Archive for July, 2007

Preview of PyObjC 2.0

Friday, July 20th, 2007

While it appears that PyObjC development has stagnated, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ronald posted a very nice overview of the tasty goodness in PyObjC 2.0. He has been very very busy.

Yes, it fully leverages the metadata generated by the BridgeSupport project. Via BridgeSupport, PyObjC — and RubyCocoa, and anything else leveraging BridgeSupport — has enough metadata to bridge to just about any C or Objective-C API. The goal of BridgeSupport is to provide a machine readable description of system APIs with full fidelity; something that the Objective-C runtime metadata does not provide (including, for example, information about straight C functions).

Ronald: Thank you. 12 years is a long time for any open source project to remain active and the last year, largely through Ronald’s contributions, has proven to be one of the most vibrant years of development in the project’s history!

Git will eat Subversion’s Lunch

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

As it stands, Git is going to eat Subversion’s lunch.

Because it is better, you ask?

No. Actually, Git kind of sucks in a number of ways. Right off the bat, it shoves about a zillion command line tools in your bin/ directory, many of which don’t work unless you go figure out what silly perl modules or something else are required.

Dumb.

But, still, Git will win unless the Subversion developers finally pull their head out of their ass and realize that opaque collections are much more than “just a Mac specific problem… just tar wrappers done right”.

To rephrase in a slightly less antagonistic fashion (Now, I owe several people a beer and an apology for that last paragraph): Subversion needs to focus on the user experience and not just on being a better CVS. There be innovation goin’ on and hiding behind “a better CVS” will only work for not terribly much longer.

Git will win because it is about 8 bazillion times easier to use because it doesn’t scatter administrivia crap throughout your work area.

This is just so fundamentally the right way to do stuff.

Why in bloody hell should the user have to think about mirroring the filesystem manually??!?!

Yet, that is exactly what Subversion, CVS, and Perforce force the user to do!

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Try explaining to a user — to an artist, to your mother, to someone writing a damned presentation — why the frack they should have to go into some tool to either do what they have already done in the Finder (or Windows equivalent) or that even using the Finder (or Windows equivalent) will screw up their “workarea state”.

This isn’t about “wrappers” — about documents that are really directories. This is about convenience.

Give it 12 to 18 months. If Subversion doesn’t fix this — if Subversion doesn’t make it, like, not require lots of silly, repetitive, manual, error prone, operations that either mirror filesystem operations or require you to use one tool and not another — then Git will gain users in droves.

Users will switch not because Git is better than Subversion, but because Git is one whole hell of a lot easier to work with in the most common workflow — editing, adding, and deleting files.

Git doesn’t make you redo stuff that your computer is already quite good at doing. And, that, alone, will be enough to make users flock to it…

Fraser offers a much more techincal analysis of the differences. Personally, I desperately hope Subversion fixes this particular problem. Subversion is really and truly awesome in so many ways and I do not want to have to migrate repository software for at least another decade.

Fitz suggests — sort of — having a look at Mercurial.

Pat Benatar (w/ Lennon Murphy opening)

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Christine and I headed up to The Mountain Winery to see Pat Benatar this evening.

Great venue. Outdoor stage with a relatively small number of seats on top of a mountain overlooking all of silicon valley. Decent, but expensive, concert food — burgers, fries, calamari, etc.. — and quite tasty, but also expensive, margaritas or bottles of wine.

Benatar and Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, Pat’s husband and the one individual that has contributed to every Benatar album, played an excellent set of classic Benatar tunes. Nothing new here; just classic Benatar hits played by excellent musicians fronted by Pat, whose voice has held up well all these years. Neil is a strong and versatile musicion, playing keyboards, guitar and drums throughout the main set and encore.

Kind of like going to Karaoke where the performance is done by the original artists with a goal of trying to achieve the same sound they had when the songs were still considered new. No matter how good they play, it is still just a rehash of former performances.

And the crowd loved it. Totally ate it up. Great energy. Pat and Neil had some great interactions– both historical recounting and joking around — with the crowd and it was definitely a big happy Benatar love fest. It was quite a bit of fun.

But, in the end, not my thing. I’m too much of a newjunkie. Not just “totally new”, but if I’m going to see a band play 30 year old hits, I really want to see something new; a jam session that breaks out into total improv around the classic theme, new instruments or arrangements, or — at the very least — at least a handful of interesting songs that were written in the last year or two.

Lennon Murphy opened thee show with an acoustic set; just her and a keyboard in piano mode. Never heard of her. It was quite good; simple cord sequences with her solid, Natalie Merchant-esque, voice on top.

Apparently — I haven’t listened yet — Lennon normally does music that could be described as “metal”. It definitely comes through in her piano+voice work in that the chord progressions and melodies tend to be fairly simple. It was easy to imagine what that same set of chords might sound like through screaming guitars.

As usual, wikipedia has a bunch of interesting biographical information on Lennon Murphy. Beyond the seemingly ubiquitous MySpace profile, Lennon also appears on SuicideGirls.

Lennon’s Career Suicide album is quite good and closely matches the set she played as the opening act at the show. Nice production value, with just an occasional touch of electro-effect on the piano and vocals, and good storytelling. Neat — scratches my newjunkie itch nicely.

American Masters: Les Paul

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I’m a huge fan of music; all kinds, but I lean to the modern. I love rock-n-roll, techno, [some] country, and just about everything in between.

And when you talk of modern music, there is one man whose inventions and accomplishments impacted modern music more than anyone else.

Les Paul.

PBS’s American Masters has now covered Les Paul. Amazing show; interviews with the man himself accompanied by contributions from many others and plenty of examples of Mr. Paul’s amazing recordings.

Excellent show.

If you are in New York City on any given Monday evening, go see Les Paul live at the Iridium Club.

I have been three times and it was amazing. Every single time. Given that Les invented basically all of the technologies behind modern rock-n-roll — from the electric guitar to multi-track recording to overdub — you never know who might show up.

(Funny — the part where Paul McCartney is relaying a story to Les on stage … that happened at the Iridium on a night I was there. McCartney was sitting at the next table. That is just how the show works.)

The first time I saw him, I went with a friend that did a bunch of engineering work with Les in the early years (50s or so) and we sat and chatted with Les Paul until about 5 in the morning.

About inventing, engineering, life, and everything… For the Make crowd, there is your poster child right there– amazing.

Just how easy-to-use is an iPhone?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

So easy, a one year old can use it.

And an iPhone will, in fact, blend. I’m amazed at how long the video kept playing on the device.

Tribulus Terrestris (Goatshead) — Terribly Evil Plant From Hell

Saturday, July 7th, 2007
Goatshead or Puncture Vine

Low maintenance groundcover plants that are willing to grow in poor soil with little irrigation are generally quite welcome in most areas.

And the plant pictured certainly looks pretty damned healthy for something growing in hard pack clay and gravel with no water and zero protection from the blazing hot sun.

Better yet, look at how it is spreading so nicely to cover the ground while maintaining an extremely low growth habit. Looks like it might even be a really pleasant ground cover for paths or walkways.

Goatshead or Puncture Vine

Closer inspection reveals that it even has these really pleasant little yellow flowers!

Cute, even! And it is covered in them!

How can anyone not love this plant?

Goatshead or Puncture Vine Detail

But, wait, what is this?

Every one of those little yellow flowers turns into a seed pod. The fruit of the vine, if you will.

And every one of those little seed pods breaks apart into four or five sections, each with quarter inch spikes.

While the spikes are semi-hard when green (hard enough to puncture skin), they turn iron-hard when dry. The design of the little seed pod sections is such that they spikes point up.

How hard are they?

Hard enough to go through bike tires, thin soled shoes, people feet, animal skin, and — even — small car tires.

And they hurt likely bloody hell. Typical to thorns like this, the surface has some kind of irritant on it that causes the puncture wounds to be extremely painful.

Roger and Goatshead

Roger and I have been on a personal vendetta to eliminate this evil plant wherever we find it. It is one of the few plants that I might actually consider using chemicals on.

As you can see in the picture, this ground crawling vine can get to be quite large. That isn’t even the largest one we have eliminated in the area.

Tribulus terrestis is an invasive species that has gained a foothold across most of the warmer climates of the world. It is the bane of bicyclists and open shoed hikers.

Recently, I ran into a nasty patch of it on one of the trails in Cupertino that I ride my bike to work on. Obviously, an infestation of puncture vine along a public walkway can be very painful and unpleasant to folks using said path.

I contacted Cupertino Parks and Recreation and they had the plant eradicated within a day! Very impressive!

Update: As the summer wore on, a couple more sprouts popped up here and there. Cupertino Parks & Rec eliminated them in short order. Clearly, they keep an eye on outbreaks! Nice!