I’ve started using Django at work and I’m completely seduced. I don’t know much python but it’s very easy to use and setup. I’ve got it running on my OS X machine without too much hassle by using the instructions in the Django Book.

Django is a MVC framework (forcing the use of a clean Model/View/Controller pattern) that was developed to solve real world problems with web development. It is very robust, efficient and stable.

The four most prominent advantages to using Django are:

databases are abstracted
This allows you to define your models in a very efficient python format. It also allows for Django to manage field types commonly used in web development (URLs, email, etc.) It also enables very efficient automagical form generation from your models. Django will automatically creates your tables in the database of your choice (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, MSSql, Oracle, etc.) and manage connections and SQL queries.
automatic admin sites
Once your models are defined and your database created, you can enable very easily an admin site. “Very easily” is an understatement. This is simply awesome. No more spending hours to validate fields and modifying your admins each time you add or modify a table. Django does it all for you. the admin sites generated are very robust and usable. Django will add little widgets for specific data types (ex: calendar selectors for date) and do all the dirty validation work. If you set your models correctly you can stop worrying about weird data bugs caused by bugs in your hand-made admin. A whole lot of problems and headaches simply disappeared. The admins generated are extendable, you can use the admin engine to override and customize the admin. You don’t need to start from scratch.
URL are abstracted
This takes some time to get used to. Files are not served directly like what I’m used to. In django, URLs are mapped to functions. In a easy-to-use format, you specify what function serves content to what URL pattern. This is great because you can easily make pretty urls (in fact it would be harder not to have pretty urls) for your website, it’s also easier to manage parameters that way. My experience with pretty URLs have not been good. URLRewrites are server specifics and often added as an afterthought. In django you have to map your URL first.
a robust and easy-to-use template system
The MVC pattern really shines here. The template system is simple and very easy to work with. You can keep integration and design almost completely separated from the database and it simplifies the sharing of HTML code like nothing else I’ve see.

The only disadvantage I see about Django vs my usual PHP/MySQL approach is that it changes the hosting parameters completely. I’ll start using it for my personal use that’s for sure, we’re already setup for using it at work, but I won’t be able to easily develop sites for anyone on any server. Python and Django are needed, and some configs have to be enabled on the server. This will eventually make me look around for a new host.

random news

I’ve been playing Fall From Heaven, working and then some, being out of shape and helping a friend with a WordPress website.

My bike is ready to help me address the out of shape issue. I hope riding to work and back won’t kill me. I’ve never been so easily out of breath, I also have headaches. Last summer I had a hammock accident and hurt my back real bad, I spent at least two weeks sitting on cushions and couldn’t used my bike for the rest of summer. As biking is the only exercise I get I really need those 5-6 months of riding around the city at full speed.

I’ve been trying real hard to stop smoking, that will help too.

Random Album Covers

Christine pointed me to a system to make random album covers. It’s a lot of fun and I’m always surprised by the quality of the results. It was good to practice my text layout skills in Photoshop. Here’s what I ended up making:

siege-of-messolonghi.jpg schnottwill.jpg parathesis-aurantica.jpg nimbochromis-venustus.jpg maga-dam.jpg history-of-siberia1.jpg harry-m-wurzbach.jpg fliptricks.jpg elena-muhhina.jpg

I really love the History of Siberia and the Maga Dam ones. But they’re all pretty good, you can feel what kind of band and music it would be. I’d probably listen to Schnottwill, it’s so naïve and witty. I used to love Maga Dam when I was 17, but can’t stand them anymore. Have you listened to the latest Siege of Messolonghi? I can’t stand it, there’s too much pseudo world music influence in it.


Legerdemain Legerdemain is a good RPG game, heavily inspired by roguelikes. I’mnot very far in it yet, but it seems huge. Lots of thext, interesting story, the interface is simpler than most roguelikes, so the learning curve might be a bit smaller.

It’s set in an interesting fantasy setting, with a good magic and skill system. Very reminiscent of the Ultima serie. The use of some roguelike features (mainly interface and “graphics”) is something I love, the colors are great, and the use of a larger character set (unicode) makes for a richer graphical world.

Make sure to read the tutorial if you decide to try it.

Alphabet de la météo et des saisons

  • avalanche
  • brouillard
  • chaleur
  • déluge
  • été
  • fahrenheit
  • grêle
  • hiver
  • inondation
  • jour
  • kelvin
  • lune
  • météo
  • neige
  • ouragan
  • pluie
  • quatre
  • rafale
  • stratocumulus
  • tsunami
  • ultraviolet
  • vent
  • Williwan (nom d’un vent d’Alaska)
  • Xuebin Zhang
  • Yiacouvakis
  • zénith

Si vous avez des suggestions pour le X et Y ne vous gênez surtout pas pour nous aider!

Alphabet Animal

(Élaboré en collaboration avec ma fille.)

Taming my cashflow

Budget For as long as I can remember I had a lot of trouble staying in control of my cash, my budget, my payments, my debts. I was never sure how loose or how tight I was with the single number my bank account gave me.

So I started looking around for a solution. Friends showed me their systems (or lack of) and I set up a budget in Excel. I could see on paper that I should have no problem. My income more than matched my expenses. Of course I never opened the file again. And kept fighting with my money.

More than a year ago I asked my friend Google and it suggested a nice app called Budget (available for Windows too), which I downloaded and set up. It seemed to me to be a good solution, I loved the interface and the way you had a lot of control on things. But I didn’t keep it up-to-date. I soon fell back to my default non-system.

Two months ago I re-opened it, spent a lot more time reading the manual and set it up all over again. This time it stuck. I was saved. It’s almost fun to visit it every couple of days and input my latest expenses. It allows me to know exactly where my money will be going. And adjust everything as I go along. It gives me the discipline to cut back on some expenses, like coffee and restaurants.

The learning curve is definitely there, you have a lot of decisions to make while setting it up. But the documentation is clear and well organized.

I suggest it to anyone who think his system could be a bit more efficient. And definitely to anyone who doesn’t have a real system in place. It’s nice to use something that is both reliable and easily adaptable. And it’s only around 40 bucks.

(La traduction française est excellente aussi.)

Read Rice Boy and be happy

Rice Boy Rice Boy Comic is a very colorful imaginative piece.

I just love the way it’s paced and the somewhat naïve tinge. A marvel.

(through Dinosaur comics)

Still Alive by Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton made a song for a computer game named Portal.

JoCo explains it all.

We the robots!

wetherobot.jpg We the robots is brand new, grandly bland and my official new comics crush.