37Signals says IE6 sucks

In a recent blog post, 37 Signals, originators of Ruby on Rails, and a series of extremely popular web applications, reminded users of their intent to stop supporting Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.

Jason Fried, President of 37Signals blogged yesterday:
"We will not intentionally break IE 6 compatibility, but we will also not invest significant time or resources into making sure we are backward compatible with IE 6 after October 1, 2008."
What's a poor IE6 user to do?
"In order to continue using the products without any hiccups, Internet Explorer 6 users should upgrade to a newer browser..."
... like Firefox, or Safari, or maybe even Google Chrome (if you can work around their EULA).

Why drop support for a browser you've invested so much work in already?
"Continued support of IE 6 means that we can't optimize our interfaces or provide an enhanced customer experience in our apps. Supporting IE 6 means slower progress, less progress, and, in some places, no progress. We want to make sure the experience is the best it can be for the vast majority of our customers, and continuing to support IE 6 holds us back."
This reflects strongly on the culture of 37Signals and their customer base. In the original post, it was noted that, "..IE 6 usage has finally dipped below a small minority threshold of our customers...". This is contrary to browsers overall, as w3Counter still reports IE6 as the top browser in their August '08 stats, accounting for 29.91% of all browser hits. 37Signals is an amazingly successful, forward-thinking, and arrogant set of developers. Their customers, by reflection are mostly the same, and I'm proud to be counted among them. I just hope Firefox 2 isn't next on their hit list...

Of course, if you're using GNU/Linux or a Mac, this doesn't effect you anyway. ;-)

Silicon Mechanics: 'Wow'ing the Customer

Silicon Mechanics is building a new server for my company right now. They advertise 'Expert Included', implying you will receive top-notch support along with an excellent server. What that fails to imply is the amazing support you'll get before you order.

I submitted a quote through their web site, and requested the idle noise level of the server: something they're not currently publishing. Within 48 hours I got an email from Tim Groen, a member of their sales team, apologizing for the delay. In the meantime they had pulled a server, ordered a sound level meter, found a quiet room and tested the server. Wow #1.

Unfortunately, the server as quoted was louder than I was willing to tolerate (I work in the same room as our server rack). Tim asked a few questions about my priorities on the system, and what I would be willing to give up to get it quieter.

Shortly thereafter, I got another quote via email. Same system, but labeled 'quiet cousin'. Instead of chopping out any of my requested features, they opted to custom tune the system, with a guaranteed maximum SPL within my tolerances. Wow #2.

I got a call from Tim today, informing be the system was going to be a tad more expensive than originally quoted, as they were replacing the standard fans with something quieter. I approved the price change and got another email, which showed the fans they were including: maglev fans. Wow #3. I had no idea there were such things, but having experienced a maglev train I am expecting a rather quiet server.

Tim also told me to expect delivery next week; a full week ahead of their original estimate. Wow #4.


The server was delivered today, and unwrapped Christmas-morning-style. My co-hort and I bench-tested the server, and were very pleased with the noise level. Then the fans spun down after POST. I admit it; we giggled. The system is quieter than we expected, by far. Wow #5.

In the rack, compared to the rest of the noisemakers, I can't tell the server is running, save for a subtle low-frequency hum. Now to get openSUSE running on it, and start virtualizing (noisy boxes go first)!

Full disclosure: Silicon Mechanics sponsors my local Linux event, Linuxfest Northwest.

Freezing Rails 2.10 with MS SQL Server

So I'm starting to catch up with a lot of the deployment improvements in Rails up to 2.1.0; I'm freezing Rails, and any associated gems. Some of my apps run against Microsoft SQL Server, so the activerecord-sqlserver-adapter is required. That's where I ran into trouble; trying to freeze that in... apparently a frozen instance of Rails expects the adapters to be frozen as well!

So, here's my recipe for freezing Rails into your app, with support for Microsoft SQL Server:
  1. If you've already frozen rails, you'll need to unfreeze it:
    rake rails:unfreeze
  2. add the gem dependency to your environment.rb:
    config.gem "activerecord-sqlserver-adapter",
    :lib => "active_record/connection_adapters/sqlserver_adapter",
    :source => "http://gems.rubyonrails.org"
  3. Install your gem(s) if you haven't already:
    rake gems:install
  4. Freeze your gem(s):
    rake gems:unpack
  5. Refreeze Rails (I use my gems - you could do this from edge instead):
    rake rails:freeze:gems
Viola! Your Rails app now includes the Rails version it runs against, and any requried gems, including ActiveRecord's SQL Server Adapter.

P.S. This would be easily adaptable for any external ActiveRecord adapter (Oracle, db2, etc.)

Ruby, JRuby, and Rails Application Development (with Passion!)

Starting July 15th, Sang Shin, a Java architect and evangelist from Sun Microsystems, will be leading an online course on developing Ruby on Rails applications, including the use of JRuby. The free course includes 20 weekly lessons (including homework - bah) starting with Ruby fundamentals and working through all the major Rails areas, closing with four complete Rails applications. Of course, Sang will focus the materials on using the free, open-source NetBeans IDE and JRuby runtime.

I'll be acting as an Advisor for the course (the open-source version of a T.A.) along with five other members of a very diverse group. With 998 members and counting, anyone should be able to find a study-group to help out; groups have already formed with cultural themes - Indians, Brazilians, Mexicans, Syrians, etc.

So, if you're interested in learning the nuts and bolts of building a Rails application, join the group by sending an email to ruby-on-rails-programming-with-passion-subscribe@googlegroups.com or visiting the group site.

Tango for Free!

Jimmac announced today on the Tango Mailing List that thanks to about a bazillion requests and the negotiation skills of Michael Meeks, the Tango Icon Library will be changing licenses from CCASA2.5 to Public Domain. Yes, folks, free as in free. Put those beautiful icons in any app you want; they're yours!

There are a few sticky issues that have to be resolved; the free icons will likely publish from a new repository, and only icons where the authors have explicitly approve the license change will appear there.

For me, this should mean better adoption in the BungeeConnect platform, where I maintain a set of the Tango Icons.

Here's the original post:
[Tango-artists] relicensing tango-icon-theme

Jakub Steiner Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 4:25 AM
To: Tango Artists List
Cc: Steven Garrity , Ulisse Perusin , Rodney Dawes
Hello fellow tango artists!

One of the most frequent debates here has been the licensing surrounding
the tango style's first implementation, the tango-icon-theme. Licensed
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5, it has been problematic to
ship along with GPLed software and create derivative artwork for many
major software projects. The licensing has created a barrier where we
needed quick adoption.

A lot of time has been wasted recreating the same asset in
gnome-icon-theme and OpenOffice. So I'm relieved that after a _long_
debate with Novell legal and the open source review board, Novell is
agreeing to relicense its share of tango-icon-theme under a more liberal
license. The talk has been about CC-BY-SAv3, LGPL, but in the end the
license that is the least restricting and clear wrt to artwork (as
opposed to code) is giving up copyright and going Public Domain. This
will allow the assets to be used in free software regardless of the
projects' license as well as proprietary software. Huge thanks goes out
to Michael Meeks who has been the negotiator finally managing getting
this through.

I've done the majority of work on tango icon theme, but there is a lot
more contributors. I'd like to ask everyone to either approve or refuse
their work to be relicensed to public domain. I have cc:ed people listed
in the AUTHORS file. Luckily I have been mandating people to provide the
authorship metadata in the SVGs themself, so we can figure this out on a
per-icon basis.

One negative aspect of the theme may be that people are free to claim
authorship of your work. But realistically, people who do that, will do
it regardless of the license (as has been seen on many occasions in the
past). We can simply keep on kindly asking for people to give proper
credits to the tango project and linking to the website. Suggest rather
than mandate.

I don't know how this applies to the autotools scripts and
configurations. I would take this opportunity and suggest to start from
scratch on the new 'tango-icon-theme'[1]. Create a git repository on
freedesktop in place of the clumsy CVS, stop worrying about legacy
(icon-naming-utils), stop depending on a build system for an icon theme,
and simply use an artist-friendly workflow to edit icons in vector form.
I have been very happy using a one-canvas workflow I will follow up on.

Let's resurrect and scavenge the good that's left in tango icon theme!


[1] I actually have -- http://jimmac.musichall.cz/i.php?i=Tango-NG
Jakub Steiner <jimmac@novell.com>
Novell, Inc.

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