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Full-time web developer. Part-time smart ass.

I'm Brent Collier.

After a year and a half as an engineer on Twitter's Trust & Safety team, I'm looking for my next gig. Contact me if you know of something interesting.


uninitialized constant User::Authentication

Posted on 01/22/2009

I've hosted acts-as-blogr on Slicehost for a while now, but I recently signed up for shared hosting through Dreamhost.  They had a promotion of 2 years of hosting for $22 which I couldn't pass up now that they support Passenger for Rails apps.  Anyway, I finally got around to deploying an app with Passenger and I had a little problem.

Upon doing the initial 'cap deploy:migrations', it failed with this error

  * executing "cd /home/brentmc79/; rake RAILS_ENV=production  db:migrate"
        servers: [""]
        [] executing command
     ** [out ::] (in /home/brentmc79/
     ** [out ::] rake aborted!
     ** [out ::] uninitialized constant User::Authentication
     ** [out ::] 
     ** [out ::] (See full trace by running task with --trace)
        command finished
    failed: "sh -c \"cd /home/brentmc79/; rake RAILS_ENV=production  db:migrate\"" on

This was clearly something to do with restful_authentication since it was complaining about User::Authentication.  I did a bit of googling, but I didn't come up with much.  Somebody mentioned renaming the plugin to not have a hyphen, but that just seemed silly.  Someone else mentioned some session/cookie issue, but I hadn't even made it to the browser.  It was failing on db:migrate.  Finally, someone mentioned that they had forgotten to include the plugin in their repo.  This got me to thinkin...

I knew that I had included the plugin, but I decided to take a look at the Github repo in the browser.  Here's what I saw:


The restful_authentication plugin was actually a cloned repo sitting inside my working copy.  I'm sure there's probably some clever way to enable a repo inside of a repo, but it was 2am and I just wanted it to work.  So I just rm'd the restful_authentication plugin from the vendor directory, download the tarball from Github, and extracted it back into vendor/plugins.  Using the tarball instead of the clone gives you all the code without all the git info.

I committed/pushed, then ran 'cap deploy:migrations' again and the database migrated with no uninitialized constant error.   Viola!  Unfortunately, then I just moved on to the next issue...

After a couple more tweaks and deploys, I finally had it up and running.


Git status in your prompt

Posted on 01/17/2009

I've been using Git for almost a year now, but I didn't really start using Git until recently when I began working for Intridea.  Once I started using Git on a daily basis, dealing with multiple projects, and multiple branches per project, I would occasionally make the mistake of changing code on the wrong branch.  While annoying, it was easily fixed by stashing the changes and applying the stash to the proper branch.

As much as I love git stash, this began to get old, and constantly hitting up 'git status' to check the current branch wasn't cutting it.  After a bit of googling, I found this.  It describes how to add the current branch name and its clean/dirty status to you terminal prompt.

Just add this to your .bash_profile: 

function parse_git_dirty {
      [[ $(git status 2> /dev/null | tail -n1) != "nothing to commit (working directory clean)" ]] && echo "*"
    function parse_git_branch {
      git branch --no-color 2> /dev/null | sed -e '/^[^*]/d' -e "s/* \(.*\)/[\1$(parse_git_dirty)]/"
    export PS1='\u:\[\033[31;40m\]\w\[\033[0;33m\]$(parse_git_branch)\[\e[0m\]$ ' 

And you should end up with something that looks like this:

My terminal prompt

As you can see, I like to use a bit of color to help things stand out.

So far this has been immensely helpful.  With this info at a glance, I always know where I am and how I last left things.


gem install mysql FAIL

Posted on 11/09/2008

This is nothing new or monumental, but I thought I'd post it anyway.  I recently picked up a new Macbook Pro, and while setting it up for Rails development, I ran into a little issue while installing the mysql gem.  I'm sure this little tid-bit is probably posted a million other places on the intarwebs, but one more can't hurt.

So here's the problem.  You attempt to run a rake db task, and you get this...

!!! The bundled mysql.rb driver has been removed from Rails 2.2. Please install the mysql gem and try again: gem install mysql.
rake aborted!
no such file to load -- mysql

So you do as it says and attempt to install the gem...

Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
ERROR:  Error installing mysql:
    ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

/System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/bin/ruby extconf.rb install mysql
checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient... no
checking for main() in -lm... yes
checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient... no
checking for main() in -lz... yes
checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient... no
checking for main() in -lsocket... no
checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient... no
checking for main() in -lnsl... no
checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient... no
*** extconf.rb failed ***
Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of
necessary libraries and/or headers.  Check the mkmf.log file for more
details.  You may need configuration options.

Provided configuration options:

Gem files will remain installed in /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/mysql-2.7 for inspection.
Results logged to /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/mysql-2.7/gem_make.out

Well shit.  That didn't work.  So here's what you need to do...

sudo gem install mysql -- --with-mysql-config=/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql_config

which should yield...

Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
Successfully installed mysql-2.7
1 gem installed



another rewrite

Posted on 11/07/2008

So I've got a problem...

I've got a wordpress blog, this rails blog, a tumble log, a twitter feed, and probably a few other blog/feed/things that I'm forgetting.   Aside from this blog, I post to the others fairly regularly.  Granted, it's typically only an iphone photo with some blurb of text, but still...

Here's the issue.  There's only a handful of people following this stuff (it's a shocker, I know) on a regular basis, so I can't really expect them to his 4 or 5 urls every time they want to see what's up with me.  My "followers" consist primarily of family, friends, and coworkers.  The family only checks the wordpress blog (and occassionally the tumble log) for pictures of the kids and my super-witty anecdotes.  The friends and coworkers mostly follow my tumble log and more recently, my twitter feed, which I've had for a while but didn't start using much till now.

Here's my solution.  I want to bring it all together.  Put it all in one place.  When someone gets bored enough to look me up, I want them to get the whole picture with having to play a game of musical websites.  This inspiration for this came from a blog that I've been loosely following for several months now.  The blog combines both life and tech posts, but all the while maintaining the separation of the two.


Notice also that he includes a link to his tumble log in the header nav.  I'd like to find a better way to incorporate Tumblr, but at this point, I'm not sure how.  The same goes for my Twitter feed.

Not only will this allow people to see everything in one place, but hopefully it will also encourage me to post tech content more often in order to keep up with the steady flow of family/life stuff.

So that's my plan.  We'll see how long it takes me to get any of it done.  For anyone interested in following the build, I've already setup a Github repo here.