'Merge All Windows' AppleScript

A friend reminded me of how nice it would be to merge all the windows in Safari back together using LaunchBar (or QuickSilver for that matter). So I wrote a quick AppleScript to accomplish the task:

on gui_scripting_status()
  tell application "System Events"
    set ui_enabled to UI elements enabled
  end tell
  if ui_enabled is false then
    tell application "System Preferences"
      activate
      set current pane to pane id "com.apple.preference.universalaccess"
      display dialog "The GUI scripting architecture of Mac OS X is currently disabled." & return & return & "To activate GUI Scripting select the checkbox \"Enable access for assistive devices\" in the Universal Access preference pane." with icon 1 buttons {"Okay"} default button 1
    end tell
  end if
  return ui_enabled
end gui_scripting_status

on click_menu(app_name, menu_name, menu_item)
  try
    tell application app_name
      activate
    end tell
    tell application "System Events"
      click menu item menu_item of menu menu_name of menu bar 1 of process app_name
    end tell
    return true
  on error error_message
    return false
  end try
end click_menu

if gui_scripting_status() then
  click_menu("Safari", "Window", "Merge All Windows")
end if

The ‘gui_scripting_status()’ routine is taken and modified from code that can be found here: http://www.macosxautomation.com/applescript/uiscripting/index.html.

Check back soon.

Software Updates

I’ve finally gotten round to updating iSyncIt and Set Icon for Snow Leopard, as always you can download iSyncIt here and Set Icon here.

The new release of iSyncIt fixes the only bug I could find under Snow Leopard – the icon not changing correctly under bluetooth on / off conditions.

The Set Icon release fixes the problem of the application not performing its one and only function – setting a drive icon. Along with the bug fix I modified the image conversion to prevent the (frankly awful) stretching of non-square images to fill a 512×512 icon, images now scale nicely. I also removed the terrible tool-tips that show up when you start the application I used to think they were ‘cool’ but soon realised the error of my ways. However, in place of this I added some ‘brilliant’ window resizing when you remove an icon – we’ll see how long that lasts. Oh, the application will also run as a 64 bit application now – not that that makes any difference what-so-ever, I just did it because I could.

Check back soon.

Clearing Out Old Sessions

A while ago I started setting up my websites to use ActiveRecord as a session store, this means that the session information for all the visitors to my website is placed in a table in my database. It may or may not be the best way to store sessions but it’s certainly faster than the filesystem and my VPS doesn’t really have the memory capacity for an ‘in memory’ store.

Anyway, one day I decided to perform some DB maintenance, check tables where okay etc, upon logging into the DB I noticed that my sessions table had grown quite large, almost 125,000 records, little did I realize that the sessions are persisted forever in the DB.

I didn’t think it was the best idea to keep all the session data so wrote the following script and put it in lib/tasks/session.rake:

namespace :session do
  desc "Prune old session data"
  task :prune => :environment do
    sql = ActiveRecord::Base.connection()
    sql.execute "SET autocommit=0"
    sql.begin_db_transaction
      response = sql.execute("DELETE FROM sessions WHERE `updated_at` < DATE_SUB(CURDATE(), INTERVAL 1 DAY)");
    sql.commit_db_transaction
  end
end

This gave me a ‘session:prune’ rake task. The task removes all sessions older than 1 day from the sessions table. I then added a CRON job for in the following format:

0 0 * * * cd /home/user/railsapp && rake RAILS_ENV=production session:prune > /dev/null 2>&1

The job above basically calls the session:prune rake task at midnight every night.

The code in the task in MySQL specific but without a model representing the session table I couldn’t (or at least couldn’t think of a way) to make the code any more ruby-fied. In the event that you do have, or decide to create a session model the following code may work in your task (warning: untested):

Session.destroy_all("created_at" < (Time.now - 1.day))

Hope the above snippet solves at least one of your ActiveRecord session woes.

Check back soon.

Clearing Out The rFlickr Cache

Assuming you’ve followed the Caching Your Photographs tutorial at some point, you’ll probably have had a lot of fun either deleting the cache every time you upload a new photo or you’ve written your own automated method by now. For those of you that haven’t written your own method of dumping the cache yet, here’s how I do it.

First of all, I created a lib/actions folder in the root of my rails project. Inside this folder I created the file ‘photography_action.rb’ with the following contents:

class PhotographyAction
  def self.clear_cache
    ActionController::Base.new.expire_fragment(%r{photography.cache})
  end
end

The above fragment naming assumes that your photos are on a page called ‘photography’ if they are elsewhere, change the fragment to expire that page instead.

Fairly simple I think you’ll agree, you may also be asking yourself ‘why the extra file?’, the main reason for the new file is so that the cache clearing can be executed from a new rake task that doesn’t remove all your cached pages or from an admin page on the website.

You’ll also need to update your config.load_paths in environment.rb. After updating, mine looks like this:

config.load_paths += %W( #{RAILS_ROOT}/app/sweepers #{RAILS_ROOT}/lib/actions )

Inside some action in some, preferably protected, controller somewhere, add the following (redirecting to anywhere you fancy):

PhotographyAction.clear_cache
redirect_to :action => 'index'

Now for the rake task. Inside the directory lib/tasks (create it if it doesn’t exists) create the file photography.rake then put the following code inside the file:

namespace :photo do
  namespace :cache do
    desc "Clear out photography cache"
    task :clear => :environment do
      PhotographyAction.clear_cache
    end
  end
end

You should then be able to run:

rake photo:cache:clear

From the base of your project in order to clear the cache.

Bear in mind, the code above is literally just a convenient way of clearing out the fragment cache so new photos show up on your photo page, it does not delete photos, nor does it perform a refresh automatically, although, you could add it to a CRON job.

When I get chance, I intend to automate this process and build it into rFlickr along with a new, improved, caching mechanism. I’m sure the above will tide you over for now though.

Check back soon.

New rFlickr Ruby Gem

After I started to use the rFlickr gem it didn’t take me long to realize that development of the gem had all but halted, yes it worked, which was more than the original Flickr gem did, but it was still a little bit out of date and in the end, a little bit broken.

In one of my older posts I documented a fix for the gem and provided a download to unzip into your plugins folder, however, with the advent of the wonderful GitHub and its marvelous gem support I’ve decided to move the project onto GitHub.

I have preserved the original gem’s GPL license and copied the source code from its original repository on RubyForge to a new, public, GitHub repository. In the process of the move I have dropped old code from the project, updated the readme & license information and generally performed a little house-keeping.

You can find the project at: http://github.com/digitalpardoe/rflickr/. You can install the gem using one of the following methods. First involves adding GitHub as a gem source (always a good idea) and installing the gem:

gem sources -a http://gems.github.com
sudo gem install digitalpardoe-rflickr

The second method it to add the gem as a gem dependency to the environment.rb of your Rails project:

config.gem 'digitalpardoe-rflickr', :lib => 'flickr', :source => 'http://gems.github.com'

And run a rake task to install the gem:

sudo rake gems:install

Whilst performing the code migration I also added the fix that was documented in my original post and implemented support for the (not so) new ‘farm’ based Flickr URLs for images (which should make things easier to implement).

The future plans for rFlickr include new tests, improved usage examples, updated readme / documentation and implementation of missing API methods, time permitting of course.

Until the readme is updated please refer to the original post for information on how to use rFlickr.

That’s all for now, enjoy the new gem and as they say, if you don’t like it, fork it.

Guess Who's Back

As you may have noticed, it’s been a long time since my last post. There isn’t really any good reason for this. Plenty has happened, I just haven’t got round to writing any of it down.

First off I’d like to mention the website, it went through a fairly radical redesign a few months ago and I mentioned nothing about it. For some reason it’s not in my nature to be happy with what I make hence the many faces and iterations of the website. This website, whilst being my home on the internet, is also the test bed for my RoR programming, you may get tired of hearing about its re-designs and re-codes but that’s part of the reason I created it. Anyway, another re-design is coming, this time it’s not visual but all back end, the main difference you will notice is that I am doing away with user accounts and having a more open comment system (I could be shooting myself in the foot with this decision, we’ll have to see how the spam bots take it). To the people that have commented on the blog already, your comments will be preserved and, when I roll out the changes, I intend to reply to all the comments I haven’t yet replied to.

The second thing I wanted to mention, again website related, is my hosting. A good proportion of my posts seem to be apologizing for the downtime of the website. I was actually getting pretty bored of this so decided to, quite literally, take matters into my own hands. The website is now hosted on a virtual private server set up and maintained by me. This again, may be a case where I’ve shot myself in the foot. For those of you interested, the VPS is provided by the wonderful folks at Bytemark Hosting.

Number three. Many of the posts of my website relate to the use of the ‘rflickr’ RubyGem. Development of this gem seems to have been at a stand still for a good while now, I’ve therefore taken the decision to clone it and try to continue development in my spare time. More on this in a later post.

Four. Any of you interested in my photography will have noticed a lack of it over the past few months, it’s not that I haven’t been taking any photographs, it’s just that I’ve not published any. To try and remedy this I uploaded a batch of photos today that have been sitting on my computer for a while. You can take a look at them on the photo page of the website or on my Flickr page.