Ruby Weekly News 7th - 13th February 2005

Discussion in 'Ruby' started by Tim Sutherland, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. http://www.rubygarden.org/ruby?RubyNews/2005-02-07

    Ruby Weekly News 7th - 13rd February 2005
    -----------------------------------------

    A summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk mailing list / the
    comp.lang.ruby newsgroup. This summary is brought to you by Tim Sutherland
    (TimSuth).

    Articles and Announcements
    --------------------------

    * [[WANTED] Feedback and developers for Win32 Utils]

    Daniel Berger announced that the "Win32 Utils Team is looking for
    a little help". Firstly, input from people using Ruby on Windows as
    to which functionality needs to be added. Secondly, they're looking
    for developers who can help with writing interfaces to the Windows
    API. Example projects to be done are adding image support to the
    win32-clipboard package and writing a port of the Win32::Screenshot
    Perl module.

    * [raleigh.rb February Meeting]

    Nathaniel Talbott reminded Rubyists in North Carolina that the
    Raleigh-area Ruby Brigade (raleigh.rb) are having another user
    group meeting on the 10th of March.

    * [extra Seattle.rb meeting]

    In other user group news, pat eyler announced that there's an
    extra Seatte.rb meeting coming up in a different location from
    usual. "Since there are some Seattle.rb folks who live south of
    Seattle, we've decided to get together for a hacking
    session/meeting in Kent this Saturday."

    * [Ruby developers in Argentina]

    Michel Martens would like to be able to get in contact with Ruby
    developers in Argentina, and encouraged them to sign up at the
    BuenosAiresGroup wiki page.

    Quote of the Week
    -----------------

    Jeremy Henty [sputtered] "Look, I'm *not* addicted to Ruby! I could give
    up writing Ruby code any time I wanted to, just like that! I just don't
    *want* to!"

    Threads
    -------

    Interesting threads this week included:

    [Stopping a thread]
    -------------------

    Bill Atkins had an instance variable @thread that referred to some Thread.
    He wanted to know how to stop @thread from the main thread. Assaph Mehr
    said that @thread.kill was what he wanted.

    [a Ruby pdf writer that supports images]
    ----------------------------------------

    Artotoy has a website that produces invoices as PDFs, using PDF::Writer,
    but recently discovered that PDF::Writer seemed not to have support for
    images.

    Dan Fitzpatrick said that he was working on porting the PHP FPDF library
    to Ruby. It was working for simple cases but needed a few weeks to work
    out the bugs and add more advanced features.

    Fredrik Jagenheim pointed out that the CVS version of PDF::Writer did have
    support for images, through a method add_jpeg_from_file. The library's
    author, Austin Ziegler, just hasn't got around to releasing a new version
    yet.

    [How come this doesn't work as expected?]
    -----------------------------------------

    Chris Gehlker was curious as to why the code
    "testAry = testAry.each { |n| n.to_i }"
    didn't modify testAry. Several people explained that each just
    returns the original receiver and does not keep the block return-values
    around. map (a.k.a. collect) should be used instead.

    [Object#to_ruby and Object#to_c]
    --------------------------------

    Ben Giddings saw [a post] on the Ruby blog [RedHanded] that he thought was
    interesting. (That post quoted Ryan Davis' blog, so you're now reading
    this fourth-handed: a summary of a post that pointed to a blog that quoted
    another blog that actually said something.)

    It shows how ParseTree and RubyToC can be used to add to_c and to_ruby
    methods to any Method. For example,

    class Example
    def example(arg1)
    return "Blah: " + arg1.to_s
    end
    end

    e = Example.new
    puts(e.method:)example).to_ruby)

    results in

    def example(arg1)
    return "Blah: " + arg1.to_s
    end

    [access to process list]
    ------------------------

    Sven Bauhan wanted to get a list of system processes from within Ruby and
    wondered if there was a better way than "proclist = `ps ax`". Daniel
    Berger said that a library called sys-proctable is available for this.

    [Performance of CGI::Cookie]
    ----------------------------

    benny found that his web application was three times slower when
    CGI::Cookie was used. He discovered a post on ruby-talk that linked the
    problem to the CGI::Cookie's use of SimpleDelegator. Matz said that the
    fix would be merged into Ruby 1.8.3. The patch is as simple as

    - class Cookie < SimpleDelegator
    + class Cookie < DelegateClass(Array)

    The reason for the big performance difference is that with
    SimpleDelegator, every time you create an instance of Cookie it has to
    define all the delegated methods on itself. In comparison,
    DelegateClass(someClass) defines these methods just once.

    [[SUMMARY] Solving Tactics (#18)]
    ---------------------------------

    James Edward Gray II summarised last week's [Ruby Quiz]. The problem was
    to take a simple board game and determine who would win if both players
    chose optimal moves: the first player or the second.

    From the [original quiz description] by Bob Sidebotham, "There's a little
    pencil and paper game, Tactics, played on a 4x4 grid. The play starts with
    an empty grid. On each turn, a player can fill in one to four adjacent
    squares, either horizontally or vertically. The player who fills in the
    last square loses."

    They key optimisation in the solutions was to recognise that since squares
    are either "on" or "off", the board state can be represented as a 16-bit
    integer. That means there are only 65536 board we need to consider. The
    rest of the solution simply determines which boards will result in
    eventual wins for the first player and which will end in eventual losses.
    (It uses the "dynamic programming" algorithmic technique.)

    [ruby-dev summary 25481-25641]
    ------------------------------

    Kazuo Saito summarised the Japanese list ruby-dev. One of the items was
    about the process of merging the Ruby/DL2 library into Ruby 1.9.

    [Amazon + 43Things]
    -------------------

    martinus heard that Amazon was investing in [43 Things], a website well
    known to many in the community for its use of the [Ruby on Rails] web
    framework. If you've seen recent news articles about Amazon investing in a
    "blog site", this is the site they're talking about.

    As Tobias Luetke observed, "[t]he future of Ruby on Rails is indeed bright
    on so many levels its not even funny".

    [[QUIZ] Yahtzee (#19)]
    ----------------------

    James Edward Gray II posted this week's [Ruby Quiz]: to make a game that
    plays the game "Yahtzee" dice game.

    For those looking for an extra challenge, adding an AI player or
    implementing "Triple Yahtzee" were suggested.

    [A Ruby-relevant quote from Alan Kay]
    -------------------------------------

    Curt Hibbs quoted Alan Kay (the creator of Smalltalk) in a recent ACM
    Queue interview: "Even if you're designing for professional programmers,
    in the end your programming language is basically a user-interface design.
    You will get much better results regardless of what you're trying to do if
    you think of it as a user-interface design."

    Curt felt that this was the approach Matz took in designing Ruby.

    PA posted an old [page] that quotes some tongue-in-cheek comments by Steve
    Wart on "why Smalltalk never caught on". Also on the page was the
    following quote

    "
    >So, yes, in Smalltalk you can definitely dig your own grave.
    >But you can also climb out of it.
    >At least Smalltalk gives me a shovel and ladder.


    I'm not sure that's a good metaphor. It conjures up images of an army of
    once-dead Smalltalk zombies digging themselves out of their graves and
    terrorising the Land of the Statically Typed. :)
    "

    New Releases
    ------------

    * [LXL (Like Excel) 0.2.0 - A mini-language that mimics Microsoft Excel
    formulas]
    * [LXL (Like Excel) 0.3.0]

    Kevin Howe improved quoting and parsing in [LXL], an evaluator for
    a language similar to that used for formulas in Microsoft Excel.
    He later released version 0.3.0 which added some major new
    features: namespaces, ranges, percentages and deferred function
    calls. It is also now installable as a gem.

    * [Net::SSH 1.0.0]

    Jamis Buck released the one-dot-oh-dot-oh version of Net::SSH, a
    library that implements the SSH2 client protocol. Some bugs were
    fixed, and the project is now in maintenance mode, with no new
    features planned.

    * [Daemons 0.0.1: control your daemon scripts with start/stop commands]

    Thomas Uehlinger was "proud to release the first version of
    Daemons", a tool that allows you to run Ruby scripts in the
    background, providing commands to start, stop and restart them.

    * [Syck 0.50 -- The new YAML is here for testing]

    why the lucky stiff announced that the new Syck branch is ready
    for testing. This is a library for dealing with the YAML markup
    format. It's several times faster than the old version, and _why
    expects that there will be no major API changes between now and
    the 1.0 release. "Finally, I can go back to drawing ponies out on
    the bridge by the old reservoir..."

    * [rubydium 0.3 and nanovm 0.1]

    Alexander Kellett released a complete rewrite of the first
    rubydium - it is now aiming to be a fast Ruby interpreter written
    in Ruby.

    * [Recipe Browser 0.4]

    Belorion rewrote his Recipe Browser to use the [Rails] web
    framework.

    * [RedCloth 3.0.3 -- Humane Text for Ruby]

    why the lucky stiff put out some small fixes for RedCloth, a
    library that processes the humane text-formats Textile and a
    Markdown-subset into XHTML (and soon LaTeX and PDF). "Humane" text
    formats are those often used in Wikis, forums and blogs to allow
    people to write text that ends up formatted without having to use
    ugly tags (for example, many humane formats turn '*foo*' into
    bold-text 'foo').

    * [Announcing a respawned rcairo]

    Øyvind Kolås announced Ruby support for Cairo, "a resolution and
    device independent vector graphics drawing library, which provides
    a postscript like drawing model".

    * [ParseTree 1.3.4 Released]

    Ryan Davis released a new version of [ParseTree], a "little brown
    stinky ferret that digs down a hole and violently rips the AST
    away from the warm bosom of ruby" (to
    Tim Sutherland, Feb 13, 2005
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. > [a Ruby pdf writer that supports images]
    > ----------------------------------------
    > Artotoy has a website that produces invoices as PDFs, using PDF::Writer,
    > but recently discovered that PDF::Writer seemed not to have support for
    > images.
    >
    > Dan Fitzpatrick said that he was working on porting the PHP FPDF library
    > to Ruby. It was working for simple cases but needed a few weeks to work
    > out the bugs and add more advanced features.
    >
    > Fredrik Jagenheim pointed out that the CVS version of PDF::Writer did have
    > support for images, through a method add_jpeg_from_file. The library's
    > author, Austin Ziegler, just hasn't got around to releasing a new version
    > yet.


    To make my current work a bit more prominent (I think it's buried in a
    couple of other messages): I am working on PDF::Writer again and will
    be making a release soon after upgrading a *lot* of functionality,
    fixing numerous bugs, and (most importantly) making the API much more
    Ruby-friendly.

    I am currently working with the image support and have abstrascted it
    out such that instead of #add_jpeg_from_file, you will have
    #add_image_from _file -- which supports either JPEG or PNG. I'm not
    sure that the PNG transparency support is going to be as solid as it
    should be, because I'm pretty sure that there's a few bugs in the
    code, and although it appears to support alpha channel or greyscale
    transparency, that information is never inserted into the resulting
    PDF the way that palette transparency is inserted.

    I have heavily modified the ImageSize library to support obtaining
    additional information from JPEG images so that PDF::Writer can
    support JPEG images in CMYK colourspace. This means that, once I get a
    bit of other stuff done, PDF::Writer *will* be able to be used for
    pre-press PDF work (including the markers).

    The API changes will be mildly painful to existing users, but I have
    attempted to keep the argument count and meaning for the new calls the
    same as the old calls, and I have made wrapper functions that warn
    that the API in question is going to be deprecated.

    The biggest change that should make it into the code which will not
    make it in this iteration, I think, will be a change and
    simplification to the table code.

    I have houseguests for the week, so I will not be able to get nearly
    as much time on this as I would like, but I would look for a release
    of PDF::Writer 0.7.0 (or higher) toward the end of the month.

    -austin
    --
    Austin Ziegler *
    * Alternate:
    Austin Ziegler, Feb 13, 2005
    #2
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  3. On 13 Feb 2005, at 09:00, Tim Sutherland wrote:

    > http://www.rubygarden.org/ruby?RubyNews/2005-02-07
    >
    > Ruby Weekly News 7th - 13rd February 2005
    > -----------------------------------------
    >
    > A summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk mailing list / the
    > comp.lang.ruby newsgroup. This summary is brought to you by Tim
    > Sutherland
    > (TimSuth).


    This is a really useful summary you're doing. Assuming you're going to
    be able to keep this going in the long-term (perhaps get some help to
    cover for those inevitable weeks real life gets in the way?) is there
    any way you can send this out to its own mailing list or perhaps make
    it available via RSS? It would mean I'd be able to 'mark all read' when
    I get behind here a lot more easily. :) I *might* even be able to
    unsub from some of the lists I'm on!

    --
    Paul Robinson
    Paul Robinson, Feb 13, 2005
    #3
  4. In article <>, Paul Robinson
    wrote:
    >On 13 Feb 2005, at 09:00, Tim Sutherland wrote:
    >
    >> http://www.rubygarden.org/ruby?RubyNews/2005-02-07
    >>
    >> Ruby Weekly News 7th - 13rd February 2005
    >> -----------------------------------------
    >>
    >> A summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk mailing list / the
    >> comp.lang.ruby newsgroup. This summary is brought to you by Tim
    >> Sutherland
    >> (TimSuth).

    >
    >This is a really useful summary you're doing. Assuming you're going to
    >be able to keep this going in the long-term (perhaps get some help to
    >cover for those inevitable weeks real life gets in the way?) is there
    >any way you can send this out to its own mailing list or perhaps make
    >it available via RSS? It would mean I'd be able to 'mark all read' when
    >I get behind here a lot more easily. :) I *might* even be able to
    >unsub from some of the lists I'm on!


    These sound like good ideas. Trans has offered to help me out when I have
    "real life" issues.

    I'm intending to write a simple Rails app at same stage to help with
    creating the weekly news. (e.g. "ignore this thread", "summarise this
    thread", plus some info on what threads are likely to be interesting, e.g.
    number of new posts in the thread this week. This will all be open so anyone
    can go to the site and summarise one or two threads.)

    Once I've done that, adding in RSS support shouldn't be too hard, and I
    would put in a mailing list too.

    Maybe I'll get a domain name like rubyweeklynews.org and stick a
    textdrive.com site up. (I've been inspired by James Edward Gray II's
    rubyquiz.com.) Other suggestions for the domain name?

    Thanks for the feedback.
    Tim Sutherland, Feb 15, 2005
    #4
  5. In article <>, Tim Sutherland wrote:
    [...]
    >I'm intending to write a simple Rails app at same stage to help with
    >creating the weekly news. (e.g. "ignore this thread", "summarise this
    >thread", plus some info on what threads are likely to be interesting, e.g.
    >number of new posts in the thread this week. This will all be open so anyone
    >can go to the site and summarise one or two threads.)
    >
    >Once I've done that, adding in RSS support shouldn't be too hard, and I
    >would put in a mailing list too.
    >
    >Maybe I'll get a domain name like rubyweeklynews.org and stick a
    >textdrive.com site up. (I've been inspired by James Edward Gray II's
    >rubyquiz.com.) Other suggestions for the domain name?

    [...]

    NB: The "weekly news" doesn't have to be restricted to ruby-talk /
    comp.lang.ruby.

    e.g. could have a section which covers ruby-core, one that lists interesting
    ruby-related blog messages, one for articles (we already have that one).
    Tim Sutherland, Feb 15, 2005
    #5
  6. Tim Sutherland

    pat eyler Guest

    On Tue, 15 Feb 2005 18:14:53 +0900, Tim Sutherland <> wrote:
    > NB: The "weekly news" doesn't have to be restricted to ruby-talk /
    > comp.lang.ruby.
    >
    > e.g. could have a section which covers ruby-core, one that lists interesting
    > ruby-related blog messages, one for articles (we already have that one).
    >


    I'd love to see this happen, but it'd take a *lot* more work than one
    person should be expected to do (especiially as a hobby). Maybe 2-4
    folks, each with editorial oversight of a specific area.

    >



    --
    thanks,
    -pate
    -------------------------
    ParseTree is a little brown stinky ferret that digs down a hole and
    violently rips the
    AST away from the warm bosom of ruby. In other words, we cheat, they
    don't.
    pat eyler, Feb 15, 2005
    #6
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