E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


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Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

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At least 237138 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

To Infinity Ultra and Beyond

This post is not about any of my usual software or hardware topics, but it still is nerdy.

The flashlight.

Parliament's classic song on the subject tells us that "everybody's got a little light under the sun." It's good to have a little light, especially when the sun isn't around. But some little lights are better than others.

The best thing that has happened to flashlights in recent years, especially little ones, is the rise of the LED. Compared to their predecessors, LED lamps are smaller, more efficient, more durable, and much longer burning.

My mainstay pocket flashlight for years was a "CMG Infinity Ultra". The dumb name was forgivable because of the overall greatness of this light. It's a little cylinder of machined aluminum with an AA battery inside and a bright white LED on the end. Sealed, waterproof, incredibly rugged, and 10 or 20 hours of light on a charge.

One day, after years of reliable service on camping trips and other adventures, it went dark. Via email I asked Gerber (who had bought CMG) what to do. In short, they said, "send it in." I did.

A couple weeks later I came home to an envelope from them containing a brand new replacement light in retail packaging. Very nice.

This particular style of light -- durable, simple, waterproof, LED, long hours on a rechargeable single cell -- is not easy to find. Big credit to Gerber for keeping it going and keeping me equipped.

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

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