Recently I switched my work environment from OS X to Ubuntu (a post on that project is in the works). For years I’ve been using the standard Apple Keychain app, which has several points in its favor: it’s included with the OS, it integrates well with a lot of applications, and is not trying to “freemium” me into a paid tier. However, it’s OS X only, which meant I had to find something new.
Eight years ago, I launched a simple pastebin site written in Django. In those early Django days I spent a lot of time in the #django IRC channel. I thought we should have a pastebin that knew how to correctly colorize our code, and which was written in our framework to boot. So I wrote one. Eventually its URL ended up in the channel topic, then in the Django source code itself.
A little-known bit of trivia about our book, Python Web Development with Django: we wrote the manuscript in Markdown. I think it was my idea. One of the major motivations for using a text-based format – versus the unfortunate de facto standard, Microsoft Word – was integration with good developer tools and workflow. Our manuscript and all our project code was in a Subversion repo, so each author always had the latest updates.
Today I’m launching my first Google App Engine site. While I built it largely to play with GAE, it is also useful in its own right (I like to think so anyway). It does two different things: Link shortening without redirection. Put in a godawful long Amazon link and get back a shorter Amazon link. Works with eBay and a few others too. I welcome recipes for other sites. (For the programmers in the audience, which is most of you – yes, the processing is via regular expressions.
I move between a couple different computers regularly: my old 12” PowerBook and the 15” MacBook Pro my job provides me with. Like all multi-computer users I periodically bump up against the challenges of what files (and versions) are where, especially when there’s work in progress. To further complicate things, I also have an extra laptop running Ubuntu. And sometimes I just SSH to my web server from somebody else’s machine.
When I created dpaste, I tried to make it both a simple browser-based tool and a simple RESTful API. With very little work you could write a script that created a new paste item with a single POST. Over the life of the site a few people have discovered and played with that “secret” API. I’ve now made it a bit more official. The new API has its own URL (versioned, even!
At the Western Mass. Developers Group meeting this week I showed a few people some of the unixy fun you can have with a (jailbroken) iPod touch and the Cydia package manager. Cydia is a port of Debian’s APT system to the iPhone platform – i.e. it’s a real package manager. It made it a snap to install Python, Mobile Terminal, Mobile Text Edit, Subversion, etc. This is the toolset that has allowed me to even do some work on the book as I mentioned in my last post.