Cool Tech – LightTable

Every now and then, it seems that new and interesting technologies just come out of nowhere. A buddy of mind sent me a link today and simply said, something like “check that out”.  I didn’t know what it was and he didn’t say much.

When I had some time to look at it, which I just did like 20 minutes back, I was really really excited.  You see, I have been trying to cultivate some interest in programming in the young family members, cousins, nephews, nieces, and even my youngest sister.  One of the problems you have, when you start thinking or even embark on teaching someone to program, are the following: which language would be easiest while being fun and eventually usable (you don’t want to tell someone they are learning to program, but can’t create even simple interesting app), and how quickly you can go from coding to seeing results.  There are other issues too, like how good is the development tool and the help system.

Fortunately, HTML and JavaScript fit the bill almost perfectly. They are not the greatest languages, but they are easy to learn, you can use tools and utils already on your computer (without the need to download anything else), and you do get to see impressive result.  I always get oh and ah when I show people who have never programmed, just how easy it is to write some text and have the looks of it modified with just a few simple tags.

So when I went to check out LightTable, and just read a bit about it, I was immediately interested.  Then I watched the first YouTube video.  Then I realized that this is something that I can use to teach young people and people new to programming how to program in JavaScript. They get instance feedback in the Web browser tab.

So here is to LightTable and I hope they keep developing it. There have been so many good things coming my way in the last few weeks.  Not too long ago, it was Ember JS and Handlebars.  Before that was Backbone (which lead me to Ember JS).  I found out about the Foundation CSS library while researching even more Ember JS.  And while cool, but not web centric, I have been learning quite a bit about OpenStack cloud platform.  It is a great day to live very long.


Updated: May 01, 2013 @ 5:04 AM PT

Forgot to add few other things to the list. Not necessarily in the correct reverse order, but pretty close.  So there was Sublime Text 2, Notation Velocity, and TreeJS (JavaScript 3D library), and a slew of new features in Spring 3.2.0 that made your life in Spring that much more fun and easier. I really like the JavaConfig stuff and Spring Data (repository), which adds Grails like dynamic finders.  Hopefully I am not forgetting anything else.

Would We Ever Meet Aliens

There is this point on Slashdot, I have pasted it below.  The think is, the more I think about it, the more I think there is a point to what Paul Tyma says.  An ant to us is really not that interesting, though people do study them.  But is the ant aware of whatever interest we have in it?  But even so, most of us don’t care.  A really advance specie might just see us the same way. Or the future us might just see going to some primitive civilization the same way.

In another post, Physicist Steven Hawkins said that a meeting between us and any advance specie would surely not be good for us. So regardless of which path you consider, either you will be wiped out or not meet.

So much for meeting an alien.

Why We’ll Never Meet Aliens

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-immigration-laws dept.
iggychaos writes “The idea that aliens will come visit us is fundamentally flawed. Paul Tyma ponders the technology that would be required for such an event and examines how evolution of that technology would preclude any reason to actually make the trip. He writes, ‘Twenty years ago if I asked you how many feet were in a mile (and you didn’t know) you could go to a library and look it up. Ten years ago, you could go to a computer and google it. Today, you can literally ask your phone. It’s not a stretch at all with the advent of wearable computing that coming soon – I can ask you that question and you’ll instantly answer. … How would you change if you had instant brain-level access to all information. How would you change if you were twice as smart as you are now. How about ten times as smart? (Don’t answer, truth is, you’re not smart enough to know). Now, let’s leap ahead and think about what that looks like in 100 years. Or 1000. Or whenever it is you’ll think we’d have the technology to travel to another solar system. We’d be a scant remnant of what a human looks like today. … The question of why aliens might ‘want to come here’ is probably fundamentally flawed because we are forming that question from our current (tiny) viewpoint. The word ‘want’ might not apply at all to someone 1000 times smarter than us.”

Jumping Into Single-Web-Application Via Ember JS

I recently wrote a short post about hearing and now starting to learn the frameworks being developed for Single-Web-Applications (SWA).  SWAs are not new, Google has been doing it for some time as GMail and other applications. It is not the only company either.

But what is an SWA? It turns out, like AJAX, the core technologies for building a SWA is what was there all the time, mainly HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.  Surely, there are a few new techniques and recommendations from lessons learned.  After some time of making SWA the hard way, some people decided to create frameworks and template-ing libraries.

One of the best known library in the SWA space is Ember JS.  Backbone and Angular JS (from Google) are very well known too.  But Ember just has something about it when you start playing with it, it just seems intuitive.  Not surprisingly, many of the Ember JS developers are or were Ruby on Rails developer developerts.

Enough talking, let’s get into and talk later.

Step 0 – Download ‘Ember JS Starter Kit’

Step 1 – Unzip/Extract Archive To A Folder

Step 2 – Load The Index.html File In Your Browser

Step 3 – Customize : Just A Touch

Step 4 – Be Amazed : Reload In Your Browser

Let’s do it.

Step 0 – Head over to Ember JS and download starter kit.

Step 1 – Unzip/Extract Archive To A Folder

Regardless of your platform, extract the downloaded archive to some directory.  I like putting my development projects in my <home directory>/devel/projects or <home directory>/devel/playgound depending on what I am doing.

Step 2 – Load The Index.html File In Your Browser

At this point, you can open the index.html file in the Ember Starter Kit folder you created in the previous step.  BUT, the directory name is probably some long crazy thing.  If you want, and would recommend, that you change the name to something simple like ’ember’.    Regardless of what you decided to do, just use the File->Open menu item in your Web Browser to select the index.html file in the starter-kit directory.

What you should see, is something like “Welcome to Ember.js” and a bulleted-list of “red”, “yellow”, and “blue”.  If you see that, it proves that everything is working just fine.

Step 3 – Customize : Just A Touch

So what just happened?  Well, if you didn’t sneak a peak at the index.html file yet, you should now.  You will see that it is a very simple file with what is call “Handlebars template”.  That is the text inside the “<script>” tag with ‘type=”text/x-handlebar-template”‘ in the body.  NOTE: The actual text might be slightly different, but you should be able to find it.

That the Handlebar template, was handled a “model”, the data to put in the list.  Which was just a JavaScript array of the strings “red”, “yellow”, and “blue”.  Handlebars then rendered the HTML which you see.  Pretty simple, huh?

So where is the ‘model/data’ coming from?  That is coming from the js/app.js file. If you take a peak at this file, you will see that JavaScrip array. But don’t worry about anything else for now.  Let’s do something fun.  I know, you still have a few questions, but trust me, this will be cool.

Using your favorite or any text editor on your computer, open the index.html file in the starter-kit directory. Remember, you might have changed the name of this directory.

** Rant on text editors.  For Windows users, this will most likely be Notepad.  Linux user, you are using Linux, you do better be using Vim or Sublime Text if you have a GUI.  As a matter of fact, regardless of your platform, get Sublime Text or Vim.**

Now, replace all the text between the two set of <script> tags so that you only have one remaining with the following text:

<script type=”text/x-handlebars”>

<p>{{input type=”text” value=name}}</p>

This is my name: {{name}}

Step 4 – Be Amazed : Reload In Your Browser

And start typing in the text box.


Take a minute or so to savor the result.  If you had to do that without Handlebars/Embers, you would have to be write a JavaScript function to update the output label, and of course register it to the “onchange” event of the text box.  You didn’t have to do any of that and it is working.

See you soon when we do more fun stuff with Ember and Handlebars.

Week 16

I tried to deploy RedHat’s RDO OpenStack distribution over the weekend. It was very easy to install, but I had some problems with the network configuration.  I have a two servers, one is newer than the  other.  The newest one is a 16-GB RAM with Quad-cores HT (8-cores total), and 2 x 150GB SATA HD.  The other is a bit older and tops out at about 4-GB RAM, single core-HT, and 1 x 150GB HD and a 250GB HD.

I had first deployed the RDO “allinone” option on the newest server, but realized that this is be my Nova-Compute node.  But since I still had a few server apps on the other computer which I couldn’t just remove, I had to find some way of moving them to the new computer. Then installing the “allinone” on that slower computer, not a problem since that would only be really be used as the Controller.  Then I can add more nodes, first a better computer node using the newer server.

Unfortunately, moving the services from the existing server is a pain and slow.  I am trying to move a physical server into a VM on the newer computer where I have installed KVM and libvirt.

At first, everything was going well. Until I did something and now it is not working reliably.  Now I have something else to look forward to fixing during the week after work.

Something Old, And Something New

If you are a web developer, there are many new technologies almost every few weeks coming at you. But here is one I am really excited about, one that has been around for a few months, but I only heard of it in the past few week.  It is only this week I have some time to start playing with some of it. Single-Page-Web-Application.

If you have used GMail and some of Google many web apps, those are examples of Single-Page-Web apps.  The underling technologies behind the new frameworks to support these types of apps are not surprising very old.  Your good old friend Javascript, HTML, and CSS.  The old work horse of the Internet.

But take a look at how they have been re-spun, as frameworks like Ember JS, HandleBars, Mustache, Backbone JS, Spine JS, Angular JS, and many many many many more.  After a bit of research, I decided that I will play with HandleBars, Foundation JS, and Ember for now.  I will be sure to write about my experience. And if things goes swimmingly, I might have an app to show for it too.

Are We Cosmicly Significant or Insignificant?

Basically, are we special? Do we matter?  Is our existence essential to the existence of the Universe?  I don’t and neither does anyone I know of know?  But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it and other from thinking and writing too.

There are many people throughout on our planet who are pondering this very question at the moment in some form. Be it religious or not. And there have been many who have thought about it for ages gone by.
This article at NPR is no different and a nice little read to get you pondering too.

Riding A Cloud

For about a year now, I have been playing with OpenStack cloud platform off and on.  Always, just running it on my laptop or in some limited virtual environment.  But last week, my manager asked another colleague and I to deploy OpenStack at work on a few computer to play with some ideas.

It was so much fun to be finally be able to play with it on several machines.  Because our tests were very promising after a few days, we did have some hiccup due to our inexperience and faulty hardware. But now, we will be getting some new servers and blades to play with.

A buddy of mine recently asked me to setup a CentOS server for him.  Well, little does he know, he will be getting a server in a VM running in a small cloud deployment at my home. He is remote, and often uses my server, so since he won’t be seeing the actual machine, I will get him what he wants and ton of flexibility from doing a cloud.

I love OpenStack, but it is a bit of a pain and a usuable deployment needs a few machines.  I will be deploying CloudStack (from Apache) for my small cloud at home. Mostly due to its simplicity and management.  What I should say, it would be easier to deploy using the UShareSoft CloudStack distribution.

You Are Almost Everything, Spring Framework

I have been using the String Framework on and off for a few years.  I heard about it back around 2005 or some time then.  I tried using it around 2006, but really didn’t have much use for it. But I stayed interested and would checking now and then to see the direction.

Fast forward a few years, now would be good, give or take a few months. I am working on Java applications for the cloud, and I get to play with Spring almost daily. The framework has matured so much, and so many new features have been added.  Not to mention the many new sub-projects that covers many of the other disciplines.

Like anything else, the more you use it, the better you understand it. And that either makes you like it more or like it less. Fortunately, for me, the more I use Spring, the more I like it. I have found it very easy to create RESTful applications and it is brain dead easy to add database persistence to your application. For those who use Roo, Grails, or Ruby on Rails, will know just how easy it is to follow convention and just have magic happens. Spring does some of that too.

Here are some people saying why they like spring. But if you want to learn a bit about Spring, you can start here.  I would like to do some Spring tutorial once I know the audience and their expectations. So if you don’t have time for reading or watching long videos  drop me an email and I will can start working on some short-to-the-point tutorials.  I have done some at work for my co-workers and they really like the format of focusing on getting a task done and showing how to do that with Spring.