Aaron Sumner


Where I've been: Recent writings elsewhere

I haven’t posted here in awhile, but it’s not because I haven’t been writing. As you may know, I do most of my work in two other blogs: the Stratepedia Blog is work-sponsored and focuses on my take on education technology and its effects on instruction, literacy, professional development and school reform; more recently, I started Everyday Rails to help beginning Rails developers hone their skills through tutorials and general commentary on the state of Rails development. Here is a sampler of recent writings you might find interesting from each:

From the Stratepedia Blog:

5 ways to start using Safari extensions

Safari finally supports extensions, or plugin-like functionality using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (think Greasemonky or Jetpack for Firefox, or Chrome Extensions in Google Chrome). I wrote this post a few days after Safari 5’s release and included five extensions to get started with. Even if the only extension you install is Shut Up, this feature is worth its weight in gold.

5 ways to make online text more readable

Another post inspired by a new feature in Safari 5: If you’re not using the new Reader function to cut out the clutter and get a nice, clean, readable page, then you should. If you don’t use Safari, there are four other options for doing this. Why would you want to? By removing the navigation, ads, poor design choices, and other irritants that make up a good chunk of most web pages you can focus on the content you’re interested in reading (seriously, have you tried to read a newspaper online lately? It’s like their last gasp at saving their industry is making the online experience so bad that people will go back to print subscriptions).

5 uses for Dropbox

I was at a conference last week, and in a small breakout session the presenter had some files she wanted to share with participants. Her method? She copied the files onto two portable USB hard drives (not the little USB flash drives like you’ve got on your keychain; actual hard drives) and had participants pass them around. This inspired me to write a post on Dropbox, an online service I use almost daily for keeping my own devices in sync and sharing files with others without e-mail attachments or the passed-around-hard-drive method outlined above.

From Everyday Rails:

Hacking Restful Authentication

Restful Authentication isn’t the login system of choice these days for most Rails development—I’m not even sure if it’s compatible with Rails 3—but if you’ve got a legacy Rails application using Restful Authentication, this post may be of use to you. In particular, it suggests additional code to allow your users to update their accounts in a secure manner.

Adding authorization to your Rails app with RESTful_ACL

This series of posts (to be concluded, eventually) is about an alternative to role-based authorization systems that garner most of the attention when it comes to needing to set permissions within your Rails applications (defining who can do what in your app). Part one walked through the setup process, part two covered the basics of adding ACL (access control layer) information to your models, and part three got a little more advanced with using parent-child model relationships in ACL settings.

Stop procrastinating and install Rails 3 now with RVM

I hadn’t seen a start-to-finish tutorial for installing RVM (Ruby Version Manager) with a Rails 3 gemset and configuring Passenger and MySQL to work with it, so I wrote one. I got some good suggestions in the comments and positive feedback in the form of a link on the Rails Prescription Blog (by Noel Rappin, author of the forthcoming book on Rails testing that I called the best book on Rails testing when I read the first beta version) and a mention in the Ruby5 podcast on June 29 (by Gregg Pollack and Nathaniel Bibler, a couple of guys known for Ruby and Rails tutorials and just all around knowing their stuff in general). So that was nice.

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