Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us


The magic world of cloud computing is all abuzz at the moment. Part of it is because it’s so new and everyone’s all curious about what it can do, and part of it is because people can make money off it. One of the technologies I’ve been looking at over the last few weeks falls more into the former category, and it’s called AppDrop.

Here’s how it works. You can use Google AppEngine to write a nice little web application that Google hosts for you on their servers. But what if you decide one day that you want to put it on your own server? Well you can’t.

This is the problem that AppDrop solves. You download it, put it on your server, and now you can put your AppEngine apps alongside it.

But AppDrop’s been more than that for me. I’ve struggled in how I felt about Ruby and Rails for a while now. They’re the “in” new things that people love to talk about, but most people you talk to about it on both sides don’t know a whole lot about it. Maybe that’s just the case with…well…everything, but for some reason I notice it more with this.

The whole “getting AppDrop to work on my boxes” experience is different for me. I got to read this excellent book (review here) and this so-so book (review soon to come) to learn how Rails apps really work and how Ruby really is an agile language when paired with the super agile framework Rails.

So my advice to you: if you’ve heard a lot about Ruby and Rails but don’t really know a whole lot about them, go check it out. The first book above is super-easy reading and really sells Ruby on Rails in the way that the evangelical Rails guys seem to feel about it.

And if the people are any indication, I’ve been chatting a bit with Chris Anderson, the creator of AppDrop, and he’s been really awesome about the whole thing. Always a good sign to see friendly, helpful people around the stuff you work on (and not as common as you may expect).