Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Useful .profile scripts!

Well, I've only written one so far, but it's ultra helpful and saves you remembering all the options you need to pass to standard commands to do what you want. If anyone else feels like commenting with their time-saving commands, maybe I'll build up a library of them.

Here goes :-

files_with - Find files containing a string inside the current directory, recursively

files_with() { grep -H -n "$*" ./* -R | cut -d: -f1 -f2; }

$ files_with hello

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rails 3 partial views

I got caught out today trying to use a Rails 3 partial view.. I was passing a local in to it but it just wasn't getting picked up.

=render "shared/cat_box", :locals => {:cat => @cat}

ActionView::Template::Error (undefined local variable or method `cat' for #<#<Class:0x1062afad8>:0x1062aa240>)

Scratching my beard for a while until I realised that maybe render only looks for locals in the first parameter hash.. e.g. using the full way of rendering a partial:

=render :partial => "shared/cat_box", :locals => {:cat => @cat}

All working fine now!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Hack days rock

I'd just like to say..

We had a hack day recently and the coolest thing has come out of it. It won't make us any money so it would never have been developed if not for a hack day but it's one of the most useful tools for finding people in our ever expanding office.

So, all the devs have macbooks (thanks Forward!). We roam around the office, moving rooms, desks, sitting in comfy chairs or on beanbags in multiple rooms around the office - It's great, but people have a hard time finding you.

Some of the devs came up with an awesome idea - Tail the logs on our router, find all the logins and logouts for each access point throughout the office, take down all the locations of the access points. Now we have a nice page that tells you what area of the office each person was last seen in! You can also get email notification when someone who hasn't been seen in a while logs in to the network.

Anyway.. Thought I'd share that, because it's awesome.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A short story about OpenStruct and a performance issue

Once upon a time, in a office far far away, I sat all day, wondering why my report query was taking 0.54 seconds to get the data, then 49 minutes (yes, 49 minutes) to process and render it. Ok, drop the story telling now.

It was only 13000 records! I ran ruby-prof (for the first time ever) and spend a while looking at the results wondering what they meant :)

One thing I noticed was that there were quite a few bold lines in the result that were in OpenStruct (thanks for making this easy for me ruby-prof).

I concluded that calling OpenStruct in a loop was defining a brand new class and defining all the attr_accessors for each of the keys in the hash... in my reporting case, each row is converting to a hash, and each row has exactl the same keys.

I decided to run a small benchmark with OpenStruct against a class I built that lets you create a Class from a hash, which just adds all the attr_accessors then returns the type, which you can new up with the hash many times over.

class DynamicRow
  def self.with_keys(keys)
    result =
    result.class_eval do
      keys.each { |k| attr_accessor k }
      def initialize(hash)
        hash.each { |k, v| instance_variable_set :"@#{k}", v }
  def self.benchmark
    require 'benchmark'
    sample_hash = {:a => "hello", :b => 3} do|b|"OpenStruct ") do
        50_000.times { }
      end"DynamicRow ") do
        row_type = DynamicRow.with_keys(sample_hash.keys)
        50_000.times { }

Running the benchmark gave me some convincing results

            user     system      total        real
OpenStruct  13.400000   0.080000  13.480000 ( 13.572973)
DynamicRow   0.570000   0.010000   0.580000 (  0.584201)

Well, thats a nice improvement. But the difference there isn't going to bring the processing down that much is it? The other factor I thought might be playing a role was the number of keys, so I increased this from 2 as shown above in sample_hash to 4.

            user     system      total        real
OpenStruct  25.750000   0.160000  25.910000 ( 26.117587)
DynamicRow   0.790000   0.010000   0.800000 (  0.809647)

So, with OpenStruct, the time taken increases equal to the number of keys.. with DynamicRow it's not so bad.

My report now runs in about 1 minute, instead of most part of an hour.

Hope the experience I've gained today helps someone else :)