Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's an Ignite event like?

One of my favorite parts of Ignite Baltimore is getting to work with talented local companies and showcasing their great work. If you're wondering what Ignite events are like, a video production company in town called HYPE Online made a really great short hype video explaining what it's about, embedded below.

Thanks HYPE!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Conditionally using memcached in Rails development mode

Problem: sometimes you want Rails to use the MemCacheStore in development mode, but only when memcached is running. Otherwise you want to fall back to the regular memory store.

Solution: Drop this gist into your development.rb file. It checks to see if memcached is running on the default port on localhost and sets config.cache_store appropriately.

With this code in place, not everyone on your team has to be running memcached, and you only have to run it when you're testing something that involves memcached.

This saved me some aggravation and I hope it helps you too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Startup opportunities for programmers in Baltimore

An open letter to Baltimore hackers:

Because I put myself out there as a Baltimore-based startup person, I am regularly approached by entrepreneurs in this region who have ideas for software projects, mostly web apps, that they need someone to build. Most of these ideas sound awesome to me, and the people seem very compelling leaders (they all create what Eric Ries calls the "reality distortion forcefield "). I'd love to work on all of the ideas, but I'm busy with my own startup. Just in the past four weeks, I've talked to people who want to build:
  • a niche massive, multiplayer game
  • a workflow management system for the entertainment industry
  • a web news site CMS
  • iPhone games
I don't always know to whom I should refer these entrepreneurs. If the person has a budget and they are looking for a Rails shop, I send them to my friends (and long-time Ignite supporters) Smart Logic Solutions.

But some of these inquiries are from people who can't afford or aren't ready for the full-court press that SLS can provide. The projects are more prototypal and better-suited to a freelancer or moonlighter. That brings me to a dilemma.

I know many good programmers in different disciplines, especially through the Beehive. But I don't always know their tolerance for risk, willingness to work for equity, etc. I wonder if that's a consequence of being in a tech economy dominated by service providers and government contractors -- do talented creators get used to high hourly rates, and thus become unavailable to people who need their help to build disruptive, exciting products with a lean startup mentality?

If you are interested in this kind of work -- and I really encourage you to give it a try -- please leave a comment on this page or email me at, because I'd like to have better answers the next time someone asks me to help them build an idea. I just need to know your specialties and what contact information I should use.

Side note to entrepreneurs: you should make an effort to get out there and meet the developers now, before that brilliant idea strikes you. Cowork with us at the Beehive, go to Bmore on Rails meetings, attend Outlet Baltimore and Refresh Baltimore, come to SocialDevCamp and Ignite, etc.