Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Prettige kerstdagen en gelukkig nieuwjaar

Back in January.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-19 11:42:50   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Wax at PyPI

Much to my surprise, Wax appeared in the PyPI "recent updates" feed today. Here's the entry. It's surprising, because I didn't add it. emoticon:smile Apparently done by a fan (?). I don't mind, except for the minor nitpick that the version is called "1.44" (it's 0.1.44).

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-18 23:26:20   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: Wax

Santa's twin

This article suggests that Santa Claus can be traced back to St. Nicholas of Flüe from Switzerland. Hmm. That doesn't seem right. I have also heard that Santa is really the same as the Dutch Sinterklaas, brought to the New World by Dutch settlers. Sinterklaas was not Swiss; rather, he was the Bishop of Mira, a city in Turkey. Or so I've been told.

Of course, there are arguments against Sinterklaas == Santa Claus as well... they wear different clothes, have different helpers, different means of transportation, and a different nameday. Not so alike at all, after a more careful examination.

This page has more about it.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-18 11:33:28   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general, Nederland

Dude, where's my year?

Another year is almost gone. Since I will be leaving soon (and won't be able to blog in the Netherlands), maybe this is a good time to reflect on 2003.

Not of lot of things happened. There was an event earlier this year that was not so much fun, but we all got through it. I still have my job; attempts to find another one for extra income have not been successful so far. Maybe in 2004?

Musically, 2003 was not so bad. Some good albums came out... Styles of Beyond - Megadef, Ugly Duckling - Taste the Secret, Osdorp Posse - Tegenstrijd. And maybe Die Ärzte - Geräusch. Which is good, considering that I bought my last CD in 1998; after that there simply wasn't anything that I thought worth buying.

2003 was also the year that I got my own domain name. After considering and discarding lots of possibilities, I settled for zephyrfalcon.org, which should not have come as a surprise to those around me. I also wrote and rewrote Firedrop, and currently use it to maintain this site (and weblog). On top of that, I started a number of other projects... some small, like Sextile, some larger or with the potential to grow, like Charm and Wax. In 2004, I plan to start more projects, most likely in Python, although OCaml and Lisp might be possibilities too. And I plan to keep working on the site, add more articles and stuff, etc. (Also, I want to write about astrology, but I'm reluctant, since this may be at odds with the other topics of my weblog. It may simply be out of place.)

I made PDF sheets for my Nova card game, but didn't publish it yet. That is another thing that might be done in 2004. In any case, it's on my list of resolutions. (Some of those I already started... #2 and #5, for example.)

Struggling with the Mac (bought in 2002) continued this year, until I decided to get rid of it. Instead, I got an SGI O2, which is excellent for learning pure Unix.

A lot of struggling was also involved to get some extra money. At one occasion I seemed really close to getting a contract -- in fact, they *told* me I would get one -- but then they changed their mind again, about the tools being used etc. Well, at least I was able to make a little extra doing a website job.

On to 2004.

Posted by Hans "stuur scheef vooruit" Nowak on 2003-12-17 15:49:58   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: general

After the switch

More and more people seem to be getting a Mac, especially laptops. Faithful readers might remember that I had a Mac for a while too (my wife uses it now). Looking back, here's a summary of my experiences.

  • The Mac is advertised as user-friendly, and this is indeed the case. First setup is a breeze, and so is installation of updates or new versions of the OS. Many Mac OS X features are very intuitive and easy to use, and so are many programs. Both machine and OS are pleasing to the eye as well.

  • Under the hood, there's Unix. This allows for lots of power, and Mac users can tap from the vast pool of Unix and Linux programs.

  • All this sounds really great in theory. One of the things that bothered me, however, was that programs can be very high-level (Mac) or very low-level (Unix), but there are very few that occupy a middle ground. As such, it's easy to be stuck between a user-friendly program that doesn't do what you want, and a Unix-based alternative that is a pain to configure and use (not to mention that you often need to compile it first).

  • As a Pythonista, and a Windows user, I was not content about how Python works on the Mac. Yes, I know people work tirelessly to make MacPython a great piece of software. Kudos to them, but to me, using Python on the Mac just isn't as easy as using it on Windows. "It just works" can be said for Python, wxPython and many other packages on Windows; less so for the Mac. Tkinter and wxPython programs work flawlessly on Windows, but on the Mac they either didn't look good or crashed. (Maybe these problems have been solved now, it's been a while. Ron Stephens reports that Kaa (using Tkinter) works fine on the Mac. Firedrop (using wxPython) does too, with a few changes.)

  • If I was going to use only the Mac, and no other systems, then all of this probably wouldn't have been too much of a problem... you put up with things, find out how to work around them, etc. But the problem is, I have to use Windows as well, and spend quite a bit more time there than on the Mac. As a result, there are some small but very annoying differences, that are very hard to get used to because you cannot learn one way and unlearn the other. Keyboard layout, for example. Home and End keys are mapped different on the Mac. Irrelevant? Not if you're trying to write a document and keep pressing the wrong keys.

  • Also, there are incompatibilities between the different version of the OS. Some programs compiled for 10.1 won't work on 10.2, and vice versa. (Now that 10.3 is out, this is probably even more fun.) And then there are the programs that need to run under OS 9. They work, but it's annoying since the emulator takes a while to start.

Macs are great machines, with some benefits over Windows, and some very good software. Unfortunately, they're probably not right for a creature of habit like me. (At least not yet... maybe there will be a day that I can confidently shed Windows.) Other people's mileage may vary. In fact, I would recommend a Mac, and even be tempted to buy a Powerbook or so, if not for the problems mentioned earlier.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-16 12:59:22   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: switch

Appetite for construction

Lots of stuff to do, less than a week before I leave. Besides work etc, I've been working on a website, which might be online any day now. Not unrelated, Firedrop has been updated; it now sports a HTML import feature, among other things. Early next year there will also be a Py article about Firedrop/Kaa. Also, Wax was bumped to version 0.1.44.

I will probably have some serious programming withdrawal when I'm in the Netherlands... <0.3 wink>

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-14 23:54:20   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: programming, Python

Wax 0.1.43 available

In the usual place. New are BitmapButton, MDIChildFrame, and MDIParentFrame, contributed by Gandalf.

Much to my dismay, wxPython's wxBitmapButton seems to display the bitmap only, and no label. In Delphi, there is a button that can display both, and I want one too for Wax (because I am in the process of converting a Delphi GUI to Wax, and because it's a cool thing to have :-). Investigation is pending. It's possible to grab a Panel, throw a bitmap and a label on it, and make them clickable. I built an experimental control that does this, but it doesn't show a border for some reason. [Update: wxGenBitmapTextButton does what I want.]

Also, it appears that the wxToggleButton doesn't exist on the Mac, so that one is now imported conditionally.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-12-13 17:48:10   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: Wax

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