Disaster Dispatcher - my Broadsoft Mashup Competition Entry
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== Disaster Dispatcher

The Disaster Dispatcher is a Voice Mashup that integrates Twitter, Broadworks and RSS
feeds to provide a one window communications tool for emergency operators.  In 
emergency situations, communications between fire and police are often hampered because 
they use different radios and equipment.  For domestic natural disasters, these communications
issues are exacerbated by the addition of the national guard, NGOs like the boy scouts, 
and common citizens.  Not only don't these groups use the same equipment, but because no one
knows where the next earthquake, tornado or flood will strike, it is impossible to a-priori
know who will be involved. Communications channels must be setup ad-hoc, and quickly.

This mashup uses the most common denominator of all these groups: the cell phone. By using
Broadsoft Broadworks, we are able to immediately contact the right person, saving precious time.
In addition, Broadworks can front end a call center that can scale with the size of the disaster
in real time. By using twitter to notify the disparate groups of status in real time, communications are 
bridged between not only all the active groups, but the passive groups as well including
concerned family members and the press.  By keeping all of the data seen by the participants,
emergency personnel can analyze them after the fact to optimize response procedures.

For more information about this program, or about voice mashups in general, you can
read my blog at http://www.thethomashowecompany.com.  Cool shoes.

== Installation Instructions

This application depends upon a Ruby and Rails environment, which should be setup before 
starting this installation.   These instructions assume that the following is installed:
	Ruby 1.8.4 or later

To setup a rails environment, here's how I did it on a Fedora Core 4 system (actually, 
the exact system is EC2 image ami-255fba4c if you want to get it yourself.) The system 
already had mysql installed.

	yum install git-core ruby ruby-devel ruby-docs ruby-mode ruby-mysql ruby-sqlite3 rdoc
	mkdir downloads
	cd downloads
	wget http://rubyforge.org/frs/download.php/38646/rubygems-1.2.0.tgz
	tar zvxf rubygems-1.2.0.tgz 
	cd rubygems-1.2.0
	ruby setup.rb
	gem install rake haml

Once the environment is setup, you can finish it up with the following commands:

	git clone git://github.com/howethomas/disaster_dispatcher.git 
	export RAILS_ENV=production
	Start the mysql server if it's not running. Either say
	/etc/init.d/mysqld start 
	mysqld-safe &
	gem install rake haml twitter
	mysqladmin create disaster_dispatcher
	cd disaster_dispatcher
	At this point, you need to configure config/database.yml for your setup. In the 
	the production section, it should either say
	socket: /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock  (what the source is by the default)
	host: localhost

   rake db:schema:load
	./script/server -p 80 -d

All setup and ready to go!

The standard rails documentation follows:

== Web Servers

By default, Rails will try to use Mongrel and lighttpd if they are installed, otherwise
Rails will use WEBrick, the webserver that ships with Ruby. When you run script/server,
Rails will check if Mongrel exists, then lighttpd and finally fall back to WEBrick. This ensures
that you can always get up and running quickly.

Mongrel is a Ruby-based webserver with a C component (which requires compilation) that is
suitable for development and deployment of Rails applications. If you have Ruby Gems installed,
getting up and running with mongrel is as easy as: <tt>gem install mongrel</tt>.
More info at: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org

If Mongrel is not installed, Rails will look for lighttpd. It's considerably faster than
Mongrel and WEBrick and also suited for production use, but requires additional
installation and currently only works well on OS X/Unix (Windows users are encouraged
to start with Mongrel). We recommend version 1.4.11 and higher. You can download it from

And finally, if neither Mongrel or lighttpd are installed, Rails will use the built-in Ruby
web server, WEBrick. WEBrick is a small Ruby web server suitable for development, but not
for production.

But of course its also possible to run Rails on any platform that supports FCGI.
Apache, LiteSpeed, IIS are just a few. For more information on FCGI,
please visit: http://wiki.rubyonrails.com/rails/pages/FastCGI

== Apache .htaccess example

# General Apache options
AddHandler fastcgi-script .fcgi
AddHandler cgi-script .cgi
Options +FollowSymLinks +ExecCGI

# If you don't want Rails to look in certain directories,
# use the following rewrite rules so that Apache won't rewrite certain requests
# Example:
#   RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/notrails.*
#   RewriteRule .* - [L]

# Redirect all requests not available on the filesystem to Rails
# By default the cgi dispatcher is used which is very slow
# For better performance replace the dispatcher with the fastcgi one
# Example:
#   RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.fcgi [QSA,L]
RewriteEngine On

# If your Rails application is accessed via an Alias directive,
# then you MUST also set the RewriteBase in this htaccess file.
# Example:
#   Alias /myrailsapp /path/to/myrailsapp/public
#   RewriteBase /myrailsapp

RewriteRule ^$ index.html [QSA]
RewriteRule ^([^.]+)$ $1.html [QSA]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.cgi [QSA,L]

# In case Rails experiences terminal errors
# Instead of displaying this message you can supply a file here which will be rendered instead
# Example:
#   ErrorDocument 500 /500.html

ErrorDocument 500 "<h2>Application error</h2>Rails application failed to start properly"

== Debugging Rails

Sometimes your application goes wrong.  Fortunately there are a lot of tools that
will help you debug it and get it back on the rails.

First area to check is the application log files.  Have "tail -f" commands running
on the server.log and development.log. Rails will automatically display debugging
and runtime information to these files. Debugging info will also be shown in the
browser on requests from

You can also log your own messages directly into the log file from your code using
the Ruby logger class from inside your controllers. Example:

  class WeblogController < ActionController::Base
    def destroy
      @weblog = Weblog.find(params[:id])
      logger.info("#{Time.now} Destroyed Weblog ID ##{@weblog.id}!")

The result will be a message in your log file along the lines of:

  Mon Oct 08 14:22:29 +1000 2007 Destroyed Weblog ID #1

More information on how to use the logger is at http://www.ruby-doc.org/core/

Also, Ruby documentation can be found at http://www.ruby-lang.org/ including:

* The Learning Ruby (Pickaxe) Book: http://www.ruby-doc.org/docs/ProgrammingRuby/
* Learn to Program: http://pine.fm/LearnToProgram/  (a beginners guide)

These two online (and free) books will bring you up to speed on the Ruby language
and also on programming in general.

== Debugger

Debugger support is available through the debugger command when you start your Mongrel or
Webrick server with --debugger. This means that you can break out of execution at any point
in the code, investigate and change the model, AND then resume execution! 
You need to install ruby-debug to run the server in debugging mode. With gems, use 'gem install ruby-debug'

  class WeblogController < ActionController::Base
    def index
      @posts = Post.find(:all)

So the controller will accept the action, run the first line, then present you
with a IRB prompt in the server window. Here you can do things like:

  >> @posts.inspect
  => "[#<Post:0x14a6be8 @attributes={\"title\"=>nil, \"body\"=>nil, \"id\"=>\"1\"}>,
       #<Post:0x14a6620 @attributes={\"title\"=>\"Rails you know!\", \"body\"=>\"Only ten..\", \"id\"=>\"2\"}>]"
  >> @posts.first.title = "hello from a debugger"
  => "hello from a debugger"

...and even better is that you can examine how your runtime objects actually work:

  >> f = @posts.first
  => #<Post:0x13630c4 @attributes={"title"=>nil, "body"=>nil, "id"=>"1"}>
  >> f.
  Display all 152 possibilities? (y or n)

Finally, when you're ready to resume execution, you enter "cont"

== Console

You can interact with the domain model by starting the console through <tt>script/console</tt>.
Here you'll have all parts of the application configured, just like it is when the
application is running. You can inspect domain models, change values, and save to the
database. Starting the script without arguments will launch it in the development environment.
Passing an argument will specify a different environment, like <tt>script/console production</tt>.

To reload your controllers and models after launching the console run <tt>reload!</tt>

== dbconsole

You can go to the command line of your database directly through <tt>script/dbconsole</tt>.
You would be connected to the database with the credentials defined in database.yml.
Starting the script without arguments will connect you to the development database. Passing an
argument will connect you to a different database, like <tt>script/dbconsole production</tt>.
Currently works for mysql, postgresql and sqlite.

== Description of Contents

  Holds all the code that's specific to this particular application.

  Holds controllers that should be named like weblogs_controller.rb for
  automated URL mapping. All controllers should descend from ApplicationController
  which itself descends from ActionController::Base.

  Holds models that should be named like post.rb.
  Most models will descend from ActiveRecord::Base.

  Holds the template files for the view that should be named like
  weblogs/index.html.erb for the WeblogsController#index action. All views use eRuby

  Holds the template files for layouts to be used with views. This models the common
  header/footer method of wrapping views. In your views, define a layout using the
  <tt>layout :default</tt> and create a file named default.html.erb. Inside default.html.erb,
  call <% yield %> to render the view using this layout.

  Holds view helpers that should be named like weblogs_helper.rb. These are generated
  for you automatically when using script/generate for controllers. Helpers can be used to
  wrap functionality for your views into methods.

  Configuration files for the Rails environment, the routing map, the database, and other dependencies.

  Contains the database schema in schema.rb.  db/migrate contains all
  the sequence of Migrations for your schema.

  This directory is where your application documentation will be stored when generated
  using <tt>rake doc:app</tt>

  Application specific libraries. Basically, any kind of custom code that doesn't
  belong under controllers, models, or helpers. This directory is in the load path.

  The directory available for the web server. Contains subdirectories for images, stylesheets,
  and javascripts. Also contains the dispatchers and the default HTML files. This should be
  set as the DOCUMENT_ROOT of your web server.

  Helper scripts for automation and generation.

  Unit and functional tests along with fixtures. When using the script/generate scripts, template
  test files will be generated for you and placed in this directory.

  External libraries that the application depends on. Also includes the plugins subdirectory.
  If the app has frozen rails, those gems also go here, under vendor/rails/.
  This directory is in the load path.