Lojic Technologies

Posts Tagged ‘web2.0

Gospel Software, LLC

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Gospel Software LogoAlmost a year ago, I formed Gospel Software, LLC with two friends from my church. Our mission for the company is to develop web applications to help churches administratively.

It’s been a joy to work with Jordan and Scott over the last year and we’re now to the point of beginning to heavily promote our three web applications to churches. These are two men I can learn a lot from – both technically and spiritually. I would be hard pressed to find better business partners.

Gospel Software currently has three web applications.

Directory:

I just released a new version of the Gospel Software Directory a few minutes ago – there are some new screen shots to show some of the features. I had wanted a nice online photo directory for our church for quite a while. I finally wrote a simple bare bones version a few years ago and ended up using it all the time, so I thought there might be a market for the product.

Over the last year, I wrote a completely new version, and now each church member can edit their own information, upload new photos, etc., so the information is more current and the church administrative staff has less work to do. I still think one of the best features is simply being able to match the faces of people I’ve met with their names. It’s now available for churches to try out and purchase.

This new version is just the beginning. I have a long list of enhancements I’ll begin rolling out over the next few months.

GuestView:

Scott’s GuestView program is something I use regularly as I follow up with visitors to our church. It’s so handy and easy to use. I get an email when I need to call a visitor, then I can enter notes about our conversation, and if they’d like information from another leader in the church, I can notify the appropriate people.

SongBook:

I had thought about developing a program to manage worship songs back in the mid-eighties, but I was never motivated enough to do anything about it. When Jordan showed me his SongBook application, I was blown away – it did everything I had thought of and much more. And of course it was web based since the internet had been invented since I began thinking of a similar program 🙂

I’m excited about seeing what will be happening with Gospel Software, LLC this coming year.

We do have an affiliate program that rewards both the affiliate and any church they refer. Contact me for details if you’re interested.

The technical experiences we’ve had over the last year should provide for some interesting and informative blog posts in the future. When we came together to form the company, we had three products written in three different languages / frameworks. Integrating the three products together with a common infrastructure has been very educational 🙂

We now have a robust infrastructure that will support any future applications very well.

  • Server configuration, backup & light disaster recovery
  • Ecommerce – credit card processing, subscription management, invoicing, etc.
  • Auditing and event logging
  • Easy deployment of new releases
  • User management, authentication, authorization & accounting
  • And more…

As I mentioned, there are three languages / frameworks involved, but there is quite a bit of Ruby and Rails, and there will likely be more in the future. Each of the three languages / frameworks have their pros & cons, but I do feel that Ruby and Rails does very well in the evaluation.

The following are some things that I have been particularly pleased with:

  • My Macbook Pro with OSX and Emacs as a development environment
  • Ruby & Rails
  • nginx web server
  • mongrel application server
  • Postgres relational database
  • Trac issue tracker & wiki
  • Subversion source code control (possibly moving to git in the future, but for our purposes, svn has worked out very well)
  • Slicehost.com – being able to restart a VM on another server if hardware fails is awesome
  • Ubuntu Linux
  • istockphoto.com and fotolia.com for inexpensive stock photos
  • jQuery – it might not satisfy comp.lang.javascript, but it’s been great
  • Did I mention Emacs? 🙂

Written by Brian Adkins

February 11, 2009 at 2:50 am

Posted in business

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Twitter in Plain English

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Here’s a great introduction to Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/lojic

Written by Brian Adkins

January 5, 2009 at 10:20 am

Posted in communication, internet, video

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del.icio.us Tag Bundling

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I’ve written about del.icio.us several times before (use the search box to find the articles). I’ve been using the service for quite a while and still consider it to be one of the most valuable web services I use.

I just discovered the tag bundling feature from this article and tried it out. Tag bundling, as you might expect, allows you to group your tags. For example, my first bundle was “people”, so now I can see all my people tags in one group. I’ll be adding more bundles soon.

If you’re not using del.icio.us, you should really check it out. And if you, are and don’t know about tag bundling, give it a shot.

del.icio.us makes it easy to share tags – for example, here’s a link for my bookmarks on the Ruby programming language. I haven’t discovered a similar way for sharing bundles, so if you know, please leave a comment.

Written by Brian Adkins

November 3, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Posted in internet

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Social Bookmarking

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Here’s a video that explains why using a site such as del.icio.us can be useful. I think they may have failed to mention that you can mark bookmarks as private on del.icio.us, so it’s not necessary to expose your bookmarks to the world. However, in my case, I only mark a small fraction as private.

I’ve been using del.icio.us for quite some time. After I had been using it for a while, I realized that it had been a long time since I bookmarked something in my browser because I had developed a habit of bookmarking in del.icio.us. Most browsers force you into placing a bookmark into a hierarchical, or directory, structure, but on del.icio.us you can assign as many “tags” as you like to a particular bookmark so you can search for things more easily. del.icio.us also allows you to export your bookmarks so you aren’t at the mercy of a proprietary service.

Another thing that is handy is to subscribe to the del.icio.us feeds of your friends to be automatically notified when they bookmark something that may be of interest.

Written by Brian Adkins

August 7, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Posted in internet, video

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Google Reader

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I hate to promote Google given their trajectory to take over the world, but I just switched over to Google Reader for reading RSS feeds. I had accumulated over 60 RSS feeds, and it was becoming difficult for me to determine which feeds I should keep and which I should delete.

I was hoping for an automated tool that would keep track of which feeds are beneficial and Google Reader has exactly what I was looking for!

The trends feature will keep track of which articles I read from each feed and report on the total number and the percent. So, over time, I’ll be able to easily delete the feeds that have a low number and/or low percentage of read articles. If you decide to use Google Reader, you should be aware of some idiosyncrasies. When viewing in “Expanded view”, the default is to mark articles as read when you scroll past them which totally defeats the trends feature. You can turn that off in the settings.

settings | preferences | scroll tracking

I like using the “list view” instead which allows me to quickly view the titles. After I’ve read the articles I want to from a feed, I click “mark all as read” and Google Reader is smart enough to not count those in the “read” statistics.

If you’re already using a different RSS reader, you can easily import all your feeds via an opml file. I was using Liferea and had folders of feeds, and I had also renamed the feeds – the import to Google Reader kept track of all of that – nice.

Google Reader has a lot of other nice features such as keyboard shortcuts, tags, folders, etc., but once I discovered the trends feature, that was all I needed to see 🙂

I suppose the trends feature can be “unfair” though. Consider the following scenario:

  1. You have two feeds A and B
  2. Each day each feed publishes 10 articles
  3. The feeds overlap on 5 articles that are worth reading
  4. Feed A has 1 unique article that you read
  5. Feed B has 3 unique articles that you read

If the feeds are read in alphabetical order, then you’ll read the 5 overlapped articles from Feed A along with the 1 unique article -> total = 6, or 60%. Then you’ll read the 3 unique articles from Feed B -> total = 3, or 30%. The stats will show Feed A as being twice as valuable when clearly Feed B is more valuable. I suppose to get good stats, I should read the feeds in random order, but that seems difficult to manage.

UPDATE: ah, never mind. Simply view the folder that contains A & B and you’ll see the union of their articles in chronological order – whoever gets the overlapped story first wins 🙂

Written by Brian Adkins

July 30, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Posted in internet

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Half star ratings on Netflix

with 8 comments

I noticed a friend of mine (Jordan L.) who had half-star ratings (2.5, 3.5, etc.) on Netflix. When I asked him about it, he said to just “hover over the left side of the star” to get a half-star rating. This didn’t work for me, so I thought it might be a Linux vs. Windows thing and asked another friend (Mike F.) to try it out. Same result – didn’t work in IE or Firefox on Windows. Then Mike found a JavaScript file that could be installed with greasemonkey and that worked fine for him.

I’ve yet to install greasemonkey, and I don’t like the idea of installing JavaScript on my system unless I’ve thoroughly analyzed it, so I thought of another way.

I installed wireshark on my Ubuntu Linux box and sniffed the network traffic to Netflix when I rated a movie. After some experimenting and removal of extraneous info, I came up with the following URL to rate a movie with half stars. This specific URL will rate the movie “The Incredibles” with a 4.5 star rating (probably a bad example since The Incredibles clearly deserves a 5 star rating):

http://www.netflix.com/SetRating?widgetid=M70001989&value=4.5

To rate other movies, simply replace 70001989 with the id of the movie which you can find by hovering over the movie. I believe you’ll need to be logged in to Netflix already for this to work.

Now as to why Jordan can rate half-stars without the aid of a greasemonkey script, that’s still a mystery.

Update: got an email from Jordan explaining that his Netflix pages include the following two JavaScript source files:

src=”http://www.netflix.com/layout/jscript/dom_starbar_v2.js?v=126505″
src=”http://www.netflix.com/layout/jscript/dom_starbar_halfstars.js?v=126505″

I only have the first one, and from the name of the second one, I presume that’s the one that gives him the special half star rating capability. I guess Netflix favors Jordan over me 😦

Update 2: mystery solved! My curiosity got the best of me so I contacted Netflix. The rep said they’re running a test and Jordan just happened to get picked (I didn’t mention Jordan, but I suppose they looked through my ‘friend’ list)! They do that periodically to test features to see if they’ll give them to the unwashed masses. I asked if they could run the test on me, and he said it didn’t work that way 🙂 So I guess it’s the greasemonkey script or the inconvenient URL hack for the rest of us.

Written by Brian Adkins

May 2, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Pandora.com

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Had lunch with Mike F. on Friday and he mentioned a site called Pandora.com. It’s a great free site for streaming audio. Did I mention it’s free? You can create a bunch of channels for different styles of music that you “seed” with a song or an artist. Then you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to songs as they play, and it will learn about your likes and dislikes and attempt to play songs you like. It doesn’t learn quite as well as I would like, but for being free, it’s pretty handy, and it has already shown me a few songs that I really like that I probably wouldn’t have found without it.

Get started here

Written by Brian Adkins

April 22, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Posted in entertainment

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