Integrating Ruby on Rails with existing PHP or Perl Based Sites

Ruby on Rails
So, you want to add some new features to your site using Ruby on Rails?  That's not a bad idea.  I've found Rails to be one of the quickest ways to develop small feature-rich sites quickly.  The problem is getting those new components integrated with the existing PHP, Perl, JSP, .NET or whatever other language codebase.  I've found that it's really not that hard so long as you know the right tricks.

How to Charge and Balance 2 3s1p Packs as a Single 6s1p

RC Helicopters
Anyone who owns a T-Rex 450 or 500 knows that one of the big downers is the short flights and long charge times.  I have a Thunder Power 610c charger which is capable of charging a 6 cell pack, however I only have 3 cell packs for my T-Rex 450.  I read a forum post somewhere where someone built a parallel balancer lead which let him charge 2 3s1p packs at the same time.  He had the right idea but the problem with charging them parallel like that is that the balancer can't see the true voltage of any one cell.  It can only see the combined average voltage of the 2 that are paralleled.  The only way to safely charge and balance 2 3s1p packs is to build a serial balance lead that combines the two packs into a proper 6s1p.  The charger can then see each individual cell and will charge up to 25.2v, balancing the cells to 4.2v each.

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Vista

Vista
After having run Windows Vista (Business 64) for over a month now, I can say that with a few tweaks, I believe it is ready for full-time use.  I'm a full time consultant so I work off of a laptop in the field running a full suite of software about 10 hours per day.  This means that if my OS is misbehaving, I'm in big trouble because if I can't work, I can't bill my hours and if I can't bill my hours, I'm getting a serious call from the guys above. 

Despite all of the dogging of Vista from XP and 2000 users, I've found that I'm faster in my day-to-day activities than I was in Windows XP.  Here's my list of Vista must-knows:

Product Review: Roku Netflix Instant Movie Player

Netflix
Following and complimenting the Netflix instant streaming video service for the PC, Roku has produced a Set-Top Box offering instant streaming of Netflix video to your home television set.  This concept sounds simple:  Just play the netflix movies over the internet to your television.  Unfortunately, this concept just hasn't been implemented well in the past.  Even the movies-by-mail business hasn't gone over for others as well as it has for the online rental king and that seemed rather straightforward.  Fortunately for us and in the Netflix tradition, the new service was implemented with a simple and straightforward interface which does one thing - plays video over the internet to your TV.

Java Single Application Instance

Java
A single instance application is one that only allows for 1 of the application to run no matter how many times the user tries to launch.  Windows and linux native applications have an API to detect the instance of an application but when in Java, it is not quite as easy or reliable.  To complicate matters, often times the requirement will be for the original application instance to react in some way to the launch, as in bringing the window to the front, opening a file or displaying a message.

Fortunately it's not all that difficult to code this if you know the trick.  In this article I'll give you all the code you need to copy and paste into your application to make it single instance.

How to upgrade the ram in a T60, T60p, T61 or T61p

Computing

I've had to do this for several of these laptops now so I thought I'd just make a picture tutorial to explain. It's been pretty much the same for all models T60 and greater. What we've been doing is upgrading machines with either 1 or 2GB up to 4GB. The memory is located under the touchpad on the front panel, which is removable via long screws on the bottom. All you need is a philips head precision screwdriver and your new ram, which must be compatible with the machine.

Choosing a President by Trusting Celebrities and Public Figures

Programming
I was at dinner with a few people some months ago when we got to talking politics.  Rather than discuss the people and the issues though, we ended up talking about the process by which people select candidates to favor.  One of the people said that his mother always picked her candidate not by reading about their position on issues or their history but instead by asking her friends who they are voting for.  We joked that this person's mother is simply using collaborative filtering to get a good recommendation.  Then we asked the question:  Why isn't this process automated?  Now it is -  The Election Recommender.  We originally had only joked about using celebrity endorsements but the results have been very interesting so far.  If you're satisfied just trying out the site, go ahead, otherwise read on for a more detailed explanation.

Advanced Typesafe Command Pattern using Java Generics

Java
If you have a need to use the command pattern and want to have a standard interface but with type safe parameters, I have come up with a solution.  This is one of the most interesting uses (or hacks) of generics I've ever seen or come up with and being that it took a little bit of deep thought to get worked out, I'd like to share it with you all.

Teleportation will be the end of us all

Other
For years I've had a theory about teleportation that has only recently been brought to mass attention by the movie The Prestige.  Many films have been made about the topic and I'm sure some lesser-known films have covered the idea of copy and kill but not as well as this film.  With such a wide reach across the world, I'm happy that many people are able to see the issue with this concept.  If you think I'm just being a paranoid sci-fi nut, think again because this technology is being actively researched with some success and may actually manifest itself in a human-usable way in the future.

Snowboarding: How To Reliably Stick a 180

Snowboarding
One of the prerequisites of being able to stick 180s is the ability to ride "switch" proficiently.  Switch-stance just means riding facing the opposite direction of your normal stance.  If you ride regular-foot, your normal stance faces to the right and your switch faces to the left.  If you ride goofy-foot, your normal is to the left and switch is to the right.  It can feel very awkward to begin riding switch, but without acquiring the skill, you will struggle to balance or ride away from a 180 or (don't get ahead of yourself yet!) a 540.
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