Simon Fell > Its just code > April 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

Make sure your coffee is Fair Trade. Read on for why...
By chance while we were in Portland, the Longbough film festival was screening the Portland premier of Black Gold, the screening being promoted by Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I wasn't really sure what to expect but given my thirst for coffee knowledge it seemed like a gift from the scheduling gods. Wow, what we got was a movie that moved me to my very core, even now just thinking about it brings tears to my eye again. Its a documentary about Ethiopian coffee farmers and how the western mega-corp coffee industry has driven them to poverty and famine while raking in billions in profits. My attempts to explain the details can't possibly do it justice (at times like this I wish I was better at writing). Go checkout the movie website, be sure to read the blog entry for Fair Trade, Sundance, and Starbucks’ “Charm Offensive” in Park City, make sure you get down to the part about the post screening Q&A where a guy writes a $10k check to cover the cost of a school that they were trying to build in one of the towns in the film, an amazing thing to do, I can totally understand how he was moved to do it. A lot of people stuck around for the Q&A in Portland as well, with questions being answered by both Nick Francis and one of the Stumptown guys (sorry, can't remember his name), most of the questions centered on the in and outs of what we as consumers can do. First and foremost if you do nothing else, make sure you're buying fair trade coffee. Then make sure everyone you know is buying fair trade. (The quality roasters like Stumptown and Barefoot are into relationship coffee, which is even better for the farmers but is harder to explain). So, buy Fair Trade, or buy from a top notch artisan roaster like Stumptown or Barefoot. If you're lucky enough to be in Portland, head on over to the Stumptown Annex and talk to the folks there about it, they can explain all this in detail (as I'm sure the Barefoot folks can). If you want to do something extra, then think about donating to the coffeekids organization.

If you get chance, you have to see this movie, no excuses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I just posted Beatbox 0.9, I also gave it a new home, I refactored a bunch of the xml serialization code to make it re-usable outside of beatbox, included a patch from Keith Baker (Thanks Keith!) to add the ability to initialize a beatbox client from an existing sessionId & serverUrl (useful if you have use beatbox in a CGI launched from an s-control). I also added the sample and the sample.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

We had a great week in Portland, chilling with friends, checking out all the books (Powells is fraking massive!), and all the vinyl stores (there seems to be one on every corner), even managed to squeeze a few bags of books & records into the car for the trip back to SF. Of course, no coffeegeeks trip to Portland is complete without checking out the awesome coffee scene. Top of the list has to be Stumptown, we hit all 3 locations, all of which sport the beautiful hand crafted Kees van der Westen Mistral espresso machines.

Mistral @ Downtown Stumptown Macchiato from Stumptown on Division

At the Stumptown on Division, we got to see the Probat roaster in action roasting some beans from the Karaba co-op (from Rwanda). It was amazing to watch Steve work the roaster, meticulous care and attention to detail, and ability to control the roast purely from the look & smell of the beans while it was in progress was impressive, able to pull all this off even as he was answering my questions and explaining what he was doing. We also got to the Stumptown Annex, something I was particularly looking forward to (the Annex is next to the Belmont store), and focuses more on the coffee, they do coffee cuppings there twice a day, most days, which I got to participate in (you can to), quite an experience. They also have the highly acclaimed Clover there, which can brew you a fresh single cup of coffee in short order, I tried out a number of the coffees brewed on the Clover, the Brazil Fazenda Sitio Sao Jose was just amazing. The Stumptown folks we talked to were all great, obviously very passionate and knowledgeable about the coffee and what they were doing.

Stumptown On Division - roaster in action Clover @ Stumptown Annex Coffee Cupping @ Stumptown Annex

In addition to Stumptown we also tried Fresh Pot, Crema Cafe and the Albina Press, the last 2 being oh so good as well. Albina Press is home to Billy Wilson who just came second in this years USBC. Best espresso of the trip? well that would be a very close tie between Albina Press and the Stumptown on Division. If you're in the Portland area and haven't been to Stumptown, get yourself over there, and if you get the chance, go to the Annex and participate in one of the cuppings, try some of the Clovered coffee's, you'll never want to go to Stabucks again.

Caps @ Albina Press Macchiato @ Crema Cafe

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Congrats to Andy & crew at Barefoot for being named one of the top 4 coffee roasters in the nation by food and wine magazine. Barefoot is right here in the bay area, go check them out, now!.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Despite the bug I ran into (yes that really is a 4 year+ bug with a fix still waiting to be committed ouch!) I still like Python, I'm reasonably productive, I can actually go back to code I've already written and understand it (unlike Perl), it seems to be reasonably flexible in the right places. Using beatbox I was able to put together a Python based CGI that takes in a SOQL query and spits out an Atom representation of it, I can now see my todo list in NetNewsWire. If anyone's interested I clean it up and open source it, let me know.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

<vent> I've been through DLL hell on numerous occasions, but frankly it's nothing compared to JAR and dependency hell I seem to go through every time I look at a Java framework. I've been looking at one tonight (doesn't matter which), the download includes a /lib with 35 jars in, on top of the 11 jars that actually make up what I wanted to look at. In addition building the samples (basically a WSDL2Java code generator with a class that uses it) requires maven, which proceeded to download god knows how many more jars, then got stuck on some that can't be redisted by maven itself, gives instructions on how to manually install those jars into maven. Just to cap it off, those instructions don't actually work!. So, I've blown 3 or 4 hours trying to get a simple hello world sample running and failed miserably. Does it really have to be this hard ? I knew I should of started in on the python based project I'd got in mind.</vent>

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Someone wanted a sample of using PocketXML-RPC from c++, so I threw together a quick demo of calling the pinger from VC++, see the samples page.