Monday, June 20, 2005

Tibetan Village Project

tibet :: culture :: society :: internet

A good friend of mine, Tamdin Wangdu, started and currently manages a
non-profit called the
Tibetan Village
. I have talked with Tibetan friends and Westerners (Injees)
about a concept that is tangentially related: the preservation of
Tibetan culture in the West by means of establishing a functional,
thriving, "organic" Tibetan village. The architecture we are planning
is 100% authentic traditional. Tibetan monks and laity are providing
time, drawings, ideas, planning, and resources. It's getting exciting.

Tremendous resources would have to be poured into this. We're looking
at all kinds of options, from forming several companies that would
employ members of the village and whose profits would be put into
village infrastructure and support, to artisans and farmers.

The village would be comprised of Tibetans and Injees, both. Monks and
laity. Babies growing up, learning Tibetan and English fluently; the
culture and history of Tibet and the West being taught simultaneously.
The idea being that Tibetans would evolve from
refugees to a people with a new home, an old, preserved culture, and a
new integration.

But a group of people living together tends to have limited wide-spread
impact. We want this to be something that can be easily duplicated; we
want this idea to catch hold in the hearts and minds of others. We are
therefore going to publish ALL documents related to this project and
organize them for easy navigation and quick access of particulars.

This is a start... but we need to actively encourage and participate in
the wide-spread preservation of Tibetan culture. The first idea I had
regarding this was rather silly (but I still like it): to provide
streaming images and an application that could make these streamed
images the desktop background image on Mac OS X, Linux/*BSD, or even
*shudders* Windows workstations. Similarly for screensavers. The
streamed images would be taken from massive Tibetan digital archives
that detail every aspect of Tibetan life and culture.

The second idea I had is 100% inspired by BBC Radio Scotland. And yes,
we Scots are refugees ourselves -- just ask us! (Especially the
MacGregors...). BBC Radio Scotland is an amazing online resource for
both real-time and pre-recorded Scottish programs. Very well organized,
very simple to navigate, and a wide selection of modern Scottish
culture. It provides a perfect template or starting point for doing
this with any culture.

Imagine a Tibetan village in rural, mountain America. A village where
several clever and community-owned companies employ villagers; where
there is a focus on sustainability and cooperation; where there is a
very good broadband connection, with regular shows broadcast on the
internet live and archived for later listening. Shows of traditional
Tibetan music, world, national, local, and village news in Tibetan;
Tibetan news in Tibetan and English; shows discussing the cutting edge
politics, political research, self-governance, sustainable living, and
the Tibetan Village project; history shows; fictional story shows
presenting Tibetan folklore; various dharma talks and instruction by
monks and nuns; Tibetan language classes that are broadcast, as well as
English-for-Tibetans classes. Every member of the village would be
actively involved in preserving culture and spreading it; greatly
decreasing any possibility of the current trend: its complete

The list could go on and on...

And this is technically and exciting project: I see visions of twisted
python streaming media code :-) Twisted Oog Radio player anyone? Raise
your hand if you're sick of RealMedia and WMP? Yes... this could be
very cool.


I didn't make it to pycon this year, and I just found some good links
on streaming media with twisted, including a presentation at PyCon2005: ([Twisted-Python] streaming producer)
([Twisted-Python] First public release of Flumotion Streaming

Monday, June 13, 2005

Thinking in Twisted

I've been emailing with a fellow developer and friend about learning to write applications and parts of applications using the Twisted networking framework. Even though Twisted is written in Python, conceptually -- and from an abstract point of view -- it is like a language of its own, with a foundation, syntax, and grammar that is Python.

My friend was trying to make use of basic Twisted stuff like deferreds, combine that with other parts of Twisted, but traverse the problem-solving process from an essentially ground-up, Python approach. I had tried to provide the shift in perspective needed in order to write Twisted apps with much less effort than he was exerting, but I fear that I failed.

Then, this morning, I thought of the perfect analogy. Actually, it's more than an ananlog -- it is the thing itself. Since really starting to learn Twisted, my programming has changed. Well, that and since absorbing such books as Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture and Refactoring to Patterns. The deal with writing applications in Twisted is that you're no longer programming in the same language (Python); you're learning a new language. A more abstract one.

When we learn to think in Twisted and write applications in Twisted, our solutions will be elegant and compact. Before that starts to happen, we try to use our "old" ways of Python programming mixed in with the new one we are learning... and that, of course, defeats the purpose of the new "language."

The tricky thing about Twisted is that its patterns are an integral part of its "language" (perhaps it would be better to stop using quotes, and just call it a meta-language...). This is not true of most other languages -- though I would venture to say it is true of good frameworks in general. You don't need to know the patterns to use the grammar/syntax/control structures of most languages. Patterns in a language are usually optional.

With Twisted, if you aren't using the patterns, you aren't really using Twisted.

I am midway through this learning process. Therefore, I can't point to the solutions for many Twisted problems immediately or directly. I have, however, learned to see most of the critical components of a Twisted implementation. I still miss a few, though, and I have to keep reviewing code until I catch them all. Seeing these components clearly is what leads to the solution. As the time between "component vision" and "solution" gets shorter and shorter, we come closer and closer to thinking in Twisted.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

pymon Nearing 0.3.3 Release


pymon is nearing its second public release (but first packaged
release). We've spent the past couple months doing a refactor by
examining the patters we were using or not using. In the process, we
have made MUCH better use of twisted's internals and are increasingly
more impressed with it as a networking application development
framework. To be honest, I would be very happy doing full-time twisted
development now.

Email alerts are turned on; ping hosts are running; HTTP status, HTTP
text checks, DNS dig checks, and MySQL admin queries are currently
being developed. We're going to try to knock out FTP and SMTP in the
next couple weeks, as well -- and then we'll bundle it up and release
it :-)

A tentative road map is up on the wiki, and we've got the beginnings of
developer docs on how to write "monitors" (like ping checks, HTTP
status checks, etc.).