Thursday, July 2, 2009

Facebook Connect Users Beware!!!

We just ran across a bug that must have been introduced very recently, where all users with new Facebook accounts were unable to access our application when 'connect'-ing their user name to Facebook. It was a weird issue, because I was able to connect my account with no issue. I finally noticed that the Facebook profile ID we were storing was the same across all users who were running up against this issue.

Truncation issue!

We had defined it as a 12-length INT, which really doesn't matter - the biggest value an INT can store in MySQL is 2147483647. Anyhow, updating the table to store the value as a BIGINT fixed the problem, but I can't image we're the only ones to run across this mess, and the FB Connect documentation is weak enough that I have never seen anything about suggested storage. This must have happened in just the last few days, so hopefully others will come across this and make the change proactively if needed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's That You're Reading?

I've done a fair bit of reading - I finished The Lost City, which was great until the end, which included a hallucination sequence that left me as confused as the afflicted character. Really a poor end to a well-told tale.

I also knocked through The Conscience of a Liberal, by Paul Krugman. I can say that I didn't expect to like or agree with this book, and for the most part I don't. Krugman is obviously a smart guy, and a pretty good writer, but there are certain statements in the book that are just so obviously laced with blind left slant that they seem to erode the general credibility of the message. One such passage describes the potential for vote-rigging and how this means the Republicans could steal elections. Is this not true for Democrats as well?! Anyone been to Chicago lately?? This is a shame, because much of the book is solid and somewhat eye-opening. I must admit to having my view on public health care softened somewhat by his well-written chapter on national health insurance. Overall it was worth my time to read this one.

After that, I read George Pelecanos' 'The Turnaround'. This was another in a long line of dark tales set in the DC area. This one wasn't AS dark as usual, and actually had a pretty happy ending, which was kind of refreshing. This is a good tale about family, responsibility, and moving forward in life by facing the past. I love pretty much all his books, but I particularly enjoyed this one.
I then read James Patterson's '1st to Die', which was a good book. Sometimes I have to read a fluffy mystery thriller here and there, and this fit the bill. I finished it in a couple days. Not great not bad.

On the plane rides to and from SD, I was able to push through another David Baldacci book, Last Man Standing, which was a standard fluffy mystery book. Always enjoyable and fun stories in my opinion.

Finally, on the way back, I read Clay Shirky's 'Here Comes Everybody'. This was a good follow-up to Don Tapscott's 'Wikinomics'. It's about the power of decentralized knowledge, and how the new technological advances have made barriers to entry for previously hard-to-breach industries so much lower. It was a good read, with a little more hard-core sociology to it rather than anecdotal tales that were the basis of Wikinomics. I'll probably check out the Long Tail pretty soon as the final word on this sort of 'new economy' reading.

Who's Got Two Thumbs and Sucks at Blogging Lately

This guy.

Seriously, I have been a terrible blogger. After really hitting my stride earlier in the year, I find myself with less and less to write lately. Part of it is being just plain busy. Part of it is that it's summer and there is more other stuff going on. Part of it is me just being lazy.

Here's something to write about. Going from someone who is strictly a server-side Java developer who is far more comfortable with tools and databases to someone who writes PHP and uses CSS and HTML to create new pages has been interesting, maddening, and definitely a big change. I finally felt like an expert at something (Java Web Development), and wham - back to the beginnings. Obviously the core concepts of software development carry over, but everything else is different. The good news has been that the codebase I am working with is pretty solid and easy to learn. The bad news is that it's still WAY different from what I am used to. It's hard for me to write a blog post about PHP with a straight face - who the hell I am to try to talk about something I am just learning? It has been a humbling experience, but one that I recommend - in order to really understand this web app stuff, you almost have to use different languages and platforms just to stay on top of your game.

I really have been busy - I wasn't lying about that. We have been doing a lot of family stuff (Jena's cousin's daughter's first birthday party, sailing with Jena and her parents), bought fresh herbs, hung out with some friends at a DC United game, and we just got back from a quick trip to San Diego for Jena's friend's baby shower. Check out the pictures. It was my first time in Southern California - it's a beautiful place, with very striking geography and lovely weather. We spent some time exploring the city of San Diego, walking around in La Jolla, and hiking around Torrey Pines. I can say that the view from the dorms at UC-San Diego is probably a little better than the view from Eagle Hall in Harrisonburg, VA - who the hell has a dorm room with a view of the Pacific Ocean!?!? Wow. The shower was great. The parents-to-be and family are extremely excited, and everyone had a wonderful time stuffing their face and watching gifts get opened.

I really hope to get back to technical blog posts - what's heartening is that this sorry little blog still gets dozens of hits each day - it's nice to know that hopefully people are finding this blog and getting an answer to some obscure question they had about something technical.