Friday, June 30, 2006

New Job, Fun Projects, and Amazon S3

I haven't posted in a while, but things have been going on. I thought I'd post about some of the more interesting aspects. I've recently began a fairly regular contracting deal with an interesting company, and I'll have to be a little vauge on some aspects, because of NDAs and such.

During one of my usual nights of aiding the Pythoners of #python on irc.freenode.net, I was discussing a project someone was trying to complete and the long debate about various routes that could be taken led to me being contracted for the job, which I've had fun with. I've been contracted to build a Fuse package, which uses Amazon's S3 as its storage mechanism. It is a fun system to work with, because of its simplicity and challenging limitations. For example, all operations are redundant, but non-atomic, because the same data could be changed at the same time, and its unpredictable how it would propogate across their redundant network. Mostly this hasn't been an issue, because you have almost the same trust in file locks on a local system anyway, and the only issues have been how to ensure integrity within directory entries and file node chains.

This aspect of the work is to be released under the GPL upon completion, and hopefully I can factory out some things that will be useful for other uses of the S3, which I've developed for the use in this project. I'll try to factor out modules for the following features:
  • Define classes that represent a type of data stored in an S3 entry
  • Easily define meta-attributes, with coercers and defaults
  • Unique IDs generated for entries
  • "Sub-Entry" concept, where one entry is owned by another
  • Caching of data both in disk and over memcache, with an open API to implement other cache-types, like local-memory caches, or even other web services.
  • Node entries, which can span data across multiple entries for more efficient (and cost effective) reads and writes that do not involve the entire data buffer.
  • Test facilities for both BitBucket (a Python S3 access package I use) and Python-MemCached, which I use for offline testing. Both mirror all the functionalty (read: most) of the related projects, so they can be tested against without actual network use.
My work with this project has led to the beginning of a long-term working relationship with the company, which I am very excited about. I can't talk about the specifics of the work I will be doing, until the company launches in a few months. As soon as that happens, I'll be blogging extensively about some of the aspects I can devolge, and of any additional software that might be released freely (I don't know if there will be any).

If you are interested, look forward to the S3 packages I'll wrapping up this weekend. Hopefully, someone will find them useful.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pandora Pop-Up White Bars Bug the Crap Out of Me!

Pandora Internet Radio - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio

So, they added this weird white-bar to top top of pop-up options, and I wrote them to complain because I find it very ugly and unintuitive. I would expect a titlebar-like control as such to be used to move a widget or window, and the X at its left to close the widget just enforces that thought, even tho the bar seems to serve no purpose. Pandora's people tell me it was for some very soon to come updates and that I would see why soon.

So, this morning I see they updated the interface again, and there are auto-appearing controls to vote on songs instead of clicking for the menu on each song. That means I will almost never ever see that popup. Is that what they were talking about? Am I missing something?

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

I've Joined the Flock

Flock — The web browser for you and your friends

So this Firefox-based browser is pretty cool. It integrates del.icio.us, Flickr, and blogging. It seems to be strongly related to Yahoo!

I'll probably use this for all my casual browsing, keeping Firefox around for development, only.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.