June 2008

Joey\'s Unofficial Ruby Fringe Guide to Toronto - Small logoWelcome to the third installment in Joey’s Unofficial RubyFringe Guide to Toronto, a series of offbeat articles to acquaint attendees of the upcoming RubyFringe conference with Accordion City.

There’ve been two articles in the series so far:

  1. Where Did All the Cigarettes Go?
  2. Getting from the Airport to the Hotel

In this article, I’ll cover the social lubricant that helps keep a good tech conference going: booze!

The Legal Drinking Age in Ontario: 19

If you look at Wikipedia’s Legal Drinking Age page, there are generally two places with a drinking age of 21 and some regions which ban the sale (and sometimes consumption) of alcohol:

  • A handful of Muslim countries that allow alcohol: Indonesia (except Bali), Oman, Pakistan and United Arab Emirates, and
  • the United States of America

Here in Ontario, as with most of Canada, the legal age drinking age is 19. Underage drinking is permitted at home under adult supervision. No, underage RubyFringers, you cannot come to my house to drink. A number of RubyFringe after-conference events will be taking place in or near licensed establishments, so be sure to bring some government ID with you — a driver’s licence or passport will do.

Where Do You Buy Liquor and Beer in Ontario?

If Ontario has a more civilized legal drinking age, we pay for it in terms of where we can buy it. The sale of beer and liquor is limited — with a few exceptions — to two types of stores:

Logo for LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores

The first type: the LCBO (short for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario), a set of stores run by the Ontario government that carries, spirits, wines and beers.

Storefront for \"The Beer Store\"

The second type: The Beer Store. Its official name is Brewers Retail, but since everyone calls it “The Beer Store”, that’s what they typically display on their storefronts. They sell beer and beer paraphernalia.

Okay, Enough Preamble. Where’s the Alcohol Store Closest to the Hotel?

Of the two types of store, the closest one to the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto is the LCBO at the Atrium on Bay, a shopping centre located a mere two blocks away. If you walk out of the hotel, take a left until you hit Dundas Street, then turn right and walk two blocks. The LCBO is on the lower level, about half a block into the shopping centre. Here’s a map:

Map showing the path from the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto to the LCBO at the Atrium on Bay

This LCBO keeps these hours:

  • Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Thursday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Beer Hunter is Your Friend!

The \"Beer Hunter Guy\"

The Beer Hunter is a Google Maps mash-up that shows you the locations and hours of alcohol retail outlets in Ontario, aswell as which stores are open right now. It’s a creation of local web development shop Bad Math, and was recently featured in at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit, Design and the Elastic Mind.

I’m Crashing at a Friend’s House. Can I Get Booze Delivered There?

Yes, you can! For a CDN$8.00 delivery charge, The Beer Guy lets you order alcohol online for home delivery in one hour.

Okay, Enough About Stores. What About Bars? Any Good Ones Near the Hotel?

There are a number of bars within walking distance of the hotel. Here are three decent ones that I used to frequent when I lived in the neighbourhood. They’re not cookie-cutter drinking establishments that you can find anywhere, but places with some character and local vibe.

Interior shots of The Village Idiot Pub

The Village Idiot Pub (126 McCaul Street, about 6 minutes’ walk from the hotel). This one’s a hangout for locals as well as art students from the Ontario College of Art and Design or visitors to the Art Gallery of Ontario, both of which are just across the street. The bar has about two dozen higher-end beers on tap, from imports like Guinness, Leffe Brune and Kronenberg 1664 to local microbrews like Waterloo Dark (a favourite of mine) and Brick Honey Brown. The outer walls of the bar are garage doors which are rolled up in the summer to let the air in.

I made some decent coin (and a lot of beer!) busking here during the great blackout of 2003.

The Rex Hotel

The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar (194 Queen Street West, about 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel). A jazz and blues institution since I was in high school, The Rex is a retro, just-divey-enough place that has a decent selection of beer and live blues and jazz. I’ve seen some pretty good acts here and have stumbled home tipsy many a night from this joint.

Interior of Smokeless Joe

Smokeless Joe (125 John Street, about 12 minutes’ walk from the hotel). This is a place for the serious beer enthusiast. With a half-dozen taps and a couple hundred bottled beers, this tiny, friendly place was my preferred watering hole when I lived in the neighbourhood. If you want some food to go with your beer, they have delicious sandwiches and some pretty good oysters.

I’ve been there on some pretty good dates, such as this one as well as my first date with The Ginger Ninja.

When is Last Call in Ontario?

Bars and pubs have to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m..

Is There Any Way to Get Served Booze After 2 a.m.?

teapot

I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of the urban legend of “cold tea”, only that the urban legend exists. It does, after all, exist as an entry in Urban Dictionary.

There are speakeasies in town; the local term for them is “booze cans”. Their locations change over time, and the ones from my days as a single guy probably no longer exist. The best way to locate these places is to ask anyone who works in the entertainment/service industry such as a bartender or waiter; they’re where they go when their shifts end.

Be advised that you’ll get more out of the conference if you get some decent sleep and aren’t hung over…

{ 8 comments }

Fear and Loathing at RailsConf

by Joey deVilla on June 26, 2008

In Fear and Loathing at RailsConf, Giles Bowkett examines what it means to “Keep RailsConf weird”. It’s worth a read, especially if you’re attending, planning or gate-crashing RubyFringe.

{ 2 comments }

This is Me and Regular Expressions

by Joey deVilla on June 26, 2008

Unless they’re painfully simple, I never write my regular expressions correctly the first time. Usually my first attempt gets results like this:

\"Before and after\" photos of a radio-controlled Hummer mishap
Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

(For the full story behind these photos, see this entry on the Accordion Guy blog.)

{ 0 comments }

Why Don’t Browsers Have File Upload Progress Bars?

by Joey deVilla on June 26, 2008

Michael Kimsal asks a very good question: Why do browsers still not have file upload progress bars?

{ 0 comments }

Joey\'s Unofficial Ruby Fringe Guide to Toronto - Small logoIn preparation for people coming to Accordion City to attend the RubyFringe conference (as well as those of you who are coming here this summer for other reasons), I’m writing Joey’s Unofficial RubyFringe Guide to Toronto, a series of articles with useful tips for visiting our fair city.

So far, I’ve published one article: Where Did All the Cigarettes Go?, in which I explained to visiting smokers that you can buy cigarettes in stores here; they’re just hidden in large, featureless cabinets behind the counter.

In this article, I’m going to cover the cheapest way to get to the conference hotel, the Metropolitan, from the airport.

There are Two Metropolitan Hotels!

This may be a source of confusion, so make sure you’re aware of this: there are two Metropolitan Hotels in town. Both are owned by the same hotel chain, and they’re a fifteen-minute walk from each other!

RubyFringe is taking place at the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto, located at 108 Chestnut Street, which is behind City Hall and on the edge of Chinatown. If the front of the hotel looks like the photo below, you’re in the right place:

Front entrance of the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto

The other hotel is the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel on 318 Wellington Street West and is a hop, skip and a jump away from Toronto’s domed stadium, The Rogers Centre. If the front of the hotel looks like the photo below, you’re in the wrong place!

Front of the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel

(There’s nothing wrong with the Soho Met: it’s a nice place and swankier than the Metropolitan Toronto; it’s just that the conference isn’t taking place there.)

For this article and any other in this series, when I refer to the Metropolitan Hotel, I’m referring to the Metropolitan Toronto, the conference venue.

The Distance

Lester B. Pearson International Airport (airport code YYZ, which is where Rush got the name for their song with Neil Peart’s legendary drum solo) is a bit of a hike from downtown Accordion City. It’s 27 kilometres (about 17 miles) from the airport to the Metropolitan Hotel, a span on par with the distances between Los Angeles International Airport and its downtown core, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and the Chicago Loop and Newark’s Liberty Airport and midtown Manhattan.

The Most Expensive Way: Renting a Car and Driving (Round trip: $lots)

If you were to drive from the airport to the hotel, you’d get on Highway 427 and go south to the Gardiner Expressway and follow it east. Google Maps says to exit at Spadina, I say take the Bay/York Street exit and follow York Street to where it forks and take the University Avenue fork (Spadina has fewer lanes and is downtown Chinatown’s main drag, which makes it slower going). Either way, you go north to Dundas, at which point you turn east and go a short way to Chestnut Street, where the hotel is.

Map showing road directions from Pearson Airport to Metropolitan Hotel Toronto
Google Map showing directions from Pearson Airport to the Metropolitan.
Click the map to see it on its Google Maps page.

The Second Most Expensive Way: Taking a Cab or Airport Limo (Round trip: $90 – 100)

If you were take a cab or airport limo from the airport to the hotel today, it would cost around $40. However, cab fares are going up in July because of skyrocketing gas prices, so a cab ride will probably cost more by the time RubyFringe takes place. The trip should take about 35 – 40 minutes if traffic isn’t too bad. It’s probably the fastest, lowest-hassle way to get to the hotel from the airport.

The Cheapest Way: The TTC (Round trip: $5.50)

The cheapest way to get to the hotel is via public transit — the TTC. It will cost you a grand total of $2.75 and take about 45 minutes to an hour. It involves a bus trip, followed by a ride on the subway.

The first leg of the trip is to take the 192 Airport Rocket bus. It stops at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

(Don’t worry about it not stopping at Terminal 2: it’s being renovated and not being used for anything!)

I know that going to a strange town and not knowing what things look like can throw you off, so I’ve gathered some photos to help orient you. TTC bus stops are marked by signs that look like this:

TTC bus stop sign

Here’s what the airport bus stop looks like:

\"Airport Rocket\" bus pulling into the airport bus stop

And here’s what a TTC bus looks like:

TTC bus

Make sure that you board only the 192 Airport Rocket bus; it’s an express bus that goes straight to the subway station. The others will eventually take you to a subway station, but they’re regular bus routes and take much longer.

In case you were wondering, the $2.75 fare you pay on the bus will cover the whole trip to the hotel.

Here’s the schedule for the Airport Rocket. The trip to Kipling subway station should take about 20 minutes.

Once you’re at Kipling station, take the train east to St. George station. At St. George station, you’ll go up one floor, which takes you to the north-south-running trains on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. Take the train south to St. Patrick station.

Map showing TTC subway trip from Kipling to St. Patrick station
Click the map to see it at full size.

Exit St. Patrick station, and you’ll be a mere two blocks away from the hotel:

Map showing St. Patrick subway station and Metropolitan Toronto Hotel

The Middle-of-the-Road Way: Airport Express Bus (Round trip: $29.95)

Airport Express bus (Toronto)

The Airport Express bus stops at both Terminals 1 and 3, involves less lugging stuff around than taking the subway and takes slightly longer than a cab would. It stops at a number of hotels in the downtown core, including the Metropolitan.

They advertise that their buses are WiFi equipped, which might come in handy if you really feel the need to check your email or IM everyone that you’ve arrived.

{ 6 comments }

Here we are the third installment of Enumerating Enumerable, my attempt to do a better job of documenting Ruby’s Enumerable module than RubyDoc.org does. In this installment, I cover Enumerable#collect and its syntactic sugar twin (and the one I prefer), Enumerable#map.

In case you missed the earlier installments, they’re listed (and linked) below:

  1. all?
  2. any?

Enumerable#collect/Enumerable#map Quick Summary

Graphic representation of Ruby\'s \"Enumerable#collect / Enumerable#map\" methods

In the simplest possible terms Create a new array by performing some operation on every item in the given collection. collect and map are synonyms — you can use either. I personally prefer map as it’s shorter and makes sense if you think of the method as being like functional mapping.
Ruby version 1.8 and 1.9
Expects A block containing the criteria. This block is optional, but you’re likely to use one in most cases.
Returns An array made up of items created by performing some operation on the given collection.
RubyDoc.org’s entry Enumerable#collect / Enumerable#map

Enumerable#collect/Enumerable#map and Arrays

When used on an array and a block is provided, collect/map passes each item to the block, where the operation in the block is performed on the item and the result is then added to the result array. Note the the result array has the same number of elements as the given array.

[1, 2, 3, 4].map {|number| number ** 2}
=> [1, 4, 9, 16]

["Aqua", "Bat", "Super", "Wonder Wo"].map {|adjective| adjective + "man"}
=> ["Aquaman", "Batman", "Superman", "Wonder Woman"]

When the block is omitted, collect/map uses this implied block: {|item| item}, which means when applied on an array without a block, collect/map is the identity function — the resulting array is the same as the given array.

[1, 2, 3, 4].map
=> [1, 2, 3, 4]

["Aqua", "Bat", "Super", "Wonder Wo"].map
=> ["Aqua", "Bat", "Super", "Wonder Wo"]

Enumerable#collect/Enumerable#map and Hashes

When used on a hash and a block is provided, collect and map pass each key/value pair in the hash to the block, which you can “catch” as either:

  1. A two-element array, with the key as element 0 and its corresponding value as element 1, or
  2. Two separate items, with the key as the first item and its corresponding value as the second item.

Each key/value pair is passed to the block, where the operation in the block is performed on the item and the result is then added to the result array. Note the the result array has the same number of elements as the given array.

burgers = {"Big Mac" => 300, "Whopper with cheese" => 450, "Wendy's Double with cheese" => 320}

# What if I had just half a burger?
burgers.map {|burger| burger[1] / 2}
=> [160, 150, 225]

burgers.map {|sandwich, calories| calories / 2}
=> [160, 150, 225]

burgers.map {|burger| "Have a tasty #{burger[0]}!"}
=> ["Have a tasty Wendy's Double with cheese!", "Have a tasty Big Mac!",
 "Have a tasty Whopper with cheese!"]

burgers.map {|sandwich, calories| "Have a tasty #{sandwich}!"}
=> ["Have a tasty Wendy's Double with cheese!", "Have a tasty Big Mac!",
 "Have a tasty Whopper with cheese!"]

burgers.map {|sandwich, calories| ["Half a #{sandwich}", calories / 2]}
=> [["Half a Wendy's Double with cheese", 160], ["Half a Big Mac", 150],
 ["Half a Whopper with cheese", 225]]

When the block is omitted, collect/map uses this implied block: {|item| item}, which means when applied on an hash without a block, collect/map returns an array containing a set of two-item arrays, one for each key/value pair in the hash. For each two-item array, item 0 is the key and item 1 is the corresponding value.

burgers = {"Big Mac" => 300, "Whopper with cheese" => 450, "Wendy's Double with cheese" => 320}

burgers.map
=> [["Wendy's Double with cheese", 320], ["Big Mac", 300], ["Whopper with cheese", 450]]

Special Case: Using Enumerable#collect/Enumerable#map on Empty Arrays and Hashes

When applied to an empty array or hash, with or without a block, collect and map always return an empty array.

# Let's try it with an empty array
[].map
=> []

[].map {|item| item * 2}
=> []

# Now let's try it with an empty hash
{}.map
=> []

{}.map {|sandwich, calories| "Have a tasty #{sandwich}!"}
=> []

{ 9 comments }

Enumerating Enumerable: Enumerable#any?

by Joey deVilla on June 24, 2008

Welcome to the second installment of Enumerating Enumerable, my project to do a better job of documenting Ruby’s Enumerable module than RubyDoc.org. This installment will cover Enumerable#any?, which I like to think of as Enumerable.all?‘s more easy-going cousin (I covered Enumerable.all? in the previous installment).

Enumerable#any? Quick Summary

Graphic representing Ruby\'s Enumerable#any? method

In the simplest possible terms Do any of the items in the collection meet the given criteria?
Ruby version 1.8 and 1.9
Expects A block containing the criteria. This block is optional, but you’re likely to use one in most cases.
Returns true if any of the items in the collection meet the given criteria.

false if none of the items in the collection does not meet the given criteria.

RubyDoc.org’s entry Enumerable#any?

Enumerable#any? and Arrays

When used on an array and a block is provided, any? passes each item to the block. If the block returns true for any item during this process, any? returns true; otherwise, it returns false.

# "Fromage de Montagne de Savoie" is the longest-named cheese in this list
# at a whopping 29 characters
cheeses = ["feta", "cheddar", "stilton", "camembert", "mozzarella", "Fromage de Montagne de Savoie"]

cheeses.any? {|cheese| cheese.length >= 25}
=> true

cheeses.any? {|cheese| cheese.length >= 35}
=> false

When the block is omitted, any? uses this implied block: {|item| item}. Since everything in Ruby evaluates to true except for false and nil, using any? without a block is effectively a test to see if any of the items in the collection evaluate to true (or conversely, if all the values in the array evaluate to false or nil).

cheeses.any?
=> true

cheeses = [false, nil]
=> [false, nil]

cheeses.any?
=> false

# Remember that in Ruby, everything except for false and nil evaluates to true:
cheeses << 0
=> [false, nil, 0]

>> cheeses.any?
=> true

Enumerable#any? and Hashes

When used on a hash and a block is provided, any? passes each key/value pair in the hash to the block, which you can “catch” as either:

  1. A two-element array, with the key as element 0 and its corresponding value as element 1, or
  2. Two separate items, with the key as the first item and its corresponding value as the second item.

If the block returns true for any item during this process, any? returns true; otherwise, it returns false.

# Here's a hash where for each key/value pair, the key is a programming language and
# the corresponding value is the year when that language was first released
# The keys range in value from "Javascript" to "Ruby", and the values range from
# 1987 to 1996
languages = {"Javascript" => 1996, "PHP" => 1994, "Perl" => 1987, "Python" => 1991, "Ruby" => 1993}

languages.any? {|language| language[0] < "Pascal"}
=> true

languages.any? {|language, year_created| language < "Pascal"}
=> true

languages.any? {|language| language[0] < "Fortran"}
=> false

languages.any? {|language, year_created| language < "Fortran"}
=> false

languages.any? {|language| language[0] >= "Basic" and language[1] <= 1995}
=> true

languages.any? {|language, year_created| language >= "Basic" and year_created <= 1995}
=> true

languages.any? {|language| language[0] >= "Basic" and language[1] <= 1985}
=> false

languages.any? {|language, year_created| language >= "Basic" and year_created <= 1985}
=> false

Using any? without a block on a hash is meaningless, as it will always return true. When the block is omitted, any? uses this implied block: {|item| item}. In the case of a hash, item will always be a two-element array, which means that it will never evaluate as false nor nil.

And yes, even this hash, when run through any?, will still return true:

{false => false, nil => nil}.any?
=> true

Special Case: Using Enumerable#any? on Empty Arrays and Hashes

When applied to an empty array or hash, with or without a block, any? always returns false. That’s because with an empty collection, there are no values to process and return a true value.

Let’s look at the case of empty arrays:

cheeses = []
=> []

cheeses.any? {|cheese| cheese.length >= 25}
=> false

cheeses.any?
=> false

# Let's try applying "any?" to a non-empty array
# using a block that ALWAYS returns true:
["Gruyere"].any? {|cheese| true}
=> true

# ...but watch what happens when we try the same thing
# with an EMPTY array!
[].any? {|cheese| true}
=> false

…now let’s look at the case of empty hashes:

languages = {}
=> {}

languages.any? {|language| language[0] < "Pascal"}
=> false

languages.any? {|language, year_created| language < "Pascal"}
=> false

languages.any?
=> false

# Let's try applying "any?" to a non-empty hash
# using a block that ALWAYS returns true:
{"Lisp" => 1959}.any? {|language| true}
=> true

# ...but watch what happens when we try the same thing
# with an EMPTY hash!
{}.any? {|language| true}
=> false

{ 14 comments }