I turned 40 yesterday…Here’s to the 2nd half

For those of you that normally come here for technical information, this post is completely non-technical and I’ll understand if you decide to spend your valuable time somewhere else.

As the title of this post suggests, I made it through what some people refer to as the “black birthday” yesterday. According to some statistic I found online, white males in the USA have an average life expectancy of 77.1 years. Pessimists would say that means I’m slightly over half dead. Optimists would respond with something along the lines that I have nearly half of my life in front of me. I’m really in neither category as I prefer to focus on things that I can make an impact on today (or plan today for things that I’m going to have to deal with in the near future).

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Automatically encrypting and decrypting data with ColdFusion ORM and annotations

I’m writing an application that uses ColdFusion’s ORM features heavily. Various fields in my database deal with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and need to be encrypted to meet regulatory requirements. I’ve been mulling over the best way to deal with keeping the data encrypted while in the database but have it be readily usable when loaded into an entity. None of the scenarios that came to mind felt right or could be implemented without an extensive amount of “work-around” code and I just wasn’t willing to go down those paths.

I put the question out to the folks that follow me on Twitter and got a couple of responses, one of which was from Mark Mandel who suggested using annotations. Now, I’ve heard the word annotation mentioned, but had never had the time/opportunity to research what they were or how they were used. That was a few weeks ago and in the meantime, I’d gotten busy focusing on other things and just got around to thinking about the encryption thing again a few days ago. What I found out astonished me.

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Adding ModelGlue’s event API to ColdFusion Builder’s code insight

For the last year or so, all of my ColdFusion development projects have been built using the Model-Glue MVC framework. Over time, you get to where you know the most commonly used methods that are used to interact with the framework by heart. Sometimes there are lesser-used methods that you have to go look up. All the time (for me at least) I’m trying to find a way to write code faster and with less errors.

ColdFusion Builder has done a very nice job of providing code insight for ColdFusion tags, functions and CFC methods. This is especially true if you have a server configured in the “Servers” panel and mapped to your CF Builder project as it then will provide code insight for your own CFCs that you create on the page. However, when using Model-Glue, the “event” object is created for you and is always there. Because it’s not explicitly created on the page, CF Builder can’t provide code insight when you need to interact with it. However, it only takes a couple of settings in your project to make CF Builder aware of the event object and start providing help for it.

Here’s the process:

  1. Right click on your project and choosing “Properties”.
  2. In the left pane of the window that comes up, click on “ColdFusion Variable Mappings”.
  3. On the right side, click the “New” button and enter the following values into the boxes
    • Variable Name: event
    • Mapped To: html.ModelGlue.gesture.eventrequest.EventContext
  4. Press the “New” button and enter the following values into the boxes
    • Variable Name: arguments.event
    • Mapped To: html.ModelGlue.gesture.eventrequest.EventContext
  5. Press the Apply button then the OK button

    * Note that the value in the “Mapped To” box is the actual dot-notated path to the EventContext.cfc file from your CF Builder project root. I happen to have my webroot files in a folder named “html” under the project root (see screenshot #1 below).

    Once you have those settings saved, any time you type “event.” or “arguments.event.” you’ll get the list of methods contained in the Event object. Of course, this doesn’t only work with Model-Glue. Any CFC that you regularly use the same name with can be configured this same way.

    I’ve attached some screenshots for reference. If you have any questions or something isn’t working, feel free to ping me.

Observations of a CES newbie – Day 2

Day two of our first trip to CES went much like day one. We walked and walked and walked! Yesterday we spent most of our day in the South Hall exhibit areas. Today we went through the smaller Central and North halls. In addition to the fact that these two areas were each smaller in floor space than the South Hall (but by no means could be considered small themselves), they both also had many more “mega booths”. Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and others had very large display areas.

A good portion of the North Hall was devoted to high end car electronics. Jennette and I skipped most of that since we weren’t really interested in most of those class of products. The one vendor we did visit there was the Pioneer booth to check out the features of the newest in-dash touchscreen navigation units.

General thoughts on today:

  1. A few companies were displaying renewable energy solutions for the home. Samsung and Sony both had new solar panel technologies on display as well as energy monitoring and management hardware and applications that looked very impressive.
  2. There are only so may booths of iPhone/iPod/iPad cases that I can look at before I stop caring. At some point they all start looking the same (the exception was the Pure Energy induction charging cases I talked about yesterday)
  3. I was sort of disappointed in the Digital Health tech zone. I was hoping to see more medical devices and mobile apps than I saw today
  4. My wife had a great trip through the Mommy Tech zone picking up lots of information on resources she can use in the home school settings with our children
  5. LED TVs and computer monitors are CRAZY thin. One line of computer monitors I saw looked like they were only about 1/2″ thick. Any thinner and we’ll be having holographic displays that require no screen at all.

Three exhibits that got my attention today:

  1. Looxcie wearable camera. At first glance this looks like a bluetooth headset (and it is that as well). It also has a camera in the end of the boom that records up to an hour of 480p video. Apps for your iOS or Android device complement the camera and allow you to email videos or post to social sites.
  2. Native Union displayed a series of both wired and bluetooth handsets for use with your mobile phone and/or computer. Admittedly, these are novelty items but the design and “neat factor” merit their mention I think.
  3. Samsung displayed a next-generation energy-efficient refrigerator with a super slick design. According to the literature, it uses 20% less energy than the average refrigerator on the market today. Additionally, it had a food inventory system built into a touch-screen computer mounted in the door. Lastly (and this is an idea I’m surprised I hadn’t seen before), a small door set in the middle of the main door allows you to reach in and grab a drink from a shelf on the inside of the door without opening the larger main door–which obviously reduces the amount of cooled air that escapes while you’re grabbing said drink.

Overall I didn’t see as many things today that made me go wow as I did yesterday. Still lots of cools stuff out there today though. I did get a chance to go back and talk to the folks at Laser Shot and try my hand with their handgun training product again. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to a somewhat less frenzied day and lunch with some of the folks from Adobe that are here at the show.

Observations of a CES newbie – Day 1

My wife and I experienced the International Consumer Electronics Show today for the first time. The first word that comes to mind is just WOW! We saw maybe 1/4 of the entire exhibit space today and even then my brain was completely overloaded. We spent most of our time today in the South Exhibit Hall which is where most of the “small vendors” are located. As such we walked past a larger number of vendors since most of them had smaller booths.

Some general thoughts:

  1. Tablets are everywhere! Companies that you have never heard of are demonstrating tablets.
  2. 3d televisions and projectors are still big items is year.
  3. Did I mention this place is HUGE? We have seen only a small part of it and it’s still huge.
  4. There were several vendors displaying new models of LED light bulbs. It’s great to see more vendors investing in new LED technologies and bringing a wider range of bulb types and light temperatures to the market

Three exhibits that really got me excited:

  1. Pure Energy was demonstrating their “charging mat” technology for mobile and rechargeable devices. Charging mats are not a completely new concept, but Pure Energy also had a line of very nicely designed charging cases for iPhones, iPads, Blackberry handsets and even Wii controllers that work with their charging mats.
  2. Maker Bot’s Thing-O-Matic. This robot assembly takes 3d drawing files and creates physical items from the drawings in ABS plastic. It’s just amazing to watch. I’m not sure what real use I’d have for one, but I seriously want one at my house
  3. I got to try out a Laser Shot firearms training system that uses a computer with a projector and webcam to teach shooting mechanics and sharpen shooting skills under all types of situations. Nothing can completely replace live fire shooting practice, but this is a super way to teach shooting mechanics and save a few dollars in ammo at the same time. I seriously want one of these

Several other people have said this too, but, if you’re looking to come to a CES, be prepared to be on your feet A LOT! You’ll want some good walking shoes. There’s just so much great tech to see out here. I’m looking forward to seeing things in the other exhibit halls tomorrow.