Washington Post Update
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It’s been a long time since I’ve written about what I’ve been up to at the Washington Post, so let me run down the apps I’ve worked on since September 2007 in roughly linear order. Lots of these apps link different places, so if you don’t see projects.washingtonpost.com at the start of the URL, you’ve probably wandered off something I directly worked on.

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Don’t Play Hurt
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I love the c2 wiki. At least once a year I’ll dive in for a day or two and read a swath through its accumulated wisdom. As I learn and experience colors my perspective, I always find new things.

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Post: The Moby Quotient
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On Friday I put up an app to let folks calculate and share the Moby Quotient of songs — a measurement of how much an artist sold out by allowing their work to be used in a commercial. The app is a companion to a story in the Post.

The article ran in the Sunday paper and we were hoping folks would take it in to work and argue with coworkers about what numbers to assign to which band and we’ve been happy with how much traffic we saw. And a few hours ago a Metafilter story went up about it, which is pretty dang cool.

Post: Politics Glossary
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Politics Glossary logo

Today the first project I built launched, the Politics Glossary. It’s a small site cataloging political jargon and all the writing is done by the Politics department. Actually, one of the best things about this job is getting to meet folks at all levels and departments in the Post.

WashingtonPost.com
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Today I added code to the Washington Post’s 2007 Presidential Field to show campaign events by type. I’ve joined Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive as a web developer (Python with Django) and this is my first code to go live.

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Good Timing
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This morning, at about 4:30 AM, I awoke and just knew the Right Way to rebuild RegistryPro to be completely reliable, even more compact, and provide meaningful reporting. It would take less than two weeks of coding time and the pitfalls are well-demarcated and avoidable. It would be really great if I’d thought of it two years ago when I still worked there. Thanks, brain.

Leaving Hostway
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Earlier today I gave my two weeks’ notice to Hostway. I’ve worked at Hostway since April 2005 as a maintenence coder on RegistryPro and, since last month, part-time on the web frontend of an internal monitoring system. I’m not going to be posting about why. There’s no exciting scandal, it’s just a case of mismatched needs and goals.

I’ll post about my new job when I have one. Thanks to my friends and family for all their support.

Cambrian House Party
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Cambrian House default avatar Cambrian House, the startup I snuck a peek at and got a hat-tip from has opened for a public beta test. They’re sort of an open-source business incubator: folks submit ideas, the best of which become projects; folks submit code, art, and copy, the best of which go into the finished project. Cambrian House (or a spinoff company, perhaps) runs the project as an online business, paying royalties back to the folks who contributed.

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Pre-Cambrian House
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I was poking around reddit and followed a link to CambrianCode.com, an all-Flash (ugh!) puzzle game. There’s a few of these “guess how to get to next level” games online and they all just annoy me. Yes, you’re so clever. No, I find patronization alluring. Yes, I’ll spend my time on this for no discernable reward.

The puzzle is run by Cambrian House, a mysteeeeerious stealth startup that has only a teaser page online. If there’s one thing that annoys me more than Flash puzzle-level games, it’s stealth startups.

So I went poking around some more and found a development copy of their website. And much to my surprise, it’s actually a darn cool business idea. So cool that after I wrote a whole “Mwaha, I’m raising the curtain early!” post I thought better of it and am only going to post this for now. It was clever and fun, there’s going to be a ridiculous amount of buzz around this company when it launches. And I got to register as user #9, which was damn funny when I noticed their “About Us” page lists 17 employees.

Confidential to CH in Calgary: it’s really tacky to litter your URLs with “.php” and get variables. Put the following in your .htaccess file and have index.php take apart the URL with the PHP code below and route to your different pages. URLs like “/community/member/Harkins” look much nicer than “/community/member-profile.php?users_id=9”. (Or ask me about mod_rewrite.)

<Location /secret_development_environment>
    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from 10.0.0.0/8 172.16.0.0/12 192.168.0.0/16 .cambrianhouse.com
</Location>

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond    %{REQUEST_FILENAME}  -d [OR]
RewriteCond    %{REQUEST_FILENAME}  -f
RewriteRule     ^(.*)$  - [L]

RewriteRule ^(index.*) - [QSA,L]
RewriteRule ^([^.]*)$ /index.php [QSA,L]
function url_parse() {
        $url = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
 
        // we don't want to pass get vars or anchor tags on to the script
        if (strpos($url, '?'))
                $url = substr($url, 0, strpos($url, '?'));
        if (strpos($url, '#'))
                $url = substr($url, 0, strpos($url, '#'));
 
        //remove leading slash and possible trailing slash, store in $url
        if (substr($url, 0, 1) == '/')
                $url = substr($url, 1);
        if (substr($url, -1) == '/')
                $url = substr($url, 0, -1);
        if ($url == '/')
                $url = '';
        $url = explode('/', $url);
 
        return($url);
}
Cambrian House house responded to me.

NDAs: Fear and Shame
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The two fundamental reasons NDAs exist are fear and shame, and that’s only halfway a bad thing.

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