The Sweet Spot
On software, engineering leadership, and anything shiny.

Updating max file limit on OSX Lion

I’ve been hitting a lot of “Maximum file limit exceeded” dialogs after a long day at work – at any point in time I’ve got a kajillion Chrome tabs open, five or six Rails envs running (for dev and test) + Guard/Spork actively watching tests, and Sublime with another kajillion tabs open.

Turns out that OSX limits the number of open file descriptors per process to 256. Time to bump up the limit:

First, check out your current file limit:

$ launchctl limit

    cpu         unlimited      unlimited      
    filesize    unlimited      unlimited      
    data        unlimited      unlimited      
    stack       8388608        67104768       
    core        0              unlimited      
    rss         unlimited      unlimited      
    memlock     unlimited      unlimited      
    maxproc     709            1064           
    maxfiles    256            unlimited

Okay, let’s crank ‘er up. First let’s create /etc/launchctl.conf

$ sudo touch /etc/launchctl.conf

And let’s open it with your editor of choice. Add the following line to the new file:

limit maxfiles 16384 32768

Restart your computer. Boom. Easy.

Speeding up Rspec/Cucumber feedback times without sacrificing coverage

Rocket Fuelled Cucumbers
View more presentations from Joseph Wilk

One thing the Blurb devs have been discussing is how we can speed up our test feedback cycles without sacrificing coverage. There’s some good tips (mainly Rails+Rspec/Cucumber) in the presentation such as:

  • Don’t run all the tests when developing (tag your tests by function)
  • Parallelize, chunk tests over machines/cores using Testjour/SpecjourHydra
  • Don’t run all the tests at once. Tests that never fail should nightly.
  • Instead of spinning up a browser for acceptance tests, can you use a js/DOM simulator (e.g. envjs via capybara-envjs, or celerity)

Backup, backup, backup

Well, the inevitable happened: I finally experienced a hard drive failure. It’s pretty incredible that in the twenty-odd years I’ve been around computers I’ve never had the horror of losing a drive.

Friday rolls around and my Macbook Pro decides to freeze up on me. _Strange, _I think to myself. It’s making a clicking noise. Crap.

Luckily, I’ve been fairly good about making backups and copies of my work. Here’s my general strategy:

  • Work/code: keeping local changes on a separate branch and pushing it to a remote Git branch every so often.

  • Everything else: I keep one local copy here with me in Oakland, and have another copy offsite. I rsync my files out to my server at home, which has a cronjob set up to sync with the offsite copy at my parents’ home (I run a Pogoplug with Archlinux and a couple of external drives connected to it – fantastic and totally recommended for a cheap and low-power server setup).

There was a minor scare this time around though – I had some photography work (and an engagement photoshoot!) lying around that almost didn’t make it to the first stage rsync with my local server. Fortunately, I had the foresight to keep my photos backed up to a random local hard disk, and the rest remained on the memory cards (and some even on a shared Dropbox folder that saved my butt!). Most frustrating thing was learning that I had forgotten to back up my Lightroom catalog, so all my edits were lost. At least I have the original shots.

One thing I think I’ll try doing from here on out – saving my Develop settings/presets directly to the DNGs themselves before backing up. That way if I ever lose my LR catalog, the edit settings are still embedded in the original files.

Jeff Atwood reminds us to keep backups around on multiple disks. With the price of storage so low, what’s your data worth to you? How are you keeping your backups?

HAML object references

Did you guys know that you can use the ‘[ ]’ brackets in HAML to automatically set the id and class on a tag, kind of like Rails’ tag helper?

# file: app/controllers/users_controller.rb

def show
  @user = CrazyUser.find(15)

-# file: app/views/users/show.haml

%div[@user, :greeting]

is compiled to:

<div class='greeting_crazy_user' id='greeting_crazy_user_15'>
  <bar class='fixnum' id='fixnum_581' />

Keeps things nice, concise and DRY. See the HAML documentation.

RSpec order-agnostic array matching

What’s that? You want to write an expectation for an array but your method returns the Array in a nondeterministic ordering?

Simple. Write:

my_method.should =~ <my_expectation>

See the source.