Sunday, November 7, 2010

Progress With Python

I finished a first reading of Wesley Chun's "Core Python Programming" at last. I have slowed down on completing the exercises, but I do plan to continue burning the language into my brain so I can feel completely comfortable.

Thank you, John D. Cook. His blog, "The Endeavor", is one of my favorites. I track his writings faithfully using Google Reader. John recommended this book back on 4-Feb-2009. If it was good enough for John, it was good enough for me. I think he was spot on. I found the book to be well written and fine introduction to the language.

My efforts were accelerated by the availability of PyCharm, the wonderful new Python IDE from the geniuses at JetBrains. I've used IntelliJ, their Java IDE, for many years and loved it. I'm ecstatic to have an equally good tool at my disposal for learning this new language. The Python console is built right in. So is Django support.

I took my first, tottering steps with Django this weekend. I'm having some trouble with it, because it's so unfamiliar. My goal is to find out just how capable it is at creating robust web sites.

A good friend of mine would rib me about the Java work we did: "If we were writing this application in Python we'd be done by now!" he'd say with a smile. I've always been intrigued to find out for myself if this was hyperbole from a fan-boy or the truth.

If I can manage the trick, I'd like to see if Grails compares as well.

Another friend of mine has a web site that he'd like to upgrade from VB6. When he proposed doing it in Python, I immediately offered myself as slave labor. It'll be a great opportunity for me to apply these tools on a real, live problem.

Getting through that book, and achieving some measure of comfort with Python, was one of my technical goals for 2010. I'm happy with my progress, and there are still two months left to go in the year.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Was A Fine Year, Indeed

I swam before work again this morning. I logged 2,000 yards, which is typical these days when I manage to catch the second bus to work that leaves the commuter lot at 6:30 am. When I make it to the first bus that leaves at 6:10 am I have time to put in 2,500 yards.

I did make that first bus today, but I cut down on the distance to do something I've never done before. I was talking to my friend Slaven at Masters swimming last night about the butterfly stroke. We both agreed that we'd like to be better at it. I've been pretty diligent at working on IM on a regular basis. But the longest distance I can endure when doing butterfly is 100 yards. I'd love to feel comfortable with 200 yard fly.

They had a 200 yard fly event at the last Masters meet I signed up for in 2004. Several brave souls signed up for it. The winner was a specialist whose technique was fast and smooth the whole way. He was the best flier I've ever seen who wasn't competing in the Olympics on television. How I'd like to build myself up to that level!

Slaven and I talked about a good fly set. I said I thought I might be able to handle a 10x50 fly set on a 1:30 interval, but I wasn't sure. (We nixed the idea in favor of 5x100 IM instead.) I've never tried it to test my limits. The most strenuous set I do is a descending IM pyramid: 1x400 IM on 8:00/1x300 IM on 6:00/1x200 IM on 4:00/1x100 IM on 2:00.

So after I warmed up and finished a set of 5x100 free on 1:45, I decided to submit to that test: Could I hold up through a 10x50 fly set? I finished the first one in under 50 seconds, so I decided that a 1:30 interval was too long. Would my heart explode by the end if I held to an interval of 1:15? I surprised myself by completing it in style. I was so pleased with myself. I'll have to make this a regular feature of my workouts. Perhaps I can make 200 fly a goal for 2011.

It was a milestone workout, too. My best yearly yardage total (524,200 yards) came in 2008. When I added this morning's total to my tracking spreadsheet the running total was 500,050 yards. I've already topped 500K yards for only the second time in the 17 years I've been keeping track. And it's only the first week in November! 2010 will be a difficult year to top.

But that's what I said at the end of 2008.

It feels good.

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