Python or Ruby!

July 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Just a few thoughts in my quest to become a very proficient professional hacker. I have probably tried to get going the most with Python but as always there just seems to be a disconnect with the abstractions that just don’t click with me. Lately I have been playing with Rails and Ruby and as much as I kept running from Ruby as the language that I wanted to learn it is starting to grow on me. In the words of many great hackers Ruby seems to fit my brain. The code is quite a bit more readable then even Python. Along the way I also noticed a few things about the Ruby and Rails culture that differs from the Python world. Ruby has not had the problems Python has with package management as Python seems to still have. Ruby Gems are pretty ubiquitous when it comes to Ruby packages. I think Python and Linux has very striking similarities when you look at Linux’s packaging and all around standards in general. You can’t just read instructions on installing programs on Linux or where in the file system to find things etc. Some may enjoy this but they have to admit it is a hindrance when it comes to adoption of a platform. Python seems to be as splintered just look at the squabbling over web frameworks between the Turbogears type and the Django types. Ruby like the Mac has found a way to agree on things that help to keep the community productive and pragmatic as well. I’m even finding Rails to make a lot of sense in terms of how it works and as much as the web seems to be crawling with the Twitter performance stories and Ruby being slow, the Ruby and Rails communities still move along at a pretty good pace getting things done. There are very big sites and web apps still using Rails in spite of the Twitter story. I know it has quieted down somewhat but it is far from a dyeing technology. There are still a great deal of thriving businesses being started and chugging along that find Ruby and Rails a perfect fit. I know some would argue that Python and Linux are stronger communities for all the choice you have but some people want to see a platform mature and make some choices that allow a platform to move on to the next step. As much as I hear people say how readable Python is and how it fits their brains I understand it but for me it seems to be Ruby.

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Web business, Jason Calacanis or Matt Mullenweg!

July 8, 2010 at 1:54 am (Apple, Cloud Computing, Evil, Free Software, nonEvil, Open Web, Opensource, Programming, Rant, Technology, Web2.0)

I  have been watching This Week in Startups quite a bit lately. As much as I like the shows, the guests, and even Jason Calacanis, he can really come off as a pompous jerk. The show I was watching this evening prompted this post when he started the show talking about having a bad day and as he started to reveal his day he started playing with his hair and mentioning that he “drove in with the tops down in the Tesla“. You know the type, the name dropping type of guy that would seem to be insecure, but I think there is more to him then that. I guess I am kind of annoyed with the side of web startups that are all that made the dotcom boom go bust. You know the guys that are constantly trying to figure out how they can squeeze money from the internet backbone as a junky tries to squeeze his fix from the dealer. Now don’t get me wrong there is an aggressive business side to every successful startup, but the web startups that seem to be the biggest booms are the ones that are created by someone that is passionate about solving a problem and in some cases they even start as they are trying to fix their individual problem(DHH Ruby on Rails). If for nothing else but to save some time (Rasmus Lerdof creator of PHP). Well those are they ideas that blowup because of the sincerity and the lack of the marketing, research pompous money grabbers. Then looking at the new startups Jason is working on seems to show that he cares so little about some of the things relating to his startups that his ideas lack focus and clarity. I loved when I found This Week in Startups and truly feel that is Jason’s niche only to find that now it is world domination, not just with startups (what I consider him rightly qualified for) but this week in books, games, iPads, coffee cups etc. Even Facebook came from a place of sincerity and a genuine need, not to mention obviously from the person that wanted to and was able to fill that niche.
As I search for my place in the larger picture of technology and where I feel best suited to venture out on my own. I also realize that just because I come up with an idea it does not mean that I am the right person to solve it. Like Jason’s Mahalo site I believe is way to vague to attract the future that most people would hope for in a solid startup. I know they are getting the traffic and such but I believe when these targets are narrowed down more to a fixed subject with a reason to exist they succeed because the need was waiting to be filled. Stackoverflow besides the fact of having Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood already hitting the ground running was able and passionate about solving the problem at hand. There are in my opinion a few ingredients needed for a successful web startup and the idea and implementation are two of those, but you can tell when the passion, sincerity and believability are missing. The startup has to be more than a company wanting to be sold, it must be a company able to sell and not only through the burst of hype that they get in the first year or two but in the years to come which comes from the genuine desire to solve a problem and follow through with it.
I know there are many who will disagree with me but if there are two camps of entrepeneurs on the web, the dotcommers and the hacker types, who would be there regardless of the millions in the bank.
I guess I would consider myself to be on the side of the Matt Mullenwegs (WordPress) of the web, more than the Jason Calacanises. If you want to see the difference watch some of the interviews Jason gives with the likes of a Matt Mullenweg or a David Heinemeier Hansson (Ruby on Rails, 37Signals) and you’ll see the difference when Jason asks these two about why they wouldn’t want to sell their companies and cash out now.
Just my two cents as always. But I still love ya Jason and will continue to watch the webcasts.

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I want to learn programming very badly!

July 5, 2010 at 11:01 am (Computer Science, Free Software, Google, Linux, nonEvil, Open Web, Opensource, Personal, Programming, Python, Technology)

So badly that I am offering any hacker out there my volunteer time in helping with any programming related task. Just comment to me if you are interested. No matter how tedious the task let me help and possibly become a part of the project involved if it works out.

I have free time, but unfortunately because I have been diagnosed with Scleroderma. Which seems to make my dream of being a hacking Ninja a bit more urgent.

I figured I would throw this out there although I haven’t got much traffic to my blog yet. Hopefully the Google picks it up (ha ha).

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The Sweet Spot in Programming!

June 15, 2010 at 10:02 pm (C, Computer Science, Opensource, Programming, Rant, Technology) ()

I was commenting earlier today on a blog concerning Ubuntu and Mono and mentioned that I thought we were still trying to squeeze performance out of our processors and memory and that C#/Mono was not THE answer to getting the strong apps needed on the Linux platform (desktop that is). After considering things for a while I’m not sure, with the present computing architecture that we will ever get but so close to the metal with the higher level languages like the C#s Javas etc. I know we do system programming in those languages presently but the higher the abstraction gets from the hardware the less crisp our expressiveness gets as to where we want the hardware to go. We will continue to whip the hardware and drivers around for the far foreseeable future because human-beings are wired that way not to mention it will remain the right tool for the right job. I know some would like to think that we will be writing operating systems in C# in the next 5-10 years but as long as we know we can squeeze seconds and even milliseconds off an algorithm we will continue to do so, it only makes sense. I don’t see us ever giving in to the inefficiencies that managed code brings with it at too deep a level in the stack. When it comes to controlling the things that make our hardware hum along we will not relinquish control any time soon.

I was watching a webcast from the Berkeley CS 61a course with Brian Harvey. While he was wrapping up the final lecture he made the point to the students about not being a functional, object-oriented, or procedural programming bigot. My paraphrase of course, but the point being that these abstractions and languages have their place and great hackers will continue to wield them correctly, knowing where to make the transition from one to the other, without being religious or idealistic but pragmatic. I only hope my learning brings me to a place where I’m able to wield these tools rightly and not only write about them..

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Webapps and the cloud!

June 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm (Cloud Computing, Evil, Google, nonEvil, Open Web, Rant, Technology)

After reading the article concerning Mozilla’s support for the client side storage in Firefox 4, it made me consider probably my biggest problem with the cloud and web apps as a complete desktop replacement. That being the storage of all documents and such as an answer to say the now Microsoft Office/Windows scenario. I guess not only the actual storage now that I think about it further. The fact that the apps are server side the maker of the app in Google’s case is “listening” to everything you are doing. How would anyone have reacted to Microsoft downloading your text as it is typed in your Word or Excel documents as a way of backing up your work. As much as it can be framed as a utilitarian use their is the flip side of the coin. The Google’s of the world using the interaction for what I would consider unknown purposes. Most average people, not power users or geeks are not aware of the level of snooping that goes on when they are surfing the net. Most users computers that I fix are littered with their interactions that I know most are oblivious to because when I ask them are they visiting such and such sites and contracting viruses they believe that deleted their history from the address bar in their browser gives them privacy. Imagine the level of surprise when most of the general public becomes aware of how unprivate their private life has become.

My blog has become my unrestricted Twitter ha ha!

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Linux and the Mac!

June 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm (Apple, Free Software, Linux, Mac, Opensource, Programming, Technology)

Many users even Linux developers have switched to the Mac. The obvious negative fact for the Linux desktop is that if even the very developers building the platform find it inadequate how will the world ever be convinced Linux is a viable solution with future prospects in the consumer market. I believe many users have enjoyed the polished environment the Mac offers but for many especially developers the main reason is the fact that the Mac offers the Unix tools many have come to love. Apple, has really played the right hand in this case, whether intentional or out of necessity.The fact that the Unix environment had been added to the core of the Mac eliminating the need to create a new tool-set from scratch moved Apple much closer to a complete environment that capped off what many see as the best of both worlds. The looks and the power. This is something Microsoft should have taken note of before spending the millions they have spent on the clunky cmd.exe shell with half-baked utilities (IMHO). Although Microsoft would like to have seen the command-line go the way of the punch card system formally used to program computers and the only means of using the found power of the microprocessor and machine computing. Many developers continue to switch to the Mac for reasons other then the fact that it “is beautiful”. They simply enjoy having the tool-set that has proven valuable and dependable over time. Some claim the Mac is Unix but the architecture is far from a classic Unix system. The Mac architecture is more of a system with the Unix environment “bolted on”, albeit very well.
It is unfortunate that the Free Software/Opensource world has yet to come up with an answer to Windows and now the Mac. We seem to continue taking two steps forward and three steps back every release, yes even Ubuntu. The regressions in the desktop world are not as forgiving as they may have been in the server or academic world. The many applications, utilities, and cosmetic software brought together to make a usable consumer desktop has not yet been tamed. Maybe someone will find that sweet spot and still be acceptable to the community as a whole because it seems Ubuntu is even finding resistance when it comes to the Free Software/Opensource world’s understanding the need for the polish and refinement needed to make a consumer friendly Linux operating system a reality. Much of the development community (outside of the Ubuntu and some Debian developers) accuses Ubuntu of not contributing back to upstream when much of the work done by Ubuntu developers seems to only benefit Ubuntu. I believe they have good reason in some cases because some of the work seeming to help Ubuntu only further separates the usability of the work upstream. This is a problem that needs to find a creative solution.

Many users even Linux developers have switched to the Mac. The obvious negative fact for the Linux desktop is that if even the very developers building the platform find it inadequate how will the world ever be convinced Linux is a viable solution with future prospects in the consumer market. I believe many users have enjoyed the polished environment the Mac offers but for many especially developers the main reason is the fact that the Mac offers the Unix tools many have come to love. Apple, has really played the right hand in this case, whether intentional or out of necessity.The fact that the Unix environment had been added to the core of the Mac eliminating the need to create a new tool-set from scratch. This is something Microsoft should have taken note of before spending the millions they have spent on the clunky cmd.exe shell with half-baked utilities (IMHO). Although Microsoft would like to have seen the command-line go the way of the punch card system formally used to program computers and the only means of using the found power of the microprocessor and machine computing. Many developers continue to switch to the Mac for reasons other then the fact that it “is beautiful”. They simply enjoy having the tool-set that has proven valuable and dependable over time. Some claim the Mac is Unix but the architecture is far from a classic Unix system. The Mac architecture is more of a system with the Unix environment “bolted on”, although I will admit done well.
It is unfortunate that the Free Software/Opensource world has yet to come up with an answer to Windows and now the Mac. We seem to continue taking two steps forward and three steps back every release, yes even Ubuntu. The regressions in the desktop world are not as forgiving as they may have been in the server or academic world. The many applications, utilities, and cosmetic software brought together to make a usable consumer desktop has not yet been tamed. Maybe someone will find that sweet spot and still be acceptable to the community as a whole because it seems Ubuntu is even finding resistance when it comes to the Free Software/Opensource world’s understanding the need for the polish and refinement needed to make a consumer friendly Linux operating system a reality. Much of the development community (outside of the Ubuntu and some Debian developers) accuses Ubuntu of not contributing back to upstream when much of the work done by Ubuntu developers seems to only benefit Ubuntu. I believe they have good reason in some cases because some of the work seeming to help Ubuntu only further separates the usability of the work upstream. This is a problem that needs to find a creative solution.

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Web Browser as the OS?

June 12, 2010 at 11:39 am (Cloud Computing, Evil, Free Software, Google, Linux, Open Web, Opensource, Personal, Programming, Rant, Technology)

This idea always struck me as kind of odd because no matter how you slice it the browser is not smart enough nor is meant to control the hardware etc. I like to think about it as though the actual windows are more intelligent, or connected. Sort of the same abstraction that is given by the X/Windows environment on Unix/Linux type systems. The browser application becomes the window manager in a way.

When the browser begins to handle such tasks as hardware and process management, it no longer is considered only a browser. It is an operating system running a single application, a web browser. The idea of the web operating system in it’s most real sense would be a WAN connected server taking over some tasks that our operating systems are handling locally now. Forgive me for feeling like this is taking a step back. I believe the ideal future will be very capable hardware on the client working in a more networked-by-design, distributed sense. There are certain tasks that I believe should not involve network latency etc. We already are dealing with applications being slow and ultimately using a great deal of resources. The only difference will be taking the latency from the local bus of the PC and transferring it to the network. That doesn’t fix anything, or move us ahead technologically. What happens is that someone gets to monetize everything about our communications, even more then is happening now. I believe there are applications that are better left handling things locally. Not to mention with most “free” web applications there is someone monetizing your personal data without you being aware. Even if you do not store your data on their servers, your keystrokes and network communications etc are mined, without your permission in most cases. I know the the 5 page license mentioned that they will be mining your data and communications “to better serve the customers needs”, but most users would not agree to half of the license agreements that they unknowingly agree to by clicking through windows to get to their work. You know how it is, check here, click here to start using etc.

Please people think about the ramifications. There is a reason we moved from mainframe type computing to local processing and storage. I like the idea of all homes running their own servers with their data and such. Now the business model changes but there are still ways of taking the complexity away from the common users. With so much added complexity with servers and the like being at user’s homes, there would be a need for subscription support services and the like. Which could be handled remotely, not adding distraction or inconvenience to the customer’s experience.

Linux would be a perfect fit for such a scenario.

While I am on the subject of web operating systems. The fact that Google takes advantage of the fact that users must pay for Windows or other proprietary operating systems makers but can use ChromeOS for free is a bit disingenuous. You are paying for it just not when you buy your PC or when you buy the CD from Best Buy. If things go the way Google likes you no longer need Windows Mac or anything else. Just a dumb terminal connected to Google’s non-evil monopoly. They want to give you your phone, your OS, your office applications, your email application, your navigation/GPS device application. Is there anything I’m leaving out. Think about the power that comes from that level of integration. Everything about you, where you are at any given time, all your personal information, your communications, likes, dislikes, secrets etc, stored on Google’s servers. Welcome to cloud computing.

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The cloud scares the hell out of me!!

June 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm (Cloud Computing, Evil, Open Web, Personal, Rant, Technology) (, , )

This may be old news to some but we need to as a society wonder if we really want to put all this power in the hands of greedy corps looking to sell their mother if they could.

The conversation involving Zuckerburg of Facebook while coding and releasing Facebook while at Harvard is telling of how humans deal with great power. Even if he was joking, the very thought that he may have used any of the information he attained against or for his own greedy appetite should answer the question for us all whether the future of the web will be all the world’s citizens info stored on a few filthy rich corporate greed mongers servers is the answer to what some are calling “the open web”. I know the open web term usually refers to the interoperability between technology but to me these terms are used interchangeably all the time. See Zuckerburg’s IM conversation for yourself (well a piece of it).

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Operating System Humor!

June 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

This post is so funny. I laughed at each and every one. It is called “If Operating Systems Were Airlines” enjoy!

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Google selling search phrases to BP!!

June 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm (Evil, Google, Open Web, Personal, Rant, Technology)

BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company’s official website.”

I don’t know about you but is this the future that we want as consumers of the so-called “open web”, that Google is trying to take over and monopolise. The worst part is that they are doing it, and all the while still claiming not to be evil. And they are using the open source banner to achieve it. It is one thing to sell advertising and such but I think the slippery slope has been surpassed when those with the money can now create or fabricate what the world knows about them, by buying search phrases from the Googles and Yahoos of the world. This is probably been a known practice for a while but I guess it doesn’t have any reason to really be reported as such. You know the reporting of someone buying the “intertubes” in a way.

I’m sorry for being so disturbed, but think about the ramifications. You have people selling SEO advice to garner web traffic when if you have enough money you can buy the traffic.

This is more then image repair and marketing. I already wonder how much valuable information is buried on the internet beneath all the search engine behemoths. It used to be about mining the treasure of the world’s information but soon the internet will be seperated with the haves and the have nots.

The open web should not be the rich boy’s club as everything else in the world is.

What happened to the days where the web was not controlled by the search engine but the search engine was strong only because it could without bias lead you to the things that were found because of the best algorithm that dug the best for pertinent info.

I know I’m rambling a bit.

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