My Python Presentation

During my last week on the job at GFDL, the manager there asked if I’d put together a presentation about Python, geared toward people who had been using Perl, or people who hadn’t done a lot of scripting at all. I said I’d do it so long as there weren’t any really advanced coders in the room who were going to fire advanced garbage collection or memory management questions at me or something.

The short story is that there was a computer scientist in the room who uses Python quite frequently, by choice. He uses Java and Perl as well, but often chooses Python because, he says, it’s the easiest way to get things done in a lot of cases.

Anyway, *he* said I did a good job, so if anyone else wants to check out the slides, it’s easy enough to do, because I used Google Docs to put it together.  There aren’t any notes – the point of the slides is just to explain to the audience some of the things that are illustrated by the interactive session output, mostly. Enjoy!

I’ve Been Added

Friday was my last day working as a contractor for the GFDL. I had friends there before I ever worked there, so I’m sad to be leaving them, but I’m happy to be moving on to a really exciting opportunity. I’m now an employee of AddThis.com.

I’ll be able to focus on architecture, and how to scale out an internet-based service, which is quite different from scaling an internal IT infrastructure, if only because the growth is exponentially faster. I’ll still be working with databases and virtualization, web servers and DNS, but this opportunity also gives me the chance to do quite a bit of development work, which I’ve been wanting to do.

Best of all – none of the development work I’ll be doing involves designing interfaces, and the back end stuff I’m working on is mostly Python. I’m happiest when I’m not coding stuff that has to render aesthetically pleasing results. That tier is best left to people who specialize in that. I just munge data and code business logic. :)

So, at some point, I have to make a choice as well, regarding my blog, because I’m not going to work for AddThis.com and then *not* use the product (and truthfully, I *want* to use the product). Just having social bookmark links is ok, but being able to view statistics related not only to what eyeballs landed on the page, but to what people found interesting enough to bookmark is valuable.

WordPress.com has been good to me, but I’ve been feeling the pain of not being able to add really *any* per post goodies for some time. For a while I was manually adding social bookmark links to each post, and manually adding technorati tags to each post. Know what happens when you do that? It makes blogging more of a chore, and something I’m less likely to do. So do I host the blog myself somewhere else, or do I find another non-wordpress solution altogether? I had a nightmare of a time with Blogger – has it gotten any better? Does it support trackbacks yet? Can a blog published to a non-blogger.com url have labels?

What about other blog services? Are there any that provide the niceties of the WordPress software, but without the limitations of the WordPress.com service? I really like categories, I like (but don’t need) the GUI blogging interface, and I *really* like that I don’t have to host it myself and maintain the blog software. Ideas are hereby solicited.

Python Magazine Defies Skeptics

I was informed today by the publisher that Python Magazine has been deemed “viable” using all of the important business metrics that they use to evaluate the magazine. This is fantastic news, and speaks volumes about the viability of the magazine in *non* business terms, as well as the model we’ve been employing at MTA since 2002.

We’ve never (yet) done anything to market the magazine. We didn’t really do a whole bunch of market analysis and research. We don’t pitch old guys in suits to convince them to fund our work. Not with php|architect, and not with Python Magazine. In each case, there was someone with a passion for the language, who was plugged into the community, who could see that a magazine would be valued as a tool by the community. In each case, we could see that there were people with great knowledge, and people with relatively little knowledge, and that those people didn’t often get around to finding each other to share that knowledge.

What we found with php|architect was that the magazine served as a bridge between those who have knowledge, and those who want it. We’re finding the same exact thing happening with Python Magazine.

There are millions of things we’ve discovered about how people consume documentation and think about languages and lots of other things along the way. It’s an immensely interesting business to be involved in. We’ve learned a whole lot about how publishing, distribution, translation, and even weird things like banking work in other countries all over the world. We’ve learned about how communities organize themselves into subcommunities in the digital realm and how different communication mechanisms affect how information is perceived and consumed and used. It’s fascinating stuff.

In the end, though, I think the success of the magazines is owed to the fact that the people producing them have a passion for the content. We’re still plugged into the respective communities – and not for the sake of the magazines. We’re plugged into the communities to help us perform at our day jobs, and we produce the magazine to help ourselves and our friends in the community get at the information they need.