June Sydney Python Meetup

On Thursday, June 7 2007 from 6:30PM, there will be a social gathering of Sydney Python Users Group and any individuals interested in discussing Python, Web, Ruby, Perl etc. Laptops, code review, show and tell etc. allowed and encouraged.

We meet in the ground floor area next to P.J. O’Briens Pub internal entrance in the Grace Hotel at the corner of York and King Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000.

If you are planning on coming please register your attendance at upcoming.

April Sydney Python Meetup

Its the first week of a new month which means that this Thursday evening is the Sydney Python meeting. For a change this month we are in Google's Sydney offices for a couple of talks. A retrospective of PyCon 2007 from Alec Thomas and Andrew Bennett on Bazaar.

I'll be there and as the team are currently looking at alternatives to CVS for version control I'm trying to persuade some of them to come along as well.

The fun starts at 6:15pm and we will be retiring to a local hostelry for a refreshing drink or two at around 8:30pm.

The Challenge

So, its official (see the announcement for the 13th of March, 2007). I've given up the cosy world of consulting for the hustle and bustle of a real job.

I'm now the software services manager at CommSecure. I should take this opportunity to echo the bloggers motto - the words published here are entirely my own and do not represent the views of my employer.

Its a bit of change for me because I'll no longer be working with ERP systems but rather looking after the team that write and support the systems that sit at the very core of the company's operations. Not only that but its a technology shift as well. Away from enterprise technologies like Oracle, Java, .Net, and the like and towards the brave new world of Linux, PostreSQL and Python. The team at CommSecure is one of the biggest concentrations of Python developers in this part of the world and that was, if I'm honest, a significant attraction of this new role.

Sadly I won't be very hands on, not unless things get really hairy. So whilst I may mention the technologies in use at work here in passing most of my focus is going to be on the transition from managing people for the duration of a project to managing a team of people (and the associated projects) on a more permanent basis.

Its a big challenge for me, and the first few days have illustrated how big, but I'm looking forward to it.


I am now officially unemployed. Yea me. More details will be forthcoming next week when (hopefully) I'll be able to link to a press release all about little old me. For those slavishly following my every word on twitter I didn't take a cold beer into my exit interview. Although I was severely tempted.

I won't be talking out of turn when I say that you'll be seeing less Oracle related stuff and a lot more Python and management related discussion on these here pages. I'll have more to say when I'm gainfully employed again.

Gerald Release 0.2

I've packaged and released version 0.2 of gerald. You can find all of the details on the project page but in a nutshell the changes from the last release are;

  1. A test suite - using py.test
  2. Support for more database objects - views, sequences, stored code objects, indexes, etc.
  3. A large number of bug fixes. Too many to mention here.
  4. Use of my dburi module for database connectivity

There's probably more but I didn't keep a comprehensive change register whilst I was tinkering with the code, an oversight I've already addressed for the inevitable 0.2.1 release.

This code has been fairly extensively tested and exercised in the real world but I'd appreciate any feedback, bug reports or patches.

Lightroom is Shipping

I've been using the beta releases of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to manage my digital image workflow for the last year or so. I've tried a number of products and this is the one that best fits my requirements (particularly for the manipulation and conversion of RAW images). So much so that I've stuck with it for much longer than any of the other photo processing and workflow tools that I have tried.

When Adobe announced general availability I whipped my credit card out so fast I nearly cut myself. As of yesterday they are shipping boxes and mine should arrive some time in the near future. I can't wait. It is sparklingly good software.

For preference I use free software, and make my payment in bug reports, fixes or time on mailing lists. But Lightroom is head and shoulders above the competition (in both free and proprietary software) that I don't mind paying my hard earned dollars for it.

Of course, your mileage (and requirements) may vary, but if you are in the market for photo management software do download a copy and try out the thirty day trial.

Rumbling in the Jungle

From the half year results announcement of an ASX listed company;

We are currently in the final stages of securing the services of an experienced software engineering manager to lead our production software team.

That's me they're talking about that is.

Spotting Accountants From Twenty Paces

I spend a lot of time around financial people and have mentioned previously the profileration of a certain sort of spreadsheet software. By default anyone who works with numbers in my line of work is referred to as an accountant. They don't need to have letters after their name, there are just certain things that accountants do. Sometimes the behaviours can start to rub off on those who work with them, especially impressionable young IT professionals, causing us to lose the odd promising programmer to the dark side.

It can be hard to work out if people I work with (implementing ERP systems) are technologists or accountants. Now, there is a way. With suitable apologies to JWZ here is Andrew's first law of career tendency spotting;

Accountants are people who, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use Excel". Now they have two problems.

There is already a complement to this law, known as Kenway's qualification, which states that;

Excel is a great prototyping tool, just don't let it anywhere near your production systems.

Locking Your Screen

I just got my Powerbook back from the repair shop, and after six weeks of Windows and Ubuntu use I noticed one missing feature - quick locking of the screen from a keyboard shortcut.

In Windows XP you can do this with Windows-L (if you have a Windows key on your keyboard - bad luck Thinkpad users), and in KDE you can use Ctrl-Alt-L (sorry, don't know what the combination is in Gnome, but I'm sure there is one). But back in Mac OSX there isn't an easy option that I could find.

Luckily, I have Quicksilver. Thanks to some hints in the unofficial users guide I now have a solution.

Oh, you want to know what it is? OK. Essentially we tie the Fast Logout script supplied with Quicksilver to a hot key trigger. Here's how to do it;

  • First, enable the User Accounts Module and Extra Scripts plug-ins. You may also need to activate the HotKey Triggers plug-in, but it looks like its on by default in my version.
  • Then, in QS itself, type the letters FAST LOGOUT until the Fast Logout option appears. The action for this should be 'Run'. Give it a try and see if it works. If it does you will need to log back in.
  • Bring up the Triggers preference pane in QS and press the plus sign at the bottom (and the HotKey option) to create a new one. If you done nothing with QS since the last item then it should automatically include Fast Logout in the Select an item dialogue box that appears. If it doesn't select them the way you would normally.
  • Save your trigger and then assign a Trigger key combination to it. I've used Ctrl-Apple-L.

Bob will then be your Aunty's live in lover.


I like books. I especially like reading them and have, in my time, gone through a few. I've recently come across a couple of interesting web sites pertaining to the subject and thought I would share them with you.

First I came across Library Thing (courtesy of Neil Gaiman) and being a somewhat obsessive cataloguer I've started entering each book I read as I start (or finish it). If I tried to record all of the books I own or have read I could be at it for quite a while. What I'm appreciating are the wisdom of the crowds features where I can use the information that other people have entered to find books that I might like to read. Even better, as Mr Gaiman mentions in his post, is the unsuggester which gives you the exact inverse and highlights books that I wouldn't look at in a million years. That feature is a stroke of genius and reason enough to use Library Thing. The spiffy interface and general usability of the site are just an added bonus.

The second book related site I've been spending some time at is Programming Books. Its more technical, and appropriate to this blog, than Library Thing and pretty much does what it says on the tin. So far, at least, the recommendations in the categories I have perused are pretty spot on. I've picked up a few more books to read and resolved to re-read a few that I have in my collection - which will then appear on Library Thing of course.

I suspect that I'm going to be spending a lot of 2007 with my nose in a book.