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Showing posts from May, 2007

Sick Kid

So after staying up with my sick son until 4 AM, we took him into the emergency room just before 6 AM. Needless to say, I've got little sleep to go on. I figure its a good time to jump into that polyphasic sleep stuff. Obviously, I've gotten little done today in light of this.



Promoting Feeds by Including Treats

I've been reading an eBook in my attempts at being a better blogger and reaching a wider audience, and although I recommend it to read by anyone with similar goals, its more how I got it than what I got that I wanted to bring up. Some might know that I recently looked into ways of capitolizing on my feeds. Nearly 70% of my traffic (maybe more) is via feed subscribers, who never see my advertising. That is quite a bit of lost revenue, not that it would add up to much if they all went straight to my front page. None the less, its a problem I want a solution to. Now, I really like feeds. I don't want to make you come to my website if you prefer feeds, because I know I don't even read websites these days unless they have a feed. Even if I find a particular article I like, I typically just subscribe to the feed and wait for the article to get to me through it. Still, others are not so open to the new medium, and often treat feeds marketing. Maybe they are. These people will giv…

Moving to FeedBurner

So I've been not using my Feedburner account for a while, largely because If I did people would still autodiscover the normal, Blogger-made feeds, so I would just segment my readers. Yes, I have readers. A little investigation lead to the forum post I link to below that shows how to solve this. I was motivated by two factors. First, that Google is buying FeedBurner. Two, that I want to move away from Blogger sometime, and this way I can keep the same Feed URL when I do.

Change your feeds to: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RavingTechnoRant

FeedBurner Support :: View topic - Modifying "Autodiscovery" in Both Blogger Versions



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DLR gains Lisp?


Vias the Vista Smalltalk Wiki, it looks like the DLR has gained a new language by a third party, implementing Lisp and Smalltalk. Correct me if I am wrong about that, but I am quite the Lisp-history Luddite and have no concept of the separation of Lisp, Scheme, and Smalltalk. Still, what I find most interesting about this is how the way the CLR and DLR works means we can put new languages into them and deploy with pretty much whatever we feel like so easily. Just think of all the purists out there that would love to put their half-a-century-old-baby into so many hands, although I suspect many of them aren't kind toward Redmond, so its another interesting pairing, for sure.



What's next? Subtext?





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Hiatus Week Over

I don't know why I needed to take a week break from blogging. Maybe I was getting creatively burnt out, or maybe I just forgot. Getting back into the swing of a habit after suspending it for a while is not easy. I'll ease into it over the next few days, I guess.

I started a silly little multiprocess module aimed at:
Very long running jobsMinimal inter-process communicationGrowth possible to multi-machineMinimal dependancies. Works only with Python 2.5 standard library modules.You can check out the attempt over at the cheeseshop.

I finally found myself a Javascript library I really like, so that I can move from doing so much back-end centric work to putting some of my interface ideas to work. I've been growing wary of the server-heavy AJAX libraries, like Athena. They are great, but I worry about scaling, long running use of pages holding up connections, user experience when connections are lost, and a whole host of other things. Besides the worries, I'm just plain interes…

Wanna-Be Chef: Cheap Cheese Bean Casserole

Not every geek hits it rich with just the right algorithm and moves to Miami when he (or she!) retires at 35. I am not among that group, or any group near it. Cutting budgets can mean crappy food while you work. Cheap and quick recipes can be useful. At the very least, some way to mix up the usual stuff with a minor twist can at least make the daily drudge a bit more acceptable, for the moment.

This is my recipe for what I call Cheap Cheese Bean Casserole.

Ingredients:
1 Cup Baked Beans (I prefer Bush's Maple Cured)1 Slice Chedder Cheese2 Beef Hotdogs (Cheese Dogs work well here)1/2 Cup Slightly Crushed Saltine CrackersThe instructions are dirt simple but the result is delicious, filling, and perfect on a cold day. Cut up the hotdogs and add to the beans. Cover with the chedder cheese and evenly cover the entire bowl with the crackers. Microwave on medium for 2:30. The cheese will melt into the beans, the crackers will be protected from the sauses and remain crisp. The result is grea…

SpaceCute

Awesome concept over at Lost Garden. Stock art for a game was provided, far above the level of programmer art, and the challenge called to programmers to turn them into game prototypes, based on the design. A wonderful way to encourage a few people to get creative for a weekend. Game writing sprints always have some interesting stuff. The only problem with SpaceCute is that it was a little too similar resulting in all the contestants. A little more flexibility would be welcome.


EXIF Writing in Python

How much does it suck to transfer a few hundred photos from your camera, only to afterwards notice the date on the camera was wrong? So, here I go looking for an EXIF batch updating program, and the pickings are much slimmer than I would expect. Of course, writing my own seems like a pretty viable option and the EXIF.py module would be grand to apply here, save for one problem: It was written in 2002 and it still doesn't write back to the image.

What's a dad with hundreds of family photos to do? Fix it. Talked with someone else interested in this and came up with three options to move forward.
Replace the entire module with a ctypes wrapping over the libexif library.Jam EXIF writing into the existing module by invoking the exif command-line utility.Reverse engineer the EXIF format from the modules parsing functions and properly implement writing into the library.Cross-platform support is great, but I'm having a crappy time trying to cross-compile the exif utility to windows,…

Green Web

My web host has gone green, and that means I can, as well! I'm working on some internal stuff I'll be launching Real Soon Now ™! Also, i'll be moving this blog at some point to my own host at ironfroggy.com, eventually.


Undefined Python

Will McGugan has a post about the smell of languages, using an example of code from C that is actually completely undefined: no one knows what it should do. The code in question is this:

int main(){int i = 5; i = ++i + ++i; printf("%d", i); }One of the commenters talks about how some constructs in Python can be undefined, but I disagree. My response is below.

There can certainly be some cases where you aren’t sure about things involved in Python, but nothing undefined in the sense that C can be. I can counter the examples given.“While a list is being sorted, the effect of attempting to mutate, or even inspect, the list is undefined.”- While the list is being sorted, any inspection or mutation could only be occuring in some other thread. Multiple threads are, by desogn, indeterminable.“Formfeed characters occurring elsewhere in the leading whitespace have an undefined effect (for instance, they may reset the space count to zero).”- This is caused by improper formatting of a tex…

News Sites No Link

I'm getting increasingly frustrated when reading anything on traditional news sites, or news sites trying to appear such, and having no damn links to the original stories, related sites, or anything at all. They all pretend to still be in print media. Even when they were never print media in the first place.


Announcement For Blogger.com Users: Make Those Profiles Public

We live in an open society. Make all of your profiles public, especially if you're commenting on other's posts. Otherwise, its impossible to respond. So, to someone named Patrick, I was in the middle of moving, so I missed your comment about the Harrisburg Python Meetup, which really stinks because I was really looking for one around that area. I'm in North Carolina now, and there is an Agile group I go to occasionally but I might need to make the moves to start a Python group near Charlotte, NC.


Microsoft Lovers versus Open Source Lovers versus The Battle Itself

The battle has gone on for a very long time. The Microsoft developers hate the open source hippies. The code huggers hate the corporate dogs. When does either side realize the dagger they're digging in is piercing themselves, because we're all the same.

We code because we like it. Software is our craft and development tools, languages, and software ecosystems are the spice racks for us chefs of bytes. Some chefs enjoy working on the grill, and others can't get enough from the stove. But if backyard grillers love a good lasagna and bakers enjoy a barbecue, why can't our camps live and let live? Joe likes GNU tools and Mary builds Silverlight apps in C#, so obviously they need to glare at one another with malice, right? Wrong.

Can't we all just get along?


What's Your Web 2.0?

Disclaimer: I wasn't tagged, I just read this and liked it. I also copied it verbatim and made a few adjustments!
What is Web 2.0?Web-based softwareYou can create and modify your own dataSome social-networking aspects (friends list, etc)The RulesLink to this post and the post of whoever tagged you.Create a list of the web2.0 sites you use and categorize them from “daily use” to “weekly use” to “monthly use”. Include links to your accounts if you want so people can friend you.Tag a bunch of people you want to join in.Even if you haven’t been tagged yet, feel free to participate in the comments or to join in on the meme with your own blog.My Web 2.0Daily UseBlogger.com for blogging (does it count?)
Del.icio.us for pretty much recording my entire history
Google Reader for tracking other blogsTwitter for keeping on track with the world
Now, I want to jump into this for some commentary. I happen to notice the Daily Use list is probably pretty static, give or take just a few and any varianc…

The Point of No Back Button

My endless trek across the once-barren, now-lush lands of the interwebs have brought me to this point. I realized it just this moment. The feeling sank in my gut, chewed holes at every web usability study I've read, and screamed at my very world view: I don't use the back button. Ever.

Does it surprise you? It surprised me, for a moment.

What does your browsing experience look like? If you're like myself and a growing number of the web surfing public, you've probably hung up your surf board by now. Actually manually browsing around websites is boring, time consuming, and just gosh-darn unproductive in todays where-the-hell-is-Noah flood of information. The ark hasn't been built yet, but we make do, for now, with our dingy-scale feed readers. Heck, Google Reader even comes with an oar!

So as I browse down a single, long list of new gumdrops to read this day, a lot comes up I might want to look into further. Maybe I want to comment, follow up on some links, or just abus…

Blogging for Dollars

I've been toying with the idea of increasing how much I might get back from this little place. At times it gets down right exciting to watch my hits rise day after day, until I get writers block again and drop back to double digits for a month or so. I can't help but listen to the entrepenourial spirit in me that suggests a little more devotion and disipline on my part would push the pocket pennies to a threshold the likes of my ramen-eating self would just drool over. Hell, I could even buy two flavors of ramen.

So, I played with a few things. I naively made an attempt to jury-rig my Google Adsense snippets into my actual posts, to test what would come up in my reader. Squat, that's what. I looked around for feed-specific advertising services, and I found nothing but closed betas. I was seriously surprised at the lack of services in this area. Anyone who gets there first is going to have a serious advantage. Now, many someone is there first, so let me rephrase it as "…

A More Complete PyLint on Windows Walkthrough

Others have posted about getting pylint installed on Windows, but I always fell short getting the steps to lead to the destination. Some tinkering and I got it right. This also includes the instructions to get it integrated into Komodo.
Grabbing the Goods
First off the bat we need to grab all the packages we need. pylint depends on two other packages from Logilabs, who write pylint for us. We need to grab the latest releases of pylint, logilab-astng, and logilab-common.Extract all of these somewhere to install from.Open a command shell and move to each of the directories, executing the install command in each:
python setup.py installFeel free to remove the extracted files now that everything has been installed. You can use pylint now. On to Komodo integration.In Komodo, open the toolbox from the View menu with View->Tabs->Toolbox. Now, click your "Add Item to Toolbox" button in the new tab, and select "New Command..." to add a command to Komodo that will analyze…

Two Hex and a User

I wanted to post two related hex graphs that give us some good mind food to munch on while we work. The first is more general and tells us seven points of User ExperienceDesign. Take a step back and ask yourself:
Useful - Is the software even useful?Usable - What it does is useful, but is it usable?Findable - Can the user find what they need to use?Accessible - Can all the users access it?Desirable - Do the users wantyour1 software?Valuable - Is your software valuable enough for the user to retain?Credible - Does the software look fake or are you trusted?

Up second, adapted from the original for social software purposes. We're beginning to see more and more social software, and the seven elements given here fit nicely into all the services I use.
Twitter - Presence and sharing (of presence) and conversations (about presence).Blogger - Conversations, reputation (comment count), sharing (ideas), groups and relationships (informal; by linking).MySpace - I hate MySpace, but I use it anyw…

Keeping With The Current

I've been really trying to keep up with the feeds I read better and I found a change in my usage pattern that has helped a good bit. I stopped sorting or looking for specific feeds. No longer do I jump to the latests posts from xkcd.com or thedailywtf.com. I save time from sorting and get a broader range of posts at any one time. There is less topic burnout, also.

(Topic Burnout is when you just can't read another word of some specific topic because you've absorbed so much of it too recently. Kind of like when you eat ramen for too many days in a row.)


(Insert Your Encryption Key Here)

I'm not going to post The Number, but I'm going to talk about it.

What another big shouting match the interwebs have found themselves in. Is it wrong to post The Number on public sites? I don't think so. Anyone who can use it already has to write software that the regular Joe will grab. The Number is just a political/social status symbol now. Publishing is the The Number is the anti-crypto1 parallel to the eye-liner high schooler shopping at Hot Topic. The point is making the point, more than what point exactly is being made.

So did the lawyers overreact? Of course they did, and consulting their clients before making moves on their behalf might be a decent idea. Maybe someone at the companies would actually realize the PR mess they might be stepping into. Maybe someone would say "Is the new technology stable enough to shake up our customers, yet?" Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are a techy's toy at this point, alongside wealthy status symbol usage. So, the large portion …

iGoogle versus Netvibes (versus Yahoo! versus MSN versus A Billion Others...)

The gloves are on, the bookies are taking bets, and everyone is gathering around for... wait, wait... does anyone care? I don't. Here's why.

Seriously who uses these things? Do you have such a light inflow of email and feeds that you can afford the time to keep these Yahoo-loving pages up to see and barely do a damn thing? If you aren't keeping this page as your top window, there is little point. The whole thing is about passive information. Oh, look at that quote. Hmm, its 7 AM.

If we're going to build web services that collect a lot of tools around a single page, then personalized home pages are entirely the wrong direction to take. We're an always on kind of computer using society, so how often do you see a homepage? Hell, I don't even set my homepage anymore, because I only see it once every month or so.

However, I do have my feed reader open and look at it at least once per hour that I'm actually at my computer. I can't think of anything that couldn&#…

Feed Readers Should Marry Music Players

I always have one tab to the same page: http://www.google.com/reader/view/

So, the more it does, without stepping outside its boundries, the better. I have it there already. One fallacy I've seen already is the Google Reader handling of podcasts. The embedding flash app to play the MP3 for me is nice, until I want to read more while I listen.

Google Reader Team: Add a feature that lets me queue these tracks to be played in a player outside the reading area, so it sticks around while I do other things. Even better, expose its playlist as an RSS feed so my other onlinemusic players can knock them into the playlists between their own tracks!


De Vinci's Decendants Must Love Residual Copyright Income

How much are the descendants of Leonardo De Vinci making on the copyright income for his work, these days? Must be pretty well off, as much as his work is admired. And thank god for the lore of spoiled rich great grandchildren to drive that fantastic man to create the works of art and science he has given this world. Why, if left to his own self motivation, he may have just been a (Venice boat person).

Thank god for the copyright on De Vinci's work!

And, thank god for good people who turn in the thieves and pirates, who steal and mock such artists' works! Thank god for people who shut down monsters that violate the rights of those artists.


Tip: Social Bookmarks, Things to Read, Feed Readers

I've been building up a large collection of del.icio.us bookmarks tagged 'toread'. I have not been reading them. When information isn't on your radar, it might as well not exist, so I decided to bring this stuff back to my radar.

All I did was add my feed of 'toread' tagged bookmarks to my Google Reader, and now everything I tag to read later, I'll see come up in my feeds. If I decide to defer reading for even later, I can just not mark the item read.


Power Pads, Cut My Loose Ends!

The idea has been floating around before, but finally seems to be coming into the light with efficiency and cost. The day will come soon when we can drop any of wireless devices onto a table and let them charge. When our desks will run power to everything sitting on them, without any connections or wires. Awesome.

They do say it could be many years before we get anything reaching wide support. The problem is that the devices need to support these new sources of power, and the devices won't support them until everyone has the new sources of power. You know how those great cyclic dependencies go. Now, we'll probably see them first in devices that are high end enough to warrant including stand alone power pads with them. I'll peg Apple's iPod as an early adopter.

However, I do have an idea to push these power pads more quickly: receives compatible with standard batteries. AA, AAA, and C are the most common batteries used today, so packing a receiver coil into the right shap…

A Drop of Thought

My adsense experiment didn't pan out. I shouldn't be surprised. I forgot about the Adsense for Feeds Beta. If that exists, then obviously the normal adsense doesn't work for feeds. I'll leave them in, anyway, just to see what happens with the channels on the front page.

Took a look at web.py to see if it could be useful for our needs, but I really can't tell entirely. I don't think so, however. The documentation is just way too sparse.


On-Demand, TV Subscription Tiers, and Outdated Censorship

There is a good story, over at NextBlitz, about how the move from subscription tiers to on-demand media consumption can invalidate our entire traditional model of censorship and nearly eliminate much of the reason the FCC exists.

It makes sense, and I've given it some thought before. We've always needed to regulate what was broadcast over the airwaves, despite the rights of free speech. Children and fragile people could be watching any channel. The same equations just don't pan out anymore and they continue to diminish in relevancy every day. For each family that acquires on-demand media services, there is one less family that has to wonder what might passively play on the screen when the kids are around.