- Name: Dethe Elza
- Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
My long-term project is to write a book called "Programming for the Fun of It" to help people take control of their computers and enjoy doing it.
A program is a process, not a thing. This also applies to life, the universe, and everything.
What didn't make it across are the comments on blogger. While I've had a few really good comments here, the ratio of spam to comments has been completely out of whack. I'm just going to put up my email address and let the spam filters take care of it. Hopefully real comments will be able to get through.
It's taken longer than I'd hoped to make this transition, but now I hope to be able to concentrate on posting some of the examples I've written for PyObjC and writing some new tutorials. I'm also going to get the projects I'm discussing into publicly accessible subversion repositories Real Soon Now™
The new blog is fully tag-enabled. There is a main Atom feed, and each tag has its own Atom feed, so for instance if you're only interested in Python articles, you can just subscribe to the Python tag-feed and you won't have to hear about my Make Magazine-inspired projects with the kids. Now I just need to add some Ajax and it will be fully buzzword-compliant.
Hope to see y'all there!
Screenshot in Cocoa (Python)
from AppKit import *already. Since I can't comment on jwz's blog (whether it's because I don't use LiveJournal or because I do use Safari, I don't know), I'll post it here instead.
rect = NSScreen.mainScreen().frame()
image = NSImage.alloc().initWithSize_((rect.size.width, rect.size.height
window = NSWindow.alloc().initWithContentRect_styleMask_backing_defer_(
view = NSView.alloc().initWithFrame_(rect)
window.setLevel_(NSScreenSaverWindowLevel + 100)
I cribbed this several months ago from some example Cocoa code, but forgot to make a note of where I got it. If anyone recognizes this pattern, please let me know so I can attribute it.
My quiet time is going to continue for a bit longer, but while I won't apologize, I will at least explain. Here's what I'm doing instead with the couple of hours I have between putting the kids to bed and going to bed myself.
- Writing the OS X version of the file uploader for The Conversation Network. At some point this will be made public, and the idea is to open source it. I'll be sure to point that out when it happens. It's been really great to have this opportunity to work with Doug Kaye and the rest of the gang from ITConversations, after being an admirer (and consumer) of their work for some time.
- Attended the Northern Voice and Moose Camp conference, where I was fortunate enough to co-moderate a session on community and blogs with Nancy White
- Writing my own weblog software. Blogger has a better interface than manilasites, but that's not saying much. I'm also trying to port my old content from manilasites, plus my pre-blog-era work, plus my paper journal. All of this will be hosted at livingcode.org in the near future.
- Writing more articles for IBM developerWorks, I hope to have more to say about that Real Soon Now
- Generally organizing the livingcode site better, getting projects their own pages, putting code into SVN. Trying to use Sourceforge was a huge failure, their interface is just too crufty and they still don't support Subversion. But Dreamhost (where livingcode.org is hosted) does support Subversion now, so I'm going to be moving all my public code over there.
- I wrote a screensaver using PyObjC which I'm hoping to get included in their distribution as an example, but I need to do some refactoring first (in the time leftover from other projects). I want to write that up too, it was pretty interesting to work on.
- I periodically take a stab at porting VPython to the Aqua environment. I have some ideas for this (some of them probably heretical to the VPython folks), but need time to work on them. Notice a pattern emerging?
- Porting Apple's Sketch demo application from ObjectiveC to PyObjC.
- Several of these things are just precursors to DrawingBoard, my animation program for kids. I really, really want to be working on that, but need to get some of the smaller projects finished and out of my head so I can concentrate.
- Exploring programming environments for my kids. My nine-year-old daughter and I will try competing in the PyWeek game challenge later this month.
- I'm sure I've forgotten several significant things.
More news as it happens.
Reflecting on the past, looking to the future
I see computers as not ready yet. People buy them, they're interesting toys. They help in some ways, make things more difficult in others. But we have bought into the mythology of computers. Meanwhile, the state of the art in computing has moved backwards in important ways, even though computers are getting cheaper and faster. Innovation crawl during the dotcom boom. Tools get more complicated, resulting in less freedom of expression, wasting the time of the people who use them.
The idea behind Living Code is that software is not a thing that is finished, it is more like a conversation. Like telling a story that someone will make better. We are trying to take steps to move to a new model of software, one in which we don't "write programs," but instead play the computer like a musician plays jazz. This model should be accessible to children, and yes, even to adults.
A rather large goal.
But just as software is never finished, the goal isn't there to be achieved. We have a goal in order to make focused, achievable steps while learning from history and aware of our limitations. In this conversation our goals become prototypes, experiments which are contantly evolving as they are tested in use.
Happy New Year!
 For examples of the promise that computers have thus far failed to live up to, see the wikipedia articles for Sketchpad, Dynabook, OpenDoc, Seymour Papert or Douglas Englebart.
 For examples of how computer innovation has stalled, check out one of many patents holding the field back, or check out this summary of Microsoft's innovations.
 For an example of how tools are getting too complicated, see Charles Petzold's article, Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?
You can label up to eight sliders using the text box, hit enter and tweak the sliders. When you have it the way you want it, you can bookmark the result and send it to your team members, or your mom. Tested in IE 6, Firefox 1.5, and Safari 2.0.2. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law. Some limitations may apply. Coded in a hurry™.
3D, it's not just for breakfast anymore
Years ago, I was the lead programmer for Antarcti.ca's 3D web client (which was discontinued awhile back), and before that I implemented a simple 3D renderer in Java AWT (this was before Swing, and way before Java3D. So I've been tinkering around with 3D for awhile. Lately I've volunteered to take a stab at porting VPython over to OS X Aqua (it can be built for OS X, but only under X Windows, which doesn't appeal to me). So far, the build process for it has been stumping me, and soaking up what little time I have to devote to my hobby coding, but I still plug away at it from time to time. It's a C++ extension for Python which relies on boost, glib, and OpenGL libraries, and it uses autoconf in a fairly non-auto way. I've never been expert at build systems, most python projects I've needed were either
python setup.py install, so the struggle to port this really bugs me, but VPython is a very cool project and I want to use it (and I don't want to give in and rely on fink and X). Sometimes I'm too stubborn for my own good.
In a previous post I mentioned that I was thinking of writing a tool for screencasting from OS X. It turns out that while Apple has included more advanced Cocoa libraries for Quicktime in Tiger, there isn't a convenient way to create new, writable movies from Cocoa, so that project has stalled, for the time being. There is a solution, but I'm trying to wrap up other things before I delve into it.
I have two projects nearly ready to release which are both larger examples of using PyObjC. One is my own project, DrawingBoard, which is being tested right now by both my kids and my friend Michael's kids. I'm about ready to let other people see it, rough as it still is. The other project is a port of Apple's Sketch example code from Objective-C into Python, which gives examples of how to use Core Data, undo/redo, and many other things. Both will be coming soon.
Interface Builder vs. Macromedia Flex Builder 2
The other part that was interesting for me was that Flex Builder runs inside of Eclipse. It's been a long time since I've tried Eclipse and I was pleasantly suprised. It was fairly snappy, not too confusing to find my way around in, and looked better than I remembered. Of course, I was running it on a dual 3GHz Windows box, so I might be disappointed once more if I ran it on my Powerbook, but my brief encounter with it didn't suck, which was a big improvement.
Of course, neither of these developments are going to lure me away from Python and Vim any time soon.