Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Python GUIs

I'm a Python nut. When there's a problem that doesn't fit squarely into the purview of C/C++ or JavaScript, odds are pretty high that I'll use Python to solve it, which means that I'm sorely disapointed when Python doesn't live up to it's lofty potential. Case in point: GUI programming.

Python has bindings for any number of GUI toolkits these days: PyGTK, PyQT, Win32-extensions, PyObjectiveC. Hell, Python even still ships with Tkinter (the TCL/TK interface). But what really gets me is that none of these are REALLY portable. Oh, sure, GTK finally got ported to Win32 in a high-quality way, and QT has been available on Windows forever, but none of these options are all of the following:

So how do I get to a situation where I can just include some files with the distutils package of my Python code and be sure that I'm "OK" on whatever platform I get installed on? My thinking right now is that something as ambitious, open, and well thought out as SWT is probably a good answer. Doing C/C++ wrappers is something that Python is good at, and even ObjectiveC can be made to "play nice". SWT also introduces most of the widgets you'd need as well as solving the event wrapping problem. If I ever get a couple of free months, it might be a good thing to re-implement the SWT class hierarchy in Python. I don't really look forward to doing all the C-Python work, but the SWT guys have already done a lot of it that we could look at.

Time to stop waiting for a workable, portable, native, and fast GUI toolkit for Python. This is one time where Java beat my favorite language to the punch.

lunch outside

I think I just got 300% of the FDA's daily recommended sunlight for geeks thanks to Dave's great idea: eat lunch outside. The campus at work is replete with manicured landscaping, a pool, and the like. In the center of all the artificial natural beauty are a couple of park benches which I had never given a second thought to.

I'm glad Dave noticed, 'cause I don't think I ever would have.

brain trust

Dylan started at INFA this week. Informatica now has one of the largest DHTML brain-trusts on the planet.


One more note from the other night's activities: introductions in a geek group have changed.

Once upon a time, when I used to run a LUG and there was a get-togather, people would introduce themselves by email address since more often than not you would know their contributions to a popular mailing list better than their name. Blogs seem to have changed that a lot. Self-respecting geeks (in a certain circle) will now introduce themselves by blog URL, not project or email addr. The concept of online identity is fluid enough to be a joke anyway but I wonder how I'll be introducing myself in another 5 years.

not nearly cool enough

I was invited by Simon to a get-togeather last night at Tantek's with a bunch of WaSP people. It was one of the most engaging evenings I've had in a long time, and I got to meet all kinds of neat folks (too many in fact to list here, lest I leave anyone out).

It feels strange and akward to be a geek among uber-geeks again. In Wisconsin, I used to hang out with security folks most of the time and last night felt a little bit like that. Security folks are, by definition, the most proficient (and cocky) geeks on the planet. They don't just need to know things at a level that's sufficient to build on it, but deep enough to both break and defend weak systems. But with that level of acomplishment in a field that does not yeild to anything but brute willpower comes a much tougher shell. Web people fight similarly nasty problems, but there seems to be a much more accepting and socializing aspect to solving web-dev problems. There's still a feeling that we're down in the trenches, but that somehow we're all in it together.

Most of the night, I wound up engaging in technical discussions because I don't know many of the people who showed up well enough to talk about anything else, so I'm afraid I was a fantastic bore. Regardless, I had a wonderful time. Maybe next time I'll have the common decency to read some of the blogs of people showing up so that I don't seem an utter dolt = )