2017 Goal Retrospective

I love yearly goal planning with my wife. It’s been an awesome practice that we started years ago thanks to The Best Year Ever program and the promptings of David DeWolf. It’s truly changed our lives: it’s amazing to see how many big, important goals you can hit each year if you have focus and clarity at the outset of the year.

I try to do a retrospective in most areas of my life, but I especially enjoy doing one in regards to my yearly goals. I’ve found identifying and implementing small, incremental improvements to important aspects of life to be incredibly useful.

What worked:

Our weekly review reminded me of key goals and maintained momentum towards hitting them, even when I lost motivation or felt overwhelmed with other demands on my time. This last year was a busy one for us, and we paired down our goals from the outset to account for this. Being realistic about what can be accomplished based on your season of life is important. Although our goals were “boring” this past year, they were the right ones for our season of life. It’s ok to have boring goals that are important—but not every year! Over the long-term, they need to be exciting. Two of my goals were habits that I wanted to develop. I think if there were more than two habits, this wouldn’t be as effective, but having two habits to focus on each week was very powerful.

What didn’t:

We only did our quarterly review once. We use the quarterly review time to edit our goals (and sometimes remove!), change our strategy, or adjust goal metrics if what we originally set out to do was unrealistic. Additionally, not having this time set aside eliminated the possibility for us to have dedicated time to work on key goals that were slipping.

I also find that keeping goals around that need to removed or edited is demotivating. I skip over them and immediately discount them, which affects how I perceive the rest of the goals on my list.

Here’s what needs to change:

We need to add more fun to the quarterly review process. For the yearly review, we try to take a trip and get out of our normal life for a couple of days, but for the quarterly reviews we’ve never done this. Combining the process with a fun experience will help us look forward to the process more and make sure it happens. A Groupon hotel deal is a great (and cheap!) way to make this happen. There’s a distinction between key habits and goals. For us, we’ve always treated habits that we want to develop as goals. However, there are important habits that we’ve developed (or are still working on!) that we want to make sure we maintain. I’m going to try to develop a list of habits and creatively think of a way to track our commitment to critical habits over time. Not sure how to do this yet without creating more work/time for us.

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Notes on Working with Jobs (Projects) using the SuiteTalk NetSuite API

Jobs are a confusing part of the NetSuite system. Here’s some notes and resources to help make handling jobs easier:

Jobs are named Projects in the GUI There are two versions of jobs: “standard” and “Advanced Jobs”. They both use the same core job record but change how the data is structured on the customer. Jobs have a kcustomer attribute that is not accessible via SuiteTalk which represents the customer that the job is associated with. This field is accessible via SuiteScript. You could most likely expose this field by creating a formula field on the job record with {kcustomer} as the formula. There is no customer field on the job schema However, there is a customer field on the job search columns. You can use an advanced search to return the customer associated with a job. If “Project Management” is enabled (aka ADVANCEDJOBS) the entity reference on the customer is a customer during the edit view, but will switch to be a job reference when the record is saved. When ADVANCEDJOBS is disabled the job reference could be either a customer or a job and the job field is not displayed. The parent field on a job can reference a customer. I believe you can have an heirarchy of jobs so it can be possible for the parent to be a job reference. Since the kcustomer field is not exposed via SuiteTalk the only way to determine the correct customer reference is to walk up the hierarchy.


Determine the customer associated with a job via SuiteTalk SuiteScript to extract a valid customer reference from an entity ID Determining if an entity ID is a customer or a project

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Notes on Dates & TimeZones with NetSuite’s SuiteTalk API

Setting date and datetime fields in NetSuite using the SuiteTalk API is tricky business. Here’s some notes on how to ensure that the date you push over to NetSuite persists the way you’d expect regardless of the server, local server, user, and company timezone.

The API is sensitive to the timezone of the current user. If you push the same datetime value to the XML via SuiteTalk, and change the timezone settings on the user preferences page, the resulting date set on the record will most likely change. The timezone is not available on the employee record. Also, the timezone is not available on the company/subsidiary record. It is impossible to determine the timezone set on the user or the company from the SuiteTalk API. The get_server_time method does not return the time in the current user’s timezone preference. There is no SuiteScript-specific method to getting a timezone. Although it looks like you can infer it from the stdlib JS responses. It could be possible to create a RESTlet bundle that could retrieve the timezone of the current user as a JSON response. If the timezone of the user (employee) differs from the timezone of the request NetSuite will convert the datetime in the request to the timezone of the current user. If you push a date of 2017-04-17T00:00:00-07:00 and the user’s timezone is GMT -04:00 the resulting date field in NetSuite returns 2017-04-16T21:00:00-07:00. This appears properly as 04/17 in the GUI for the current user as well as for other users with different timezone configurations. If you push a date in the timezone of the NetSuite servers (PDT) NetSuite seems to ignore the timezone of the user used to make the request. Note that accounting for DST offset and zeroing out the hours, minutes, seconds is essential to making this work. Here’s an example of what your date should look like 2017-04-17T00:00:00-07:00. If you push a date one second after midnight NetSuite will take into account the user’s timezone. Best practice: convert your date to UTC0 and use NetSuite::Utilities.normalize_time_to_netsuite_date(time_stamp). This utility will handle DST, zeroing out hr/minute/seconds, and convert the datetime to the right format for SuiteTalk. The date returned by the API is adjusted based on the user’s timezone. For instance, if you push 2017-04-17T00:00:00-07:00 to NetSuite with a user whose timezone is set to EST the date returned by the API will be 2017-04-16T17:00:00-07:00 although it will properly display as 2017-04-17 in the GUI.


NetSuite ruby client conversion utility https://netsuite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/34163/kw/TIMEZONE https://netsuite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/43268/kw/TIMEZONE https://netsuite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/44687/kw/TIMEZONE Converting between time and datetime in ruby Modifying time without railscn

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Fixing Bundler Issues After a macOS Sierra Upgrade

I recently upgraded my laptop, and with that came setting up a fresh dev machine. With a fresh install always comes with a set of development configuration problems. Here’s some tips of resolving ruby bundler issues in MacOS Sierra.

These tips assume you are using dotfiles that look similar to these. Also, I prefer fresh installs, so I never pull config from my old machine/OS. These fixes may not work if you are migrating configuration from a previous OS.

For any of the fixes outlined below:

Adjust the version strings based on your project If you do not have bundler’s shared gems disabled, then you can omit the --install-dir directives.

An error occurred while installing pg (0.18.4), and Bundler cannot continue.

gem install --install-dir vendor/bundle pg -v 0.18.4 -- --with-pg-config=/Applications/Postgres.app/Contents/Versions/9.6/bin/pg_config

Alternatively, you can configure this setting with bundle config build.pg.

An error occurred while installing nokogiri (1.6.8), and Bundler cannot continue. An error occurred while installing mysql2 (0.3.20), and Bundler cannot continue. xcode-select --install

An error occurred while installing capybara-webkit (1.11.1), and Bundler cannot continue.

brew install qt55 brew link --force qt55

Then, I needed to manually edit mkspecs/features/Mac/default_pre.prf. More details here.

error occurred while installing therubyracer (0.12.1), and Bundler cannot continue

gem install --install-dir vendor/bundle libv8 -- --with-system-v8 gem install --install-dir vendor/bundle therubyracer -v 0.12.1

rubygems/core_ext/kernel_require.rb:54:in `require’: cannot load such file — bundler/setup (LoadError)

This is caused by spring coupled with a new version of bundler. Regenerate your binstubs:

bundle exec spring binstub --all

Enter passphrase for /Users/USER/.ssh/id_rsa

If you copy your public + private key from your old machine/OS, and used a passphrase to secure it (which you should be doing!), you’ll need to run this command to avoid reentering your passphrase every time you use the key:

ssh-agent bash ssh-add # in some cases (capistrano deployment, for example) you'll need to do this: ssh-add -K ~/.ssh/id_rsa # Also, in some cases, this helped: edit ~/.ssh/config Host * UseKeychain yes

An error occurred while installing eventmachine (1.0.4), and Bundler cannot continue.

Specifically, I got this build error:

Gem::Ext::BuildError: ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension. ~/.rbenv/versions/2.1.6/bin/ruby extconf.rb checking for rb_trap_immediate in ruby.h,rubysig.h... no creating Makefile make "DESTDIR=" clean make "DESTDIR=" compiling binder.cpp In file included from binder.cpp:20: ./project.h:112:10: fatal error: 'openssl/ssl.h' file not found #include <openssl/ssl.h> ^ 1 error generated. make: *** [binder.o] Error 1 make failed, exit code 2

Here’s the fix (inspired by this post) that fixed the issue:

gem install --install-dir vendor/bundle eventmachine -v '1.0.4' -- --with-cppflags=-I/usr/local/opt/openssl/include

/.rbenv/versions/2.2.3/lib/ruby/2.2.0/rubygems/core_ext/kernel_require.rb:54:in `require’: cannot load such file — bundler/setup (LoadError)

This error was being caused by spring when attempting to run bundle exec rails console. You can verify that this is the case by omitting spring with export DISABLE_SPRING=true and seeing if rails console runs just fine.

To fix this issue, you need to update your binstubs:

bundle exec rake rails:update:bin

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Notes on NetSuite’s Gift Certificate Record

The gift certificate functionality in NetSuite is much more limited than other functionality in NetSuite. It’s also the only option for implementing store credit, electronic, and physical gift cards in NetSuite. If you need to integrate with the gift certificate system in NetSuite, here are some notes to help you along the way:

Gift certificates are not created directly. They are are created by creating a “Gift Certificate Item” and using that item in a SalesOrder. Gift certificates can be created without an associated posting transaction (Sales Order) by importing a CSV. However, you cannot create a standalone gift certificate via SuiteTalk. You must create a posting transaction (Invoice/CashSale) with a gift certificate item in order to create a gift certificate via SuiteTalk. Technically, a non-posting transaction (Sales Order) will create a gift certificate record. However, the gift certificate cannot be used until it is associated with a posting transaction. The “Amount Remaining” field is nil if the gift card has been created by a non-posting transaction by has not been filled/purchased. In other words, if amount remaining is nil the user should not be able to use this gift card on an ecommerce site. Gift certificate codes can be a maximum of 9 characters. It’s important that external systems respect this limit if NetSuite is not the system-of-origin for gift card codes. The gift certificate code can be blank. It’s hard to tell exactly how this can occur because there is no system log, but I believe it occurs when gift certificates are imported. There is a custom field list advances search option for gift certificates, but strangely enough custom fields cannot be added to the gift certificate item. The system log is not available for a gift certificate item The last modified date is not shown in the UI You cannot search gift certificates by the last modified date, although it is available in the SuiteTalk response. The last modified date is not updated when a gift card is used. The best way to search for updated gift cards is using a transaction search. A gift certificate is not tied to a specific customer, although in some areas of the UI it does seem as though The gift certificate record does not contain a reference to the customer that purchased or used the gift card. You must search for transactions associated with the gift certificate, then pull a customer reference from the associated transaction. Use the transaction search’s giftCertificate field to retrieve all transactions that are connected with the gift certificate. Note that this includes the non-posting transaction that may have created the gift certificate record, along with any other transactions that have effected the gift card balance over time. You’ll need to filter out the exact transactions you are looking for.` If you need to automatically generate codes that play nicely with other systems (3PL, ecommerce, etc) the best approach is create a before save via SuiteScript to call out to an external service that coordinates gift card code generation. NetSuite does provide the option to generate gift certificate codes for you. However, if you have other systems (such as an eCommerce platform), you won’t be able to push gift certificates into NetSuite using the externally generated code if this option is enabled. If a transaction’s line item contains the giftCertCode field, then the line item is a GiftCertificateItem. If a transaction’s header-level giftCertApplied field is less than zero, then a gift certificate was used as part of the payment. If you search for transactions with giftCertificate not empty ItemFulfillments will be returned in the results, although there is no reference to a gift certificate record on that transaction. A gift card notification email will be sent to the email in the “To” field. There is no way to disable this feature. Example Gift Card Transaction Search

Here’s an example transaction search using the NetSuite ruby bindings for any transactions that use a gift card:

NetSuite::Records::SalesOrder.search( basic: [ { field: 'giftCertificate', operator: 'notEmpty' } ] )

Note that not just SalesOrders are returned. Any transaction associated with a gift certificate is returned in this search. To restrict to a specific transaction type, using a type = _salesOrder search criteria.

Enhancements Requested

I requested enhancements for the more critical gift card limitations I found through SuiteIdeas (vote on them if you can!):

116981 Ability to disable gift certificate emails 411408 Ability to search by gift certificate’s last modified date 176418 Gift certificate custom fields can’t be viewed in SuiteTalk response 159896 Cannot create custom fields on gift certificate

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Finding the NetSuite Deposit Associated with a Payment or Refund

Determining which NetSuite deposit record is associated with a customer payment, customer refund, cash payment, cash refund, etc using SuiteTalk is not straightforward. It’s also challenging to determine if a refund record is still available to be deposited. Payment transactions have a status field which indicates if a record has been deposited or not, but refund records do not have this field.

In order to determine if a refund is deposited, you need to search for an associated deposit. Here’s a sample implementation using the NetSuite ruby bindings:

ns_customer_refund_id = 2158604 search = NetSuite::Records::Deposit.search( criteria: { basic: [ { field: 'type', operator: 'anyOf', value: [ '_deposit' ] }, { field: 'appliedToTransaction', operator: 'anyOf', value: [ NetSuite::Records::RecordRef.new(internal_id: ns_customer_refund_id) ] }, ] }, preferences: { page_size: 10 } ) ns_deposit = search.results.first # deposit needs to be refreshed to include body fields ns_deposit.refresh Linking to the Associated Deposit in the NetSuite GUI

Another way to solve this problem is creating a custom field on the refund record and use a formula to pull the associated deposit from the refund. NetSuite stores a reference to the deposit in their refund DB table that is not exposed to SuiteTalk or SuiteScript. Here’s more details on this pulled from a conversation with NetSuite support:

I created a custom body field on Customer Refund page to display the associated Bank Deposit Number as steps listed below.

Navigate to Customization > Lists, Records, & Fields > Click on Transaction Body Fields > New.

Enter a Label for the custom field. For example, Bank Deposit Number (Test).

Type field: select ‘Free-Form Text’

Store Value checkbox > Unchecked.

Under Applies To tab > Check ‘Sales’

Under Display tab > Subtab > I selected ‘Main’

Under Validation&Defaulting tab > Default Value field > Enter ‘{deposittransaction.number} ‘


Navigate to Customization > Forms > Transaction Forms > Edit the Customer Refund transaction form in concern/in use > Under Screen Fields tab > Main Subtab > Make sure that the above custom field created is checked with ‘Show’ checkbox > Save.

Now, if you open/view an existing Customer Refund transaction that is associated with a Bank Deposit, the Bank Deposit number will show automatically.

Searching for the Associated Deposit Using a Transaction Search

Here’s an example of how to search for the associated deposit using the NetSuite GUI. Note that the "Applied To Transaction" field requires that you prefix the payment transaction ID with "Payment #" or you won’t be able to find a match in the search creation GUI.

Here’s a direct link to open up a deposit transaction search.

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Using NetSuite’s Token Based Authentication with SuiteTalk

NetSuite’s OAuth is very different from the standard oauth flow: setting up a user for token based auth is very cumbersome. It requires digging around in the NetSuite GUI, creating roles, and copy/pasting various keys.

Why use token based authentication? The alternative is email + password based authentication. This method works fine, but passwords expire every six months; resetting passwords every six months is a huge pain for a SAAS product that integrates with NetSuite. Plus, email + password auth is much less secure (an attacker can login to the GUI with a email and password).

Here’s a guide to getting setup with token based authentication. Note that you must be using a SuiteTalk API versions greater than 2015_2.

1. Create a Integration Record

The integration record identifies the application in NetSuite’s system.

Visit the integrations page or global search for page:integrations Create a integration record if none exists. After you create the record you will need to copy/paste the consumer key and consumer secret to your secrets file. Name: Your-Application-Name Authentication: Token-Based Authentication State: Enabled If the integration record already exists, but you don’t have the consumer key and consumer secret, edit the record, then press “Reset Credentials”. 2. Enable Token Based Authentication Setup > Company > Setup Tasks > Enable Features > SuiteCloud > Manage Authentication Make sure “Token Based Authentication” is enabled Save

If this feature is not enabled, you will not see the permissions required in the next step.

3. Create a Token Role

Strangely enough, the administrator does not have token permissions by default. If you do not create a token role and assign it to your administrator, you will get a "Login access has been disabled for this role." error when creating a token.

Global search for page:role, then choose “New Role” Navigate to “Permissions > Setup” and add the following permissions: User Access Token: Full Access Token Management: Full Web Services: Full 4. Add Token Management Permissions Global search for page:employees Edit your employee record Navigate to “Access > Roles” and add the token auth role you just created 5. Create Access Tokens Global search for page: tokens New Access Token Select the application and role we created earlier, then press save. Copy/past the token ID and token secret to your secrets file.s 6. Configure Your Client

Here’s how to setup the netsuite ruby client with token based authentication:

NetSuite.configure do reset! account ENV['NETSUITE_ACCOUNT'] consumer_key ENV['NETSUITE_CONSUMER_KEY'] consumer_secret ENV['NETSUITE_CONSUMER_SECRET'] token_id ENV['NETSUITE_TOKEN_ID'] token_secret ENV['NETSUITE_TOKEN_SECRET'] end

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Fixing Invalid DATABASE_URL Reference on CircleCI

I’ve become a huge fan of CircleCI—it’s the best CI tool for small-medium projects that I’ve found. Recently I ran into an issue setting up a new rails project with Postgres as the database backend with circle:

export RAILS_ENV="test" export RACK_ENV="test" bundle exec rake db:create db:schema:load --trace ** Invoke db:create (first_time) ** Invoke db:load_config (first_time) ** Execute db:load_config rake aborted! NameError: Cannot load `Rails.application.database_configuration`: uninitialized constant DATABASE_URL

However, when I looked at my database.yml the constant DATABASE_URL was clearly not being used. DATABASE_URL was properly being used as the lookup string for an ENV reference:

# config/database.yml test: url: <%= ENV['TEST_DATABASE_URL'] %>

I was stumped for a while until I ssh’d into circle and noticed that somehow the single quotes were stripped from DATABASE_URL:

# cat config/database.yml test: url: <%= ENV[DATABASE_URL] %> adapter: postgresql database: circle_ruby_test username: ubuntu host: localhost

Circle’s build inference process involves generating a database.yml file which uses the original database.yml file to some extent. Some part of the process involves stripping single quotes, which is what was causing the build breakage. Make sure that you use double quotes instead of single quotes in database.yml when using CircleCI.

Automating Staging Deploys to Staging on CI Build Success

Here’s how to automatically push new builds (and run database migrations) to a heroku-hosted app using circle CI:

deployment: staging: branch: master commands: - heroku maintenance:on --app the-app-name - git push git@heroku.com:the-app-name.git $CIRCLE_SHA1:master - heroku run rake db:migrate --app the-app-name - heroku maintenance:off --app the-app-name

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Sending Dokku Container Logs to Papertrail

I’m a huge fan of Heroku. Although it’s expensive compared to a raw DigitalOcean droplet or EC2 instance, it’s so easy and it just works.

However, there are some use-cases that Heroku doesn’t handle well. Business integration systems (eCommerce NetSuite integration, for example) often require handling requests that may take longer than the 30 second request timeout.

Dokku is the next-best alternative to using heroku (if you don’t have enormous scaling needs: dokku apps are restricted to a single host). Here’s how to push your dokku app logs running to PaperTrail, or another syslog-compatible cloud hosting provider (I’m sure this approach would work for Loggly or CloudWatch).

Install dokku-logspout: dokku plugin:install https://github.com/michaelshobbs/dokku-logspout.git Point logspout to your PaperTrail syslog endpoint: dokku logspout:server syslog+tls://logs.papertrailapp.com:12345. Make sure your PaperTrail endpoint is configured to accept TLS connections. Install dokku-hostname: dokku plugin:install https://github.com/michaelshobbs/dokku-hostname.git dokku-hostname. This will ensure that the host in your PaperTrail logs use the heroku-like name of your worker instead of the docker container ID. Run dokku logspout:start and use logspout:stream to ensure that your logs are being aggregated properly.

The resulting log output should look something like:

Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/processor.rb:167:in `stats' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/processor.rb:127:in `process' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/processor.rb:79:in `process_one' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/processor.rb:67:in `run' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/util.rb:16:in `watchdog' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: /app/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.3.0/gems/sidekiq-4.1.1/lib/sidekiq/util.rb:24:in `block in safe_thread' Apr 15 14:49:28 host.com pipeline.worker.1: 11 TID-os97lykxo INFO: [Rollbar] Scheduling payload

Here’s a couple issues you may run into:

You may need to rebuild your apps for them to start piping to logspout. dokku ps:rebuildall When you re-deploy your apps, the heroku-like program names will be lost. To fix this run dokku logspout:stop && dokku logspout:start. Hopefully this issue will be fixed soon. docker ps returns a daemon error. Run sudo usermod -aG docker ubuntu && sudo reboot as ubuntu.

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3 Email Efficiency Tips

I wanted to share a couple quick email efficiency tips that have been helpful over the last couple weeks.

When scheduling a meeting, instead of asking “What time would be good to meet?” suggest a exact time and day with two alternatives that work for you. Also provide a link to your full public calendar with event details hidden (I use ScheduleShare for this). For example:

Would 2-2:30pm on Thursday the 12th work for you? If not, would Wednesday at 10:00am or Thursday at 11:00am work? Feel free to suggest another time that works best for you; here’s my full schedule: LINK

Also, when you’ve decided on a meeting time, create a meeting invite and include a conference line as the location of the calendar event:

I just sent over an invite with a conference line. Feel free to suggest another conference tool.

This avoids another round of back and forth deciding which conferencing tool to use, and then asking for Skype/G+/etc usernames. I’ve found that for most one-off meetings, a simple analog phone line works best: it doesn’t require any software, and eliminates the always-present audio issues that exist with software-based conferencing solutions.

If you are responding to a unsolicited request, don’t feel the need to write a full in-depth response. Provide some value, and then ask the correspondent for some additional information that will require a thoughtful response on their end. I’m a people pleaser and a perfectionist, it’s been a discipline for me not to help anyone who comes asking for help. Often times, I’ve found that when pressed for more information about the problem someone is facing, I don’t receive a reply and end up saving myself a lot of time writing a thoughtful response.

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