve got code on the brain, which makes it really hard to do other activities. As much as I tell myself that things like writing blog posts and actually reading (I’m still trying to get through Crossing the Chasm) are worthwhile uses of time, writing more code always seems more pressing. I guess that’s a balance I’ll learn to strike better as time goes by. Or I can always sleep less…
The last, but not least, reason I haven’t posted is that I’ve spent the last five days desperately trying to get our sites back up after our server totally ate it. It’s been quite an adventure, but I’ll save all the thrilling details for another post (and in less than a month, I promise!).

Like Haml, a work in progress…

May 9, 2007

We have readers checking this blog, asking what we are working on, how things are coming, or when we will do X? So I feel like we should post an update to briefly talk about what we are up to. We currently aren’t spending much time on company details (thankfully, much of it is now taken care of), and we are getting into coding. We have a pretty good idea of what features we will be trying to complete for the first release. We are currently trying to build the simplest version that will be useful. I think we have made good progress towards that goal.
Personally, I feel like my mind is starting to finally switch gears into the whole new project, language, and framework. I was expecting some downtime as my head flipped from the projects I was working on to this project, but it hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting. Today I think I was actually so deep and focused on the code that I wasn’t aware of anything going on around me. I think it is a good sign that I am starting to really get into the zone on our new project.
As far as the specifics of the code on our project, I don’t feel like there much I can reveal. We have been writing, refactoring, and reworking the code, along the way we have discovered some ups and downs of the ruby and rails. Hopefully, we will be able to share more about our discoveries when we get to a more stable and battle-tested code base.
I will mention briefly one specific issue we have run into with RoR: the templating engine Haml. We started working with Haml templates for some of our more complicated views. It was making the more complex views simpler, easier to read, and reducing LOC. Unfortunately we started to get some cryptic errors related to Haml, and we saw that Haml is still young and actively changing. On one occasion new Haml updates caused errors in our code. After spending some time tracking down the issues on a few occasions, we decided that Haml, while very cool, isn’t quite stable enough for our project. Since it is fairly easy to convert views back and forth between Haml and rhtml, we decided we would drop Haml for now. We are planning to take another look at it later after our changes slow down a bit, and see if the Haml project is a little more stable. For now, while nice, it just doesn’t provide a large enough benefit to deal with the extra debugging issues that have occurred. If you are working with RoR, I would recommend checking the project out, because it is definitely worth keeping your eye on.