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Ralsina.Me — El sitio web de Roberto Alsina

Django, the view from a parachute

In the last few days I have been learn­ing Djan­go in per­haps the hard­est way pos­si­ble: by be­ing hired to work on a site some­one else wrote.

I al­ready had the view from 10000 feet. And since I had to get to this thing rather quick­ly, I jumped on my para­chute from those 10000 feet, and learned it on the way down.

Here's what I knew:

  • Python Web frame­­work

  • Reg­ex­p-based URL dis­­­patch­ing

  • Its own tem­­plate lan­guage

  • Its own ORM and form stuff

I have hacked stuff based on Tur­bo­Gears, Col­u­brid, pure Cher­ryPy, Mako/Kid/Chee­tah/Cher­ry­Tem­plate tem­plates, Routes, Paste and about half a dozen oth­er frame­works or pieces that are used for frame­work­s, so how new could it be? Well, not very new. I am start­ing to no­tice a sort of same­ness in these things. They are all alike.

First, the con­clu­sion: I liked it, I could work with it.

Now for some lit­tle de­tail:

  • The URL dis­­­patch­ing is nice ,if not re­al­­ly in­­ter­est­ing. there seem to be two ways to do this, all frame­­works use one or the oth­­er, and al­­most ev­ery­one likes reg­ex­ps bet­ter.

  • The OR­M+new­­forms is quite nice! Of course ev­ery­thing was done with old­­for­m­s, which is... not quite so nice. But you can switch pieces as you go, and the code ac­­tu­al­­ly sim­­pli­­fies as you hack, so it's good.

  • The tem­­plate lan­guage I could live with­­out. It does­n't seem to be spe­­cial­­ly fea­­ture­­ful, and it did­n't seem as ex­pres­­sive to me as my cur­rent favourite, Mako. Luck­­i­­ly you can re­­place it eas­i­­ly. It's not that it's bad, it's just av­er­age.

So, I see no rea­son to learn it in­stead of Tur­bo­gears, or vicev­er­sa. On the oth­er hand, if you know one, you can learn the oth­er in per­haps a week­end, so there's no point on not hav­ing at least a ba­sic knowl­edge of both.

Thinking about this blog.

I sup­pose it hap­pens to ev­ery­one once in a while, and it has hap­pened to me of­ten in the past, but I am think­ing if I should keep on writ­ing this blog, or if some large change is need­ed.

Here are some ran­dom things from my head:

  1. Al­­most noone reads it. Re­al­­ly. It has less than 40 sub­­scriber­s. That's pa­­thet­ic for a blog that has con­­tent for over 7 years :-)

  2. Maybe I should post in span­ish, or at least bil­in­gual­­ly.

  3. Maybe I should write more fea­­tures. When I write a longish piece and an­­nounce it, there is a re­spectable traf­f­ic surge.

  4. On the oth­­er hand, I en­joy writ­ing it. And it's re­al­­ly very lit­­tle ef­­fort (spe­­cial­­ly now, with Bartle­Blog ;-)

  5. Maybe it should be more fo­­cused in one area, make it a python pro­­gram­ming blog, or a tu­­to­ri­als blog, or some­thing like that.

  6. But I am not a fo­­cused per­­son. I am a gen­er­al­ist. This week I have worked in the fol­low­ing things:

    • VoIP

    • Djan­­­go

    • PyQt

    • Lin­ux sysad­min­ing

    • Fire­wal­l/Proxy in­­­te­­­gra­­­tion with win­­­dows clients

    • Con­­­sult­ing in the most gen­er­ic sense, sit­t­ing with a com­­­pa­ny's IT staff and think­ing about their sit­u­a­­­tion.

    • Learn­ing PyGame

    And this was in 5 days of work. If I list­ed what I have done this year, it would take me 500 item­s. I am broad, how could my blog be nar­row?

  7. Maybe it's just not in­­ter­est­ing? Or bad­­ly done?

  8. Is it too nerdy? Is it not nerdy enough?

  9. I have had a blog with a small read­­er­­ship for 7 years, why is it both­­er­ing me now?

  10. If I stop, it does­n't mat­ter, I can al­ways pick it up again lat­er when I feel like writ­ing.

So, there. You, the 40 guys, com­ment on it if you want ;-)

Incredible new things.

Found on red­dit, from Lens Cul­ture

A mind­blow­ing pre­sen­ta­tion of im­age-brows­ing soft­ware by Mcrosoft Re­search at TED. Please watch it.

And then there is this re­search from CMU.

Re­al­ly awe­some stuff.

Now, this is re­al­ly sci­fi stuff. Or should have been. While sci­ence fic­tion was promis­ing jet­packs and vir­tu­al world­s, com­put­er sci­ence is pro­vid­ing new and in­cred­i­ble ways to ma­nip­u­late in­for­ma­tion.

Good experience with VoIP service: Metrotel

Try­ing to cre­ate a more se­ri­ous look­ing in­fra­struc­ture for my con­sult­ing busi­ness, I de­cid­ed I need­ed a non-­mo­bile phone num­ber, and a way to re­ceive Fax­es 1. While I would use this as a sec­ondary busi­ness num­ber, it's just my home phone.

Since the costs for old-­fash­ioned phone ser­vice in Ar­genti­na are stupid 2 I start­ed in­ves­ti­gat­ing VoIP al­ter­na­tives.

On a sub­way tick­et, I found an ad for Metro­tel which is quite in­ter­est­ing.

First, there is the num­ber­s:

  • No in­­stal­la­­tion fee

  • $35 for 1000 min­utes

  • Cheap­­er long dis­­­tance ser­vice

What they do is pro­vide you a sim­ple Handy­tone 486 box, and you plug it to your In­ter­net-­con­nect­ed LAN on one side, and a phone on the oth­er.

You can al­so plug in your land line and use the phone to call on ei­ther one, and an­oth­er eth­er­net de­vice (ex­am­ple, a com­put­er o switch). If you have on­ly one com­put­er, you just stack it on­to your ca­ble­mo­dem or what­ev­er.

Ab­so­lute­ly triv­ial in­stal­la­tion... un­less they ship you the wrong gad­get, as they did to me, send­ing me one that was dis­abled. But that's ok, they fixed it in a cou­ple of days.

I have three small is­sues:

You have to sign a 12-­month con­trac­t. How­ev­er, if you take the small­est plan, the 12-­month con­tract is cheap­er than the con­nec­tion fee for Tele­fóni­ca de Ar­genti­na! And you still get 1200 free min­utes in that year!

You must use the gad­get. While it's a sim­ple SIP de­vice, they won't give you the us­er and pass­word, so you can't use a soft­phone or a re­al VoIP phone with this ser­vice (un­less you hack it, but why both­er).

Be­cause of that, it's kin­da tricky that the ads say you can use this phone line "ev­ery­where". I mean, it's true... if you have broad­band in­ter­net con­nec­tions with eth­er­net con­nec­tions "ev­ery­where".

How­ev­er, if you do your due dil­li­gence and fig­ure out what you are get­ting in­to, it's a very nice ser­vice, which works well, and has great cost ad­van­tages over the tra­di­tion­al al­ter­na­tive.

It's spe­cial­ly great if you want to have a Buenos Aires phone num­ber and work from some­where else (for ex­am­ple, labour costs in oth­er prov­inces are usu­al­ly be­low 75% of those in Buenos Aires).


Al­though Fax­es make no sense what­so­ev­er in 2007, some com­pa­nies still ask me for a fax num­ber.


How about $181.50 to in­stall and $36.50 month­ly with no min­utes in­clud­ed? And that's for home ser­vice. Com­mer­cial ser­vice is more ex­pen­sive stil­l. Those are pe­sos, but trust me, they look just as high to me as dol­lars would for you. The beau­ties of lo­cal monopoly!

Be afraid, young pumpkins!

Al­low me to en­ter trash-talk­ing mod­e...

Be very afraid be­cause this year, my mighty skills are en­ter­ing Py­Week for the first time.

Just to make it in­ter­est­ing and some­what chal­leng­ing:

  • I will be en­ter­ing as an in­­di­vid­u­al, not in a team.

  • I have not writ­ten a line of PyGame code in my life.

  • I have writ­ten bare­­ly any game code at al­l.

  • I will sub­­mit my fi­­nal code one day ear­lier, just be­­cause I can.

Nonethe­less, I in­tend to kick ass­es and ask no ques­tion­s. I in­tend to over­whelm you all with a game of such awe­some­ness you will all whith­er like let­tuce in La­p­land. I will write code of such in­ge­nu­ity you will try to steal it and fail.

...ex­it­ing mod­e.

Should be fun and my en­try will prob­a­bly suck. But we'll see...

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