In the unlikely event anyone is reading this, and, more in the original spirit of “web logs“, as much a diary entry to record both the passing of time and the moment, after a long period of quiet, and in the long-winded run-on way that I sometimes have, a post.
It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging at all, here or on my “main site”. In large part because I’m so bummed out living in Trump’s America; I’m just stunned it’s come to this. But that’s irrelevant to this blog (I’ve said plenty on my other one).
For some reason this blog has just never taken off (somewhat like, but rather better than, my abortive attempt at a baseball blog). I’m not sure why. It may have to do with having had my fill of coding, at least talking about it, during my career.
But, as this here blog title says, I can’t stop coding. Although I do go through long periods of other interests, I somehow always find myself returning to code cutting.
It’s just too useful being able to create my own tools, to make my computers jump through hoops of my design. As I have long said when asked what I do for my daily bread: I train silicon life-forms to do my bidding!
The point is, this blog is alive and… well,… let’s just say drowsy. Not comatose, just sleeping. And given the apparent lack of interest (who needs another programming opinion blog, right?), I’ve hated to disturb its slumber.
Down, but not out, for whatever that’s worth, and, also for whatever it’s worth, lately I’ve been in programmer hog heaven. I’ve been having so much fun with some new tools that I’m constantly grinning ear to ear. In fact, it’s good that I live alone, because I’ve been chortling to myself, I’m having so much fun.
Why? Because of these things combined:
- Python (it really is magic)
- Matplotlib (it’s filled with charts)
- SQLite (oh, my god, where have you been)
- NOAA (all that free data)
- Baseball (there’s always baseball)
And as the pop-up of Munroe’s cartoon says, once I knew Python, it was over with Perl (who was a very exciting, extremely capable, and kind of wild, lover, but it was ultimately that very wildness and “line-noise” aspect that begged for a saner love).
And Python is so amazing sane.
It’s almost precisely the pseudo-code I’ve been using for decades (plus magic like list generation). Essentially, I’ve always thought in Python, so having it as an actual language is like… well, exactly like the cartoon.
Okay, enough Python love. (But, seriously, if you’re a coder at heart, and you haven’t found Python yet, you have a wonderful door waiting for you to walk through it.)
So what happened was that I got Pythonista for my iPad. Which turned out to be an awesome app (as iPad apps go — don’t get me started on how much I hate touch screens). If you enjoy Python, and have a iDevice, Pythonista is the way to go.
As it turned out, Pythonista comes bundled with Matplotlib, which is freely available, but which I had never experienced.
I’ve always been a big fan of charts. I like exploring data sets, and seeing data visually is well-established as hugely helpful in seeing its patterns. One of the best things computers brought us, to me, is that graphic data visualization capability.
It didn’t take me long to get Matplotlib for my desktop Python! (I did have to update from 2.7 to 2.13, and, yes, I know I really need to update to Python 3, but my baseball suite is large and uses a lot of now obsolete constructs. I used the map and filter functions a lot.)
And, funny story, I discovered Python comes with SQLite.
Yes. Sometimes I’m stupid. Long ago, I’d looked closely (or so I thought) at the docs on persistent data storage, specifically at the page for SQLite! And somehow gotten the impression I need to go out and get SQLite (as you would MySQL).
And never got around to pursuing it. Instead, I started using Python Shelves, which served, and have their own advantages (like storing native Python objects easily), but aren’t anything like an SQL database.
Oh, my, do I wish I could go back in time. The baseball suite would be so different!
But having it now has let me do things I’ve been planning for a long time (but which would have been much harder to do using Shelves and drawing my own graphics from scratch).
In particular scatter charts for pitching!
Being able to download the data (as XML files from MLB) and store it in an SQL database makes accessing the data so much more pleasant.
And the charts are almost trivial to make compared to those I made by painting with lines and circles. (Compare the charts here in the top section (with gray backgrounds) to those below! Guess which are the Matplotlib charts.)
So, wow, SQL and awesome charts. How much fun is that? (And how soothing from a world of too many people who’ve lost all touch with physical reality.)
And then I got to thinking about how much I love weather. Not just being in it (I love a good thunderstorm, and I think fog is downright sexy), but studying it. (Looking back, meteorology would have been a good field for me. Ah, well, so it goes.)
Long story short, I ended up at the NOAA site… where I got weather data for MSP, ultimately going back to 2000. (I’ll back further eventually. NOAA limits these data sets to ten-year periods per request.)
So now I have weather charts, too!
Are we having fun yet? Can’t speak for y’all, but I sure the heck am!
And who knows, maybe I’ll even start posting again.
If I can stop writing code!