Weekly Rewind #65

An old audio cassette tape with Weekly Rewind written on it.Time for another Weekly Rewind and although it’s already Tuesday I’m not half as late as last week. I had a lot of stuff to talk about with the camping trip and man did I go on, nearly 2000 words in the end. I don’t think this write up will be quite so long but I hope it’ll still be fun and fact packed… ok maybe not, but I can try 🙂 Let’s get into it.

Last Monday I was really screwed after the camping trip and all the other events of a busy weekend, so I took it a bit easier. I tried to catch up on jobs around the house, did a bit of tinkering on my web server and various other things. I also took Fab up on his kind offer to postpone Linux Outlaws till Tuesday, I needed a rest. So on Tuesday night we did the live show at the usual time, all be it 24hrs late as I joked.  It went well and afterwards I  synced up the audio before shipping it back off to Bonn for final editing. It’s quite a process but it’s become second nature to us now I think and we’ve been talking about updating the podcast we recorded about show production. Back in episode 19 we documented our set up and although things haven’t completely changed, they have evolved enough to warrant another show on the subject. Fab has gotten himself a new microphone and a rather lovely valve (or “tube” if you prefer) compressor. This means the audio can be a lot more polished on recording and doesn’t require quite so much attention in post. I’d loaned out my compressor/limiter/gate to a friend but I’ve got it back and set that up now as well. We’ve got quite some kit and it’ll be good to share the information with the world. It’s probably the question we get asked more than any other, “how do you make the show?”.

Rant-O-Fab cover art, blue background with title on top and pic of Fab in his hat.

Rant-O-Fab

Speaking of making shows Fab has finally launched his new podcast Rant-O-Fab and I should have mentioned it last week but forgot with everything else going on. It’s short 10min(ish) “shots” as Jono and Aq christened them. Each one contains a rant about a subject he feels strongly on, as the name suggests. He’s done a great job with the artwork and the audio sounds excellent as usual. The new microphone is paying off I think. There’s a new website for the show so go and check it out.

On Wednesday it was back to Drupal hacking full time during the day and I’ve realised something through this process. The more I learn the more I realise how little I actually know. I suppose that’s true of life anyway but I’ve learnt so much about CSS and other things in the past couple of months and I’m only just scratching the surface. I’d like to learn JQuery and do some funky AJAX effects on pages too. Front end stuff and design is what let’s me down I think, I’m happy with a Bash shell or a database to play with but I need better front end development skills. One step at a time, I’m still getting comfortable with Drupal development and PHP, coming from an ASP and .NET background. Some of the projects I’ve worked on recently have overrun and I’ve been thinking about Django again. Sadly a lot of the people I work with are tied to one web host for various reasons, and that host only really supports LAMP apps, they don’t even do that brilliantly. I’ve been wondering how easy these projects would be to develop in Django and whether I could get them to think about Python support on their servers. I haven’t played with Django in quite some time but for truely custom web apps I think it’s hard to beat. I have some friends who swear by Ruby On Rails but I tried that and it never quite clicked for me. I much prefer Python to Ruby as a language any day. I’ll let you know what comes of my experimentation if and when I get around to it.

Work was interupted on Thursday by the exciting arrival of my new phone. I talked about sending back the Nokia N900 last week and although I had Fab’s old Samsung Galaxy to use, the battery life and processor speed (or lack of it) were really annoying me. I spent some time comparing deals and the various costs of buying an unlocked handset vs getting an upgrade on my O2 contract. In the end I plumped for a contract upgrade and I now have a shiny new HTC Desire. I haven’t had it long enough to give a proper review yet but the first impressions are amazing. It’s fast, light, stylish and the battery life compares well to the N900, it might even be better. The handset cost me £150 up front and I signed a new 18 month contract with O2. This worked out at about £650 in total, including the monthly bills. If I’d bought the handset unlocked it would have been £420 alone, then once I’d added the monthly contract cost it was more like £900. As you can see I did a lot of comparisons and calculations on this. So far I’m loving Google Voice Search and many other apps on there. It runs Android 2.1 so I’ll probably root and upgrade it soon. I’ll let you know how all that goes as soon as I can.

HTC Desire handest held in someone's hand. Stock image I found on Google

HTC Desire

On Friday evening I joined Fab to interview Jonathan Nadeau for Linux Outlaws. He’s a fascinating guy and it turns out he’s very funny too. At the time of writing that episode hasn’t come out yet but it will soon. Jonathan is a blind computer user and he’s done a lot of work to make Linux systems accessible to blind and visually impared people. It’s something I (and probably you) as a sighted person don’t even consider on a day to day basis, but speaking to him certainly made me think. He’s running his own company Frostbite Systems selling a great range of Linux computers, some of which are completely blind-optimised. This means they are ready to go out of the box and there’s no need for a sighted person’s help to get started. You can’t even get that sort of support on Windows and I think what Jonathan is doing is nothing short of inspirational. He’s had a lot of adversity thrown at him in his life but he obviously doesn’t take any of it lying down. We could all learn something from that. Listen out for the interview, I really think you’ll enjoy it.

Over the weekend I tried to relax a bit more, played with my new phone and watched Liverpool’s opening game of the league season, on TV that is, I’m not made of money. We drew 1-1 with Arsenal and probably should have won but with 1 less player for over half the game I won’t complain at a draw. I hope we’ll go on from here and have a good season. After the match I met up with the band and we had a bit of a Sunday session. It was good to get back at it and I think we all missed playing after a 2 week break. We still need to decide on a definitive name, book some more gigs and sort out our original song recordings. The band is one of the best things that’s happened to me in a long time though and I can’t wait to see how far we can take it. Once the name is decided I can think about websites and other ways to get people involved. Watch this space.

Upcoming:

At the time of writing we recorded another Linux Outlaws last night, number 164. You’ll be able to hear that soon. There’s plenty more going on this week. A couple of band rehearsals, a new website project to get stuck into, a last minute call to appear on another FLOSS Weekly tomorrow night, a North West Drupal User Group meet on Friday and the How Why DIY event in Liverpool on Sunday. It’s at the old Rapid paint shop in Renshaw St in the middle of town. Anyone from around these parts should know it. There’ll be all kinds of hacking and geekery going on, plus a live Rathole Radio in the evening now as well. There should be a show on Sunday anyway and I decided to incorporate it into the event. I don’t know what the live aspect will consist of yet but there’s a few days to work it out. I’ll fill you in on all that next week. Till then, take care and stay safe.

Dan

Posted in Update
3 comments on “Weekly Rewind #65
  1. KimTjik says:

    Do have any idea of how widespread the use of Django is here in Europe? I’m just thinking and estimating what would be the most practical route. Sure I could learn some stuff just for the fun of it, but I’m too busy to let that guide me.

    Good work by both of you! Kind of nice you’ve reached a level, when it’s time to share your podcast knowledge and experience with the wider world.

  2. Dan says:

    @KimTijk – I don’t have any hard figures for the adoption of Django in Europe. I know quite a few companies use it though. Canonical develop all their sites and web services (such as Ubuntu One) with Django. It’s probably still not as popular as Ruby On Rails I’d say, that’s a little bit more established. I think Django is far better though and I much prefer Python.

    I would try both quickly and see which you prefer. If you already know Python then getting started with Django is easy. If you don’t know Ruby or Python you might decide ROR is better for you. Finding hosting for either can be something of a challenge at times. It depends on the situation. If you have a client stuck firmly to LAMP servers then you need to convince them to install Python and change some minor things in Apache. It’s not that difficult though. I would look at Web Faction if you want to buy good Django hosting. I can’t fault them. Just do a search for Web Faction and they’ll come up. They also support Ruby On Rails, Drupal, WordPress and a ton of other PHP apps.

    Hope that information helps in some way. Thanks for reading.

  3. KimTjik says:

    Thanks a lot for your answer. I appreciate it. Let’s see what I decide.

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