Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea 

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Last year at PyCon I organized a small Open Space event for OpenPGP key signing. Based on the success of that event I'm doing it again this year at PyCon 2015 in Montréal. We'll be in room 512cg at 18:00 on Saturday the 11th.

I wrote up a very short superficial guide that covers what this is all about, how to get started, how key signing happens, and where to go from there; you can read it here.

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This is a little snippet that's been sitting in my .zshrc for years, and which people always seem to like. With a little bit of aliasing and with the help of the pygmentize utility from pygments, we can get stodgy old cat to produce colourful listings with syntax highlighting.

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When I was first introduced to Django, I found it so pleasant to work with, and so productive, that I ended up accidentally creating this site. I still stand by this first impression, and I still recommend and promote Django whenever I get the chance.

But sometimes it just isn't the right tool for the job. For a site like mine, which has essentially no dynamic content whatsoever, and is infrequently updated, it doesn't really make sense to keep up with the treadmill of updates, both to Django itself, and to the supporting infrastructure like the PostgreSQL database that sits behind it. Static HTML pages would be simpler to maintain, and, as an added benefit, load faster.

However, I didn't want to give up on some of the key parts of Django that really made my life easier. The templating system, for example, meant that I could tweak the look of the site and have changes consistently propagated across all pages, without manually updating each one. The automatic generation of RSS feeds was another nicety I didn't want to lose.

I therefore put together a system that allows me to retain the key benefits of Django, while producing an end result that is in fact a whole bunch of static HTML pages. It's called Transcribe, and it currently powers this site and a couple of others that I maintain.

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I know that around this time of year, a lot of people are in a giving mood. And it's not just limited to exchanging gifts, but also donating to charity. In addition to the humanitarian causes that many people support during the holiday season, consider helping out these somewhat geekier groups too.

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I recently had the opportunity to visit the historic Bletchley Park, home of British codebreaking efforts during the Second World War. Aside from the military historical significance, this mansion surrounded by temporary sheds is also important to the history of computing. It was there that several of the earliest computers were built, including the famous Colossus codebreaker. It was also where Alan Turing was stationed and worked on the new practical applications of his hitherto theoretical discipline of Computer Science (not that they would have called it that at the time).

Bletchley Park is also the site of the National Museum of Computing, and I was able to take some video footage of the fascinating machines they have there.

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