Desktop App development in Ruby   ★

Bowline — A cross-platform Ruby desktop application MVC framework where views are written in HTML/JavaScript and Webkit is used for rendering.

Shoes — A cross-platform Ruby graphics toolkit.

I had given up on developing desktop applications, mainly because they were running out of fashion. But also because the tools involved were a good deal of pain to use (and I’m no fan of pain.) So when I came across these two cool frameworks/toolkits that allow desktop app development in Ruby, my brain directed my mouth to exhale a “sweeeeeeeet!”

Yes, I enjoy programming in Ruby, more than programming in any other language. Yes, that is in spite of that fact that I’m pretty darn bad at it.

I like Bowline more than I like Shoes, so I’m going to talk only about it (but let me just say that in trying to be extra-cool, Shoes has rendered their website virtually information-less; proof in point: their about page mentions Ruby exactly once, in the last line, and that too just in passing.)

I came across Bowline through this article, which also shows off a simple Twitter app developed using it. Like the article says, “Twitter apps are the new ‘Hello World’!”

Apart from the fact that it uses Ruby as the programming language, the thing I like most about Bowline is that it uses HTML/JS for the view. I have been creating websites at the pace of a Ninja for a few years now and this much I can say: while HTML/JS is less expressive than regular desktop GUI toolkits, it is far easier to express the interface in it. And don’t forget intuitive. Well, at least for me it is.

Bringing MVC architecture to desktop app development is also commendable. Since the time I started developing websites using Rails/Sinatra (which almost force one to use an MVC architecture), I have never looked back. I believe this is the way to develop applications. At least until someone comes up with an even better way. (To be sure, there are several GUI toolkits that also encourage MVC architectures to some extent or other; for example: QT4 and above, Adobe Flex, Java Swing, MFC, Cocoa/AppKit etc.)

All I need now is an idea for a desktop app and I can start exploring Bowline. Sweeeeeeeet!

Redesign   ★

After putting it off for ever so long, I finally got around to redesigning the home page of my website (it used to be just the boring front page of this blog.) I think it is pretty swell, except for being a tad over-designed that is. Check it out at www.sids.in and form your own opinion. Maybe also share it with me?

While I was at it, I also got myself a new domain name and pointed to it to that page: www.siddhartha-reddy.com. Among other things, this has helped me reclaim the top position for a search of my name on Google :) I’m using the new domain for the home page and the old domain for everything else; this is made possible by some pretty slick Apache mod_rewrite rules.

In other news, I’m planning to get back to regular blogging. Let’s see how that goes.

Art is useless   ★

Oscar Wilde in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray:

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and to conceal the artist is art’s aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth-century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth-century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

I just started reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, with a lot of expectations.

Freedom of Speech   ★

NDTV forcing the withdrawal of Chyetanya Kunte’s blog post “Shoddy Journalism” (see http://bit.ly/hMsH, http://bit.ly/yS2G and http://bit.ly/4ZgS) was a hot topic of discussion this morning on Twitter. nb42 replied to one of my tweets with the following:

Stupid coverage: Rs 50k

Lawsuit to shut a blogger up: Rs 1L

Fancy lawyers to accomplish the settlement: Rs 3L

The fact that the irony of it all is lost on NDTV: Priceless

There are some things in life that money can’t buy. Freedom of Speech, sadly, seems to not be one of them.

Free Country with Free Speech   ★

Quote from the movie ‘The American President‘:

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

If you’re not an American, replace ‘America’ with whatever country you belong to (or live in) and read the above quote again.

Tolerance, then, is a corner stone of a free country. Sadly, we seem to be sorely lacking that quality here in India.

So, you want to hire for your startup?   ★

So, You want to work for a startup? is an interesting post by the founders of Taazza targeted at people who want to join a startup. Having worked in a starup for more than two and a half years and having known other people who have done so for even longer, I can easily appreciate the post; it is great advice and I would second it. Most, if not all of the things they say in the post are bang on. This is very unfortunate, in my honest opinion. I’ll try to explain why I think so in this post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cafe Terra   ★

Cafe Terra in Koramangala is now my favourite restaurant in Bangalore. If you enjoy European food, you’ll love it too.

They’ve got the full blown English breakfast — Scrambled eggs, Toast, Sausages, Fried Potato and of course, Tea. There’s also a Belgian variety which comes with Waffles and/or Muffins. Just perfect for a laid back weekend breakfast.

Don’t let the name fool you though, it’s a pretty good lunch/dinner place too. They’ve got a nice selection of omelettes (try the Chicken or the Ham & Mushroom varieties) and an omelette here is a meal in itself. The menu is not restricted to European food only: they have got some finger-licking good Thai, Sri Lankan(!), Tibetan, etc. dishes too. Have a look at the (nearly) complete menu at their website.

The food, excellent as it is, is not the only thing going for the place. The ambience is unbeatable. It’s a small room with six to seven simple tables surrounded by a sober decor and you tend to feel relaxed the moment you enter it. And it’s got a reasonably good collection of comic books to keep you company. Whatanidea!

The place is nearly empty most of the time. This has gotten me worried that it might close down :( . So I’ve decided to patronise it, even at the risk of getting too many people there thus spoiling the very thing I like about it. You can find directions to get there at their website.

Akbar the Great   ★

An excerpt from Salman Rushdie’s latest, ‘The Enchantress of Florence’:

The emperor Abul-Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad, king of kings, known since his childhood as Akbar, meaning ‘the great’, and latterly, in spite of the tautology of it, as Akbar the Great, the great great one, great in his greatness, doubly great, so great that the repetition in his title was not only appropriate but necessary in order to express the gloriousness of his glory — the Grand Mughal, the dusty, battle-weary, victorious, pensive, incipiently overweight, disenchanted, mustachioed, poetic, over-sexed, and absolute emperor, who seemed altogether too magnificent, too world-encompassing, and, in sum, too much to be a single human personage — this all-engulfing flood of a ruler, this swallower of worlds, this many-headed monster who referred to himself in the first person plural — had begun to meditate, during his long, tedious journey home, on which he was accompanied by the heads of his defeated enemies bobbing in their sealed earthen pickle-jars, about the disturbing possibilities of the first person singular — the ‘I’.

I’m through less than a fifth of the book and I already love it!

Management is not responsible?   ★

Who the eff is?

Needless to say, I’ll avoid shopping at FoodWorld and Health&Glow.

Keyboard Shortcut for em dash in Gnome   ★

I finally figured out the keyboard shortcut for em dash (and en dash) in Gnome. I don’t have to type the lame — any more, I can be a real man and type the right thing — :D . If you don’t know what an em dash is, you better read about it on Wikipedia.

Se here is what you do (this worked on my Ubuntu Hardy Heron Linux system):

Go to: System > Preferences > Keyboard > Layouts > Layout Options > Compose key position

and check ‘Right Alt is Compose’.

Et voila!

Now whenever you need to type an em dash, just hold the Right Alt and type three hyphens.

— = Right Alt + —

Similarly you can get an en dash by holding Right Alt and typing two hyphens and then a period (you can leave the RIght Alt before typing the period).

– = Right Alt + –.