Kallin Nagelberg's journey into the west

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It’s been a while since I spun up FTL, the mini space exploration/survival (survivoration?) game released a few months back on Steam. Stuck here on this flight back to San Francisco from Toronto, Macbook jammed firmly against my gut with one elbow wedged against a dude to my left and the other scraping the fuselage, what better time to jump back into it at times tranquil but mostly panicky gameplay. Being the only game installed on this machine may have also helped its cause. Too bad I don’t have a flight-sim ready to go. This game does have a ton of interesting achievements that I have yet to unlock. The one I set out to accomplish today: ‘Coming in for my Pacifism run!’. The requirement: ‘Get to Sector 5 without firing a shot, using an offensive drone, or teleporting’. 

The mechanics behind FTL are dead-simple. You command a spaceship, instructing it to jump from one sector to the next, with each sector presenting a random encounter such as a shop or a pirate battle, as well as offering a list of sectors that can be jumped to once the encounter has been resolved. Much of the ‘resolution’ involves upgrading the arsenal of your ship and unleashing it against a multitude of hostile opponents. Well, the requirement for this achievement precluded me from blasting my way through any of the obstacles I might encounter, so I had to develop an unusual strategy.

At the beginning of each play through you are presented with a choice of a few different spaceships, each offering a different default weapons load-out, as well as some differences in engine capabilities, shield strength etc. At this point I only have three of the nine possible ships unlocked, and none of them offer any defensive bonuses out of the gate. It seemed my best choice was ‘The Torus’. At least it has the ability to use drones at the start of the game. With a little luck I might encounter a shop early on that had a repair drone for sale, or perhaps one that could intercept incoming missiles long enough for me to charge up my drive and make the jump to the next sector.

The first couple runs were unlucky and I was repeatedly overwhelmed with a ship consumed by fire, crippled systems, and an asphyxiating crew; par for the course in this game really. After a few tries I did manage to get just a little bit lucky. The third sector I visited contained a store, though it didn’t have the drones I was looking for. Still, I was able to scrap all of my ship’s default weaponry for.. well for scrap, the game’s currency. I then converted the scrap into some engine and shield upgrades, hoping I would be able to jump away from danger a little faster and survive a few more shots before my ship started busting at the seam. It worked! With just two points in shields and two points in the engines, combined with what I’m sure was a little more luck, I made a bee-line for the exit of each system, narrowly escaping a legion of foes looking to take advantage of my pacifist nature. I only went out of my way a couple times to have my ship’s hull repaired at a store, or to respond to distress beacons that offered hope for a little extra scrap that I could exchange for said repairs, or maybe a little fuel. Before I knew it I was in sector 5, the ever oh-so-satisfying ‘achievement unlocked’ popup appeared, and I quit. There was no way I was going to actually win with this configuration. After all, I was never able to beat this game on easy while using every trick I could think of. FTL is just a tad bit challenging. 

I’ve been thinking about writing a review on FTL or one of the other games I’ve recently played. However, this isn’t that. Instead, this is my attempt to get the little experience I’ve had down to words; something that I’m not compelled to do often, if at all. I’ve been looking to start doing some sort of writing about games. Reviews seem like a natural starting point, and I may try a few of those, but I think approaching the subject from a different angle may have more naturally interesting results. Perhaps writing a post based on a challenging, bizarre or otherwise interesting achievement could be the basis for a series of blog posts. What do you think? Are there any achievements you feel deserve special attention? Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear your suggestions. 

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In order to tighten up security in our new Grails app I went about implementing the Spring Security Plugin. Getting it up and running with a standard username/password scenario was simple, as that is all wired up automagically by the plugin. That solved half of my problem, but we also need to support authentication with SAML, and there were no clear examples of how to do that. I’d like to share what I built in case anyone has a similar requirement. I won’t focus on the SAML specifics, but rather on how to build any custom authentication provider in grails.

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I am currently involved in a project using Grails (2.0.3) , deploying to Heroku. One of the caveats of deploying to Heroku is that each server, or ‘dyno’ in Heroku’s case, needs to be completely stateless; nothing can be stored in the server’s memory for longer than a single request. 

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I am currently involved in a project using Grails (2.0.3), TwitterBootstrap w/ Font-Awesome, and I happen to use Chrome Developer Tools as my primary front-end tool. 

Ever since I installed Font-Awesome I kept noticing a warning in the Chrome debugger stating ‘Resource interpreted as Font but transferred with MIME type application/octet-stream’ . Font-Awesome references some .woff files and Grails doesn’t set a content-type when it returns them. It’s just a warning, but I’d rather not have it there. 

We can set the content-type, as well as do a ton of other manipulation to resources via the built-in resources plugin; specifically we can create a custom mapper. Here’s the code for the mapper I created, which has eliminated that nagging Chrome warning. I hope someone else finds it helpful! 

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Three months, a new year, and I finally have a comfortable place to sit down; an awesomely vibrant place that has been likened to both a lure for bees and to Wolverine. Love it or hate it, I think anyone that gets to stretch out on it will find it to be one of the most plush sofas they’ve ever encountered. 

Three months, a new year, and I finally have a comfortable place to sit down; an awesomely vibrant place that has been likened to both a lure for bees and to Wolverine. Love it or hate it, I think anyone that gets to stretch out on it will find it to be one of the most plush sofas they’ve ever encountered. 

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So the regular blog post thing obviously didn’t work out as planned. It turns out starting a new job in a new city with a completely unfurnished apartment is a time consuming proposition. The last month or so has been so busy, there’s really too much to give any of it a fair shake in this one post. Maybe I’ll write up some of the more memorable adventures on their own. Among the highlights, in reverse chronological order..

  • Rypple is acquired by SalesForce! We will soon be known as Success Force, be invited to Dream Force where Metallica played last year, and there are rumours of a doggy day care.. Lots of work, but exciting times ahead.
  • My good friend Faiza dropped in while visiting SF, and brought me a beautiful present: a picture frame with her in it to put on my wall! JK, it is a great reminder of home and hangs proudly above two poorly mounted light switches(one’s function remains unknown…). We explored our mutual love of driving stupid fast through some of the twistiest most scenic roads I’ve yet encountered.
  • I went on the horse ride of a lifetime up the coast with my official SF tour guide, Tracey-Lee, and our guide only fell off twice! Did I mention how he rode off after his horse on someone else’s after falling off the second time, and ripped his shirt right off while disappearing over a hill? Yeah, that happened.
  • My Dad and my Sister Jessica visited for a few days and we had a great road trip down through Carmel and Monteray. For anyone from TO familiar with the whale paintings on the redpath building, that dude has a gallery in Carmel. Who knew? Also, who knew my sister could have so much fun watching the vagrants do their crazy things down below my window?
  • I took part in a photo shoot and got a nice bottle of wine and a sick tux out of it. More importantly I met some great people. You know who you are!
  • Hella shopping. This place is now somewhat liveable, but I’m still waiting for the delivery of my comfy couch, along with a coffee table and dining table. I think the only major things I really need now are some stools for said dining table, and a couple of rugs. Oh, and more art. Walls are soo bare.

And much much more! I want to get back into updating this more often. I’m thinking maybe one personal thing a week, one technical piece for work. Stay tuned!

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As I was leaving my office today I made myself a promise: ‘I am going to be able to cook myself breakfast tomorrow morning!’. It sounds easy enough, but last night I couldn’t even pour myself a glass of water due to a lack of absolutely everything; no cups, no plates, no pots, no food, no nothing! Zipcar and Macey’s to the rescue. After avoiding buying what some might consider essentials for my entire life, I finally caved and began turning into an old man. I feel really ashamed, but c’mon, aren’t those plates beautiful!?

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A big chunk of my responsibilities in the SF Rypple office now revolve around analytics. 

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Say hello to my brand new car! At least it was mine, for about an hour. The old PT Cruiser stayed in Toronto, so I needed to find some wheels for the occasional haul.  

Enter ZipCar. I signed up online; gave my driver’s license and credit card, and then walked into their office the next day to pick up a card. Thankfully the ZipCar head office is across the street from Rypple, so that wasn’t too difficult. Should you happen to live a little further away from 2nd and Howard, they’ll email a card to you. That was pretty much it! From that point on I could go to their website, find cars around me (could also use a mobile app if I wanted), and then make a reservation starting at around $8/hr. 

I decided to give it a spin in order to get to my new place and take some measurements for furniture. It turns out this badboy plug-in hybrid was about 5 minutes from my current condo, so I reserved it for an hour and walked over. There it was, just sitting in the valet parking area of the Intercontinental, so I walked up, held my card next to the windshield, and it unlocked like magic. The keys stay in the ignition, so I just pressed the start button and.. Well nothing really; it’s electric so you don’t even hear the engine start. Just a very high pitched hum that many might not be sensitive to. It’s drowned out once you get moving anyways. 

What better way to start driving in SF than by cranking up the smug alert with a Pious

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With the keys in my pocket, I finally have a place to live in SF, at least for the next year. It’s a little sparse at the moment, but when my moving truck arrives I’ll at least have a chair to sit on. My mission for the next week: see how much interior decorating can be done on craigslist and kijiji.

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