Sunday, March 13, 2016

I'm coming back home after months in the wild...

Well, it was nice while it lasted but the Facebook experiment has ultimately failed. I'm coming back to cajuntechie.org as my formal blogging home and I'm never going to leave again. I've seen how the other side lives and, believe me, it's not in a good neighborhood. Windows are broken, streets are in disrepair, and life is hard. So, while I've given Facebook blogging a fair try, I give up on it.

Why blogging on Facebook isn't working for me

A while back, a very well known blogger said that Facebook was the place to be if you want to create and share content. That might work for someone with a name and a following but it certainly doesn't work for a small time guy like me, where Facebooks algorithms pretty much hide my posts from everyone except a very small group of friends. Many times, I'll post and even people I talk with on a regular basis don't know that I've done so. This, of course, isn't necesairly a bad thing as it's Facebook's attempt to provide their users with quality, relevant, content. But it means that my posts are seen by only a very small amount of people.

Don't get me wrong, I don't get billions of hits here either. But the dynamic is different and Blogger (the backend service that runs this blog) provides me with much more information about the people who visit this blog than Facebook does. For me, having access to that information is valuable and it's something I can't get used to not having.

More importantly, visitors to this blog are more relevant than people who read my Facebook blog. Why? Because they had to make an effort to come here. Many of them didn't just see a link shared on my timeline and clicked it. To me, intention is important and this space provides that.

Anyway, I'm rambling so I'll end this post now. Mostly, I just wanted you guys to know I've moved back home and I think I'll stay here for a while. The neighborhood is better and the people seem to be a lot friendler.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm moving blogging platforms!

I've gotten a few emails asking why I've been so quiet on this blog lately. It often goes months without me posting anything and I've decided that it's time to move. For some reason, Blogger simply isn't cutting it for me anymore and I'd like to consolidate everything in one place.

Facebook is putting a lot of energy into revitalizing their "Notes" application and I really like where they're going with it. So, as of today, I'm going to blog there. All of my notes will be public so you won't need a Facebook account to read them and it will be a pretty frictionless translation. I'll leave this page up until December 1, 2015, then I'm going to redirect www.cajuntechie.com to www.facebook.com/cajuntechie/notes. You don't need to update your bookmarks or anything like that, it will just happen on December 1. Until then, you can visit www.facebook.com/cajuntechie/notes for my latest blogs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Python on Big Iron: A Challenge for the Future

Python is a fantastic language. It can do just about anything you need, it allows you to write code in a manner that's comfortable for you, and it stays out of your way as much as possible. Over the last few years, I've found myself turning to Python more and more instead of 'traditional' languages like C++, C#, or Java. Python allows me to be more productive than most of these languages, is cross-platforn, and, on modern hardware, it's usually 'fast enough'.

One place where Python falls down hard, however, is on so-called 'Big Iron'. I'm talking about those massively powerful computers used in various industries like the financial, medical, entertainment, and others that require solid, reliable, scalable performance. Mainframes.

While we usually don't think about it, mainframes are still heavily in use around the world. Chances are pretty good that you interact with these beasts every single day and someone is writing code for every single application that runs on them. Unfortunately, that code is not being written in Python. It's written in a variety of other languages like Java, C++, and COBOL, but it's not, almost ever, Python.

Python support on modern mainframes is abysmally shameful. The last time I looked at doing a mainframe project, the latest version of Python I could find was 2.4.1. That's old. Like 2006 old. There's a lot of talk about bringing 2.7 and even the 3.x branches of the language to the IBM mainframe, nobody seems to be making any moves to actually do that (and I'm looking squarely at you, IBM).

Don't get me wrong, I understand that mainframe development is pretty niche. But it's still another mountain that I believe Python should climb and could shine on. It's time our community understands that there's a lot of code being written for the mainframe and we're losing that battle. The mainframe isn't going away anytime soon. In fact, IBM has seen an uptake in sales of its z-Series and OS/390 systems and, as data becomes more and more complex, I suspect the need for large systems is going to increase.

With all the complexity the mainframe brings, opening development to potentially millions of developers by supporting a modern version of Python would benefit both the language itelf and the mainframe vendors themselves. It's an awesome opportunity that I truly hope that both communities focus on in the very near future.