Siddharth’s Blog

Archive for March 2007

Made a quick trip to Mumbai over the last weekend. Was a lot of fun to meet family and so many friends in the short period of time that I was there. Took a few pics of Neha that are added to her album on Flickr. Binux had lent me his Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II lens for the trip and it was a lot of fun to click with something other than the kit lens. Also read Agatha Christie – The Murder on the Links (Poirot) on the trip.

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I have been using Linux as my primary desktop at home for a while now. In fact, recently it has become my only desktop at home, since I uninstalled Windows completely. At work, I use Windows (for documents and MS Exchange) along with Linux running in a VMware virtual machine for all my development setup requirements. At both places (home and work), Ubuntu has been my linux distribution of choice although I do occasionally try out new releases of both Fedora and OpenSuse on VMWare (before slipping back to Ubuntu).

So it wasn’t too much of a big deal when I read first about Foresight Linux. Still I decided to try it over the weekend since it claims to package the latest Gnome before any other distro ‘officially’ picks it up and ships with its own package management called Conary. I must say I am pleasantly surprised by both the latest Gnome 2.18 and with Foresight as well. I think Foresight is still not where Ubuntu is in terms of the total ‘feel’ of the desktop, but for a linux distro it comes out higher than I (personally) would rank OpenSuse or Fedora. The base selection of packages is interesting. Also, the VMWare distribution worked out of the box, which was the most pleasing thing about it all: no mucking around trying to get the maximum screen resolution or configuring the DNS settings manually. Gnome 2.18 is up and running with a soothing theme (IMO) that I don’t want to change. I don’t have the patience to write a full review myself, but this one does good justice to the topic. I leave you guys with a recommendation to try the virtual machine or the live CD and see for yourself. Its available for download here. I personally will track where this project goes towards.

PS: Before I forget, the frustrating part of using the System Manager in the virtual machine is that the default username password is not quite easy to guess. I had to google around and figure out a way to reset the password before it would let me in.

Was looking around the net for python scripts to work with SVG and I stumbled upon SVGDraw. Its a nice module if you are looking to output SVG, but even neater (I thought) was the xmlgen module to generate valid XML output for most standard XML languages (SVG, RSS etc) whose DTDs are available online. See the code to experience it first hand 🙂

Today I have added a new ‘photos page‘ to this blog for linking to my individual flickr photosets from here. But I do not want to keep updating this page manually every time I add a new set on flickr. Several developers have already written WordPress plugins to handle this issue so as to dynamically generate the flickr content on the server after querying the user’s flickr page. However, these solutions are not applicable to users of wordpress.com since we cannot run arbitrary plugins on the wordpress.com server with a free blog account.

In the absence of the server side solutions being applicable, I wondered if it would be possible to write a script to download flickr information using the flickr API and then update the blog page that I just set up using the WordPress API. If this worked out then I could potentially set up this script to run in a cron job and forget about updating this page manually. Turns out this is indeed possible using python and the associated API wrappers for Flickr and WordPress. The whole hack took me a couple of hours to get it working once I had located the API keys and appropriate python API wrappers. Its a bit rudimentary right now, but I plan to polish it a bit further to get better output and then I’ll post the script out here for others to refer, comment or use 🙂

Meanwhile if you just can’t wait, please drop me a note and I’ll send you a beta copy 😉

Counting days….

  • For my wife and little one to come home.
  • That my work is running delayed by.
  • Till I go and splurge some more on my camera accessories 😉

Meanwhile books that I read recently (in chronological order, latest last) are

Agatha Christie – Five little pigs (Poirot)
Agatha Christie – The A.B.C. murders (Poirot)
Agatha Christie – The mirror crack’d from side to side (Marple)
Agatha Christie – Cards on the table (Poirot)
Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile (Poirot)
Agatha Christie – Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (Poirot)
Agatha Christie – 4.50 from Paddington (Marple) 

No prizes for guessing who my favourite detective story writer is at the moment 😉  Its been a while since the Poirot series was aired on television. I had seen it as a child and the sudden discovery of some of these books in my brother’s collection gave me the joy of a faint childhood memory visited all over again.


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