ACM: Python Now The Most Popular Intro Language At Top US Universities

pythonlogo.jpgAs a long-time fan of the python language, I was intrigued by this post on the ACM’s blog: “Python is Now the Most Popular Introductory Teaching Language at Top U.S. Universities“. The post begins with a summary:

At the time of writing (July 2014), Python is currently the most popular language for teaching introductory computer science courses at top-ranked U.S. departments.

Specifically, eight of the top 10 CS departments (80%), and 27 of the top 39 (69%), teach Python in introductory CS0 or CS1 courses.

… and then goes into greater detail.  Of course, the moment you publish one of these “XXXXXX language is the most popular programming language” type of posts, you immediately get reflexive reactions from programmers who favor all the other languages out there…  and this Hacker News thread with 357 comments (so far) shows exactly that, with people either supporting the idea or ripping apart the article’s methodology and explaining why the author is wrong, wrong, wrong… :-)

The programming language wars will always continue.  In the meantime, though, as someone who likes the python language, I’m pleased to see the uptake at universities around the U.S.  (and, as noted in the HN thread, by other universities around the world, too).

The Intersection of Github… and Babylon 5?

Lurkers guide to Babylon 5Back in the 1990′s I was a huge fan of the show “Babylon 5″ for a great number of reasons. It remains, to this day, one of the best series I’ve ever watched on TV and I greatly admire the creator/writer, J. Michael Straczynski, for the narrative arc he used over the five year run of the series as well as the overall “universe” he created.

One of the web sites that those of us who enjoyed Babylon 5 frequently used was “The Lurker’s Guide to Babylon 5“. The pages there helped in the understanding of how all the pieces fit together and frequently offered glimpses of what was coming ahead. It was a great tool and reference source.

Today a Google search brought me back to that site although I hadn’t been there in years. And in visiting I learned that as of this past December the entire source for the website is now available on Github at:

https://github.com/sgrimm/lurkers-guide

It’s very cool that site creator Steven Grimm has made his site publicly available via Github. As he notes, others can now fork the code, send him updates via pull requests, etc.

It is also a great example of how I’ve told people that Github, and git in general, can be used for so much more than simply “source code” and that you don’t need to be a programmer to use it.

Plus… if you wander through some of the pages, like this one, it’s kind of fun to see references to how we used to get our information: “Stay caught up with the Usenet B5 discussions, which are often a great source of material.:-)

Cool stuff!

learn-git-branching.jpg

Fun Tool To Learn More About Git Branching And Merging

Want to learn more about how to work with branches in git? Confused about what “git rebase” does? By way of a post on Google+ I learned about this great tutorial site at: http://pcottle.github.io/learnGitBranching/

Learn git branching

You can step through a whole series of guided lessons (type “levels”) that walk you through all different aspects of using git – or you can type “sandbox” and go into a private area to play. All from the comfort of your own web browser.

More information (and the source code) can be found on Github at https://github.com/pcottle/learnGitBranching. There is a neat aspect of this where people can (and I guess have) contribute additional tutorial levels.

Very cool tool!

Use Google+? Join the Github and Git Communities

Github community on Google+Are you a Google+ use who is also interested in the git version control system and the Github hosting service?  If so, there are two of the new “communities” in Google+ that you may find of interest:

In the short time communities have been around on Google+, I’ve already found both of these communities to have very useful information and links in them related to Git and Github.  Well worth checking out and joining if you are a regular Google+ user.

And if you are a Google+ user, why not connect with me there?

P.S. We can also connect on Github.

SourceForge Redesigns Itself To Compete With Github

sourceforgeWhen I received an email today telling me that one of my ancient projects was being “upgraded” to the “new” SourceForge developer platform, I had to admit that I had no clue that SourceForge was even launching a new platform.

But sure enough, “The Next SourceForge” is out with a host of redesigned features that do look nice… and do remind me of everything that I currently use over on Github!

Of course, the project being “upgraded” is a small python app called “viewportfolio” that I wrote back in 2000 during the height of the .COM insanity when Red Hat’s stock had exploded and the tech bubble was all around us.

I last touched the code over 12 years ago!

I have no clue if it actually still works – and to be quite honest if I were to do anything with that app today, even to test it and make any fixes, I’d probably move it first to my Github account where I do all my work today.

But back twelve years, SourceForge was THE place where you hosted your project.  Everyone was using “SF” and it was where we all interacted for code.

Then, over time, it became a site so hideously overwhelmed with advertising that it was close to useless to interact with the site. And, well, more and more people started using the git version control system and for quite some time SourceForge seemed to still be wedded to SVN.

So I moved any new projects over to Github, as did many others that I knew, and I left SourceForge behind, only occasionally going in there when I needed to find older projects.  Even today, I’m working with someone who has a project on SF, but he’s moving that to Github in the next few weeks where I can work on it with him and where we’ll publicize it.

I applaud the folks behind SourceForge for launching “The Next SourceForge,” if for no other reason than that I do believe it is healthy to have competition around – and having another competitor for Github (there are several already) is a good thing in that it will continue to encourage innovation among the platforms providing project hosting services.

It’s also great to see the visual redesign of SF – a much cleaner interface and thankfully all the ads that were slathered all over the site seem to be gone.  And these new features do seem to be great improvements for projects hosted on SF.

Will “The Next SourceForge” prompt me to launch new projects on SF?  Or to stop migrating projects away?

Probably NOT.

The reality is that I’m now comfortably ensconced over on Github and I rather like it there. I guess I also trust the people/company behind Github more than I do Dice Holdings, the latest corporate overlord of SourceForge, in terms of being responsive to users and to continuing to improve the user experience.  Now this may be unfair… the folks behind SourceForge may be as equally committed as the folks behind Github… but one is a passionate startup and the other is part of a large publicly-traded company that is ultimately focused on helping connect employers and professionals with each other.

What about you?  Will “The Next SourceForge” get you to open new projects there? (Or to not migrate away?)

Github’s “Command Bar” Makes Site Navigation So Much Faster

Recently Github introduced a new “Command Bar” into the site that I simply have to comment on because I find it so useful. It’s sitting right up there at the top of the site looking like your garden-variety “search” box:

Github command bar blank

But in truth it is so much more than just a search box. As explained in the Github blog post, this “Command Bar” lets you perform tasks such as:

  • View a user’s profile
  • Go to a repository
  • List a user’s repositories
  • List issues
  • Search open issues
  • Jump to the wiki associated with a repo
  • See the graphs associated with a repo

As an example, I started typing in the name of one of the repos with which I work (a WordPress theme). You can see in the screenshot below the available commands that I can add to jump to various parts of the repo:

Github command bar

You can also enter a user’s name with the “@” sign before it to jump to that user’s profile. For example, I am “@danyork“.

All in all it’s a very cool way to quickly navigate through the Github site. Thanks to the Github team for adding this functionality… if you are on Github, give it a try!

Hell Hath Truly Frozen Over: Microsoft WindowsAzure Supports Linux

In the category of “Things I Never Thought I’d See In My Lifetime“, given all of Microsoft’s intense animosity toward anything related to Linux (ex. Steve Ballmer’s infamous “Linux is a cancer” quote), I was shocked – but pleased – to see that Microsoft’s WindowsAzure cloud platform is now supporting Linux virtual machines:

Linux virtual machines in Windows Azure

Now, it’s no surprise, on the one hand. If Microsoft wants to see WindowsAzure remain competitive as a cloud platform with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace Cloud and a hundred other vendors they need to support both Windows and Linux.

Still, given all the anti-Linux venom coming from Microsoft in those early years of Linux, I never thought I’d see this kind of change!

EFF’s Coders’ Rights Video: Do It For The Kittens!

Sooooo… the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), of which I am a member, sends out a promotional video for their Coders’ Rights Project that involves… kittens???

While I support the Coders’ Rights Project and applaud their creativity, this video feels a bit forced… kind of like “everyone loves kitten videos, so we just need a kitten video!

What do you think?

Contrasting Mercurial vs Git: Two Opposing Blog Posts

GitvsmercurialWhich should you use for a distributed version control system (DVCS) – git or mercurial? That was the question taken up recently by two opposing blog posts on Atlassian’s blog:

Admittedly this is a bit of a “religious” issue with adherents on either side being extremely passionate about the topic. In my own case, my writing here (as well as my Github account) definitely show that I fall down on the side of git… but I’m also always interested to learning more about the various tools.

The two blog posts are written by passionate advocates for each tool and so naturally have that flavor. Regardless, they make for interesting reading. I don’t see myself switching to Mercurial any time soon… but it’s interesting to see the pros and cons of each. We still don’t have the “perfect” tool… but will we ever?

Given that I started working with version control systems back when RCS was the only option I had… and then CVS was a huge step forward… and then SVN was viewed as excellent… all I can say is that we’ve come a loooonnngg way and it’s greatto see both git and mercurial out there.

P.S. I should note that both of these articles are part of Atlassian’s “DVCS Guide” that has some other useful pieces about why distributed version control systems are worth investigating and using.

White House Summer Jobs Code Sprint Deadline is Monday, April 16, 2012

Summerjobs codesprintInteresting to see that the White House is sponsoring its first ever code sprint… from the announcement back on April 2nd:

Today we’re announcing the first ever White House Code Sprint. This is a call to developers around the country to use the Summer Jobs+ API to build job search apps for your favorite browsers, social networking platforms, smart phones and feature phones. Submit your apps using this form by Monday April 16th at 8 a.m. EST, and we’ll pick the most innovative ones to feature on WhiteHouse.gov.

The Code Sprint web page says a little bit more:

The White House and the Department of Labor have just released an API opening access to thousands of summer internships, training and mentorships opportunities through their Summer Jobs+ Bank. We’re challenging the developer community to build apps that reach kids throughout the nation on their browsers, Facebook, Android, iOS, SMS or any other platform.

This is the first ever White House Code Sprint and we’re excited to see what innovative apps you build over the next seven days. There is no ideal app, but keep in mind that our goal is to share opportunities in our job bank with as many youth as possible.

It’s good to see the White House seeking to tap into the energy and passion of the developer community… I don’t personally have the time to participate in this event, but I hope they do get some interesting application submissions. My one comment is that they didn’t allow much time… they issued the notice on April 2nd with a deadline, then, of April 9th. Not much time to publicize it and get interest… but we’ll see.

If you are interested, the deadline has been extended to this coming Monday, April 16th.