Posted in 2008

Year in Review

  • Dec 31 2008

Well it’s been a crazy roller coaster year for me. So this post is going to be the typical recap of what’s gone on with my life and my blog over the past year. I’m really happy with where I’m at both professionally and personally, and 2008 has been an interesting year for me.

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Starting a Django Conventions Project and Reference

  • Dec 03 2008

During the last month I have proposed some conventions for Django, mostly in the realm of templates. In doing so I have looked around for other documented places where conventions are mentioned. I haven’t found a really good reference for Django conventions. Brian’s post was a good example of reusable app conventions, and the Pinax Project is a great reference implementation. However, I couldn’t find any simple reference for regularly used conventions in the Django world.

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Post a day in review

  • Nov 30 2008

It’s the end of the Post a day for a month. I did pretty well, but fell off about 3 weeks in because of work. First some stats.

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The value of conventions, aka testmaker for template tags.

  • Nov 27 2008

A couple posts ago, I talked about how we should have conventions for the names that we use in Django Template Blocks. Today I will be talking about the value that is gained from this kind of structure.

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Testmaker 0.2: Rewritten and improved

  • Nov 26 2008

About a week ago, I went ahead and re-wrote testmaker and moved it into my django-test-utils project on github. The syntax is now a bit different, and the whole thing is much improved. This is version 0.2. The screencast from the last release still shows the gist of the project, except for the changed syntax.

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Django Aggregator v2 now has tagging, and you should too.

  • Nov 22 2008

I have been doing some more work on my Django Community Aggregator / Django People v2 project. A big feature that I want to incorporate is tagging. I want people to be able to sort data by tag, among other things. I think that this is a pretty killer feature.

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Luck and a New Life in Lawrence

  • Nov 21 2008

Note: This isn’t a technical post. If you don’t want to be getting posts like this, you can sign up for just my Django feed. This is my personal blog, so stuff like this pops up from time to time :).

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Gentlemans agreement on Django templates

  • Nov 20 2008

There are a lot of reusable apps out in the Django Ecosystem. I wrote a previous post about why I think that reusable apps should come with templates. There is a problem about distributing templates that I want to address with this post: the problem of Django Template Block names.

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Busy Busy

  • Nov 17 2008

So at work since I started for Mediaphormedia, currently World Online, and the birthplace of Django, I have been tasked with porting Ellington. Ellington is the CMS that we create and sell, and is what Django originally was. Django was pulled out of Ellington and Open Sourced.

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A start to the uber community

  • Nov 16 2008

Well I spent all day Saturday, and all night. Into Sunday morning hacking on some code. Probably the most productive 24 hours of my life. I have a couple of announcements, but in the spirit of post-a-day, I’ll spread them out over a couple days :).

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Debugging Django in Production Environments

  • Nov 15 2008

Nick had a nice post about setting DEBUG based on the hostname of the server that you’re site is running on. This allows you to set DEBUG to True for your staging site, and False for your production site.

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Should reusable apps have templates?

  • Nov 14 2008

There is a debate among the Django community about whether people should include templates in their reusable apps.

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Encouraging Testing in Django

  • Nov 13 2008

I was having a conversation with Jacob tonight about testing in Django. He has shot down testmaker for being too specific for Django core, which I almost agree with, given my grandiose plans for it before the month is out. I’m quite okay with it staying a third party app for a little while longer.

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The importance of not deleting blog posts (read: ideas)

  • Nov 12 2008

A lot of the time I start a blog post as a sentence. It is something that strikes me and I don’t really know what I think about it. It is a moment of thought that needs to be revisited, but cannot yet be expounded upon.

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Practical Django Testing Examples: Views

  • Nov 11 2008

This is the fourth in a series of Django testing posts. Check out the others in my Testing series if you want to read more. Today is the start of a sub-series, which is practical examples. This series will be going through each of the different kinds of tests in Django, and showing how to do them. I will also try to point out what you want to be doing to make sure you’re getting good code coverage and following best practices.

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Announcing Django Crawler and django-test-utils

  • Nov 10 2008

Today I’m going to be releasing a new project, called django-test-utils. It’s rather empty at the moment, but it does have one cool feature. That is my Django Crawler. I have some big plans for this little guy, but for the moment it has enough functionality to make it pretty useful.

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The times, they are a changin

  • Nov 09 2008

A couple posts back, I was talking about software that I use all the time. I was going through and linking to all of the software. I would go to google, type in the project name, go to the first result, and copy that URL back into my post. I figured that there had to be a better way. Any software project worth it’s name owns the top result in google.

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The problem with Django’s Template Tags

  • Nov 08 2008

There are a lot of things that I love about Django. Template tags are one of them. However, they do have a couple of warts that bother me. I know that there’s a problem when I actively look for another way to accomplish something instead of writing a template tag. I view them as a kind of last resort; thinking ‘can’t we accomplish this with a Manager instead’? I think that we need to work on making useful template tags a little bit easier to make. Django goes a long way in doing this with the simple_tag and inclusion_tag types of tags. However, I think there needs to be something more.

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Software that I use: Essentials 2008

  • Nov 07 2008

Stealing an idea/meme from Mark Pilgrim I’m going to do a post of the essential software that I use in a day to day basis. Justin also did a similar post a couple days back. I think it is interesting to talk about what kind of tools you use, because it gives people an understanding into how you work, and also some pointers at stuff that maybe they too should be using.

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Making a Django Uber-Community

  • Nov 06 2008

My workload at work is about to get a lot less critical and time consuming, so I was looking for a project to start on. I am really interested in the social aspects of the web, and below I will outline an idea that I think will be my next project.

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Introduction to Python/Django tests: Fixtures

  • Nov 05 2008

In the first two posts of this series, we talked about how to get the basic infrastructure for your tests up and running. You should have a file with doc tests and one with unit tests. They should be linked into your django project with an file. If you were feeling adverterous you may have even added some real content to them. Today we’re going to start going down the road of getting some data into your tests.

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Introduction to Python/Django testing: Basic Unit Tests

  • Nov 03 2008

Last post we talked about how to set up and use doc tests inside of Django. Today, in the second post of the series, we’ll be talking about how to use the other testing framework that comes with Python, unittest. unittest is a xUnit type of testing system (JUnit from the java world is another example) implemented in Python. It is a much more robust solution for testing than Doc tests, and allows for a lot more organization of code. We’ll get into that in the next post in the series, comparing Unit and Doc tests.

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New Design

  • Nov 03 2008

I just pushed my new site design live. My last post got lots of hits and I was tired of the comments about how horrible the site looks :). Please let me know what you think. There are still a couple rough edges, but I think overall it is a lot better!

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Python gems of my own

  • Nov 02 2008

Note: I’m launching a redesign today to address the styling issues. Please bear with me

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Introduction to Python/Django testing: Basic Doctests

  • Nov 02 2008

This is the first in a series of blog posts and screencasts that will walk you through how to test your Django application. These posts will focus more on how to get things done in Django, but note that a lot of the content is applicable to pure python as well. A lot of best practices are codified into Django’s testing framework, so that we don’t have to worry about them! I will try to point them out as we are using them through, because they are good things to know.

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A blog post a day keeps the doctor away

  • Nov 01 2008

November blog posting month has a special moment in my Django history. It was this time last year that I really got serious into Django. With the help of James Bennett’s and Marty Alchin’s blog post a month streak, I got an incredibly valuable insight into Django. It showed me a lot of the power and other great things about Django (especially the community).

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Big list of Django tips (and some python tips too)

  • Oct 05 2008

We were talking about things that we wish we had known before while developing for Django the other day in IRC. I proclaimed that we should write them down somewhere. So I’m writing a post to get this effort started. Please feel free to leave comments with your own tips and tricks, and I’ll compile them in some kind of good fashion. These are mostly just pointers, and not full-blown writeups, just more of a big list of stuff you should think about. I think these tips will really help out new people when they’re trying to get the hang of Django.

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Getting started with Pinax

  • Sep 18 2008

I went ahead today and figured that I would try out Pinax, seeing as it’s been getting a lot of good press in the Django community lately. The talk from James Tauber at Djangocon was really good, and I certainly recommend checking it out. This is going to be a basic introduction to pinax.

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Screencast: Django Command Extensions

  • Sep 12 2008

This is a screencast on the Django Command Extensions project. It is one of my favorite third party apps, and it gets installed in every Django environment I work in. It provides a plethora of useful commands, and a couple other little goodies as well.

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Using pdb to debug management commands and unit tests (Debugging Django Series,Part 4)

  • Sep 02 2008

Today’s screencast is about pdb again. This time we are going to be debugging management commands, and unit tests for django. This is a little bit more powerful than the previous screencast which just introduced the basic debugging commands.

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Using pdb, the Python Debugger (Django Debugging Series, Part 3)

  • Aug 30 2008

I had a couple of comments about my last post saying that I should be sending all of the screencasts to the aggregator because this is content and isn’t spam. So I’m going to do that. Thanks for all the feedback everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the series.

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Screencast 2: Logging in Django, for fun and profit

  • Aug 29 2008

This is the second screencast of a week long series.

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Screencast: Debugging with the Django Error Page

  • Aug 28 2008

This is part 1 of a week long series of screencasts

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Using Mock objects in Django for testing the current date

  • Aug 14 2008

Today I ran into a fun problem when writing template tags at work. (I’ll write another post later on the fun-ness that is testing of template tags :) In ellington we have some templatetags that test for the current time of day. ifmorning, ifnight and so on. These template tags are using to check to see if the time is within a certain range. This is impossible to test in a standard way without doing some hacking on the datetime.datetime object.

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Easily packaging and distributing Django apps with setuptools and easy_install

  • Aug 06 2008

First off let me say that I know that not everyone likes setuptools and that is fine. distutils works well and is included with python. However, I believe that Python needs to get some parity with what Perl has with CPAN. Pypi is Python’s alternative, so tools that integrate with it are good.

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Testmaker .002 (Even easier automated testing in Django)

  • Jul 26 2008

Okay, Well I have been hacking away at django-testmaker for the last couple of days based on some ideas from the community. It has gotten a lot better, so here is another blog post showing what’s new.

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Automating tests in Django

  • Jul 23 2008

Updated: Testmaker .002 (Even easier automated testing in Django)

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DjangoCon September 6-7, at Google!

  • Jul 13 2008

Heard from Robert Lofthouse on Twitter. The Djangocon 2008 conference will be held at Google Campus (Googleplex) in Mountain View!! September 6 and 7th. That’s only two months away, so hopefully this gets pulled together well.

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Setting up Django and mod_wsgi

  • Jul 08 2008

I was just convinced to setup mod_wsgi on my server instead of mod_python, and I’m going to write up how I did it. All of the documentation I found on the internet was really hard to follow, so I’m going to distill it here the best that I can.

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DjangoCon 2008

  • Jul 07 2008

It is being kinda announced about DjangoCon 2008! It is going to be in the Bay Area and sometime around the release of Django 1.0 in September. I heard about it a couple days ago from Jacob at the office (because I work at Mediaphormedia, birthplace of Django). I’m really excited about it, and I’m thinking about heading out for it. I have never been to the Bay Area. We’ll see how it pans out when it gets announced, but I’m almost definitely going! YAY!!

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Jim Henson before Sesame Street

  • Jul 06 2008

I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, and it is an amazing book. One thing that he mentions is that the Muppets were actually used by Jim Henson before Sesame Street to do advertising! I never knew this, and find it fascinating. There are a bunch on youtube that some posted. Great stuff!

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Beatles Lecture

  • Jul 03 2008

This is a video from Gardner Campbell, one of the best professors ever, English Professor at the University of Mary Washington.

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Living well

  • Jul 01 2008

Loving Lawrence still. I haven’t had to fill up my gas tank since I’ve been in town. My car probably hasn’t moved in about 3 days. I have established a pretty good schedule, and I have been living really well.

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Bear Head

  • Jun 27 2008

My house just got a bear head. It is about 2.5 feet fall, and real. It came from a museum. My house rules.

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Things I say all the time

  • Jun 22 2008

I just got around to updating my profiles and online stuffs (Graduating, Moving, and getting a new job will do that!). I just updated my “about me” section, and threw in some things that I say way too often (My friends can vouch for this). Anyway, I think they say a lot about me (and are said a lot by me)…

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  • Jun 21 2008

Eek! The job starts Monday! That is like, 36 hours from now. I’m really excited and slightly nervous. The excited feeling comes from the place I’ll be working. For posterities sake, here is the series of interactions that landed me the job:

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Lawrence Day 1

  • Jun 14 2008

FRICKIN SWEET. What a cool town. Couple random things made my day today.

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Change of RSS address

  • Jun 05 2008

Hey all, anyone who is getting this content on an RSS reader, if you could please update your links to point at . I’m starting to use feedburner, and i can change that to where ever i’ll be blogging, so that’s the last RSS url you’ll need for me. :) Thanks!

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Goodbye East Coast part 1

  • Jun 02 2008

Hey world, how goes? This is part 1 of 3 in my whirlwind trip around the East coast. This is the trip to Boston, Part 2 is the trip around Virginia, and Part 3 is Maryland. Here goes nothing!

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Power through conversation

  • May 20 2008

I feel that I am most able to convey my ideas and gain new ones through conversation. Viewing a blog as a conversation is interesting, but I have yet to gain the same value through a blog as a good conversation in real life. I feel like I ask good questions, and have a skill in the ability to conduct conversation well. I feel that this is a good skill, and not something that needs to be changed. I guess the new skill that needs to be learned is how to make online ‘conversations’ more like the real life ones described above.

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  • May 07 2008

Three days until graduation. I’m getting really excited. Getting all of my stuff in order to go out to Kansas, and enjoying the rest of my summer. I’ll start posting more frequently soon hopefully, since I’ll have lots of free time, and need to be getting into programming mode for my job. Super super super excited about life right now!!!

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My Second Poem Ever

  • Apr 22 2008

Watched Dead Poets Society about 3 times in the last 2 weeks, and was inspired in the ways of rhyme and rhythm. Here’s a poem, loosely based on one of my favorite quotes..”The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”..

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Browser Login Discovery

  • Apr 08 2008

There are some really cool ideas floating around the interwebs these days, dealing with discovery of authentication. A lot of the talk is about integrating OpenID into the browser, but I don’t think it needs to be limited to that. People are working on good ways to auto-discover what the login end-points are on some pages. So when I go to, there will be a specific URL to go to that will list the places where you can login, and what they support. For example: /authEnds.xml would say that /account/login/ is the endpoint of login on my site.

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Predictive text FTW

  • Mar 29 2008

I am just starting to use Gnome Do, and it’s amazing. You hit (windows key) + space, and it pops up a little window where you give it commands. It tries to figure out what you mean when you type a certain combination of words, and remembers what you usually do on those combos, and does that in the future.

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Crazy times

  • Mar 27 2008

Only have 2 weeks left until presenting at NCUR. I give my honors project presentation to the UMW Compsci faculty on the Wednesday before the conference. Lots of work to do, but enjoying it. Getting to really dig into Django and learn it and understand it’s modularity is awesome. I’m super busy and it feels like real life is starting…Should be a fun endless summer.

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All majors are the same

  • Mar 14 2008

Had an interesting conversation with my roomate Mike last night. It helped me clarify something I have always understood, but never found a good way to say. This is probably going to be another failed attempt, but here goes.

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Perfect Abstraction

  • Feb 21 2008

Here in computer science land, the quest is for the perfect abstraction. That’s what our job is anyway, Software Engineer my ass, more like lead abstraction implementer. This quest for the perfect abstraction is never-ending, and certainly cannot be attained by humans. We aren’t capable of creating bug-free software, so our abstractions will be inherently leaky. If it wasn’t leaky, then it wouldn’t be abstracted.

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Awesome 3d

  • Feb 21 2008

This is an amazing video of some dynamic 3d work a guy did for his PhD Thesis. Johnny Lee is a PhD student at CMU, and he modified a display to use the wiimote and a special headset to give real 3D effects. It actually changes the picture on the screen based on your proximity and angle to the screen. Amazing.

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Website Interface Design

  • Feb 21 2008

I plan to design the events site through the lense of the user. The UI philosophy is thought about in that way. We don’t ask how to design a page about adding an event to the calendar. We ask what the user wants to do when putting something on the calendar. What are the use cases of the calendar, why is the user there. This ties in with what makes our cal better than other cals. Trying to make the UI amazing.

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Why I love the CLI

  • Feb 21 2008

Simple example. I walked into my room today to a picture screensaver which is awesome. Aparently it uses the Pictures folder on the Desktop, of which only my latest pictures are in. I want it to use all of them…

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Job hunt

  • Feb 20 2008

Starting the good ol’ job hunt. Trying to figure out what I’m going to be doing with myself for the next couple years of my life. Big ol’ decision that it is.

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Security Vulnerabilities on the Internet

  • Feb 19 2008

I was reading an article on LWN about security vulnerabilities on newly shipped machines. The qualm is that the same place that the updates for vulnerabilities come from is the same place where you are going to get infected. They are asking if there isn’t possibly a better way to do it. I think there is:

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Bill Clinton

  • Feb 11 2008

Saw Bill Clinton speak on campus today. It was awesome! He is such a great public speaker. It’s amazing to hear a politician say logical things, backed up with numbers, and actually agree with their general ideas. What a concept. He hasn’t made me want to vote for Hilary Clinton over Obama (certainly the point), but if she does win over Obama, I will feel genuinely better about voting for her in the national election. Bill is an amazing speaker, and was funny and serious at the correct times. Very well done. It lasted over an hour, and the turnout was amazing. There was a line halfway down our entire campus! Very cool.

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  • Feb 10 2008

I got accepted into NCUR. The National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Here is my abstract. I get to have at least the abstract published, and maybe the entire paper that I write in support of my project, still not sure how it works. UMW is paying for me to go, which is amazing. It should be an awesome opportunity to meet some people in my field doing interesting things. The presentation there is the weekend after my Honors Project presentation that I have to do to graduate with honors. The timing works out well :)

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Another neat ad

  • Feb 09 2008

This is a really cool Ford ad. I’m glad companies are starting to understand that commericals are content too. If you make them worth watching, they will get spread and your message will be heard a lot more places. Somebody has been listening to Seth Godin :)

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Sweet ads

  • Feb 08 2008

I’ve always been a fan of those ads where one things leads to another to another without intervention. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but you know what i’m talking about. Just found this neat one online from a dutch website, which is simply awesome!

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Work this week

  • Feb 07 2008

At work this week I’ve been tasked with using PL/SQL (Oracles version of SQL scripting) to create traverse a tree structure stored in a database. The data is stored in a simple tree, with each node having an id, and a parent_id. When the parent_id is null, then that means it is a root node. This structure will be used to display navigational links for pages in an automatic fashion.

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Obama & Va

  • Feb 07 2008

I’m really excited that Obama “won” Super Tuesday. He got more states and more votes, and has been declared the winner, even though Hilary is only like 5 votes behind. I’m glad that Virginia is actually important this primary season, and I think this is the first time I will ever vote. I have never had a good reason to vote before, but Obama is such an inspiration. As is almost cliche these days, he is actually inspiring me to get out and vote! That is no small undertaking, and I believe a large part of how he is doing so well. Young people aren’t apathetic, all previous candidates have just been God Awful.

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Time to use that education

  • Feb 04 2008

Okay people. Here’s a proposal for you. Let’s change this school of ours. For my Senior project at UMW I’m creating an “Events” calendar for the school and fredericksburg community, if you’re interested in that, read below.

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  • Feb 02 2008

Was talking to an old friend today. My friend Shane who graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He’s currently in Cali, with a cool job somewhat related to his major. I was talking to him about the current situation (graduation approaches),and he has an amazingly apt drawing.

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OCR with context

  • Jan 29 2008

OCR should use context, when it sees the word ‘everythxxg’, it should know that the ‘xx’ is ‘in’. This is how the human brain works, and is how the computer should work too. If Google can suggest spelling suggestions to my misspelled words, there is no reason that this technology couldn’t be applied to OCR. It would make it much more powerful and useful.

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My dad was wikipedia

  • Jan 25 2008

For most of my life my dad has been my wikipedia. Long before it existed, anything I had a question about, I could ask him and be assured to either be given an insightful answer, or a logically thought out answer that amazingly always seemed to be correct. I think this is the basis for the constant curiosity that still exists in myself.

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  • Jan 15 2008

Lost the weekend and this week in web land. A friend came to visit, everyone came back from break, and classes are starting. I will begin posting regularly again. I read 3 books in the last 2 weeks, which I posted about earlier. On Intelligence is amazing and has set my mind racing, expect some good posts coming up in the next week or two based off of reflection on that.

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Hackers and Painters

  • Jan 12 2008

Just finished reading Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. It was an amazing book about the past, present, and future of computers. Lots of stuff about programming, but also fulfilling for people that don’t know much about computers as well looking outside in. It explains a lot and is an amazing read. Paul Graham is an amazing Essayist and it shines through in this book. It contains 15 unrelated essays, and is highly recommended.

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  • Jan 10 2008

A picture is worth a thousand (horribly said) words :)

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Books to read

  • Jan 09 2008

Just posting some books that I want to read this upcoming semester.

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Code on Launchpad

  • Jan 07 2008

The code for the website is now located on launchpad. I am using their bazaar version control system that is kick ass. It’s a Distributed VCS which means that you can run it completely locally, without a server. I use the server of course, but it allows you to do work on your code without internet access and other neat things.

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Cool Music Video

  • Jan 06 2008

Never heard of a band called Battle before. They have a really neat video that I got pointed to from a really cool advertising blog

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  • Jan 04 2008

This is why OpenID is such a good idea.

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Earthquakes in politics

  • Jan 04 2008

An interesting opinion piece that I read at work in the NY Times today. Talks about how Obama and Huckabee both embody vastly different philosophies of government than the previous established order. It gives me hope to hear them discribed that way. Hopefully the existing governmental structures won’t sink their hopes and dreams for this once-great country of ours. Two Earthquakes

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Facebook Update

  • Jan 03 2008

Funny, Scoble just got banned from facebook for doing exactly what I was talking about doing. Damned social information silos..

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Facebook Scrapage

  • Jan 03 2008

I’m thinking about how to implement facebook’s social graph in my Events calendar application. It would be a big boon for my site if when people signed up, they could automatically have their facebook friends imported as their friends on my site. However, I don’t like the idea of having to have the person give me their login information to do this. (This is what OAuth is for!).

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  • Jan 02 2008

Tomorrow is the Democratic caucus in Iowa. I’m really hoping that Obama wins, or basically anyone but Clinton. I believe that Edwards and Obama have the best chance of actually returning this country to it’s basic morals and values, and I certainly plan to vote for whichever of them wins this primary. I also believe that if Clinton wins, then it will be the first time in history that an independant could possibly win the White House. (Obama/Edwards, or Obama/Paul perhaps?). Here’s hoping that faith and morality wins out in this crazy world of ours, and a chance to put America back in it’s rightful place as a law-abiding and moral country.

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Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!