Working for Pintley is great… Come join me!

Most of you know I’m now full-time with Pintley. I love it. The project is awesome, if I do say so myself, and I’m working with all the latest and greatest technologies. CF9, ORM, Solr, Flex, and of course developing our application for both the desktop browser and mobile platforms, hosting up in the cloud… it’s all exciting stuff.

Anyway, we’re looking for a second developer to join me. ColdFusion should be your strong suit, and experience with Flex, Java, Objective-C or jQuery would put you higher up on our list. This is a contract-to-hire position, so please don’t bother applying if you’re not looking for a full-time job or you’re an agency. The best part about the job is of course the job itself, but the second best part is this is a telecommute position. I live in the middle of Wisconsin, and I don’t expect you to. We do, however, need someone who is US-based.

Anyhow, if you’re interested, email me at shicks at the domain of the hiring company (not this domain). If you can’t figure that out, we probably wouldn’t be considering you anyway. 🙂


Pintley finally leaves private beta

I’m happy to announce that earlier this month Pintley finally left private beta!

Pintley is like Pandora, but for beer… You sign up, rate beer you like/don’t like, and it provides recommendations for more beer to try. Since most of the people reading this blog are techies, you’ll be happy to know that the back-end is CF9 with Solr, Hibernate & Ehcache, which has really made scaling a breeze.

Sign up, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think.


There’s something better than iPhone AT&T Tethering (or, opt to keep your unlimited 3G plan tomorrow)

Virgin Mobile is launching it’s prepaid MiFi next week. I’ve already told you that the VirginMobile Broadband2Go USB thingy works great, so I expect the same service from their MiFi. At the most expensive end, they cost the same as Verizon ($60 for 5GB), and at the lower end, it’s probably cheaper than paid hotel internet for a couple days. Best part is, you can connect your iPhone, iPad, and laptop all at the same time, and still have a couple spots open to share.

Compare that to AT&T’s new super-restricted rates that will “save” you money, and buying the device for $150 outright is a steal. Count me in.


If I had just one wish for ColdFusion 10

Having spent the better part of 2010 building PDF reports, I can say that I would like to see a complete overhaul of cfdocument. It’s time to bring the HTML and PDF support up to current standards. If I had to narrow it down to a few specifics, here we go:

  • Whatever is currently limiting the HTML/CSS rendering needs to be updated or replaced.
  • We need to have some better way to either calculate, force, or hint to the engine where we do and do not want page breaks.
  • When I create a PDF form, I have the option of making a text field with a variable font size, so the text better fits into the field. I would love to do that inside a cfdocument.

I think that the updates to cfdocument, and with the addition of cfpdf, great strides have been made to bring enterprise features to ColdFusion’s pdf generation, but now it’s time to help the developers meeting the demands of smaller clients.

Update: So, uh, it’s been a long week. I want this in CF 10. 🙂


Mobile Broadband review

Recently, I found the need to have a wireless broadband card. This is my story.

Verizon MiFi

At first I went with a Verizon MiFi. It looked like I was going to be doing enough commuting to warrant getting a full-blown 2-year data plan. Looking at the options MiFi seemed like the obvious choice, and I was very, very right.

It’s main feature is it’s best feature. You get something about the size of three credit cards stacked together, with a power button and a Micro USB port. When you plug it into the USB port on your Mac, it mounts like a thumb drive would, with the installer right there for you to use. Install the software, activate your device, and you’re ready to go. After that, feel free to never connect it to your computer again, except to charge it’s built-in battery.

When you turn it on, it becomes a WiFi hotspot. 5 devices can connect to it, which makes it excellent for small groups, or if you have an iPhone and you’re in an area being ignored by AT&T (which is of course a majority of the country). Not having a USB dongle sticking out the side of your laptop like a little bullseye for every single hip that passes by is very comforting. They’re also easy to share among a workgroup… Once the device is activated, nobody else needs to install any software. All they have to do is connect to the WiFi network (the SSID and password are on a sticker on the bottom of the device). $60/mo gets you 5GB of transfer, and the device itself costs about $100 on a 2-year contract. I got excellent reception everywhere between Middleton and Janesville, even while traveling 65mph on the bus. I even got to use it in Chicago, but I of course expect to get reception in a major city.

Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go

After realizing that I wasn’t going to be using a device enough to justify $60/mo (and before my 30-day grace period was over) I ended up reluctantly returning my MiFi. Unfortunately Verizon’s prepaid broadband plans are extremely expensive, and their slightly cheaper monthly plan provides almost no bandwidth.

I went out and bought a Broadband2Go from Virgin Mobile. While the prepaid plans aren’t cheap, for my usage I was going to be able to spend between $0 and $40 per month, which is way cheaper. The downside is that I’ve now got a little black dongle sticking out of my computer when I’m on the road.

Installation & setup is about the same… The device is also a storage device, and it even reads microSD cards. Plug it in, there’s the installer you need, and you’re off and running. Every time you sign in, it takes you right to your Virgin Mobile account page, which might seem useful, except that it counts toward your premium-priced bandwidth allotment. Nice trick, eh? Also, this doesn’t work like prepaid cell phone plans. When you buy bandwidth, it’s only good for the time period it says. If you happen to buy more before that magic expiration date, nothing happens other than you now have more bandwidth with overlapping expiration dates… The expiration date is not extended on the first pack.

Again, reception is great along the Middleton <> Madison route, even on the bus. If you want to connect more than one device at a time, you can use Internet Sharing on your computer, but that’s about it. This device also goes for about $100, and while prepaid plans are far more expensive per MB than a monthly plan (ranging from $10 for 100MB to $60 for 1GB), keep in mind that if your usage is low, it’s probably going to cost you less per year, even if you have to shell out $120 one crazy month. Really, do the math, you might be surprised.

Both the MiFi and the Broadband2Go provided DSL-like speeds, with 1-3Mbps down and about 1Mbps up, according to my favorite speed testing website. I can handily recommend both devices and both service providers.