Musings on my Fear of Blogging

A blog post can be scary to write. You’re putting your reputation out there for everyone to judge – and their judgments/comments can be viewed by the entire world.

I have two fears when writing a blog post: First, I fear I’ll write on a topic I’m familiar with, but that is so basic and simple that someone reading it will assume that I don’t really have much depth of knowledge. The second fear I have is that I’ll try writing on something that I’m not very familiar with, someone will point out some huge, obvious blunder I made in my post, and thus my blog post will be revealed as wrong and worthless. And sometimes I’ll have both fears at once about a post I write.

As for the first fear, I need to remember an interesting fact about learning: when you don’t know something, it can seem overwhelming and confusing, but once you work with it and learn it, it’s easy to think that you somehow had perfect intuition and picked up the technology as though it were second nature – and you forget that you were once overwhelmed and confused. So if I’m interested in writing about a technology that seems simple and obvious, I should remember that once it was this crazy, impossible technology that I was clueless about. It’s likely that there is someone else out there who could benefit if I wrote some of my thoughts an experiences down in my blog, even if it seems simple to me at the time. I’m just a couple of steps ahead of them.

As for the second fear, I just need to get over my pride and be willing to put some stuff out there on my blog, even if it might be wrong. If someone else rips it to shreds, it can be a great learning opportunity for me. It is certainly better than continuing in ignorance, and it can help me to connect with someone who is more knowledgeable than I who can help me learn even more.

Have I written anything helpful? anything worthless and stupid? Let me know!

Uglified Unicode on Rails

TL;DR - IE doesn’t like minified unicode. To fix this, create a custom passthrough minifier to disable minification of unicode when using uglify in the rails asset pipeline.

I’m pretty new to rails, so please let me know if I’m off the mark here.

Asset Pipeline

Rails has an interesting component called the asset pipeline that, among other things, can combine all of your js files into one file, and all of your CSS files into another, then it can strip out whitespace and rewrite your code to make it smaller, by doing things such as replacing long variable names with short ones. This is called combining and minifying. Combining and minifying are important because they can help a web page to load faster. A web page can load noticably faster if it has a single 150kb file to load from the server rather than 25 files that are 10kb each.

Without question, we wanted to minify and combine our code using the asset pipeline. For more information on setting up minification, see the asset pipeline documentation.

IE and Unicode Problems

However, we had strange results with the minification. When our code was _not _minified, it worked great in both IE and Chrome. After being minified by the asset pipeline, however, it worked great in Chrome but some parts of our app mysteriously failed in IE.

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Canon MX700

It’s a fancy looking printer. Scanning, Faxing, Printing, built-in networking. But it is quite the difficult device to set up. For anyone else who is interested, here is the process:

  1. Hope that someone else has already set up the printer on the network so you don’t have to figure that part out.
  2. Create a local administrator account on your laptop, then login with that account (a domain account with local admin permissions is not enough for some strange reason…)
  3. Download the canon driver from the internet and install (I think It’s something like a 3.4GB download, which is about average for printers nowadays)
  4. Plug in the USB cable, wait for driver install to finish (better not do this before installing the driver, because the out-of-the-box windows plug-and-play drivers won’t work)
  5. Unplug the USB cable (I know… you just plugged in it. Bear with me)
  6. Delete the canon printer and fax that now appear in your printers list (I guess you can leave them if you don’t mind sharing a USB cable with everyone else)
  7. Install the printer drivers again, this time with the network option instead of the USB option (why couldn’t I do this in the first place?)
  8. Go to the printers list and delete the fax device that was added (unless you like having a long list of useless items in your printer list)
  9. Log off of your local admin account and log in with your domain account (but only if you want to use email and such)
  10. Delete the old local admin account to clear it out
  11. Open notepad. Type something in. File – Print. Wait for paper to come out of the printer.
  12. Discover that due to the long printer setup time, the ink in the printer has dried out and you need to buy more ink.
  13. Cry. Pull an Office Space.
    This post is dedicated to all those who have fought with a printer and lost.