CrossConnector is Getting Real!

In just a few days, we’re going to open the doors to CrossConnector. This is a moment I’ve been anticipating for a long time. We’ve been working hard to finish up the last-minute details and make sure everything works the way it should.

So tell your church, your missionary friends, and anybody who does missions or ministry to check out CrossConnector!

There's more! Read the rest of this entry

RedCloth is Busted

March 30th, 2006

RedCloth 3.0.4 seems to be broken. For some reason, it doesn’t transform paragraphs correctly. The quick fix is to downgrade to 3.0.3. Here’s how I did it.

gem list --local
RedCloth (3.0.4, 3.0.3)
    RedCloth is a module for using Textile and Markdown in Ruby. Textile
    and Markdown are text formats.  A very simple text format. Another
    stab at making readable text that can be converted to HTML.   

First, install 3.0.3:

sudo gem install --remote redcloth --version "3.0.3" 

Then uninstall 3.0.4:

sudo gem uninstall redcloth
Attempting to uninstall gem 'redcloth'

Select RubyGem to uninstall:
 1. RedCloth-3.0.3
 2. RedCloth-3.0.4
 3. All versions
> 2
Successfully uninstalled RedCloth version 3.0.4  

A reference article from the mailing list:

Disclaimer: Use this stuff at your own risk. These are not instructions – this is just what worked for us. We can take no responsibility for anything that might happen to your server as a result of following these steps.

We upgraded our CrossConnector server software this week, including Rails 1.1 and the latest versions of Ruby and Lighttpd. What should have been a simple upgrade turned into a two-day stress-fest, as we tried to figure out why a couple of our applications just wouldn’t work.

I finally traced the problem to RMagick – Ruby’s ImageMagick interface. Our program uses file_column and Sparklines, which both depend on RMagick. We had elected to upgrade to the latest version of RMagick using “gem upgrade”, and everything worked perfectly, or seemed to. But our apps just wouldn’t load.

The heart of the problem turned out to be that our app was loading RMagick, which in turn was looking for a file called ‘’, which was nowhere on our system. The file was present on our development server, and the app was running flawlessly in development, so I figured that the program was legit and that somehow the file had just been forgotten during installation. I was right. The hard part was figuring out how to get it there. I tried reinstalling RMagic from the gem, downgrading to a previous version, and even copying the file by hand. Nothing. Finally I decided to try compiling RMagick from source. And… Success! Here’s what I did…

sudo gem uninstall RMagick (remove all versions)
cd /usr/local/src (where I keep my source files)
curl -O
tar xzvf RMagick-1.10.1.tar.gz
cd RMagick-1.10.1
sudo make install

Important: you must have ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick and the supporting libraries installed first. Follow the instructions here.

These sites were super-helpful:

Disclaimer: Use this stuff at your own risk. These are not instructions – this is just what worked for us. We can take no responsibility for anything that might happen to your server as a result of following these steps.

Here’s a quick and dirty way to add pictures to your messages in CrossConnector.

Movie: Adding Pictures to Messages

CrossConnector Update

March 23rd, 2006

Well, we missed our January deadline by just a bit. But fear not! CrossConnector is most definitely on its way, and we have several organizations putting the beta through the paces, checking for bugs, testing out the features, and helping us to make sure that we release a solid program.

What is CrossConnector?

CrossConnector is a web application designed for missions. It will help you plan, manage, and communicate your missions and ministries better. If you’re involved in ministry or mission work, you’ll definitely want to check out CrossConnector.

We’re working hard to get it released very soon… but if you can’t wait, drop us a line and we’ll hook you up with a beta.

Movie: Private Projects

March 21st, 2006

Here’s a great new feature of CrossConnectorprivate projects. Now you can protect a project with a password. Only people who have that password will ever be able to see the project.

Check out the movie to see how:

Movie: Private Projects in CrossConnector

XHTML Recommendations

March 20th, 2006

Whenever I search for information on CSS or XHTML, Google usually returns something from the W3C (the WWW Consortium) in the first five results.

There are a zillion recommendation documents on the W3C website, so I’m never really sure which one I’m looking at.

Here are the ones that are working for me right now:

CSS 2.1 Specification:

XHTML 1.1 – Module-based XHTML

XHTML 1.0 The Extensible HyperText Markup Language

Anybody else have good XHTML/CSS references?

The Godbit Dinner

March 16th, 2006

In the process of putting together the Godbit dinner I discovered that I am definitely not a planner. Next year I’m going to let Bethany (the born planner in our family) do the planning. Amazingly, despite my planning ineptitude, everything worked out! We had a great time at The County Line chowing down on mass amounts of BBQ and beans, and getting to know people that we have been talking to on the forum for so long!

We had:

  • Nathan Smith
  • Nathan Logan
  • Cody Lindey
  • Helmut and Carrie Granda
  • Matt and Kristin Donovan and their daughter Jaimes
  • Mike Montgomery
  • Dave Lowe
  • Josh Lavin
  • Ryan and Bethany Heneise

The two high points of SXSW so far have been Kathy Sierra’s presentation How to Create Passionate Users and the Roll Your Own Web Conference panel, hosted by Jeffrey Zeldman and sporting an all-star cast consisting of Bruce Livingstone, Erec Meyer, Maxine Sherrin, Jason Fried, and Molly Ditmore. Wow, what fun!

I felt priveleged to have a chance to meet Ryan and Gillian Carson of Carson Systems and Carson Workshops after the “Roll Your Own Web Workshop” panel. Of course I had to wait in line with Technorati founder Tantek Celak first.

To a web application developer like me, this is like being at the Grammys and having a chance to rub elbows with the stars. I mean seriously, out in the hall I was bumping into (litterally – sorry guys) people like Shaun Inman, Jim Coudal, Ryan Sims”, and even Jason Fried (if you know me, you know that Jason is one of my heros).

Not to mention having dinner with standardistas like Nathan Smith Nathan Logan and Cody Lindey from the Godbit Project and other notable folks like Jonathan Snook. Am I missing anyone? The list goes on like the 9rules blogroll.

Tonight is the great Godbit dinner – I’ll let you know how that turns out!

I just slipped out of Traditional Design and New Technology, where I was sitting behind characters like Shaun Inman and Andy Budd, next to a guy from Southwestern University wearing a kilt and cowboy hat, listening to Jason Santa Maria and Mark Boulton talk about design.

Now I’m in Better Blogging Brainstorm. Like a good Baptist, I’m sitting in the third-from-the-back row in a room full of bloggers at South by Southwest. Around me I can see at least six other people who are posting a message on their own blogs right this second. I’d love to know how many blog posts are going out right now. I just took a look at my Measure Map stats, and the visits have completely dropped off – I think that everybody who reads this blog is here with me!

Off to SXSW!

March 9th, 2006

Tomorrow is it! Bethany and I leave in the morning for Austin, Texas for South by Southwest. I’m so excited! This has been a long time coming, and I can hardly wait to meet some of my friends (and many others, lest I forget anyone) and people whose blogs I’ve been reading (and admiring) for a long time now.

I’m sure that Flickr will be overrun by SXSW pictures, but I promise to post anyway.

If you’re going to be there, drop me a comment or look me up!

Silver Lining

March 9th, 2006

In honor of my first ever trip to South by Southwest, I’ve redesigned the Art of Mission site. I call this design “Silver Lining”.

Shows what you can do with Typo and Ruby on Rails. The more I use Typo the more I think that it may become a contender for the most flexible content management system available for small sites.

Everything old is new again:

Our portfolio. Check out some of the sites we’ve worked on over the past year in our portfolio.

Our footer. Now even more useful. Why should the good stuff end when you get to the bottom of the page? Our fancy new footer now features the latest three articles, a handy real-time search box, and our contact information, conveniently placed so that you can send us an email or a postcard to say hi!

Austin on Rails

March 2nd, 2006

Fun stuff!

If you live in Austin, or if you’re going to be at South by Southwest, be sure to come by and hang out with me and the other Ruby geeks at the The Austin on Rails Happy Hour hosted by Austin On Rails!


March 2nd, 2006

Via the Godbit Forum, CodeIgniter is a very Ruby on Rails-like framework for PHP.

Who would have thought that it would feel like a pleasure to file my Federal tax forms? Well, after wading through mountains of paperwork for the State of California Franchise Tax Board, and gritting my teeth at the $800 minimum income tax, I’m ready to write the Feds a nice letter for being so comparatively easy to work with. Seriously, the IRS forms are a cinch compared to California. I bet half of our state taxes here in California go to producing those wicked, wretched, long, complicated, and unreadable tax forms. It’s enough to make a body want to move to another state.