When
· Naughties
· · 2004
· · · July
· · · · 06 (2 entries)

Last First Program? · I just wrote my first Python pro­gram. It oc­curs to me, giv­en the gen­er­al­ly grey colour of my beard, that this may be the last time I learn a new pro­gram­ming lan­guage. Which, frankly, would be OK, it’s re­al work. This thing scans all the feeds com­ing out of Plan­et Sun us­ing Mark Pilgrim’s Univer­sal Feed Pars­er, de­tects any that have changed in the last day, and pings we­blogs.­com, tech­no­rati.­com, and blo.gs to let them know. (Ques­tion: who else should be pinged? An­swer: thanks to the many peo­ple who wrote about Ping-o-matic; doesn’t quite fit our bil­l, but in­ter­est­ing.) It’s on­ly 57 lines of code, but I had to learn a mod­est amount of Web wran­gling, string mung­ing, time arith­metic, and da­ta struc­ture walk­ing to get it go­ing. I sus­pect it’s not a very good Python pro­gram, but I can live with that. If you’re go­ing to scale the Python­ic slopes, you’ll need one brows­er tab open to Dive In­to Python, an­oth­er to the Python Tu­to­ri­al, a shell win­dow handy where you can type things like py­doc time, and a non­triv­ial chunk of Python code in a near­by ed­i­tor buffer (I used the Feed Parser) so you can look up id­iom­s. At the end of the day, the code looks dis­tinct­ly weird to my eye, kind of ragged with­out a sup­port­ing vi­su­al lat­tice of {’s }’s, and ;’s. But I’m sure you get used to it quick­ly.
 
Sunbeams · Wel­l, I said once a week, and it’s been longer than that, but we’ve all been busy. To start on a cheer­ful note, here’s Jeff Solof on child sac­ri­fice and the­o­log­i­cal page-turners (re­al­ly). Stay­ing non­tech­ni­cal, Josh Si­mons writes about rare dig­i­tal books, which will get any bibliophile’s heart pound­ing; Ge­off Arnold points us at an amus­ing note from Neil Gaiman and adds a chuck­le to it. Mov­ing to tech­nol­o­gy, Bryan Cantrill wor­ries about keep­ing Usenix rel­e­van­t. And last week, one big news sto­ry was the open-sourcing of Java3D. I am one of the few liv­ing hu­mans to have ac­tu­al­ly shipped a work­ing J3D app, so this turns my crank a bit, if you need 3D I doubt there’s a smoother API in the world for it; check it out. I’m go­ing to have to go re­vive my Pseu­dob­a­by­lo­ni­ana pro­jec­t, should be a snap to move it from Perl to J3D.
 
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