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Showing posts from November, 2009

Merits of Customer Development

I wouldn't be a card-carrying product manager without some thoughts on product management. My latest product management interest has been following a trend known as Customer Development, advocated by Steve Blank . It's a business model for developing new products, mostly applicable to startups but I think it also applies to more established companies. The main message is actually fairly intuitive: you develop a successful product by continually iterating it in a tight feedback loop between developing the product, getting customer input, and then making changes. Rather than spend a lot of time upfront in creating the product, you develop a minimum viable product (MVP) : the product with just the necessary features to get money and feedback from early adopters. Then you let your early adopter customers tell you what works well and what needs to be changed. This model sounds intuitive but by far the most prevalent development model for Silicon Valley startups looks somethi

Displaying Ruby code on a blog

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out the best way to display Ruby code on this blog. Initially I just converted the code to Courier font but it looked ugly and was hard to work with. I eventually found this link on Stack Overflow: There were a few other methods I found, such as this strategy to convert the code via a Ruby script to HTML and then put it in the clipboard. But I liked the Stack Overflow method the best because all I need to do is add these HTML tags to the code: <pre class="brush: ruby" name="code"> (Code) <pre> Here's an example of what it looks like: Class Foo def bar end end And here is how to widen the main text column so the code doesn't constantly get wrapped:

Build simple PDF search engine in Ruby (Part 1)

I decided to build a simple Ruby search engine to search through PDFs. The main application was that I wanted a quick way to search through songsheets on my church's Web site. I didn't want to repeatedly look through different PDFs to find the song I was interested in. I was mostly inspired by this example of someone who had written a search engine in 200 lines of Ruby. I knew my program would be much easier because it didn't need to support any crawling; just indexing and querying. The first challenge was to find a Ruby library that would parse PDFs. I ultimately settled on this because it was easy to work with. It's basically just a Ruby wrapper around pdftohtml that provides high level access to the text objects of a PDF. I don't care about layout, graphics, etc. so this was sufficient. The PDF code mostly works without problems but it assumes that the directory for pdftohtml exists in $PATH. I used MacPorts to compile pdftohtml so it was stored in /opt