Wednesday, September 09, 2009

DjangoCon (Day 2)

katie cunningham and james tauber
with tribal totems

As official snake wrangler for the PSF, I made it my first order of business to hand her off to the conference leadership, suggesting we might follow in the footsteps of the Fake Kaplan-Moss (yesterday's keynote), with Fake Steve, perhaps giving a Lightning Talk with the materials provided (three ring binder about the mission and challenges facing the PSF, on-line at Blip TV from Chicago Pycon this year). Steve is from Manchester and those places and we have lots of guys from the UK... or we could switch genders here. I gave the totem to Katie Cunningham (a technical lead at NASA). Anyway, I'll let ya know how it goes with holdenweb and The DaJango Code.

Our snake (@psf_snake) got to hug a lot of fun people at the PPUG pow wow last night, also met Weird Sarah (family dog).

While in line for coffee, I mentioned to the Lincoln Loop guys that they were famous now, so try to handle it with grace. That's cuz I blogged about 'em yesterday, so I was just being the sly self promoter, bootstrapping stuff. The Lincoln Loop is an extreme skiing maneuver, practiced by one of these Colorado based computer scientists in his glory days as an extreme skier (no, not on Youtube).

First keynote: We're talking about the meaning of what we're doing. Why am I an open source developer, what does it matter? Ian Bicking (@ianbicking). He's addressing us as fellow open source programmers, reading from the Richard Stallman GNU manifesto he first encountered as a teenager in high school using emacs. Richard's aggressive questioning of the status quo (lawyer-controlled software) excited his imagination and his loyalty. Today, he's a bearded old man (well, sorta -- more brown than gray).

This keynote is like Revolution OS in some ways, a trip down memory lane (pre browser!). I'd go over this lore in my Saturday Academy classes. Stallman's ethics maybe took something of a back seat during the subsequent rise of the FOSS bosses (hackers of various flavor).

Ian is disappointed that legalistic licensing language has a stranglehold on what constitutes "freedom" these days, giving us a negative lawyer-like definition of our community. If we really had a free environment, we'd be less worried about licenses.

He never cared about "fighting closed source" that much either, shares that prevalent sense of apathy about Microsoft etc. Corporations use a combination of open and closed source resources but the latter is less appealing to developers for design reasons (too much red tape if collaboration is a goal).

This is interesting analysis and anthropology. Open source communities tend to be ad hoc, are a lot like music bands I think. Record labels or brands are a part of the action, despite our independence from hierarchies and brick and mortar commerce. Music is a kind of software. Instruments, recording media, players may be software as well.

Ian is making a strong statement about the nursing profession, how it operates, as akin to his philosophy of self determination and individual action. He's more skeptical that doctors are quite as ready for introspective sharing of this kind (he supported a wounds nurse mail list on a job long ago). He's jumping to government now, suggesting a cynical model of government workers as just wanting to be lazy and ineffective makes little sense. People may fear their hierarchy or feel prevented from making the choices they want to make, but still wish to be useful. I'm thinking back to Jeffry Goebel's work with tribal groups with conservation responsibilities. In exchange for empowerment and effectiveness, they gladly took a smaller budget. Lean and mean is better than bloated and slow.

In contrast to yesterday's loud fan Toshiba running WinXP with Cygwin, I'm using a quiet Toshiba this morning, running Ubuntu. Thanks Patrick. The 2nd breakfast (snack break) is refreshingly healthy: fruit and vegetables, yogurt, juice and water, no coffee or tea (those are available for purchase).

Using Django in Non-Standard Ways by Eric Florenzano (@ericflo):

It's not as hard as you think, plus don't worry too much what "standard" means, as everyone's using it differently. Swapping in different components, other than the default, and/or using bits of Django in other projects (non-Django) would constitute "non-standard". He's walking us through swapping in Jinja2. Swapping out django.contrib.auth to write a Facebook application proved really simple as well. He's also dropped the ORM sometimes. Mochi wanted all its applications to talk HTTP and JSON if wanting to access Postgres. They used Django but left empty, made send a game_slug by HTTP and return a game page (html) as a response. I'm thinking Coffee Shops Network could learn from this architecture (wearing CMO hat at this conference, as well as PSF hat).

Using Django in other projects might include using its ORM. Use Repoze for WSGI middleware maybe (bitblt, squeeze and profile are cool). YardBird, Djng, Jngo are more crazy non-standard Django applications.

I Like Dogs