Jamie's Weblog

Lessons of a startup CTO — and other things

Here I am!

Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence

I help non-technical founders start their business, build their product, get their first customers, and grow their technical team. I'm a generalist software engineer and I've worked with many different languages over the past 15 years but my current tool of choice is Ruby on Rails. I'm also an enthusiastic photographer and a novice archer

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October 23, 2014 0

The Ruby in Rails

2014-10-20 at 17.04

Back in August I did a short talk at Corkdev about the features of Ruby that make Rails so easy to work with. The aim was to show off Rails to a general tech audience but without being all preachy about it. So instead I flew through the actual Rails stuff and then looked at […]

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October 20, 2014 0

Generating a hierarchical graph with Rails & Javascript

2014-10-20 at 21.50

At WorkCompass, we can import a .csv file of employees from a customer but, as anyone who’s done anything with CSV files knows, you need a lot of validation to make sure the data is clean. Among the automated checks are some manual things like “these are the email domains used, are you sure they’re […]

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September 11, 2014 0

Is the Apple Watch ‘good’?

edition_red_leather_large

So Apple finally announced their watch and everyone can claim they predicted it. As a piece of design, it is pretty nice, much cheaper than I’d have expected and will be sure to gather a fervent following of fans. To be honest, I think the design is bulky and not something I’d like to see […]

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August 28, 2014 0

How your business model affects your hosting choice

This business would look for cheaper hosting providers

I’ve mentioned this a few times in conversation recently so it probably deserves a blog post. Heroku is the go-to host for Rails applications but there are often complaints about how expensive it is. What these startups don’t realise, is that their chosen business model has limited their hosting choices. Heroku is free to play, […]

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August 5, 2014 0

Ansible syntax highlighting for Sublime

Highhlighted as Ansible

If you’ve done any work in Ansible you’ll know that it uses YAML files for the bulk on the configuration. Whilst you can just make do with a standard YAML syntax highlighting, Ansible uses variables inside lines and Jinja template tags that it would be nice to visually highlight. First, you’ll need to install the […]

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March 24, 2014 0

The perfect in-app help system… doesn’t exist. Yet.

I’ve been looking for a solution that would allow our support team to screen-share with customers when providing support. When you have non-technical users, there’s no point in asking for a screenshot, or technical specs, or asking them to walk you through the problem. You just need to see it. An ideal system would work […]

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February 24, 2014 3

Using Guard and Vagrant for Rails development

Background I do all my development in a Vagrant VM and it’s mostly a seamless experience — except when using I was using guard. guard listens to file changes and runs the matching specs — it’s invaluable when doing any test-driven development. But when guard was running inside Vagrant it wouldn’t receive the filesystem events […]

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February 1, 2014 0

The Engineering Spectrum

Example Engineers

There are lots of ways to characterise and evaluate engineers but I like to think of us along a single spectrum. At one end is electronics, binary code, assembler, registers and interrupts. At the other end of the spectrum is graphic design, art, photoshop, user experience, etc. Ok, you’re quickly going to point out that […]

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January 29, 2014 0

Implementing User Settings with Rails 3.2, Postgres and Apartment

ok, so I’ll actually be talking about Company settings, not User settings. You get the idea. I needed to start storing some per-company configuration settings in a client app. I could obviously start adding columns to the Company table but these settings will: a) change over time; b) only apply to a few companies (the […]

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January 27, 2014 0

Did the backup run?

So, after a major screw-up today I discovered that the daily backup process hadn’t run for the past two weeks (ASIDE: after you update ruby, remember to reinstall all the non-bundled gems) I use the backup gem to automate the backup process (user content, postgres database, and the actual app) and it’s scheduled to run […]

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