My new job at CirrusMio has been going great these past couple of months. I got to go to RubyConf 2012 in Denver, which was awesome. I had never been to RubyConf before, and it was great to go to a conference so relevant to what I do and enjoy. I especially enjoyed Refactoring from Good to Great and Jim Weirich’s keynote.

The Xiki talk also blew my mind a bit, though I admit I haven’t tried it yet because it’s such a big undertaking to change consoles and shells. I’m using zsh in iTerm 2 and it works pretty well. I’ve got a slightly customized Oh My Zsh setup that I took from Jon, who took it from Ryan Bates apparently since that name is still quite prominent in the README file.

I’ve gotten to work with a few new things at work that I had never touched before, and they’ve been pretty great. Namely, CoffeeScript, SASS, and Apache Solr. For the first two, it’s kind of a head-scratcher how I’ve done web design for years and never used CoffeeScript or SASS. I look back at some of my previous JavaScript files from web dev jobs where I did a lot of JavaScript, and my reaction is “curly brackets everywhere!”. I’ve really grown fond of just sticking -> everywhere for functions. It helps that I can use stabby lambdas in Ruby 1.9 at work, too.

Solr has taken longer to grow on me, but I keep uncovering stuff and having little epiphanies. First it was “damnit I just want to show all rows from the table and I want them ordered a certain way, why doesn’t this work??”, now I keep seeing examples of stuff online and considering how we can use them with CivicRush, and it’s exciting. I’ve got a branch currently where I’m trying to upgrade us to the latest prerelease of version 2 of Sunspot, which lets me use neat geolocation stuff like Profile.solr_search { with(:geocode).in_radius(32, -68, 100) } to find all profiles within 100 km of latitude 32, longitude -68. Previously we were doing this kind of thing with ActiveRecord, which can get pretty slow with large tables. I’ve just been getting into faceting in Solr, and figuring out the best way to let users drill down into our data to find something interesting. I love having access to a ton of data when I’ve got a tool like Solr to tease stuff out of it. It becomes a neat problem of how to get the right data out in the first place, then how best to display it to the user.

In less programming-related news, I bought a blue Nintendo 3DS XL a couple weeks ago. It’s been pretty fun so far, playing Okamiden and Paper Mario Sticker Star. Okamiden is a DS game but I had to get it because I love Okami HD so much on the PS3. I haven’t gotten very far in Okamiden yet, but it’s been kind of disappointing. I don’t think it’s a bad game, but it seems dumbed down compared to the original. For example, Issun is a character that’s always flirting with girls in Okami, like overtly so. It’s part of his personality. In Okamiden, that’s all gone, and he treats a female character that he flirted with relentlessly in Okami in an almost sisterly manner. Maybe Okamiden is aimed at children since it’s for a Nintendo handheld instead of a “serious” console like the PS3. There also seems to be more hand-holding in the game than I found in Okami.

Sticker Star has been fabulous, despite it being different from the original Paper Mario and the awesome Thousand-Year Door on GameCube. I’m a bit baffled that the physical copy I bought didn’t ship with actual stickers, though. The hell, Nintendo? That’s a no-brainer! A coworker who was on the fence about getting the game actually said the lack of stickers tipped him to the “not buying it” side, haha. Anyway, the gameplay is a lot of fun, and there are lots of little creative details. I love the fact that the shiny stickers have their shininess change slightly when you move the 3DS, like how metallic stickers do in real life. I’ve enjoyed several of the puzzles I’ve encountered, too, and how they make you peel stuff off, turn off lights, and stick on extra stickers to reveal stuff in the world. I do miss having companion characters, though, like Goombario and Bombette and the like from the first games. I think that was a bad decision to make Mario go it alone; the companion chatter was one of the best parts of the first two games. Also, the “helper” character in this game, Kersti, is a bitch. Her help is generic and never what I need to get past a puzzle I’m stuck on, and she’s got a snotty attitude.

One game for the 3DS that I’m super excited for is Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The lucky Japanese have already got the game, but it’s not due out in America until sometime next year. I found today that someone had put up a video of all the hourly music in New Leaf, and it’s as lovely as in previous games. The soundtrack seems super relaxing, and I may listen to it tomorrow while I’m coding.