The second installment of my Good Old Music series is The Snow Goose by Camel. An entirely instrumental album from 1975, the music here is phenomenal. I particularly like the instrumentation throughout this album; flutes, electric guitars, organs, woodwinds, The Snow Goose has it all. This is an album I listen to often while working. Check it out!
One of my current projects at work involves adding new functionality to my oldest web tool. I inherited this Django-powered project way back in 2015 (the tool was in its infancy at the time), and have been the sole designer and developer for the project ever since. It's been pretty rock solid, humming along for the past few years without any major modifications or issues. However, this recently has changed, as management wants to track the tool's data using a new dimension that we weren't considering previously.
These new features require adjustments to the database schema, which means that corresponding front-end changes, for both data entry and reporting, are also needed. The end result is that a lot of code needs to be updated. Digging through this ancient code has been both embarrassing and humbling.
When I inherited this project, I didn't know Python. By extension, I knew nothing about Django, which was still in its relatively early days (Django 1.8 was the latest at the time). I had plenty of web-design and programming experience, which made learning both much easier, but I made a ton of mistakes with both the architecture and implementation of the application. I'm now regretting those mistakes.
One of the most egregious errors in this application, and something I honestly still struggle with to a degree, is writing monolithic methods. Some of the view methods in this tool are many hundreds of lines long. Amidst these lines are dozens of calls to various "helper" functions, many of which are equally as complex and lengthy. It has made figuring out what I was doing painful, to say the least.
I'm trying to remedy this situation by creating stand-alone classes to act as logic processors. The resulting class is easier to read, even if the length of code is nearly the same. So, a sample view using this methodology might look something like this:
class MyView(View): def get(self, request): vp = MyViewProcessor(request) response = vp.process() return JsonResponse(response)
The corresponding processor class would then look as follows:
class MyViewProcessor: def __init__(self, request): self.request = request # Other initialization goes here def process(self): self.load_user_filters() self.load_data() self.transform_data() return self.build_response()
Each of the calls in the
process() method are to other methods (not shown) that handle tasks like processing incoming data (from a front-end form), loading data from the database using those filters, etc. This construct, while not perfect, at least makes the code more readable by breaking the work into discrete units.
There was a nice article at the Washington Post earlier this month on the joys of YouTube's "cab-ride" train videos. They mentioned one of my favorite YouTube channels, lorirocks777, which posts videos from Switzerland and surrounding countries. Videos like this make great "background" viewing while doing other tasks (like, for me, working).
Here's the recipe for auto-authenticating in SSH with a public-private key pair. I'm recording this here because I can never remember exactly how to do this (I do it so infrequently).
Assumption: You have already created a public/private key pair to use. In Windows, this is typically done with puttygen or kittygen (or something similar).
# On the server cd ~ mkdir .ssh chmod 700 .ssh # Here's the magic ssh-keygen -i -f mykey.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys chmod 600 authorized_keys
Once the server-side stuff is done, add the private key to the connection setup in the Kitty/Putty session configuration.
Is it just me, or has the pin density on Google Maps been upped considerably? Take a look at the following image, centered on the I-540 / I-40 interchange here in Raleigh:
There must be close to 50 or more pins in this (fairly zoomed out) view. The vast majority of these pins are places I've either never visited or don't care about. Maybe this is a way that places can "advertise" with Google? I would argue that this density of pins makes the map incredibly hard to read. I feel as though Google Maps used to be way less busy than this.
I stumbled upon a really interesting article last night on the history of Mahavishnu Orchestra, one of the greatest jazz-fusion bands of all time. The article points out some of the influences they had on other groups, and reveals some interesting history I didn't know (like lead guitarist John McLaughlin being asked to join Weather Report, a band that would go on to make some terrific jazz-fusion of their own). It's definitely worth a read if you're familiar with the group, or even if you aren't!
Since late 2017, I've used the Logictech M705 Marathon wireless mouse at work. I loved everything about this mouse. It had great battery life, even when only using 1 AA battery (it supports two batteries for even longer life, at the expense of extra weight). The weight of the mouse with one battery was terrific; not too light and not too heavy. To top it all off, it had great extended button placement at my thumb, allowing me to quickly browse back and forward in my web browser with a quick click.
This past December, however, I started noting phantom double clicks when single clicking, a problem that quickly got annoying. Searching around the internet informed me that this is a common problem with Logitech mice, and is a sign that the physical switch under the left mouse button is failing. I immediately headed to Amazon to pick up another M705 when I discovered a ton of negative recent reviews. Apparently, Logitech has actually changed that product, dropping some features and cheapening the body, while keeping the same model number (how can any company rationalize doing this, by the way?).
Persuaded to stay away from the newer model, I opted instead for the Logitech M585. Having had this new mouse for a few months now, I'm fairly pleased. The mouse is smaller physically, and not as sculpted as the M705, which is a minor drawback to me (the M705 had a real nice feel in the hand). However, this new one still fits my hand well. Pointing accuracy is dead on. The 585 supports moving between multiple machines, but it requires external software (on both systems), and that was enough of a barrier that I didn't bother.
Time will tell if the mouse holds up to daily driving, but so far so good.
I've been following the ongoing saga of the ship stuck in the Suez canal, and I find it very interesting. It's pretty clear that we're building boats that are too big. Anyways, a post from The Verge today linked to an incredible photo taken from space. The resolution on this photo is really mind blowing. The more I think about this, however, the more I've got to believe that this capability has existed for a long, long time. The US military has likely had photographic capabilities like this since the cold-war days. I wonder what kind of photos they can take today?
Regardless, it's really amazing that you could take a photograph of stuff on the ground, from outer space, and be able to see even small details in said photo. Incredible!
Here's a fascinating video on the history of the man that started the Chef Boyardee brand. I had no idea!
One of the well known tenets of Python is:
There should be one (and preferably only one) obvious way to do it.
There are plenty of places in the Python universe where this tenet is blatantly ignored, but none tickles me quite like shutil.copy and shutil.copy2. Both methods copy files from one location to another, with one (and apparently only one) difference, as the documentation for
copy2 spells out:
shutil.copy2(src, dst, *, follow_symlinks=True)
copy2()also attempts to preserve file metadata.
I'd love to know what motivation the author of the (very poorly named)
copy2 method had for adding it to the library. Was adding a
preserve_metadata argument to
copy() not sufficient for some reason? That's what any sane developer might have done.
If you're interested in gardening, or know someone who is, my wife has started a website aimed at providing gardening advice: The Jubilant Gardener. New posts drop twice a week: gardening articles on Wednesdays, and Christian devotionals on Sundays. Her latest post on how to prune plants is solid. Follow the feed if you're so inclined, and feel free to share with those who might enjoy gardening related articles.
I watch a lot of YouTube, and I do so across a couple of different platforms: via computers and via my phone. Watching on my phone through the YouTube app has, in recent months, become nearly unbearable. Ads roll constantly on nearly every video, with no easy way to avoid them. On my various laptop computers, I have the luxury of using uBlock Origin, which keeps those ads at bay. Not so on my mobile device.
I get that Google wants to monetize their platform (and that hosting videos is expensive), but the ads are now worse than commercial television! I guess the increase in ad frequency is intended to drive people towards signing up for YouTube premium. I'm too much of a cheapskate to spring for that service, especially given that it's $12 a month, which is 33% more than a basic Netflix account costs.
Are there ad-free ways of watching YouTube on mobile?
I primarily listen to music from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. There's a ton of great music from those eras, some of which goes under the radar. This is the first in a new occasional series where I share some of the gems I've found that others may overlook.
My first entry is an album I only recently stumbled upon from a band I never paid much attention to (much to my regret!). The album, from 1977, is "Even in the Quietest Moments..." by Supertramp. This album is terrific, wall to wall, which is a recurring theme for this group (their more popular albums Breakfast in America and Crime of the Century are also consistently excellent, and I recommend both).
The opening track from this album (Give a Little Bit) is a well known radio hit, but my favorites are the title track, as well as the epic closer Fool's Overture, which clocks in at nearly 11 minutes. Give it a listen!
I knew the greatest show of all time spoofed lots of great films, but I'm not sure I ever realized just how accurately they did it. This video details some of the best parodies in seasons 1 through 5, along with a side-by-side comparison with the source material. The writers (and animators) truly paid attention to detail!