Random finds

24Oct08

Hmmm, I’m going to be even more busy as uni exams approach. I felt pretty bleh today actually, probably because I had to wake up early for a lab and had to listen to dreary debates about ageing. Unpleasant. Anyway, I went for a hair cut afterwards–and it’s amazing how much a haircut can improve one’s state of mind.

Anyway. Random finds. I was sniffing around the programming sections in the bookshops today, looking to see if there was anything interesting I could buy. I am very cheap, and I don’t have much of a firm goal with regards to learning programming, but I thought it would be interesting to see how the material in textbooks compare to free online documentation. Better in some places, worse in others–I could say they almost complement each other.

I did end up buying something–Python Pocket Reference–an O’Reilly book. A small neat book with lots of Python documentation packed in it. $20. As usual, buyer’s remorse kicked in; after buying a lot of books in the past and not spending a great deal of time reading them, I feel rather silly for buying something I might potentially not even use. The book itself is not too new either; it is based on Python 2.4. 2.4, 2.5.2. 2.6… 3.0 any day now. Oh well, I shouldn’t worry, it seems about the same except for some minor deprecated features here and there which I don’t even use or know about.

There are a lot of Sudoku puzzle books available now. When I was looking in the bookshops I saw them, and I started to wonder about a Sudoku solver in Python. There is one example in the ActiveState Python Cookbook website, but I understood neither head or tail or it. I came home and began tinkering with dictionaries and tuples and lists. I ended up making a dictionary with a series of tuple days to index the position of the sudoku numbers. Hardly a pinnacle of achievement, and I doubt I would ever write a sudoku solving application, but hey, I learnt something.

Afterwards I started browsing what Python libraries existed. The feedparser module is startlingly simple–I immediately thought of writing an RSS reader, but Canto is quite good already.

Other things of interest:

fui. From the homepage: fui – select and copy/move files & Directories on the command-line in a way very similar to how it’s done in a gui with copy/cut and paste. Seems like a rather neat utility to make life just that little bit easier for those who are not command line maestros. It seems to still need some development on it, hopefully it gets work.

CommandLineApp. This is interesting to me because it lays out a basic skeleton from which one has create their own command line application. Stuff like this is good because it makes learning programming easier since it sorts out what is the core functionality of the application and what is the scaffolding that holds everything together.

A reader suggested to me that I try Conkeror instead of Vimperator. I took his suggestion and tried Conkeror out, and wow, it is so much faster than Vimperator. I can actually load up Abiword in a separate tag now and not have to go make a cup of tea while waiting for it! The only trouble with it is the Emacs keybindings, which I took quite a while to make more Vim-like. Configuring it is also somewhat troublesome; the wiki is rather sparse on information on how to customise Conkeror, and so I simply applied my changes to the defaults residing at /usr/share/conkeror. Rather inelegant solution, I know, but at least I backed up all the default files I changed. Some of the lesser-known-but-just-as-important-features of the major internet browsers are also not present, or are difficult to find information about; for example, I only just how to copy urls, but hitting ‘c’ for copy and then zero to select the current page url. It also has no tabs, just a buffer to display when you hit C-x b.

I can’t wait until Conkeror is out of development and releases a stable version. It really is an excellent browser, free of a lot of configurations that slow Firefox down–including Adblock Plus, sadly. However, the improved speed of Conkeror is greater than the slowdown I get when a Flash advertisement is shown.

Thank god it’s Friday…. oh wait, no, it’s Saturday already. Thank god the weekend’s here then.

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