When Ron Paul Minions Attack!

Check out the comment thread on this Ed-Op piece in my University’s paper about Ron Paul.  I’ll save my opinion of Paul’s politics for another time.  I was just floored by the flash mob of Paul supporters running up 300+ comments on a minor opinion piece in a small University paper.  Whatever you may think of Paul himself or his policies, his supporters are hard-core. 

I am both awed and a little freaked out by these people.  On the one hand, it is good to see  that in this cynical and apathetic age, there are still a lot of people who are very passionate about their politics.  On the other hand, these comments are all basically saying the same thing, as if they were lifted from some Ron Paul talking points memo.  Many are also pretty mean and not particularly nuanced.  Here is a little taste:

Are you a complete socialist or only a little b it [sic] socialist?

I gather from this editorial that you’re in favor of taking my
hard-earned money in taxation and distribute it to others who didn’t
work for it. Get out of college and into the real world, Pointdexter,
and you’ll change that tune real quick.

Wow… you have no idea what you are talking about. Paul is about
freedom, limited federal government and letting the states local
governments decide what best for that state. Get your facts straight
before reporting. People need to take some personal responsibility. If
New Orleans would have had keep their own money rather than paying tax
to the feds… then they would have been able to protect themselves.

You get the drift.  And, these were just from the first ten or so comments.  

Some of these commentors remind me of those Chick Tracts where the message is always the same, accept their “truth” or you are a “sinner” and will go to hell.  In this case, you are branded a “socialist” and are exiled from further political discourse because, of course, a “socialist” cannot hold a rational point of view.  It is an easy way to shutdown conversation without having to defend your position.

With any overly enthusiastic group trying to push a particlar agenda, the good ideas can be drowned out by the cacophony of the more extreme members.  I see a bit of that happening with Ron Paul supporters.  I also think many Paul supporters have a real blindspot for how some of Paul’s positions could be considered very unpalatable to many perfectly rational people.  

Beyond all that, I just fail to see how acting like a jackass in a comment thread on a opposition opinion piece is going to win over many converts to your cause.

FogBugz 6.0 Review

Ever since Joel Spolsky dazzled me on his FogBugz World Tour stop in Philadelphia, I wanted to try the software out myself on some real projects. At the event, I was told that there was a Micro-ISV FogBugz on-demand account option that allows free usage for up to two user accounts. Since there are only two programmers in the “skunk works” group I am a part of, we both were excited to start integrating FogBugz into our daily routine. Well, our initial excitment sputtered out for a while as we were both very busy and basically I was too lazy to sign-up. Thankfully, I came to my senses a few weeks ago and finally got an on-demand account. Ever since then, I’ve been using FogBugz as my sole bug tracking system for both my primary project, the RMCP and for an iTunesU integration app. So far, I am loving it. It is by far, the most polished bug tracking software I have ever used.

Of course, FogBugz 6 has more than just bug tracking features, but let’s be honest, that is its bread and butter and entering/updating/closing cases is what I spend the majority of my time doing. This means the UI needs to be fast and intuitive. For the most part, the Fog Creek developers succeeded. Entering cases in List view is fast and doesn’t require me to use a mouse, which when entering dozens of cases in one stretch, as I had to do when migrating my data from Mantis, saves a significant amount of time and carpal tunnel pain.

We use Subversion as our source repository. Supposedly, FogBugz 6 can integrate with it so that when I post a check-in comment, it will be reflected in the case history within FogBugz. Unfortunately, I could not get this functionality to work. I setup things on the Subversion side, added the commit scripts they provided, tested that they are parsing my comments properly and making requests to the FogBugz server, but still, nothing shows up in my case history. Now, it might be because I didn’t do the second half of the integration which requires you to setup FogBugz to automatically link to your subversion commits through a Web front-end like WebSvn. I don’t have a Web server running on the Subversion box, so I skipped this step. I just use SSH, which works fine for our two person group. I don’t see why it should matter and I didn’t find any errors in their commit scripts. So, I don’t know what happened. I’ll probably get back to trying again sometime before the Holidays.

Of course, the big new feature in FogBugz 6 is EBS or “Evidence-Based Scheduling.” However, I don’t have enough data in the system for it to give me anything accurate, yet. A review of this neat feature will have to wait a few months.

The feature I have been using the most recently is the new Wiki. I have been writing a functional specification for an iTunesU application in it. I have tried to use different Wiki platforms in the past, but they have either been too complicated to setup or were easy to setup, but inexplicably failed to work right. The Wiki in FogBugz is both easy and works great, with some minor issues.

The best part of using the Wiki for writing documentation is that the rich text editor they created is fantastic. It is FAST, simple, and lets you quickly accomplish the four primary work flow tasks you encounter: writing, formating, linking, and inserting pictures. Writing is easy. Formatting is as simple as clicking tool bar buttons. Linking is nice because there are some shortcuts. For instance, if I just add a link to “Technical Specification”, the wiki assumes I mean an article within the current wiki, called “Technical Specification.” But, if I put in a full URI to an external website, it works as expected.

A nice feature that is only appreciated when you need it is the real-time resizing of inserted pictures. You just grab a corner and drag to resize. There is no need to resize things in Photoshop and then re-insert. It is a small thing, but it saved me a lot of time today.

The only issues I’ve had so far were first, a nagging problem with the drop-down menus not dropping when running in Firefox. I upgraded to Firefox and that problem vanished. I also continue to find it a bit frustrating that I can’t seem to set a default font, so I have to constantly highlight and reset fonts for body text and headlines if I want anything besides the defaults used. Finally, this may be more of a browser problem than anything about the wiki, itself, but when I view my article, my chosen fonts don’t look very good and spacing seems to be off, but within the rich text editor, things are peachy. I may have to adjust the template the wiki is using.

Overall, I think FogBugz 6 is a great tool. It is by far the nicest bug tracking software I’ve used. I am generally a big OSS user and I feel a bit guilty using a proprietary bug tracking tool when we have an embarrassment of riches of respectable bug tracking software in the OSS world. But, frankly, nothing is quite as polished and integrated as FogBugz. I shall continue using this software for the foreseeable future and when I get my own micro-ISV up and running, I’ll definitely be considering a personal on-demand account. I recommend it.

CodeMash – I'll Be There!

CodeMash – I'll be there!

CodeMash is coming in January. If you missed last year’s inaugural conference, check out some of my posts from last year to get a feel for the event. If you are interested in attending, early-bird registration is about to end this week. The session list for this year is shaping up to be even better than last. Last year there was a lot of .NET and a significant amount of Ruby. This year, it looks like a lot of .NET and a bunch of Python. I guess I better brush up on my Python skills before January.

New Macbook Keyboard Layout?

I just bought a new black Macbook to replace my aging 12-inch iBook.  I also bought a black ProTouch keyboard cover.  It looks great and keeps gunk from getting all over my keyboard.  But, I just noticed that the F-Keys’ icons on the ProTouch cover are different from those on my actual Macbook keyboard.  For instance, F3-F5 on the ProTouch are for volume, but these keys are F10-F12 on the actual keyboard.  I didn’t pay attention to the key layouts on the previous revisions of the Macbook.  I wonder if Apple just changed the layout with this most recent revision?