Google Summer of Code

So it’s finally live! I’m talking about the Google Summer of Code, a program whereby Google spends $$’s via open source foundations (such as our own Python Software Foundation) to students in exchange for code. I’m happy to see this project actually happen, and I hope it’s successful for all involved. I heard about it a while back when Chris DiBona was trying to figure out whether foundations would be willing partipants.

The real Python Challenge, over the next few weeks, will be to come up with:

  • a compelling list of projects (I’ve started a draft on the Python wiki)
  • to rouse interested and interesting students (unfortunately, many of the best probably already have incompatible plans for the summer),
  • to rope in recruit mentors who’ll be able to help the students along if they get stuck.

Still, it’s a great opportunity to broaden the pool of actors in the open source world to include on a full-time basis those who need to pay the rent. I’m confident that the open source communities around each of these foundations step up to the plate, and we’ll end up in the fall with some code, sure, but more importantly some fresh blood with energy and a few scars to go with the experience gained.

Summer’s here!

Flank steak on the grill with sweet corn on the cob, followed by ice cream from the local ice cream store for dessert. The tomatoes are MIA, and we’ll agree to ignore the cold that just kicked into high gear and the weekend full of rain. It is summer, so say I.



Originally uploaded by David Ascher.

Continuing on a food theme, today’s breakfast is yet another instance of my quest for the perfect “french crepe with american flour” recipe.

Today’s recipe, taken out of last week’s NYT magazine, is pretty good, with a thin batter, pretty coloring, good resiliency. It’s missing a flavor component I can’t identify, however.

Have to keep trying…

New treat: maamoul date cakes

A treat I’ve recently uncovered at the corner store (Nadi’s, who, IIRC, hails from Lebanon) are maamoul, little cakes filled with dates. The store has stocked different brands, all from Saudi Arabia, with the latest definitely being the best: it has a surprisingly fresh pastry (especially if one acknowledges that it’s shipped from Jeddah). Unlike the related, also excellent treats I get at Nabu (a great lebanese hole-in-the-wall downtown), the store variety are individually packaged in air-tight bags, so it’s reasonable to buy the the box of a dozen and slowly eat them over weeks.

The kids are at this moment arguing whether they prefer those or nutella+banana sandwiches, which are themselves a creation of a globalized economy (hazelnuts and bananas don’t usually colocate). As much as one can and should criticize globalization’s impact on local cultures, I’m very grateful that we can have tastier snacks than what any local ecosystem could otherwise provide. Salmon jerky is ok, but it would get boring after a while.

Wouldn’t it’d be nice if global snack sharing could build cultural bridges? Unfortunately, while I get the impression that my fondness for exotic sweets helped convince Nadi to smile at me, Google suggests that at least a half-dozen middle-eastern cultures probably bicker over who “owns” maamoul, and I wouldn’t be surprised if numerous fistfights have erupted over arguments on whether a particular brew was greek or turkish coffee.

Two “new” kinds of blog spam: apologetic and plagiaristic

My blog spam problem has decreased since adding a captcha (i.e. “type this fuzzy text”). These two, however, showed up, which probably means they were entered by hand.

The first advises the reader to buy some drugs cheap, and then apologizes!.

The second is a clone of a previously approved comment on my blog, but using URLs to refer to another doubtful site.

Sign that once again, both brainpower and ethics are being wasted on a routine basis.

Productivity boost with feeddemon & bloglines

  1. Install feeddemon 1.5 trial (still trying to figure out an alternative to bloglines)
  2. Enable the bloglines synchronization feature
  3. Decide the keyboard navigation still feels awkward, and still don’t like having to read blogs in the websites (not as fast as bloglines’ “everyone looks the same” model).
  4. Go back to bloglines, and notice that feeddemon marked all bloglines feeds as read!
  5. Curse feeddemon
  6. Fewer blogs to read = higher productivity, knowledge be damned,

Google vs. Rails

Interesting to see what happens when two “well-liked” communities clash.

Background: Google released a web accelerator, which follows the HTTP specs (AFAICT), but wreaks havoc with a category of Web 2.0-style apps which, for convenience, ignored the part of the spec having to do with the idempotency of GETs (see Sam Ruby on the topic).

This web accelerator, because it runs in the browser, hence as the logged-in user, drills into sites which, while non spec-compliant, were considered “OK” because the rest of the web infrastructure (spiders, caching servers, etc.) weren’t logged in, hence weren’t exposing the flaw.

Some Ruby on Rails apps by the 37Signals crew was vulnerable, with the web accelerator causing data loss.

Google is following the spec, the Rails folks say “yeah, but the world hasn’t been following the spec for years”. Typical prescriptive vs. descriptive argument, but in a a community which has stuck to standards over convenience for a decade (in great part in a battle to the death with Microsoft).

It’s quite a fascinating debate, one that Sam predicted. Myself, I hope that Google adjusts the program to be less destructive (for the sake of the users) but sticks to the principle of the sanctity of the spec, and that the Rails folks use their considerable smarts to find a way to route around the limitations of the spec.