Basho – First Week Coding & Research Adventures…

The First Things

This week, the first thing I did was give a solid read to Mark Phillip’s Blog “themarkphillips” (@pharkmillups). Here’s a break down of some entries I found really interesting and helpful in getting kick started here at Basho (or just really a good read in and of itself):

  • Using Open Source to Promote Sustainable Farming – Mark got to interview Chris Villalobos @frostbytten a long while back, but ended up getting a good interview and also got Chris to write an article on the Basho Blog “Riak in Production – A Distributed Event Registration System Written in Erlang”. Chris was working on Open AgroClimate Project a climate information and decision support system for managing agricultural and natural resources in the Southeastern US. Pretty interesting articles, the whole lot of them.
  • Two Anecdotes About Community From JSConf and NodeConf – This is a great one, two anecdotes that I’m all “hell yeah” about. The entry caught my eye for the obvious reasons that the whole great team behind JSConf & NodeConf, I always have to read about. Mikael, Chris and the whole lot of Noders are a great crew of people, throwing absolutely great conferences. The two anecdotes; “You Want Your Users To Hug You” andMeeting People In Real Life Never Gets Old And Is Incredibly Valuable”.
  • Another great entry revolved around putting together RICON 2012. See my other entries “RICON2012 Shreds the House!” and “RICON 2012 Photos” for more on RICON. This entry really lays out ground work for the mission Mark Phillips, Tom Santera and the rest of the team I’ve joined at Basho have to grow the community that works with, around and building distributed databases and systems.
  • The latest entry, the entry key to what I’m tackling, is the “Month One for Technical Evangelists at Basho“. This leads me to the next blog & entries and material I needed to dive into.

The next blog I gave a good review of was the Basho Blog.

  • Riak Cloud Storage with Multi-Datacenter Replication – this blog entry outlines the release of, well, what the title says. This release though, is a pretty big deal. The storage is already S3 compliant, a huge benefit in the first place. The entry goes into some detail about the full and realtime sync capabilities of the system. However if you’re really interested in this there’s more to dive into – so ping me or jump on the Basho mailing list and strike up a conversation. We love talking about this stuff at Basho, so don’t shy away from throwing some conversation our way.
  • The next blog entry that caught my attention, since some of my first demoes are going to be JavaScript, Node.js and Riak, the project around Riak.js getting a fresh start was a relief to read. I’ll admit, I read it when the blog entry was published. 😉
  • One last entry I read, then dived into the content that it links to is the “Building Apps on Riak” content and use cases blog entry. It links to the Basho Docs (see below) and use cases page.

The last two major things that I read, which are really important in the field of distributed databases and also having a work culture that seriously rocks. These two papers are the Amazon Dynamo Paper and the Valve Handbook.

amazon-dynamo-sosp2007 & Valve Handbook

The second thing I wanted to do was get Riak setup on my local machine to play with. I’d setup Riak a few times before in a multi-node cluster using Tier 3′ s Blueprint Technology to automate the process. This time however I’m taking the vantage of installing it locally for use. So what’s the steps? Well, it’s pretty straight forward. First however, I wanted to synch up my first install experience with the Basho Docs. Since the documentation is actually available via your standard open source repository on github, the Basho way, I wanted to get a local running copy of it.

Basho Documentation

I wanted to business, not just to read but also to contribute back to the basho_docs. This isn’t just some filler docs either, they’re actually really useful and well written. In other words, it’s solid, updated and well maintained documentation.

I forked the basho_docs to my own repo and went to work setting it up. Everything was going great until I stumbled into blockenspiel, or so I thought it was blockenspiel. Thus, the adventure of crazy new machine forgetfulness begins.

Breaking blockenspiel

I’ve spent a couple hours trying to get middleman working for the basho_docs project. Why did I spend a few hours working on this? Well the obvious one is I wanted to get the docs up and running locally, ya see, I intend to contribute back (want to jump into them too, hit up the github repo). While I was getting these installed I made a few mistakes and ran into a few issues. Here’s the story.

The first thing I forgot was to install rvm. The basho_docs project uses rvm and I highly suggest you use it, or something like it. In this case the project has specific settings you definitely want. The simple reason I didn’t have it is that I’d forgotten that I hadn’t installed it on my new Mac Book Air! Doh! Easily fixed via While there I also installed the Jewelry Box App, it’s pretty decent, but you’ll still want to dive into the command line where the real power is.

So with that all good I got through the next few steps.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]$ gem install bundler
ERROR: While executing gem … (Gem::FilePermissionError)
You don’t have write permissions into the /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8 directory.
Adrons-MacBook-Air-2:basho_docs Adron$ sudo gem install bundler
Successfully installed bundler-1.2.3
1 gem installed
Installing ri documentation for bundler-1.2.3…
Installing RDoc documentation for bundler-1.2.3…
Adrons-MacBook-Air-2:basho_docs Adron$ bundle install
Fetching gem metadata from…….
Fetching gem metadata from
Enter your password to install the bundled RubyGems to your system:
Using rake (
Using i18n (0.6.1)
Using multi_json (1.3.6)
Using activesupport (3.2.8)
Using builder (3.1.3)
Using mime-types (1.19)
Using xml-simple (1.1.1)
Using aws-s3 (0.6.3)

At this point, the install seemed to be going great, and then BOOM, this happened!

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
Installing blockenspiel (0.4.5) with native extensions
Gem::Installer::ExtensionBuildError: ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

/System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/bin/ruby extconf.rb
mkmf.rb can’t find header files for ruby at /System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/lib/ruby/ruby.h

Gem files will remain installed in /Users/Adron/.bundler/tmp/13504/gems/blockenspiel-0.4.5 for inspection.
Results logged to /Users/Adron/.bundler/tmp/13504/gems/blockenspiel-0.4.5/ext/unmixer_mri/gem_make.out
An error occurred while installing blockenspiel (0.4.5), and Bundler cannot continue.
Make sure that `gem install blockenspiel -v ‘0.4.5’` succeeds before bundling.
Adrons-MacBook-Air-2:basho_docs Adron$ gem install blockenspiel
ERROR: While executing gem … (Gem::FilePermissionError)
You don’t have write permissions into the /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8 directory.
Adrons-MacBook-Air-2:basho_docs Adron$ sudo gem install blockenspiel -v ‘0.4.5’
Building native extensions. This could take a while…
ERROR: Error installing blockenspiel:
ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

/System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/bin/ruby extconf.rb
mkmf.rb can’t find header files for ruby at /System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/lib/ruby/ruby.h

Gem files will remain installed in /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/blockenspiel-0.4.5 for inspection.
Results logged to /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/blockenspiel-0.4.5/ext/unmixer_mri/gem_make.out

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t have used sudo, but wasn’t sure what the permissions issue was in the first place. Yeah, that’s a bad idea just to barge ahead, but sometimes you gotta just move on things. Maybe that was or wasn’t the issue. I didn’t know at this point so started to do some research.

The first thing I realized, was barely anyone had run into this issue. I did however find two things that seemed like they may be the root cause of this blockenspiel problem. which shows the native extension not building and a bug is issued here Ugh, how frustrating. Then I also noticed something else, the build is not passing per the file displaying the Travis CI status.

That sux, but I kept digging at that point.

So which native extension did I need to install? I was missing it for some reason. Then I dug around a little more and discovered this in one of the logs.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
[2012-12-07 09:50:07] ./configure –prefix=/Users/Adron/.rvm/usr
checking for a BSD-compatible install… /usr/bin/install -c
checking whether build environment is sane… yes
checking for a thread-safe mkdir -p… config/install-sh -c -d
checking for gawk… no
checking for mawk… no
checking for nawk… no
checking for awk… awk
checking whether make sets $(MAKE)… no
checking for gcc… no
checking for cc… no
checking for cl.exe… no
configure: error: in `/Users/Adron/.rvm/src/yaml-0.1.4′:
configure: error: no acceptable C compiler found in $PATH
See `config.log’ for more details

Hmmm, dammit, new machine mistake again. I needed a C compiler ASAP! Opening up XCode I immediately got this fixed by installing the CLI tools. These tools include about a zillion things I obviously needed, including the LLVM Compiler, Linker and the universally needed Make.

XCode CLI Tools Installation, for full size image click.
XCode CLI Tools Installation, for full size image click.

Ok, I finally got that installed and moved forward again. Pulled down the bits, and ran smack into the problem again. The blockenspiel lib can’t build the native extension. Ugh! However this time I got a slightly more useful error message at least.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
/Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/bin/ruby extconf.rb
checking for ruby/backward/classext.h… *** extconf.rb failed ***
Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of
necessary libraries and/or headers. Check the mkmf.log file for more
details. You may need configuration options.

Provided configuration options:
/Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:369:in `try_do’: The compiler failed to generate an executable file. (RuntimeError)
You have to install development tools first.
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:494:in `try_cpp’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:919:in `block in have_header’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:778:in `block in checking_for’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:272:in `block (2 levels) in postpone’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:242:in `open’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:272:in `block in postpone’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:242:in `open’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:268:in `postpone’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:777:in `checking_for’
from /Users/Adron/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p327/lib/ruby/1.9.1/mkmf.rb:918:in `have_header’
from extconf.rb:44:in `’

My first thought was, WTF didn’t I just install the developer tools?

Went digging for this problem and found this interesting and likely related Stackoverflow Entry “”. One of the suggested solutions would be found in executing the following commands. As I read this I realized it wasn’t the marked answer, but I needed MacPorts so I downloaded MacPorts! A quick few seconds later I grabbed it and tried out these commands just to at least get things updated.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo xcodebuild -license
sudo port upgrade outdated
sudo port install apple-gcc42
sudo rvm reinstall 1.9.3

At this point, still no go. I was getting pretty pissed. At least I was getting all these things setup on my machine, but seriously, this should NOT be this hard. The next thing I did was also update my Ruby Gems, as another place on the web suggested doing that. I tried installing middleman again.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
gem install middleman

At this point I was a bit frustrated, sat back and figured, I’ll give it a go in a while. Well after a few hours to let things sort out in my head, I picked up a completely different laptop. My Mac Book Air I’ve had and been using for over a year now. I opened up iTerm2 and through these commands in bash:

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
git clone
gem install bundler
bundle install

…and the server started right up on port 4567. I opened up a browser and navigated to http://localhost:4567. Right there before my eyes loaded the Basho Riak Documentation!

After all that, it boils down to some stupid machine load issue. So I’ll come back to fixing that machine some other time. For now, it was finally time to move on to other things. But that’s a gist of week one, and week two will be starting in just about 47 minutes. Next week I’ll be diving in a bit more to all of these things plus some actual installation, setup and related skill with Riak. Until then, cheers.

Deploy a Framework Friday #1 with Ruby and Sinatra

Alright, just for fun I’m kicking off a new blog series. I’m going to publish a new “Deploy a Framework Friday” each week for about the next, well, bunch of weeks. There are a TON of frameworks that are available on PaaS Technologies.

This first entry I’m going to implement a simple Sinatra app with Ruby. Nothing fancy, simply a hello world and the respective deployment to a Cloud Foundry PaaS.

First, let’s whip out the super complex code (right, this isn’t complex, I just like sarcasm). The hello.rb file I created.

[sourcecode language=”ruby”]
require ‘sinatra’

get ‘/’ do
"Hello World!"

get ‘/route’ do
"Hello from a route URI!"

Next add a Gemfile & respective Gemfile.lock as such.


[sourcecode language=”ruby”]
source ""
gem ‘sinatra’


[sourcecode language=”ruby”]
rack (1.4.1)
rack-protection (1.2.0)
sinatra (1.3.2)
rack (~> 1.3, >= 1.3.6)
rack-protection (~> 1.2)
tilt (~> 1.3, >= 1.3.3)
tilt (1.3.3)



Then deploy using the Cloud Foundry VMC.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
vmc push

If you’ve forgotten, be sure to target and login first.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
vmc target
vmc login

That does it. Yeah, not a whole lot to get started working on a Sinatra Project. For more information on Sinatra check out the main web presence here

For more information on Cloud Foundry or Iron Foundry click on the respective link.

For the code sample, check out the working “paasIt” code repo on Github.

Next week I’ll do a baseline ASP.NET MVC 4 Application and get it deployed.

Ruby 1.9.3, Iron Foundry + Cloud Foundry and++

Installing the Latest Ruby, A Gotcha

Generally, you’d just install rvm (Ruby Version Manager) and execute this command.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
rvm install 1.9.3

But alas, as happens sometimes, I ran into an issue related to the C compiler being found. Checking the log file for errors I found the message and went searching, finding an immediate solution thanks to good ole’ Stack Overflow. Simply executing the install with a specific C compiler will get things running smoothly.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
rvm install 1.9.3 –with-gcc=clang

Installing the Latest Ruby on Windows

This part is pretty stupidly simple. Just download the installer and execute it. Once you’ve done this you’ve got all the gem bits and ruby bits you need to get the CLI for Cloud Foundry w/ the Iron Foundry .NET Additions!

Installing the vmc-ironfoundry CLI App

Why am I installing Ruby 1.9.3 besides the obvious fact that it is Ruby, and awesome, and inherently great for getting shit done? I need the latest bits in order to install the latest Iron Foundry vmc client! You may ask, what’s wrong with the vmc client that Cloud Foundry has made? Well, the .NET bits aren’t included to appropriately identify when you have a .NET application. Basically, the vmc client is the exact same one that the core Cloud Foundry team puts together, but with the additions to know that there are Iron Foundry DEAs that can launch and run .NET Web Applications. To install this, execute the following command on OS-X.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
gem install vmc-IronFoundry

If you ever run into the

“Could not find a valid gem ‘vmc-ironfoundry’ (>= 0) in any repository”

a quick call to update will usually resolve the issue. You may need to run this command with sudo, to insure you have access to the gems directory.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo gem update –system


At this point you can deploy a ton of languages and frameworks in addition to having .NET & SQL Server Support. I’ll be following up this with a how-to on deploying an ASP.NET 4.0 MVC Application, Node.js, and Ruby on Rails Application, scaling them to multiple instances, and best practices around that in the next month or three. In addition to that, I’ll have some great material coming up regarding some practices around getting these frameworks to work well together against data sources, across end points, via services and more.

A Tour of My Workspace & Dev Tools – Virtual & Physical

First off, here’s a tour of my physical space where I do the bulk of my coding when I’m not travelling.

Right Side Monitors (and iPad3)
Right Side Monitors (and iPad3) Click for full size image

The second bit, a good many months ago I published my developer tools list, which is still available in my blog entry “My Current Windows Developer Machine“. That entry however is very outdated. I’ve since dropped the Windows OS as my primary developer platform operating system for a deluge of reasons. In it’s place is OS-X, Ubuntu, and VMs for Windows and other operating systems. Even though I’ve changed my OS of choice, and boy has life been much simpler ever since, I still do a ton of .NET & C# Development. My toolset however has been minimized for Windows. It now includes the following.

Music Generation
Music Generation (Click for full size image)

Virtualized Windows Development Machine

  • Windows 7
  • Visual Studio 2010 w/ SP1 + other downloads available at
  • ReSharper ( I keep this updated, even if I buy it out of pocket because it saves THAT much time w/ .NET Dev )

Yup, my Windows machine is now THAT simplified. Dev on it is just as easy or easier before. With an SSD drive in my MacBook Air and the iMac I have w/ 16GB of RAM, it’s easy to have the VM perform BETTER than a natively installed version of Windows 7. I know it is hard to believe, but it is true. But I digress, I won’t try to sell you on that. Give it a try, research it, you’ll need to know for sure yourself to make that leap.

My main development OS these days however is OS-X, and here’s my stack of tools for it.

  • Ruby on Rails (It comes w/ the default install, but in case hit the site to check out the latest bits)
  • Gems so I can get any of those shiny bits I need.
  • Node.js w/ Express.js generally.
  • WebStorm for PHP/JavaScript/Ndoe.js hacking w/ an IDE => Check out JetBrains
  • IntelliJ for Java Dev => Check out JetBrains
  • Objective-C with XCode (easy, just grab it via the app store)
  • TextMate
  • Sublime 2

For office things, I sometimes use Microsoft Office, but generally Google Docs works just fine.

For video editing and creation, such as the video above I use ScreenFlow. Again, something you can easily get via the App Store.

I use MOU for editing files on github, cuz it makes life simpler.  🙂

…and that about wraps it up. Enjoy. If you have any suggestions, thoughts, or rants, please let me know in the comments!  Cheers!

Steaming Up The Engine for The Rails

I’ve been digging through and playing with the Rails Framework now for about 4 months with intent (I guess I’ve read about it, learned about, but not played with it for well over 4 years). I’ve gained a pretty good familiarity with the parts of the framework. Below, I’ve laid out some of the key things that I’ve done over and over just to become familiar with the commands, organization, and other elements within the framework. These also, in this specific order, is what I’ve found works best for getting a Ruby on Rails Application Project kick started (on a *nix based machine, the rvm commands will however not work on Windows, you’ll need to find a respective replacement).

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
$ mkdir steaming_up_the_engine
$ cd steaming_up_the_engine
$ rvm –rvmrc –create 1.9.2@steaming_up_the_engine
$ cd ..
$ cd steaming_up_the_engine
$ cd ..
$ rails new steaming_up_the_engine -T
$ open .
$ cd steaming_up_the_engine
$ git init
$ mate .gitignore
…edit and save the .gitignore file with whatever additions you may need or want…
[sourcecode language=”bash”]
$ git -A
$ git commit -m ‘first commit.’
$ rm public/index.html
$ rails generate rspec:install
…edit your Gemfile(See below Gemfile for contents)…
[sourcecode language=”bash”]
$ rails generate controller home index contact about
$ git rm -r spec/views
$ git rm -r spec/helpers
$ mate config/routes.rb

…edit the routes.rb so there is the index page handling the root page…

Gemfile (Located in ~/projectRoot/Gemfile)

[sourcecode language=”ruby”]
source ‘’

gem ‘rails’
gem ‘sqlite3’

group :development do
gem ‘rspec-rails’

group :test do
gem ‘rspec-rails’
gem ‘webrat’

group :assets do
gem ‘sass-rails’, ‘~> 3.1.4’
gem ‘coffee-rails’, ‘~> 3.1.1’
gem ‘uglifier’, ‘>= 1.0.3’

gem ‘jquery-rails’

route.rb file.

[sourcecode language=”ruby”]
SteamingUpTheEngine::Application.routes.draw do
get "home/index"
get "home/about"
get "home/contact"
root :to => ‘home#index’

mkdir creates a new directory called steaming_up_the_engine.

cd steaming_up_the_engine moves the active working directory of the terminal/bash to steaming_up_the_engine (i.e. cd stands for change directory).

rvm is the rvm application command, –rvmrc is the feature being created, –create is the command to issue on the feature.  1.9.2 is the version of Ruby that will be used for the project and the name after the @ is the name of the project itself. For more information about the rvmrc script check out my previous entry or the rvm site on rvmrc.

The action to cd .. moves out of the directory and then cd steaming_up_the_engine moves back in to initiate the script that the rvm command created for us. After that, the working directory is moved back outside of the application folder.

rails is simply the rails framework application command, new tells the application to create a new rails application based on the framework, and -T is a switch to prevent any tests from being generated.

open . actually opens the Finder to view the just created project in the working directory. The screenshot below is the Finder with the newly created rails app.

Finder showing the newly created Rails Application in a column display.
Finder showing the newly created Rails Application in a column display.

Again move back into the application working directory.

git init initializes a local git repository for the project.

mate .gitignore opens up the .gitignore file that was created by the rails command for editing.  mate is the command for the TextMate Application. If you don’t have TextMate, then you would have to change mate to a command that relates to whatever you use to edit your code files. Check out my previous blog entry for a sample .gitignore file.

git -A adds all new files for commit to the local git repository.

git commit -m ‘first commit’ actually commits the new project to the git repository.

rm public/index.html removes the default static page that displays if the application is run at this point. I never need it, but it does come in handy sometimes if you’re troubleshooting if a server runs and just want to deploy something to verify you’re doing it right (such as to EngineYard or Heroku).

rspec can be setup and configured to run in your Rails project with the rails command rails generate rspec:install. If the rspec gem isn’t already in your project, remember to gem install rspec or add it to the gemfile and run bundle install.

The first of these commands that actually starts building the site is the rails generator command. rails generate controller Pages home contact creates the pages, controllers, and routes for the pages. Because the rspec has been configured for the project, when rails generates the controller and pages tests will be created in the spec directory.

After the creation of those pages remove the unnecessary test files in helpers and views under spec. git rm -r spec/views and git rm -r spec/helpers will get rid of these files.

Now you’re ready to really get started actually building something in those pages. Enjoy!