Ex Die in Diem


Lyratic Resolution

The age we live in is a fast moving one, where old skills and objects are being left behind at an increasing rate. My father told me last week that he had learned to write with a dip pen and an inkwell on his desk, and one generation later I find myself in a shrinking minority of people who enjoy writing with a fountain pen, despite its relative convenience and the clearly superior aesthetic of the end result.

Trends don’t just lead away from old things, though: they move towards the new at the same pace, replacing old with new in everything we do. One area in particular that has progressed in leaps and bounds is computing: back when my dad was getting his hands messy trying to do his homework, computers were things that occupied whole rooms in university campuses - now they fit in a pocket or slip in a bag. With the increasing ubiquity and convenience of computing devices comes a growing importance in the skills required to operate and control such things.

I’ve found that over the last decade or two I have managed to get by simply operating computers, but have always had a nagging suspicion that in order to take full advantage of this technological revolution I would need to learn how to program. I’ll be honest: there’s no reason that I can think of to need to program, but the newspapers like to say it’s a necessary skill for the future, and once I’ve got an idea in my head, I tend not to let go.

Now, programming isn’t a skill like driving, where everyone who wants to be able to do it learns much the same skills in much the same way and then practices until they’re no longer unacceptably bad. Being able to program is more like being able to make a garment: you might learn to cut and sew material, or to knit, or crochet, and then you might develop your own methods within that discipline to end up with variations on a theme: a piece of clothing that covers your upper body could have two seams or three in the body, could have darts or perhaps a button-down front, and the sleeves could be raglan or set-in.

Similarly, a program that generates a blog from a set of files could be written in a variety of languages, from Ruby, Python or PHP to Lisp, Ada or even C (if you were a masochist). It could be object-oriented code, or functional, or imperative. You could make something that pulls content from a database on demand and presents it to the reader, or a static generator that preproduces HTML pages. And before I could learn to program, I had to make decisions about almost all of these things. If you’re thinking of learning yourself, I would recommend having a problem in mind to solve, and picking from the start of that list of languages rather than the end.

As for my efforts, I think I’ve been successful in achieving my goal. The script I wrote, Lyratic Resolution, has made this page you see in front of you as well as everything else in this subdomain. It’s written (fairly badly) in Python, and owes a lot to Mike Shea’s Pueblo, although the formatting of the input files is much more like Pelican, since I designed it to be completely compatible.

Oh, and I don’t know how I know so much about shirts.

(Lyratic Resolution worked, and it did its job admirably for years, but I have since migrated to Jekyll because I like having other people take care of things sometimes these days)

This is from the