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Research and Development Tax Credit


As tax season rolls around, it is important to keep an eye on the tax credits that are available to startups. These credits are easy to forget because it is not something that just anyone can claim on their business tax returns. But as startup company or an existing business building software that has a risk of failure, the government wants to provide financial incentives you to build it within the United States.

Each year, one of the better credits that are available to companies commissioning a custom software development project is the Federal Research & Development Tax Credit. The IRS publishes its Audit Guidelines on the Application of the Process of Experimentation for all Software.

Get and Compare the Current Git Branch in BASH


My favorite revision control system is Git. I use it to maintain all of my Ruby on Rails projects, my Linux system configuration, and even this blog!

In my web development work, I like to automate as much as possible with BASH shell and Ruby scripts. This makes my work easier by replacing repetitive tasks with simple commands and reduces the instances of certain classes of mistakes in my daily workflow. One of those mistakes that I would like to avoid is accidentally publishing a draft post to the live website.

Here is how I use the value of the current Git branch to keep from accidentally publishing a post to the real website before it is ready!

My Touch Typing Journey Continues


For years, I lived with a secret that I did not want to share. I never learned how to type properly! As a professional software developer with a couple of computer science degrees from Georgia Tech, that’s difficult to admit.

Reset MySQL Root Password With One Command


Locked Out, Again

I have locked myself out of important accounts more than a few times. Just this morning, I found myself again locked out of a MySQL database server on an Ubuntu Linux machine. Though this should work with any Debian-based Linux that uses the apt-get package management system.

Fortunately, I had administrative access to the server through SSH and thus was able to reset the MySQL root password with the package management script. It only took one, simple command.

Anti-virus for Mac for PCI Compliance

When a contract requires anti-virus on all computers, even the Mac OS X systems, which do you choose?

Macs are not Commonly Affected, in the traditional sense

One nice thing about working in a heavily Mac OS X environment, which most Ruby on Rails development companies are is that there just are not the number and variety of viruses on the platform as there are in the Windows environment.

This is not to say that a Mac user does not face many security threats – they do face threats, nor that they cannot be hacked – they most certainly can be hacked. In fact, a review of Secunia’s Vulnerability Report: Apple Macintosh OS X is a good exercise here. All this said, Macs are just not commonly known to be affected by viruses in the same sense that a Windows or DOS computer has been. And some of this is the economics of virus authoring.

However, as a Mac OS X user, I am not invulnerable and I am still required by contract to install and use anti-virus software.

The PCI Requirement

Everyone who has had to deal with a company accepting credit card transactions knows about the Payment Card Industry Digital Security Standards (PCI-DSS). You can read the rules for yourself at Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard: Requirements and Security Assessment Procedures – Version 2.0 (PDF document). It’s 75 pages long, and in my personal opinion is great light bedtime reading. Among its requirements is that all companies that handle credit card data in anyway, even just keying it into a web-based terminal, must maintain an vulnerability management program. This prescriptively requires that the business must: