April 30, 2009

Another Award for Python

With the month of May comes notification from Linux Journal that Python has won their 2009 Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Programming Language, narrowly beating C++ and Java. The favorite scripting language was bash.

Last year there were some fairly obscure rules about what constituted a programming language and a scripting language. This year the readers themselves decided, and Python also did quite well in the second category.

“In an industry conceived, created and driven by peers, an accolade from the community is the highest compliment you can get,” said Linux Journal publisher Carlie Fairchild. She's right, and it's nice to know that Python's mindshare continues to increase.

April 28, 2009

God Bless, Mum

You may remember that last year I entered (walked) the Race for Hope, a charity even in support of the attempt to find a cure for brain tumors. It was particularly appropriate as a family friend had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and we didn't at that time know what her prognosis was. Happily it looks as though she will survive, albeit with some attendant problems.

I am entering the walk again, but this year I will be making a personal contribution as I have another charity in mind for a more public appeal. Some readers may know that my mother died recently (on Saturday March 28, in fact, the middle day of PyCon). She'd been in failing health, so her death didn't come as a surprise, but if you'd been wondering why I wasn't my usual bubbly self at PyCon that was the reason why.

Rather than have people send flowers to the funeral the family decided we would look for a deserving charity, and ask people to make contributions to that instead. Mum was a midwife, with a healthy interest in the third world—she even took Urdu lessons at one point, and so the charity we chose was Safe Hands for Mothers. I hope that readers will support them through this page (for US donors the CAF link is easiest if you want to give money, just remember to click the "I don't live in the UK" button before entering your address).They are trying to help communities like those in sub-Saharan Africa, where mothers face a 1 in 16 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth.

Their web site doesn't have any way to record donations against a particular name, so I'd appreciate it if you would add a comment here should you decide to make a donation. We have so much in the way of material wealth in the United States and the rest of the Western world, and our gifts can make a huge difference to less fortunate individuals. Over 1,400 mothers die every day, many of them from avoidable complications. Please try and help them if you can. Thanks.

April 20, 2009

Sun to Become Part of Oracle

I'm not a great one for handing out stock tips, but when I said a month ago that Sun Microsystems was worth buying at $8 it looked like I was wrong when the IBM acquisition talks fell through. Just the same I held on, and now it looks like I'll be able to take a $1.50 profit when Oracle buy the company in the summer. Of course buying after the talks failed made even more sense, as Alex Martelli wisely pointed out in a comment. Thanks, Alex!

April 10, 2009

Django Hangovers

I think my spell checker is trying to tell me something!

April 9, 2009

Django Dash

Fancy you and a buddy writing the spiffiest Django application of all in 48 hours? Sounds like a great way to spend the weekend. Well, geek, Django Dash might just be for you. Teams of three (or less, but this is supposed to be fun) compete to do just that.

April 6, 2009

WTF, StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a web service I use for occasional amusement - you register your "interests" and it shows you pseudo-random allegedly-related web pages. There's even a toolbar, which I was silly enough to install for those long evenings when there's nothing on the television and the clients aren't screaming loud enough to get my attention.

Unfortunately it just stopped being funny. I wanted to search my browser history for a specific page, and suddenly I see hundreds of entries, which I am absolutely sure are not a part of my browsing history (I would know if I had seen this page before), listed as "refer.php" whose content reads (typically) "One of our members added your page to the Humor topic on StumbleUpon." Here's a typical example.

So until I get an explanation telling me that either it's a Firefox bug (and we all know how rare those are) or StumbleUpon publicly grovel to get me back they are out, and the toolbar is history, and I won't be going back.

Twitter is currently down for unscheduled maintenance

Talk about being a victim of your own success. Twitter has become my social networking tool of choice, but I wish the service were more reliable. It's just flaked for what seems like the tenth time in the last month, and now only displays the above message when you try and access it. You might regard that as the "this page intentionally left blank" of the web 2.0 world.

Of course the original design inevitably meant that the service is faced with scalability problems, but Twitter hasn't helped matters by providing tools for "weblebrities" like auto-follow (automatically following someone who follows you). Us regular no-hopers, of course, wonder exactly what the point is: if you have 10,000+ followers on Twitter it's self evident that you couldn't give a bugger what any of them are tweeting, which makes the whole thing a rather vacuous exercise to those of us who prefer two-way communications to broadcasts.

I've actually been a member of the open source identi.ca site since OSCON, and while I think it's great that there's an alternative I haven't yet found it compelling enough to be more than an occasional visitor.

Like email spam it's becoming obvious that whenever a new phenomenon arises in the technical world, once it becomes public knowledge the traditional spoilers (marketdroids, celebrities and the like) will climb aboard and screw it up for everyone else. They just haven't realised yet that the rest of the world is just one short step away from telling them to get the hell out. There are a lot of dinosaurs walking around right now, wondering why they are feeling so warm.

April 2, 2009

PyCon Video: Even More Amazing!

I just learned from the PyCon Blog that all the video for the conference is expected to be available on-line at blip.tv by the end of Friday April 3, less than a week after the conference ended. This is indeed an awesome process, and the two videos already available via the PyCon web site shows that the quality problem that existed last year has been solved.

As I was one of the skeptics who thought we should maybe move to a professional video team I'd like to publicly take my hat off as chairman of the PSF to the dedicated team of volunteers under Carl Karsten who have made this possible.

Yet again I am compelled to say that PyCon rocks!