Friday, March 27, 2009

txLoadBalancer Lightening Talk?

As I mentioned in this post, I wasn't able to make it to PyCon this year. I'm super bummed now, 'cause I just got an email about a potential lighting talk for txLoadBalancer.

I'm not sure when tomorrow it has been tentatively scheduled for, but go! And then tell me how it was :-)

As I told one of the presenters (Jehiah Czebotar), this is really motivating me to get the next release out :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New PyRRD Release: 0.0.7

Version 0.1 is nearing as the 7th release made it out the door tonight. The latest features include RRD info/fetch methods, a simple RRD object mapper, and the ability to dump files programmatically. Various bug fixes have been applied, thanks to feedback and patches from the community. In particular, Aaron Westendorf of Agora Games, Leem Smit, and nasvos.

You can download from PyPI (or use setuptools to install it) at the expected location:

Note that the the PyPI page has a quick run-down on the basic features and how to use them.

The next feature to be implemented has already been planned out (it's just a matter of sitting down and writing the code now): adding support for the Python bindings. If this is important to you, be sure to star the issue in the bug tracker:

Monday, March 09, 2009

Hot Talks at PyCon 2009

This year's PyCon talks look absolutely fabulous, and should be a real treat for attendees. I'm probably not going to be able to make it (working for a startup last year put me in a financial position I'm only slowly recovering from). Since it looks like the Landscape team won't be sprinting there this year, Canonical won't be footing the bill.

Were I to attend, though, the talks I have my eyes on are the following (listed in visual scanning order of the schedule):
There are many different wonderful topics being covered at PyCon this year -- this just happens to be the list that converges most closely with my own interests :-) No offense if I've left you out!

I will be sorry to have to miss these, but I will greatly look forward to their audio or video recordings as well as the presenters' published slides and papers.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Champion for Services Architecture Done Right

I've heard a series of discussions lately and have read some articles that I've found rather frustrating, all on the topic of SOA. I've taken a few notes about my objections and had several blog posts planned where I would attempt to articulate the historical failures of software, services, and/or architecture makeovers performed by any number of consulting firms for large IT shops. I was going to discuss the horrible irresponsibility of basing business decisions on buzzword flinging cowboys, and the inevitable price that is paid by companies wooed and seduced by flash.

I was going to start this off by launching a strong criticism of Anne Thomas Manes' views on the "death of SOA", one that I'd read about in a recent article. It seemed that such a view was sensationalist and entirely missed the point of the essence of service oriented architectures.

But before I did that, though, I needed to do some research and present a solid argument, not just take some trade rag's version of the story with a superficial smattering of misquoted details. And holy cow... not only am I glad that I did this, but I am now an ardent fan of Ms. Manes, Vice President and Research Director at the Burton Group.

Her post SOA is Dead; Long Live Services is brilliant. The death of which she speaks is not the mortal (and figurative) soul of SOA itself -- any individual or magazine claiming as much has either completely misunderstood her or has been making its money on the misunderstandings and hype that she would like to see die. She asserts that the very heart of SOA continues to be badly needed, that "the requirement for service-oriented architecture is stronger than ever." She then goes on to say:
The acronym got in the way. People forgot what SOA stands for. They were too wrapped up in silly technology debates (e.g., “what’s the best ESB?” or “WS-* vs. REST”), and they missed the important stuff: architecture and services.
And finishes with this bit of excellence:
The latest shiny new technology will not make things better. Incremental integration projects will not lead to significantly reduced costs and increased agility. If you want spectacular gains, then you need to make a spectacular commitment to change.
And you know what? Her other posts are even better. While reading all of them, I was completely dumbfounded that she said so well and clearly what the industry has been misinterpreting for several years. Why are more people not listening to her? How did I not hear of her until now?! I'll tell you what, I'm now subscribed to Burton Group's Application Platform Strategies blog.

IT shops need to pay close attention to what this woman and her team have to say. She really knows what she's talking about and articulates her views exquisitely. That whole series of blog post I wanted to make? Yeah... she already did that :-) (and way, way better than I could have). Please, I beg you: go read her posts. If you are the director of your IT shop or someone to whom your director listens and respects and you have any interest in distributed services, messaging, and related architectures, go memorize her statements, summaries, arguments and positions. Let her experience and wealth of knowledge guide judicial and wise decisions at your company.

And remember, it is the good, well thought out, and cost-effective architecture that survives. It is this architecture -- with countless peers -- that serve as the basis for the next generation of improvements and advances. Technologies produced in this manner are the ones that propel us into the future and prepare us for a world which we are incapable of imagining or implementing today.

Expert Python Programming, a Book Review

A few months back, I received an email from someone at Packt publishing asking whether I'd like a complementary copy of their Expert Python Programming book, and if I would blog about it. I accepted and read the book immediately. However, their request caused me to deeply consider my personal position on grassroots marketing for corporations.

Ultimately, I decided that it wasn't the publisher nor even the author that really mattered or entered into my assessment equation at all. Instead, it's the potential benefit that can be brought to members of the community. So, at long last, I am writing the review :-)

The author of this work is Tarek Ziadé, is a Python contributor, Plone contributor, CTO of Ingeniweb, author of a French Python book, spoke at OSCON last year, and will be talking at PyCon this year. I don't know him personally, but given his credentials, he is a well-qualified and experienced programmer.

Expert Python Programming is actually a shorter book than I expected, coming in at 352 numbered pages. It's also a fairly different book than I expected as well. If these were times when books were given outrageously long titles, I might have suggested something along the lines of:

Expert Python Programming

Wherein the Tools and Methodologies of the Experts

are Described and Discussed

The amount of material that is covered between its covers, though, is impressive. Check out the table of contents to confirm this. This is essentially a book of best practices and tools for Python developers wanting to move from an intermediate (or advanced beginner) stage towards the levels at which experienced programmers operate. In addition to discussing tools and methodologies, Tarek takes the reader on a quick tour of the entire development process -- an invaluable guide for programmers wanting to hit their stride in larger open source projects or on critical company software initiatives.

In Tarek's introductory blog post, he quoted Shannon -jj Behrens as saying the following:
"If you’re looking to progress from knowing Python to mastering Python, this is the book for you. In fact, this is exactly the type of book I wish I had had five years ago. What took me years to discover by steadfastly attending talks at PyCon and my local Python users’ group is now available in a succinct book form."
This is well said... though I would add that this book in conjunction with Python Cookbook (especially the last several chapters) can get you this progress that Shannon mentions :-)

One tiny little quibble ... Given that this book might be read by developers who have no experience with distributed version control systems, I would have liked to have seen Bazaar and Darcs mentioned in addition to Mercurial and Git. The reason being that a developer reading this book as her introduction to working with others in a distributed environment may be given the impression that Mercurial is "the Python way", and that's not necessarily the case ;-)

I've already personally recommended this book to curious and motivated beginning Python programmer friends (as well as an intermediate programmer who felt like he was stuck in a skill rut). If you're one of these, consider this my recommendation to you too :-)