GTK-server is another way to write portable GUIs with your favorite programming language.
The GTK-server is a free, open-source project, which offers a stream-oriented interface to the GTK libraries, enabling access to graphical user interfaces for shellscripts and interpreted programming languages using either GTK 1.x or 2.x.
There is a joke among programmers: when the project manager asks how complete is the project, and you’ve finally reached the “%80 complete” mark, you tell him the good news because now you all know how long it will take to finish the 2nd %80 of the project! Sometimes this is just how efforts evolve; and it its not just limited to work efforts.
For the past month of so I’ve been practicing a beautiful song called “Over the Hills and Far away” (aka OTHAFA) by Led Zeppelin.
It has been a challenge for me. The practice-duration/song-duration ratio of OTHAFA’s has been a high. Learning it has almost been like work project: you get an idea of what needs to happen, start digging in, and eventually figure out what *really* needs to happen!
Ultimately, it took me about a month or so to learn all of the parts of the song (aka the first %80), and based on what I can see it will take another month to be able play it well enough to perform it (aka the second %80). Don’t get me the wrong, the first %80 means I play the parts correctly and it sounds nice. There are just all of the details that really take it from sounding “good” to “great”. It has been frustrating, though; as I started studying the 2nd %80 my progress slowed and it was a little bit disheartening. I soldiered on, but man…
Talking to my guitar teacher about it really helped me put things in perspective. He explained that the goal of learning the song was to learn all of the guitar playing techniques in OTHAFA that I would end up using in %80 of all of the other songs that I would end up learning. In other words, he had a clearly defined pedagogical approach to my course of study, mastering the 2nd %80 was more like a bonus, or an optional goal that I could pursue if I so desired. Wow, I had no idea; I felt a lot better after hearing that.
My take away from all of this is what when it comes to learning, it is really up to you to decide whether or not *now* is the right time to pursue that 2nd %80 of whatever you are learning. Perhaps even more important is using enough discretion to determine whether or not you are actually moving into that 2nd %80, or you are simply moving outside your comfort zone because *that* can feel even more difficult that the latter!
Whatever the case, keep on learning, whatever you can, and have fun doing it!
When it comes to identifying “the it factor” in programmers, everyone has an opinion. Paul Graham attributes it to good taste. Bertrand Meyer attributes it to doing things with class. Neither of them, though, of even come close to revealing the truth of it as Bubba Zanetti, the preeminent philosopher of the wasteland, did when he identified style as “the it factor” in programming.
His seminal contribution to answering this age-old question came to him in a fit of inspiration following a conversation he had with another programmer. In reply to said programmer, who had just explained that he would never learn Lisp solely for the fact that he hates parentheses, Bubba Zanetti suggested that:
You just don’t have the style, do you, chicken shit?
Addendum: When questioned as to why many of today’s programmers lack the so-called “it factor”, Bubba Zanetti suggested that:
Peter Norvig posted this article explaining how implement an “industrial-strength spell corrector like Google’s” in only 21 lines of Python!
This article is a pretty fun read, especially for folks looking for fun problems to solve in their programming language of choice (or hopefully in the new language that they are currently learning). Be sure to check out the implementations that folks provided in other languages.
Remember the classic UML “sailboat” book Applying UML and Patterns?
It has kind of a neat image on the cover of a picture of a sailboat, a uml diagram of a sailboat, along with the words “This is not a sailboat”.
(Click on the image to zoom in): Amazon link
Never noticed before, but I bet it is a tip of the hat to this: Wikipedia link
Someone noticed that I’ve learned how to practice guitar. I asked what they meant by that, and they said that I “start slow, memorize the piece, and keep practicing, a little faster each time”. That is what works for me. When it comes to learning how to become a better programmer, I’m not sure that it is so simple (not to say guitar is simple of course!).
How do you practice programming?
I’ve got some ideas on how I do it, but it I’m going to take some time to think about it.
That post is over the hills and far away!