Minority Opinions

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Archive for February 2012

Cycling Through Dusk

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This month has been a little more dangerous than usual for my daily commute.  Winter finally came, so the roads have had patches of ice and occasionally snow; fortunately, they haven’t lasted more than a few days at a time.  A utility company has been cutting tree branches along a narrow road, but their flaggers have been polite.  My current worry, though, is that I’ve sometimes forgotten to turn on my lights for the ride home.

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Written by eswald

28 Feb 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Cycling, Lifestyle

Lost in a sea of tools

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I’m writing my first significantly graphical program in a long time.  I’ve lost the game I wrote for System 7, never cared much about the Java applets that got me through a few college classes, and have found a new favorite language anyway, so I’m basically starting from scratch.

I’ve played with Tkinter and wxPython a time or two, but never enough to get something solid.  PyGTK could be good, but I would rather be more portable than less.  I’ve never heard any real recommendations for FxPy, and it appears to lack maintenance.  On the other hand, PyQt (and/or its near-clone PySide) are highly recommended.  In fact, the only major complaint I’ve heard was about the licensing, and that seems to have been resolved in recent versions.  The most compelling argument I’ve heard was that Qt makes C++ programming nice.

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Written by eswald

21 Feb 2012 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Python, Technology

German Pancakes

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When I was young, one of my favorite breakfast items was something we called German pancakes.  For the whole family, we used two glass pans full.  In college, I mangled the recipe into something about equal parts eggs, milk, and flour, mixed in a blender until slightly thick. Then, after marrying a vegetarian and living for a few years without eggs in the house, I forgot about them.

A cookbook recently given to one of our children has a recipe for something it calls a Dutch baby pancake with buttery apples.  I’m in charge of breakfast, and generally make some kind of pancakes or waffles every Saturday, so I decided one day that it sounded like fun.  As the batter came together, I suddenly recognized what I was doing, and got very excited.

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Written by eswald

14 Feb 2012 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Food

Licensing a Project

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I’ve been hitting certain limitations in a tool I use almost daily.  The things I want to add might not be that hard, except that it’s a proprietary program and I don’t have the source.  Even worse, it’s an old version of the program, my support contract lasted only one year, and the newer versions are an order of magnitude more expensive.  It’s time to move on.

There’s another commercial tool with a limited-time demo that improves in some areas and regresses in others, but it’s even more expensive.  There are at least three open-source applications in the problem space, but I haven’t convinced any of them to work properly on my machine, and one doesn’t even compile.  The functionality I use most doesn’t seem too hard to implement myself, given my experience with most of the back-end issues, so I’ve decided to write a new one.

I don’t expect to compete effectively against two big names, so I might as well make my program open source.  I don’t really expect that many contributions from the community, but I still owe more than I’ve given back, and my work might benefit somebody.  If it’s good enough, it might even get picked up by my Linux distribution.  To enable that, I need to choose license terms, preferably without drafting my own.  Fortunately, the Open Source Initiative has compiled a convenient list of approved licenses, with the more common ones at the top.

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Written by eswald

7 Feb 2012 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Technology