Monday, July 30, 2007

Notes from the SoCal Piggies meeting on July 25th

We had our monthly SoCal Piggies meeting at Caltech on July25th, hosted graciously by Prof. Dr. Titus Brown. In attendance, for the last time as a SoCal Piggie, was also Dr. Daniel Arbuckle, with his title freshly obtained from the Comp. Sci. dept. at USC. Daniel is moving to New Hampshire, so who knows, maybe the Python community there will come up with a PIG.

The first presentation we had was from Diane Trout, who talked about Jabber and demo-ed a few Jabber bots she wrote. Diane is running her own Jabber server, and she wanted a way to be notified when long-running jobs have been completed, or when a system's CPU/load/memory/etc went over a certain threshold. Jabber bots to the rescue. Diane showed us how easy it is to write a bot using the xmpppy library (she appropriately named her bot BenderJab.)

Diane also entertained us with an Eliza/Alice-type bot that I blogged about already.

Michael Carter, our second presenter, talked about his Orbited project. To use some buzz-generating keywords, Orbited is a Web 3.0 application based on Comet and using HTTP push techniques. You can download Michael's PPT presentations from here, but the basic idea is that the browser 'subscribes' to certain events, and the server pushes data related to those events to the browser. The first demo that Michael showed us used this technology to create a simple chat application. The chat participants used their browser to send messages to one another, and the message appeared in all browser windows tuned to the chat. BTW, if this is familiar to Google Chat users, it's because Google uses the Comet technology in their chat app. Orbited is pretty mind-boggling, and the sky seems to be the limit in regards to the things you can do with it. You can pretty much control a browser remotely by seding it commands, either in raw javascript, or in a DSL of your choice. Think Selenium RC! I'll have to mull over it a bit and see what kind of uses I can find. In any case, please check out the Orbited project and send Michael your feedback at Michael.Carter at -- he's very interested in it.

Pizza was excellent as usual, and we had fun incidents, also as usual, so all in all it was a very pleasant way to spend an evening. If you are a Python enthusiast in the Los Angeles area, please consider participating in our next meeting.

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