4 December 2008

welcome back, reclaimer!

do you like my pimp monacle?

it’s been a while since i’ve picked up new gaming hardware. now, thanks to the driving upgrade needs of safety monkey, i’ve got a 360. this does not bode well for my bedtimes or my kotor ii game. especially since i also have fallout 3.

21 November 2008

stupid, you could call it that, stupid, but you have no idea

look, it’s been a while. we move on. i have four drafts that are all hopelessly out of date.

this isn’t even a proper blog post, but it’s a request for comments from anybody still following this thing that happens to be a nerd. i’ve just been assigned a nice, new, relatively compact project at work. it’s a canonical example of a “apply new techniques” problem: a partial (and now broken) reference implementation already exists, i understand the structure, and i think i’ve got enough time to build it correctly while still learning a new trick or two along the way.

i’ve spent the last forever (forever!) building a mega-webapp that has turned out to be really badly designed in places. i didn’t really know what i was doing – i’d never built any substantial kind of web application. i learned a ton. i’m anticipating that my next job is going to have me building bigger, smarter, better-designed applications. possibly on the web. so i’d like to be less sucky next time.

with that in mind, i’m definitely not going to squander this opportunity by building another crappy hodgepodge of asp pages in vbscript, not least of which because i want this new application to live over on our departmental account. so i turn to you, internet. i’m thinking of using a web framework, but should i? which one to use?

here’s what i’ve evaluated-slash-heard of:

  • catalyst: it’s perl, which is one of my “go-to” languages. i’m not quite as perl-savvy as i once was, and a significant amount of my old perl suffers from abuse of regular expressions. i was young, crazy, dumber and didn’t think that perhaps i should use a proper parser for things like xml. the downside of this seems to be that installing it relies on lots of cpan which my twitter followers will know doesn’t particularly love me.
  • solstice, designed by the catalyst group at the uw. yeah, sucky namespace collision there. also in perl, possibly impossible to get running on the departmental server, and heavily customized for the specific applications written by the development team. on the other hand, i have weekly beer with the development team, and i’ve actually built a very simple application in it once.
  • rails. the “build a blog in 15 minutes” video from like four years ago is still hot. bonus points that i converted jack danger to a full-time ruby developvangelist before i’d even touched it myself. in fact, my total code written in ruby to date: two little command line scripts. it somehow seems appropriate that i be roughly five years behind the curve. bonus: it’s already installed on the departmental servers.
  • django, “for perfectionists with deadlines”. that seems like me, except i’m not really a perfectionist. python is still a little hard for me to wrap my head around but i think i’ve got some of it – i’ve been building some little things over on appengine, including a new homepage for my windows mobile phone.

so, what am i missing? should i not even bother with a framework and just devote myself to the ascetic practice of writing everything from scratch? what about the php frameworks that are out there?

16 May 2008

i wonder how you never knew – you’re the margaret weis to my tracy hickman

so as possibly alluded to in my previous post, much like my esteemed hermano jsmg, i’ve been wary of becoming a cranky old man in the wide world of social networking and the internet version 2.0.

there’s a constant tension between the present and the past. on the one hand i like to hold on to my old school street cred. you know, the use of pine (an improvement over elm!) and remembering manually putting together multipart mime downloads from usenet using tin. hell, at one point over a decade ago i had a .sig file for usenet posting. i gophered into wisc.edu to download .voc and .mod files. long before wow, when blizzard was just that quirky company that made warcraft: orcs and humans, i was off on bbs’ playing majormud. i used telix and wrote salt scripts to level me up. old school.

funnily enough, that sort of thing doesn’t count for much in the modern era. yes, i have vast quantities of street credit, but internet inflation is even worse than that in the real world. what was sufficient to buy me adulation a decade ago now only pays its dividends in derision. (just because pine’s quoting breaks gmail that doesn’t make pine bad.)

anyhow, in addition to making an awesome podcast, you can also find me on your favorite social networking sites. by which i mean facebook. technically i’m on myspace although i never log on anymore. having more than 5 friends on myspace is a liability because the odds increase exponentially that one f them is going to get hacked and spam your comments, bulletins, and messages with crazy advertisements and invitations to their secret nude webcam.

i’ve also started messing around with twitter though i confess that i can’t quite work up the will to have 140 characters of wit every twenty minutes. i am following some pretty smart (and funny people) though that show how the medium can be manipulated well: r. stevens, of diesel sweeties; lore sjoberg, of wired alt text and formerly brunching shuttlecocks; and john hodgman, of everything awesome in the last five years (but especially his book, the daily show, and being bruce campbell’s literary agent). like my pownce account, however, i’m guessing that i’ll largely be a data consumer and produce very little.

for a slightly nerdier thing that i’ve been working with, i’ve also set up my own openid provider. unfortunately, it seems like everything is an openid provider – i think even your safeway club card provides openid now. unfortunately nobody accepts the damn things, and even those that do seem to do it in this janky, half-assed way. not quite the promise of easy access to a million systems with just one secure login, is it now?

the last new technology that i’ve been playing with is actually an entire company, doing no evil into my life nearly constantly. i’ve googleized my life in a dozen ways: it started with dropping bloglines like a bad habit and switching to google reader – if only for it’s integrated friends lists. similarly i’ve got a couple google calendars, a bunch of files in google docs & spreadsheets, and my very own appspot hello world application.

meanwhile, i’m hopefully contributing to web 3.0, the personalized, decentralized, peer-to-peer world by creating a decentralized social networking application. it’ll be done eventually, although at the current coding rate it’s been… slow going.

maybe i’m still slightly hip.

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