Friday, February 08, 2008

Suspended Web Hosting

I seem to be the victim of an evil web host lord who has decided that I must pay for their mistakes. As I explained in my previous post. my blog on peupe has been down for the past 2 weeks as a result of broken code after the rails version was upgraded without any notification, now in what I can only describe as "gremlins at work" my web hosting account has been suspended apparently due to a memory bloat caused by rails applications. This action doesn't even make sense, considering the fact that my rails web apps, a total of 3, have been down for over 2 weeks so how could I have a memory bloat? I don't think this action was justified bearing in mind the hell they have put me through.

So where does this live me? well I can't backup my database, download my websites, in a nutshell I'm screwed. I now have to put into action a plan to migrate my web apps to a more reliable ROR web host, a few names come to mind such as Rimuhosting and Slicehost.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Peupe blog brought down by web host

It's official my blog on is down and will be for the next few days as I try to refactor my code. My web host Bluehost (Cheap but terrible customer service) decided that it was time they upgraded their rails version from 1.2.6 to 2.0.2 without notifying their customers, the result is that about 90% of my code is deprecated. Rails 2.0 is a major leap and is not backward compatible, in fact very many aspects have been removed and so any move to it needs some major planning even if the app is as small as Peupe.

So for now my home is back to blogger under my pseudonym subsaharancoder.

Back from vacation

I didn't want to leave Aruba, but I ran out of money :(

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Peupe: IE6 issues

IE6 seems to be the browser that will truely put me to the test when it comes to peupe. I developed and deployed peupe on a mozilla and IE7 browser having forgotten that IE6 is quite nasty when it comes to certain design issues. Take for example my mast head which is a transparent PNG, IE6 shows a blue/green background on the section that is meant to be transparent, I didn't notice this till when I viewed peupe on the campus browser, what this means for me now is that I have to design for IE6.
Resolution:Redo all the mast heads with white backgrounds

Another issue is the rich text editor (TinyMCE) that we using in the admin section of the app, it loads okay on Mozilla but doesn't load on IE6 and IE7. This obviously isnt a good thing bearing in mind that most of the time the app will be accessed from a cyber cafe where the majority of browsers used is IE6.
Resolution: Work backwords and discover why the tect editor isn't loading in the admin (just viewed tinyMCE's website on IE6 and the demo page loads okay)

This might seem like a few issues but trust me when your product/application is public its pretty crazy dealing with 2 major aspects.

I'm going to be doing most of my blogging now on Peupe (

Peupe:Browser compatibility

Browser compatibility issues seem to be a bulk of the issues that I'm dealing with right now with regards to

Friday, June 08, 2007

Peupe: Pushing it out

Yesterday marked a major milestone for our company, we finally pushed out our first "public" release of peupe accessible via But it was by far not a small feat, I had to code and debug several issues that arose and I'm still on them. One of the major challenges has been speed of the application, a few people have complained that the app is to slow and so I've been going through the code with a tooth comb trying to see where the bottlenecks are, implementing caching on several areas of the blog (using Ruby on Rails this isn't difficult). I finally managed to finish most of what I'd set out to do at around 6am and headed to bed.

In the evening I got online and started getting feedback from people, i actually asked a friend of mine to see if they could post a comment on the blog and to my disappointment an error popped up which I addressed immediately woohoo!! :-)

As of friday evening I had pushed out the following features and bug fixes:

  1. Error on posting a comment which had to do with lack of appropriate IDs.
  2. Search engine friendly URL's: the posts now have permalinks that give them very nice and neat URLs (thanks to permalink_fu a great RoR plugin). I now have
  3. Delicious and Technorati submission: I had an issue with this as it wasn't giving urls that could be tracked back to the blog.
  4. Tags: The tags associated with posts can now be viewed.
There are few more other things I'm working on, my focus now being on errors and optimisation but its a good feeling when you can see the value of your work coming to the surface.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Peupe: A corporate blogging platform

I've been underground for the past couple of weeks coding like crazy (Technology director and still writing code) and dealing with deployment issues (Ruby on Rails deployment is a major challenge) that could drive any reasonable person into a frenzy. So whats been keeping me that busy you might ask? well one word Peupe. Peupe is a corporate blogging platform that our company has developed specifically targeted at professionals and CEO's, our objective is to build communities and content around business and corporate leaders in their respective leaders.

As a business we feel that there is a large demand for people to want engage captains of industry in meaningful discussions unfortunately this isn't easy due and as such a corporate (CEO) blog where the industry leader can share his/her thoughts, books of interest, websites of interest and even photos, think of Peupe as wordpress+flickr. The application is currently in beta version and we aptly named Madaraka since it was in essence launched on June 1st, 2007.

Peupe..why the name?

I'd be lying if I said that the name was inspired by me, this was all Al's brainchild with me as the "realiser of dreams" if you'd like to call me that. Peupe is a swahili word that means slate or white, they were commonly used as writing tablets in olden times. Apparently the word isn't just swahili but also belongs to some european country, this I discovered when I typed it on google but nevertheless we will still push on.

Under the hood

Peupe is developed using Ruby on Rails by our own Kenyan development team.

So what next?

Well I'm currently still working on addressing a few bugs on the application but so far so good. There are several features we would like to add to it but the main ones include:
  1. Internationalisation- We would like to translate the blog into several languages with Kiswahili and French being the first then other languages to follow.
  2. Feed Aggregator- A simple feed aggregator to allow for users to manage their favorite RSS feeds.
  3. Blog Migration-You have a blog on blogger, wordpress or moveable type and need it moved, will give you tools to do that.
Thats just the tip of the iceberg, there's so much more we've planned that I'm sometimes overwhelmed. Just watch this space :-)

With all that I plan to migrate this blog to peupe just as soon as I can stabilise it on our deployment server. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Journey of an Afropreneur:Buggy code, killer mosquitoes and the phoenix

I finally managed to move house about two weeks ago but since the internet connection in my new neighborhood literally "sucks!!" I haven't managed to do much, I even went as far as giving Al my laptop for close to two weeks as I cleared the boxes. With the boxes cleared and my body having recovered, I have now discovered that even with an internet connection I can't connect from the bedroom, the signal is just too weak, so now I've shifted base to the sitting room where the connection is much better and the mosquitoes really kick butt!! Seriously the mosquitoes in this new place put the amazon to shame but I will survive.

Today we had a meeting with the same CEO who had wanted to build an online business, but this time I went there with Al and the other guy who was to be a partner in the business. The meeting went pretty well but as usual left me tired like a mexican mule. The next few days will be critical as we solidify the requirements and prepare to build another online business.

Right now I'm dealing with a buggy PHP code base for an app that a contractor developed for us. The error I keep getting is this:

"Error unable to connect to database server Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock' (2)"

Nothing major based upon my experiences but somehow escaping me at midnight after a long evening.It's amazing that when you look at somebody else's code it doesn't matter how good you are in the particular language it all looks like gibberish and you keep going like this "duh!aah!uuuh!oooh!!.." until you realise that in time you'll figure out the errors and finally prevail.

I decided to change my gmail status message to Phoenix I think because I simply love the name and it exudes with confidence and hope, at this point I need hope and faith to push me through the tough times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Academia is back

I'm back in school this time with another crazy course load consisting of:

  1. Business law
  2. Introduction to Macro Economics
  3. World Civilisations
  4. Advanced Networking Concepts
  5. Computer Graphics
I hate academia.....