Friday, July 30, 2010

Steal This Idea: Electronic Emergency Preparedness Kit

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I remember reading somewhere about a person who recommended a full electronic version of important documents, stashed them on a USB key, and stashed the USB key into his emergency kit. I'm looking at my Android based smart phone and saying "Wait, why not use this?" I'd want any program to have top-notch encryption and allow me to store any images I choose. This would allow me to store mine (and my family members') driver licenses, marriage certificate, home ownership papers, birth certificate, social security cards, everything. Of course, all of these would need to be encrypted. This would help to ensure that, in the event of an emergency where I lose all of those originals, I could use the information on my phone to at least find out the things I need to get them replaced, and restore my life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Announcing the Availability of tgext.menu v1.0b3

tgext.menu v1.0b3 is available for immediate download. It can be found on PyPI in an easy_install'able form. The source may be found at BitBucket. This release now allows specifying the icon for a menu entry in the decorators and functions, fixes an issue where an id could be duplicated, and allows for replacement of the default template.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Steal This Idea: Shared SmartPhone Shopping List

I've been using some form of PDA type device for a long time now. I used to use a PalmOS based device until last summer, when I switched to Android. On PalmOS, I had HandyShopper, and it was a shopping list done right. I would love to see HandyShopper done for Android, but with one additional tweak: It should have the ability to synchronize with a Google Docs spreadsheet. This would provide a nicely open way for someone to maintain a shared shopping list with someone else on a completely different phone. GroceryIQ comes very close, but it suffers from some speed issues.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Praise of MythTV Developers

I use MythTV, and have done so for a very long time. I think that, right now, we're looking at about 7 1/2 years. I have no intention of giving it up, it's just too useful.

Just two weeks ago, I got my new phone, a Samsung Galaxy S. Beautiful phone. It supports using DLNA to stream video. DLNA, it turns out, is a subset of UPnP. MythTV, it turns out, has had a UPnP server built into it for a long time.

So, in theory, I should be able to stream from MythTV to my phone. The reality wasn't so great. I tried, sproadically, for about a week. Then, on Monday night, I decided to get serious. I did all the groundwork to find out what was going on, and found out that MythTV had a problem.

I submitted a bug report, and included all of the details that I knew, including purpose, what I had done, everything. Tuesday night? By the end of the night, we had a working patch for MythTV that will be included in their next release. That same patch works against the version that ships with Ubuntu.

I can stream from MythTV to my phone without a problem. And the MythTV folks fixed my problem within 24 hours. That's seriously amazing work guys.

Thank you. May you continue to enjoy the success you have so far, and may ever more of it come your way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Steal This Idea: CarPC with Android and DLNA

Lots of folks have their own Car PC built and doing things already. This, though, is slightly different. Use an Android tablet as the base. Give it some extra storage somehow, so it can hold videos, music, and the like. Hook it up so that it can read OBDII from the car. If the tablet can handle its own internet connection via a SIM card or some such, do so, or else have it use a tethered phone of some sort for on the road. Hook the tablet into environmental controls for the car. Do some hardware hacking with antennas, and make it so that the tablet can positively identify the location of all phones in the car. allowing people to customize their environment as much as possible. Ensure DLNA support, and get DLNA support on all the phones (Android, iPhone, etc) to allow people to share their media wirelessly with the main tablet and with each other.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Issues With Perl, Redux

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about Perl, and I kind of screwed up my explanation of why Perl drives me nuts. He started talking about Perl's object model, and I tried to explain why Perl doesn't really have one, and things went downhill. I've been thinking about it since then, and my single biggest issue is not with the object model, nor the ugly syntax. No, my issue is with what happens when a given function/method gets called by something.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TurboGears, SQLAlchemy, and Parent/Child Relations on the Same Model

Best thing to do is to read this post. I'm just posting it here to try to help it get more exposure to those who might need it.

http://www.5dollarwhitebox.org/drupal/node/110

Steal This Idea: White Board

I want a simple whiteboard. The problem with most paint applications of any sort is that they attempt to grow into something truly grandiose. The problem for me is that, sometimes, I need something that is extremely simple, and a whiteboard is about as simple as it gets. Using a real world one, I can pick a marker color, or an eraser. That's it. I want a virtual one that provides me just as simple a set of options. I want it on the web, I want it on the local desktop, and I want it as an Android application. The only add-in features should be an ability to change the background color, maybe some sort of lines (like ruled paper, or grid paper, or hexagons), and some way to save and search for them. Anything more than that, and it becomes way too complicated for rapid fire drawing of an idea, and that is where the whiteboard will always win.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Announcing the Availability of tgext.menu v1.0b2

This is a minor update. It contains new installation instructions due to testing failures right after installation in a new quickstart, along with a fix for a menu display bug with jdMenu, and some new API enhancements from bitbucket user scottawilliams. It is already available on PyPI, and you may upgrade as soon as you are ready.

Steal This Idea: Media Library

I have a lot of different media in my life that I want to track. I have document files of all sorts (word docs, text files, pdf files, epubs, etc), photos, videos, and music. I want to be able to organize them all in one place, tag them all, search them all, and display them all. I want it to be a web interface, and I want to be able to set up my own server hosting it. I want the files to be something that can be read by way of a plugin library, so that I can easily add support for unknown formats in future. I want it to support external sites using it (so that I can tell youtube to pull from it, or tell my ebook reader to pull from it, etc). It should support OPDS for textual information (epub, html, mobi, pdf, doc, etc), and Gallery 2's remote protocol for visual media (videos, photos). Since I'm a Python and TurboGears fan, I'd love it to be written in TurboGears.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Unit Testing Redux

I've mentioned unit testing before. I've extolled its virtues before. I'm not going to go over those items today. Instead, I'm going to go over how it saved my project at work.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Steal This Idea: RPG Assistant

This is just the first post of many I will make like this. I've long had in mind an RPG Assistant. It should allow storage of all the information about a given campaign world, including maps, creatures, characters, plot hooks, current events, everything. It should be platform agnostic (using something like wxWidgets, wxPython, Qt, Python-Qt, whatever, and you will maintain easy cross-platform compatibility with Windows, Linux, and Mac). A really nice addition to it would be to have an Android version compatible with the other versions. It should also be game system agnostic, so that any version of D&D can be put in, along with GURPS, TMNT, Rifts, Torg, Fudge, etc. I hope to be able to write it up someday, I really do. But, if not, I'll just be happy seeing it actually happen.

TurboGears and Amazon EC2 Benchmarking, Part 4: Conclusions

Reviewing my methods, and the results I got, I found out quite a bit about TurboGears. I learned about how it will perform in real world scenarios, and I learned how to figure out the level of hardware I will need to accommodate a community. So, what does this mean for you?

Friday, July 9, 2010

TurboGears and Amazon EC2 Benchmarking, Part 3: What I was Testing

I actually learned a few things, some of which were surprising, some of which were not. One thing that I don't think I've communicated very well to my readers is that I most emphatically am not comparing TurboGears to any of the other frameworks out there. I'm comparing TurboGears to itself, and finding out what I need to do to scale it up.