Finding the 4Runner Framework

I’ve been thinking about web application frameworks. These days we are both blessed (and perhaps cursed at times) with a richness of choice. This abundance reminds me of a scene from Moscow on the Hudson where the main character (Vladimir Ivanoff played by the amazing Robin Williams) goes to a regular American supermarket isle for coffee and has a mental breakdown due to the vast choices on the shelves. He’s a Russian defector that had only one coffee choice in Communist Russia, and now there’s just too many options.

So how does one avoid the analysis-by-paralysis break down that vast choice of frameworks present? One approach is to use a logical approach choosing something that is “boring, old, and popular”. This approach is perfectly reasonable for a work related project. But what about a personal project or experiment – how do you choose a framework to learn for that? It has to be something that gives you some spark of excitement – doesn’t it?

The main Ruby on Rails page speaks of “optimizing for programmer happiness.” I love the “optimizing” part since it makes sure to remind you that you’re speaking to a rationally focused audience. But what is “programmer happiness” and how can a framework provide this? Or better said, how can I recognize that a framework has this very personal component for me – this elusive feeling thing called ‘happiness’?

For me as an engineer, the term “happiness” is a bit too fuzzy and perhaps that is the case because I’m in “feeling” territory rather than “thinking.” How do I identify this feeling, this joy component that the RoR page speaks of?

There was a moment a few days ago where my car, my 4Runner, provided the answer (yes – I know – I suppose that it is a guy thing to find an answer in a car).

So it all starts with my history of cars. My first car was a Chevy Chevette that I bought using some very hard earned paperboy money. The Chevette was a somewhat terrible piece of crap that leaked rainwater into the driver side compartment. The final act of Chevette crappiness came in the form of the engine seizing at highway speeds. So if there were a “car owner happiness” scale – it would have been a -5 (on a scale from 0 to 5).

After the Chevette, there was a cavalcade of cars including a Chevy Malibu (my last American car) that bled to death when its transmission case cracked during a nasty East Coast winter storm. Then there was the Honda Civic (super-reliable but blah), the Acura Integra (super-reliable and slightly less blah on the joy/happiness scale), a used Isuzu Trooper (the SUV equivalent of the Chevette in terms of reliability and crappiness…I had weekly visits to the mechanic with this 4WD disaster), a very used Lexus ES 300 (engine blew up a year after purchase; it had an amazingly smooth ride but everything on that car cost 4 times as much as a regular Toyota) and finally the 4Runner.

I bought the 4Runner with one hundred and thirty thousand miles, and it has served me well for almost a decade. The one mistake that I made was not getting four-wheel-drive, but that’s on me, not the car.

For the past few days, I’ve had to switch cars with my wife due to a home renovation project. She has a zippy Prius that can run circles around the 4Runner in terms of maneuverability and fuel economy.

So there’s this one day when I come home and see the 4Runner on the driveway. There’s this momentary internal (nice) sigh with this “I really like this car” feeling. I look at it, and I see this “real life” version of a toy car that I used to play with as a child. And at this joyous point, I remind myself that this car is mine. It’s this odd momentary joy that is hard to put into words.

I think that when I look for a web framework for personal projects, I need to find the sigh…I really like this framework feeling. This is programmer happiness and joy – isn’t it? Now this is not to say that my 4Runner doesn’t have issues (like the lack of the 4-wheel-drive and all the bumps and scratches of a used car) but that joy…that joy is still there when I step back and take a look at this vehicle. I need to find a similar vehicle for code – a vehicle that gives me the same feeling as the 4Runner.

I need to find my 4Runner of frameworks.

How to Use your Amazon Prime No-Rush Credits

Overview

In this post I cover how to use Amazon Prime’s no-rush credits. This applies if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. I’ve gotten burned several times because the credit expired or when I tried to use it when it didn’t apply to the item that I was purchasing. I’m writing this post to remind myself how to do this and for anyone else that has wondered about this credit usage.

And to Amazon support: You’re welcome – feel free to extend my Prime Membership at your convenience 🙂

It begins at the checkout screen

What’s that you say Amazon? Get $1 if I don’t use my Amazon Prime two-day shipping? Sure – why not.

It begins at the checkout screen

What’s that – get a $1 credit for a purchase of what item?

So what are those details?

What's that - get a $1 credit for a purchase of what item?

The “Details”?

So what are “select eBooks…”? It seems simple but nothing tells you exactly what you can purchase 😦

The "Details"?

So when you choose the no-rush shipping option…

Lets say that you love David McRaney’s podcast (the cookie eating segment is the BEST) but you don’t need the book right now. So you choose the no-rush shipping and initially nothing happens. You don’t get any information about the $1 credit until the book ships (which makes sense if you think about it – why give you the credit until your item is being shipped via the no-rush date).

When the book ships you get

When the book ships you get

Clicking on additional information once again

So here’s another explanation of the credit and what you can purchase.

But what can I purchase Amazon? I want to use that $1 wisely!

Clicking on additional information once again

So what does this mean?

Q: It sure feels like I can use this on whatever Amazon sells – right?

A: Wrong!

I ended up contacting support regarding this and I got the scoop, skinny, and explanation.

The EXPLANATION with a delicious Hunger Games example

A very nice Amazon support associate called me back when I asked for help through the website. I told the lady (lets call her Jane) that I purchased an ebook and my dollar credit didn’t kick in. Jane empathized with my frugality based sadness. She told me that the “credit only applies to items sold by Amazon Digital Services”. I asked her for an example. She told me to look up the “Hunger Games” books. She said that the key is the “Sold by” area. If that has Amazon Digital Services then the credit applies, otherwise you’re out of luck.

She told me that I should start any search with “Amazon Digital Services” and narrow my query parameters from there.

I thanked Jane for her clear explanation and help (marking the feedback email with AWESOME).

The EXPLANATION with a delicious Hunger Games example

Time to search for “Amazon Digital Services”

So first step is the general search query of “Amazon Digital Services”

Time to search for "Amazon Digital Services"

Lets narrow it down based on department

Choosing “Books” for example from the department drop-down.

Lets narrow it down based on department

Narrowing the department choice further (Books in this case) using the left-side choices

The left-side menu is THE way to narrow the search criteria within a department.

For the Books department I typically use the:

  • Type of book (1)
  • Book format (2)

    These choices are quite useful if you’re a Kindle book hoarder 🙂 .

Narrowing the department choice (Books in this case) using the left-side choices

It’s time for some sweet Space Opera Kindle Books

Here’s an example of search narrowing using the left-side choices.

It's time for some sweet Space Opera Kindle books

Use the credit right away

To each his own of course but due to a fairly quick expiration date on the no-rush credits I suggest that you use the credit right away. Just bookmark your search query with your narrow criteria and you’re on your way.

Conclusion

So there you go. Maximum use of Amazon’s no-rush credit.

Enjoy!


Please let me know via Twitter (@eli4d) if you found this post useful.