Sunday, 30 June 2013

How to shop at Ikea...

Step 1. recognise that you have a problem.
Decide that ikea has the perfect solution.

Step 2. Find a time where you know you have four hours spare (just in case), but convince yourself that you're only likely to be there for an hour or so.

Step 3. struggle for two hours through a labyrinth of perfect mini-houses and dawdling shoppers trying to find the thing you know is there somewhere... you've *seen* it the last time you were here...

Step 4. Along the way discover solutions for five other problems you'd forgotten you had. Write down prices and numbers for ALL the Things!!!

Step 5. You reach the end. Stop for meatballs.

Step 6. Spend a few minutes adding it all up on paper to discover that you'd be spending the next five pay-checks paying back the credit card debt to cover it. Cut it down to only two or three things you most need.

Step 7. Refreshed and ready. Head downstairs to pick up your things... and suddenly re-discover the kitchen section... and remember that you needed some wine glasses, and you loved that metal bowl and could do with another one... and oh! memory-foam pillows, you need a spare! etc etc...

Step 8. Get to the warehouse section and discover there's no flat trolleys, there's a queue of ten people waiting already and they're somehow closing in fifteen minutes. wait... and wait... and wait... plan the order-of-attack for hitting the aisles at a run.

Step 9. Eventually get to the first aisle... and discover you wrote down the wrong number for this item, and without it, almost all the others are useless.
Give up and decide you'll just get the original item *only*. try not to feel bad about the additional two hours of lost time spent choosing these items.

Step 10. Get to the aisle and discover that it comes in a set of *three* huge boxes. Heave them onto the trolley. Think to yourself... holy shit, I don't remember the boxes being that long... how the hell are they going to fit in the hatchback?

Step 11. navigate the trolley towards the checkout... as you try to turn it, remember that these trolleys work on hovercraft-physics, and have about the same leeway... try desperately to stop five times your own bodyweight of flat-packed MDF as it begins to slew into a pair of inattentive shoppers that are drifting about in front of you without looking... discover that the best course of action is to yell maniacally "I can't stop this thing!!!" while they stare at you in horror and clutch small children to their shaking breast.

Step 12. When you're finally waiting in the queue, remember that they do deliveries! You won't have to fit the boxes in the car after all! ... Get to the deliveries desk and re-discover that Ikea assumes that *everybody* has a house-wife willing to be there from 12-noon to 8pm for when they decide to show up... and they will *only* do next day delivery. Decide you want to keep your job, and go fetch your car.

Step 13. break a nail off and bleed profusely getting the first long box in the car... realise that even with the back seats down and the front seat far forward, it's still sticking out by 5cm... of course you knew this was going to happen.

Step 14. use the remaining shreds of your undergrad maths to figure out a topologically viable solution that will allow you to slam the hatchback closed before the carpark closes for the night... When you do, realise you have zero side-vision on your left, it's pouring with rain and pitch dark outside... hope to god that nobody does anything stupid on that side of you tonight. Decide to see the silver lining - if you die, at least you won't see it coming.

Step 15. get to the exit gates and discover that you were in the carpark for your free three hours... and 15 minutes - about the same time you spent struggling to get the boxes into the car... and for which you now owe $8.
Don't forget to drop your credit card on the ground after the *first* time the machine rejects it... apologise to the three cars behind you in time for it to reject you a second time.

Step 16. discover you have to turn left when leaving the carpark. You know this when twice your bodyweight in MDF suddenly slides off the passenger seat onto your left shoulder. Resolve to drive like a granny until you get home...

Step 17. as you continue to drive... try to repress the sinking feeling that accompanies your realisation that you don't have a trolley at the other end...

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gotcha: undefined method `render' for SomeTemplate

I recently had to scratch my head over a strange exception message I'd never seen before:

undefined method `render' for #<SomeTemplate:0xb17da594>

The problem was, it came with *no* application trace at all... just the usual Rails stack-trace.

I had to guess at where the problem came from by grepping for SomeTemplate in the controller-action that had exploded, and came across the following line of code:

  @template =[:some_template])

Now SomeTemplate is a model of ours, and prior to this error occurring that line of code had been:

  @temp =[:some_template])

I have a strong aversion to calling any variable "temp", because my reaction to seeing a variable called temp is to say "a temporary what?" not "oh, that's an instance of a template", and if I'm getting the wrong idea when I look at a variable name - that's an indication it should be changed.

So I renamed it...

Unfortunately, it turns out that @template is a magic variable in Rails that refers to the template to be rendered in a given controller action.

So Just Don't Do That.

The code has now been rewritten to the following, and works just fine:

  @some_template =[:some_template])