Launchd Tools Released

Launchd Tools are for reading and creating launchd jobs.

For example, to see info about all Apple LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons.

launchd2cmd /System/Library/Launch*/*

Or to create your own launchd job from an existing command:

cmd2launchd /usr/local/bin/daemond -d --mode foreground

Check it out here:

Whether to store data in SQL as key value pairs

It can be tempting to store unstructured data as key value pairs to avoid lots of schema changes and capture dynamic data.  But it can lead to problems.

  • Overly complex queries/reporting
  • No type support

This article explains some of the issues.

My conclusion is that it is fine if you will only be accessing the data rather than querying it, or as a temporary capture means until you’ve identified where the data really belongs.

If you have another way to query, like a Lucene index it may also be perfectly fine.


A key value store NoSQL solution may be appropriate, but that brings with it other baggage.  Depending on the NoSQL solution you choose, you may have to do some extra work to get the type of search you need or use a Lucene style indexing solution anyway.

If you are using PostgreSQL, you can get much of the best of both worlds using hstore.

And you can easily use it with rails!

This will have the drawback of not being portable to other SQL backends, but that may be a tradeoff worth making.

With the PostgreSQL solution, you can retain one datastore and still allow some ability to store unstructured key values.  Then as needed, you can integrate these back into the schema to permanent normalized columns.

Ruby Time to Integer does give you seconds since Epoch

“Time is stored internally as the number of seconds with fraction since the Epoch, January 1, 1970 00:00 UTC.”

 >>require 'time'
 >>Time.parse("January 1, 1970 00:00 UTC").to_i
 => 0

As expected, but nice to verify.

For the reverse, be sure to use rather than

=> 0
=> -62167201200

Tips for writing command line tools in ruby

  1. Option parsing: Read this article by Allen Wei on RubyLearning Blog for a great overview.  I recommend sticking with the built-in OptionParser if you want to reduce dependencies.
  2. If you want your code to be loadable so you can access functions and classes in the irb console for testing, use the following pattern:
    def main
     #option parsing and execution code here
    if __FILE__ == $0

    This way the main function will only be automatically called if the script is being executed on the command line.
    And in irb, you can call your functions and classes as you see fit for testing without triggering your whole script to run.

    Note that this is similar to the python __main__ test if you are coming from a python background.

  3. Naming without ruby’s.rb extension: You can name your executable without the rb extension if you wish, just be sure to include your shebang (#!)

    To use the user’s default ruby, use:
    #!/usr/bin/env ruby
    But in some cases you may want the specify the path to ruby so you can use macruby or rubycocoa if you are need those frameworks to be available

    When testing in irb,
    require 'script-name'
    won’t work without the rb extension, but
    load 'script-name'
    does work.
  4. Use exit codes. When your script fails or needs to communicate status at exit, use standard exit status codes.
    Exit zero for default success status
    exit 0
    Exit any other number for a failure or warning status. You choose the exit codes for your tool, but be sure to document them if they require more explanation than simple success or failure.
    exit 27
  5. Output to stderr using:
    $stderr.puts "error: problem ...."

Read and Write to a Process using Ruby IO popen without blocking

Once in a while you need to control an interactive command line tool. I kept getting a block when trying to read from a ruby IO popen pipe that was waiting for input. Here is my simple solution/workaround:

sh_process = IO.popen('sh > out.log', 'w')
f ="out.log", "r")

Basically, just create a temp file and read from that. A little hackish, but it works.

Disable protect_from_forgery when load testing rails

Rails turns on protection from CSRF Cross-Site Request Forgery by default. It can make load testing more challenging since you need to get an authenticity_token for posting form data.

More information here: