Picked this up at Kid Robot in the Haight this weekend. It is so freaking awesome. I want more, but can't read japanese :-)


Running Ubuntu on Mac OS X

One of the first things I did when I got my MacBook is install Parallels, CPU virtualization software that lets me run Windows XP in a window on Mac OS X, so I can easily test our site with Internet Explorer. It's very fast, and very, very friendly.

Recently I was tasked with discovering whether it is possible to do non-blocking file reads and writes to a filesystem that is mounted over NFS. I tried on OS X, and I was unable to get a read to return EWOULDBLOCK. So, I decided to install Ubuntu on Parallels. I downloaded the iso, burned it to a CD, created a new virtual machine, and installed it.

Everything worked flawlessly. Ubuntu has always been incredibly high quality, and it has only gotten nicer in the year since I used it last. It's polished, beautiful, and just works. It is definitely something that I could install on my machine for my Mom with a web browser and mail reader.

Here's a screenshot:


Writing your Python REPL history to a file

Something I have often wished for is the ability to save the history of a Python interactive session to a file. I often screw around in the interpreter to figure out how I am going to implement something, and it is tedious to go through and copy/paste all the lines out of the terminal into an editor and clean it up. Luckily, I discovered there is an easier way in the readline module:

import readline

I'm sure this is going to come in handy many times.


New Slide Transitions

One of the new transitions we have been working on at Slide:

Very busy at work lately. Getting a lot accomplished, and it is challenging, fun work. We're starting to ramp up pretty fast and I have been doing scalability work on the backend, which is surprisingly enjoyable after doing web front end work for so long.


Introducing NevowPavel

I'm at SuperHappyDevHouse VII tonight. I went to II, and had a good time, but haven't been able to get back until now for various reasons. It was supposed to be last weekend, which falls on my weekend I am scheduled to work in the city, but for some reason it got bumped to this weekend. My goal for tonight is to release some code which was written almost a year ago: NevowPavel. If you have a short attention span, watch the screencast, wherein I explain the basic idea behind the project and give a demonstration of the currently implemented features.

This is the secret LivePage project I wrote about the last time I went to SHDH. It is a multiuser real-time updating wiki similar to and inspired by (the precursor to) Jot Live, the "live" version of Jot that broadcasts real-time updates to everyone that is participating. The difference with the NevowPavel implementation is that it is "spatial". Instead of editing a contiguous page of text, each piece of text is contained in a sticky note which can be moved and resized at will to organize the information as one wishes.

Links are also handled in an interesting way. Links are inserted by dragging out a link instead of a sticky and typing a new page name. Following the link takes you to the new page, where you can create and organize new pieces of information. Each page has a user list, so you can see who is there editing with you. To organize information cross-page, you drag stickies onto links. People who are on other pages see the information appear magically.

The ultimate goal of these template objects which you can spatially place in the page is for them to be pluggable. New types of objects should be able to be created which can provide code which renders content and handles input events for instances placed in the page. Eventually, the code should be through-the-web programmable. Obviously this involves lots of different things, like run-time code modification, restricted code execution, perhaps distributed code (to move code across multiple Pavel servers), and some sort of persistence. I'm also working on a Prototype-based object system with very simple persistence which is coming along well, but isn't integrated with the old project at all yet. This is a multi-year project, so check back again next year :-)