Porkbarrel Spending

Life is pretty crazy right now.  I spend a lot of time on the west coast, and since we pair-program all the time I usually work a west coast time when I’m home in NY.  That makes for an interesting schedule with many challenges and opportunities.  We had some big production issues last night and my 2nd grader was not happy that I was absorbed with work during the time when we usually play a game before she goes to bed.  I told her we’d make up for it this morning.

One of the huge bonuses of the weird schedule is that my mornings are free to help my wife with homeschooling our brood.  I’ve been doing math with the aforementioned 2nd grader and we’ve been working through a chapter on money (counting/rearranging coins, etc).  So after we were done this morning, it was time for the makeup from last night.  She was counting on playing a game of Pass the Pigs.  Since she’s doing all coins at or under $1, and since in the game you accumulate points to 100 based on how the little piggies roll (it’s really great fun if you haven’t tried it), it was perfect.  We played a couple of games of Pass the Pigs, and she had to keep score for both of us using coins instead of a point tally on a sheet of paper.  After you stopped and accumulated your coin from your turn, I would make her rearrange the coins to get it down to the minimum number for the value.  Once she got into the groove, she got faster and faster and was doing more of it in her head.  It was awesome.  Yet another example of how games are the perfect avenue for teaching, and how the brain is more engaged during play than any other time.

I was amazed at how using money instead of points changed the risk of the game as well.  I am usually pretty cavalier in that game, and often lose huge points because I pushed it too far.  By having coins in front of me instead of an abstract number, I found myself playing much more conservatively.  She didn’t seem to have the same approach, but she’s only 6 so money doesn’t exactly translate the same in her brain.  It made me wonder if people would treat the stock market differently if they were handling actual cash instead of stock certificates or shares.  Something about actual currency clarifies risk like nothing else.

State of the Blog address

Ok, just got back from Railsconf, and I realize how lax I’ve been on writing about what I’ve been doing. Grockit completed it’s second round of funding as reported on TechCrunch last week, and things are picking up steam at a nice clip. We’re actively hiring if anybody is interested send me a resume. We are in a closed beta now and we’ll be adding people throughout the summer. Railsconf was fantastic as usual. Parts were better than years past, parts were worse, but overall I still learned a lot and got to hang with a lot of people I respect and enjoy learning from.

I’m still playing with merb, but work on blerb has pretty much died out. Most have switched over to feather which has a bit more traction. It has a very well developed plugin framework (which is about to be converted to merb-slices according to the chatter in #feather). It’s blazing fast and easily extensible. I’m still planning on converting this blog over to something else that will tax my slice less, so feather is the current choice du jour.

For those of you who played the legendary unroll game (llor.nu) when rails was still a fledgling platform, the source has been revived and is available on github. As it is now, it runs under Rails v1.2.6. The instructions in the readme are good enough to get you going. Feel free to fork it and get it up and running publicly if you wish. I’m contemplating a port to merb (just as an excuse to get deeper into the merb framework), or possibly a facebook app. Michael Buffington, creator of the original (and currently my boss), got it running again during Railsconf and wanted it released into the wild to see what kind of craziness people could unleash upon it.