News about Nathan and Heather Straz

Wednesday, 27 June, 2007
Was your comment meant to be private?
by nate

It turns out that the "Comment Publicly" question wasn't working the way it was supposed to. When your comments got to us for moderation, everything was marked as wanting to be public. Oops. I tried to figure out why, but I don't understand that part of Django well enough. I did make it so your choice is now saved correctly.

If anyone posted a comment that they wanted to be private, please post another comment telling us to make it so. I'm very sorry if your private comment was made public against your wishes. I'll test my software thoroughly next time.

0:18 | Tags: Projects Django | 1 Comment

Monday, 23 April, 2007
MinneBar 07
by nate

This weekend I spent Saturday at MinneBar, a technology and design un-conference. I've never been to one of these before and it was an interesting experience. It's a free conference where anyone can sign up to attend and present. Over 380 people signed up. I'm not sure that many actually attended, but the space was packed and got really hot. I went up to the roof a few times to cool off.

The conference started out with some opening remarks and a demo/talk by William Gurstelle, a writer and tech enthusiast. He was drawing comparisons between BarCamp and the "technology underground" which he writes about. He was also pushing his latest book, Whoosh Boom Splat.

The first session I went to was Does the world need more storage?. Since storage is my day job, I couldn't not attend this session. I've spent most of my career working with the shared file systems CXFS and GFS. It was good to see what else was going on in the industry.

Next I attended You can do that? Selling agile to the enterprise. I felt that the presentation was missing an overview of what agile development was all about. I got the sense that it was a most flexible and reactive method of developing software. I certainly want to read more about it.

For the last session before lunch I headed downstairs to Designing for Use. I've seen some really aweful interfaces since I joined Red Hat. We've started design discussions for some major internal infrastructure for the QE department. I was hoping to get some ideas on how to avoid another design disaster. Instead of a talk on the fundamentals of design it was more of a group theray session. I didn't get as much out of it as I was hoping to.

After lunch there were two slots for demos. I think the best one was for Crash Plan, a backup tool with an interesting twist. Instead of backing up to tape or CD, it lets you back up to other people who use Crash Plan. What happens is that you and your friends and family buy the software. Then you allow each other to backup each other's data. I think that's innovative.

After the demos was a special session, an interview with David Heinemeier Hansson from 37 signals and Ruby on Rails fame. Interviews with founders of open source projects are always good and this was no execption. It's great to hear how they and their projects got started. Hopefully the audio or video will be posted on the MinneBar web site.

A fellow TCZPUG member, Gary Berosik, co-presented the session Introduction to natural language processing. This was certainly the most technical presentation I went to. They didn't explain the math behind the techniques, but they did have the equations on their slides. One technique they highlighted, naive Bayes, is one that was once popular in spam fighting. I can see how it would work really well in categorizing non-hostile content. It also brought a different idea applying it to spam fighting. If you could train the network on the blog posts, it might make a good decision on comments for the post. I get a lot of spam comments that aren't at all related to the blog, let alone each post. Being able to toss them out automatically would be great.

The final session I attened, I actually organized. One of the organizers, Luke Francl, sent an email to the TCZPUG mailing list about doing a Web Frameworks Panel. After some thought I decided to do it. I volunteered to support Django. Jack Ungerleider volunteered to speak on behalf of Zope. I left an open invitation in the session description so other attendees could join the panel. We ended up with five including David Heinemeier Hansson. I was pretty nervious going into the panel as I was the only hobbyist on the panel and everyone else did web development professionally. I think I did okay. There were a bunch of times I wanted to answer a question from the audience but by the time someone else finished answering the question, the topic had headed somewhere else. Oh well. I'm still glad I did it.

Overall, I'm glad I went to MinneBar. Next time I won't bother taking a laptop with me. I should also try to present something Linux related. The un-conference was heavily dominated by web specific topics so I felt a little out-of-place. I also think the sessions felt really short. I would have loved another 10-20 minutes because the discussions could have easily gone that much longer and hit more important points.

9:36 | Tags: Happenings Projects Django | 2 Comments

Sunday, 28 January, 2007
TCZPUG Meeting/Working Session
by nate

Yesterday I attended a TCZPUG meeting. That's the Twin Cities Zope and Python Users Group for those who don't recognize the acronym [*]. It's a small group that hasn't met very frequently. It's also very Zope centric. Most people in the group use Zope and Plone. I get the feeling that few people in the group actually dig into Python all that much.

This meeting was just an excuse to meet up with other members and work on our pet projects. While I was there I dug a little into the newforms-admin branch of Django. I have some ideas about how I would like to make the admin more extendable. I'd like to make applications the focus more than models. To do that I want to make it really easy to hook in new admin views that are more workflow centric than model centric.

I also gave an ad-hoc presentation on Django. It certainly wasn't a professional or practiced presentation. I highlighted models, urlconf, views and templates. But as I talked about Django I got the sense that I was the only person there that really likes to write Python code. Zope and Plone are really through-the-web platforms where Django forces you to write Python code.

[*]Okay, probably no one knows that acronym.

11:42 | Tags: Django Zope Social | 0 Comments

Monday, 1 January, 2007
Comments should work better
by nate

During the last few days of my holiday break I did some reading on Django's newforms library. It is the new way of doing web forms in Django. I used it to get my commentary application working. It should now work a little better than the previous version which was a hack job on django.contrib.comments. I still want to do some work on it so it's as nice as Wordpress' comments. I was really impressed when I left a comment on Mike's blog and it showed the comment I had just posted and told me it still had to be moderated.

22:47 | Tags: Django | 0 Comments

Monday, 21 August, 2006
Now Open Source
by nate

One of the benefits of moving away from a pure Zope site is that it's really easy to integrate other apps. Tonight I added ViewVC and Subversion, two ways to look at my source code. The first is good for browsing my source code, the second allows you to check out your own copy. There isn't a whole lot there at the moment. I was tracking COREBlog development for a while and I have some changes in there. There is a TiVo project I started, but didn't get far on. And finally there is the source code for the new web site.

22:05 | Tags: Projects Django Zope | 1 Comment

Monday, 7 August, 2006
More Django Progress
by nate

I worked more on converting the site from Zope to Django this weekend. I have recent comments working. I have RSS working. I have the archives working. I have comments working. I still need to work on the look of the comment form and automatically munge the image URLs when I migrate. I'm very happy with the way it's going. Hopefully in the next week I'll make the switch. There's a prediction that will come back to haunt me...

11:07 | Tags: Django Zope | 1 Comment

Tuesday, 2 May, 2006
Django Notes
by nate

Although I haven't converted the web site to Django I'm still planning on it. I did a lot of the ground work while in New York for Heather's surgery. After that I started procrastinating again and didn't do anything until our trip to Arizona just over a week ago. Now that I've procrastinated this much I need to catch up with the Django community. Just yesterday they merged the magic-removal branch into the main development trunk. That means that all of the code I wrote needs to be changed to the new way of doing things.

I also added myself to the Django world map. I thought it was a really cool use for Google Maps so I couldn't resist. Perhaps I should start a map for readers.

21:37 | Tags: Django | 1 Comment

Monday, 13 March, 2006
Progress with Django
by nate

My experimentation with Django has gone really well. I created a simple blog application with a structure similar to COREBlog. I am able to import all of my COREBlog entries and comments. I really want to convert my Zope and COREBlog site over to Apache and Django. I have a few small things to get done and one looming problem.

  • Add a comment form and display comments
  • Make the site look good
  • Figure out how to migrate and handle images

That last bullet is causing me some trouble. In COREBlog I was using Zope's acquisition to find images and all links to images where relative. I am able to pull all of the images out of the ZODB and I created an Attachment model to associate the images to the entries. It worked great when you viewed the entries in detail but using relative URLs cause the images to not show up when viewing a list of entries.

I guess I need to do some research on how other weblog software handles images. I want it really easy to add images to entries. I may need to adjust my position that images are directly attached to the entries.

21:50 | Tags: Django Zope | 0 Comments

Sunday, 19 February, 2006
Looking at Django
by nate

There has been a lot of talk in the Python world about web frameworks lately. The recent chatter started around a post by Guido van Rossum asking which web framework would work best for his starter project at Google. I didn't follow the thread, but I've seen some discussion on the Zope3-users mailling list and blogs syndicated at Django was mentioned several times and I decided to take a look. I haven't been all that happy with Zope and COREBlog lately and I'm looking to make a move. I might just make a move to Django.

I'm working through the tutorials and I'm noticing a lot of things about Django that I like:
  1. It runs in mod_python on Apache, which will make integrating other web apps a lot easier.
  2. It puts great emphasis on making URLs look clean. Zope 3 seems to be taking the exact opposite direction.
  3. It makes administrative interfaces for you.
  4. The template language is way simpler than ZPT.

Since web development isn't my day job I really don't want to spend a lot of time learning a framework. Django looks like a better solution for me than Zope.

Now the question is, will I get anything done?

11:41 | Tags: Django Zope | 0 Comments