http://www.rubyweeklynews.org/20050327.html

   Ruby Weekly News 21st - 27th March 2005
   ---------------------------------------

   Ruby Weekly News is a summary of the week's activity on the ruby-talk
   mailing list / the comp.lang.ruby newsgroup, brought to you by Tim
   Sutherland.

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

     * Ruby article on DevSource

       Hal Fulton wrote an article for DevSource.com entitled
       "Five Things You Didn't Know You Could Do with Ruby".

       From the article,

         "When DevSource asked me to write this article, I had to fight two
         temptations. One was to make it very language-oriented, talking
         about Ruby's syntax and semantics. Another was to make it very
         technology-oriented, full of buzzwords such as RSS and XMLRPC.

         Though I've used the occasional buzzword here, I took neither of
         those paths. I've tried instead to present Ruby from a high-level
         view, almost a management perspective, to show that Ruby is mature,
         powerful, versatile, and gaining industry acceptance on a daily
         basis."

     * Getting the word to conventional programmers

       A related DevSource article, "The State of the Scripting Universe",
       quotes representatives from the Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and Tcl
       communities.

       Dave Thomas provides the Ruby viewpoint.

     * RubyForge now supports SFTP...

       Tom Copeland announced that, thanks to Brian Candler, RubyForge now
       supports the SFTP protocol. (Like SSH+FTP.)

     * RubyConf 2005 Preregistration now open!

       David A. Black announced that pre-registration for RubyConf 2005 is
       open. The conference is in San Diego, California, USA on October
       14-16, 2005.

       Several people outside the U.S. said that they would not be attending
       because of the current travel policies of the U.S. government. Francis
       Hwang (a U.S. citizen) sympathised and suggested that next year's
       conference be held in Canada.

       More positively, David's post quoted Rails author David Heinemeier
       Hansson: "You have to come. I went last year and had the most
       wonderful three days in the company of most of the best Ruby hackers.
       I'm so most definitely going again this year. You have to come."

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

   Continuing the recent theme of having the Quote come from anywhere
   other than the mailing list, this week's is from the #ruby-lang
   IRC channel. (2005/03/25 logs.)

   Matz:

     "I have talked with Koichi Sasada, and he agreed to merge his YARV in the
     current interpreter.
     I _hope_ VARV will be core engine before the end of this year."

   The goal of YARV is "to develop the fastest Virtual Machine for Ruby in
   the world". Koichi Sasada's work is supported by the IPA
   (Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan) "Exploratory Software
   Project 2004 (youth)".

Threads
-------

   Interesting threads this week included:

  Ruby, brother of VB?
  --------------------

   Mike Cox was looking for a language to switch to from Visual Basic. After
   finding Ruby, he felt that "Ruby may possibly be the brother of VB, and
   that Ruby is the son of Algol 60. Just a cursery glance over Ruby
   confirmed that my beloved "begin" and "end" are there."

   Phil Tomson remarked "some might call them fight'n words", and James Britt
   warned Mike to "Forget all the VB you've ever learned. Really. I was a VB
   hacker for some time. I liked it, it paid the rent, got me published. But
   habits acquired using VB will get in the way of using Ruby."

  Free Rails hosting?
  -------------------

   Aquila was looking for free Rails web hosting. There are many free PHP
   hosts, why not Rails?

   Dick Davies suggested hosting on your own server as an alternative to paid
   hosting, and Wes Moxam pointed out an article of his describing how to set
   up a Rails site on freeshell.org (free shell account).

   Lothar Scholz said that the CPU and memory usage of Rails is comparable to
   Java web applications, so it isn't well suited to free hosting.

   Eric Hodel disagreed with that assessment. He manages 43 Things, which
   peaks at 200,000 page views per day. It runs off two servers, but can run
   on a single 3GHz Xeon with 2GB ram with no performance degradation. He has
   also heard of people running Rails in a 64MB virtual server, and thought
   that this could be a useful configuration for free hosts. (Doug Beaver
   also gave some data showing that Java solutions can work under similar
   memory constraints.)

   Lothar thought that even 64MB was far too much for a free host. "You can
   without problems put 1000 PHP Users on one machine. Many free hosters have
   even more then this."

  strip and its evil brother strip!
  ---------------------------------

   Aquila began a thread about the return value of "bang" methods (those
   ending in "!"). This naming convention is used to indicate that the method
   modifies its receiver.

   There is another convention used in the standard library: bang methods
   typically return the receiver if a change was made and nil otherwise.

   The discussion covered the merits of chaining bang methods (e.g.
   a.strip!.upcase!).

   Nikolai Weibull said that bang methods were simply an optimisation -
   modifying objects in-place can be faster than creating new ones. He
   suggested avoiding using bang methods at all unless there is a compelling
   performance reason to do so. Nikolai also gave a benchmark where he ran
   line.strip.downcase one million times, and compared it to line.strip!;
   line.downcase!. The former version took 1.7 seconds, while the latter was
   1.2 - not a large performance difference.

   Bill Kelly pointed out a post from Matz in 2001 which said that there were
   two reasons for the "return nil if no change" behaviour of bang methods.
   The first is that it's a cheap way of detecting modification. The second
   is because he wants to discourage chaining of bang methods.

  unifying hash and proc syntax
  -----------------------------

   Joel VanderWerf had the idea of removing the distinction between Hashes
   and procs.

   For example, the following imaginary syntax would create an object that
   behaves like a Hash with a default_proc:

 {
  1 => 2,
  2 => 3,
  3 => 4,
  |x|
    x + 1
 }

   Csaba Henk thought that the idea was clever, but a bit dubious in treating
   these as the same. "A hash is basicly transparent, a proc is basicly
   opaque."

  Support for 10x Productivity Increase with Rails!
  -------------------------------------------------

   Curt Hibbs related a success story from some developers who got a great
   productivity increase through using Ruby on Rails instead of the Java
   framework they were previously using. (They used Rails to re-implement a
   Java application.)

   What makes this story special is that the developers were Bruce Tate and
   Justin Gehtland, and the Java framework they had been using was
   Spring/Hibernate.

   Bruce is the author of the books "Better, Faster, Lighter Java", "Bitter
   Java" and "Bitter EJBs", and Justin "is a recognized *expert* in Spring
   and Hibernate" (and was a novice in both Ruby and Rails).

   "Spring/Hibernate are not your typical Java framework (i.e., not Struts),
   but are the current best-of-breed."

   A pleasant surprise was that the Rails solution ran faster than the Java
   one.

   As a "PS", Curt added "Bruce Tate and David Geary (author of Core Java
   Server Faces, Core JSTL, and more) have signed with O'Reilly to write a
   "Rails Developer Notebook" (obviously one of O'Reilly's new Developer
   Notebooks series)."

   There were some responses thinking about the productivity differences
   between Rails and Java frameworks, and in particular commenting on whether
   Rails was being hurt by "hype".

   CD Baby:

     "The constant hype is what kept me AWAY from Rails for so long! I just
     couldn't stomach the constant self-congratulations to it all.

     Now I can't stomach the constant other-technology-bashing. (Java, PHP,
     etc)

     Nobody wants their current beliefs insulted."

  FCGI 0.8.5-patch for major memory leaks
  ---------------------------------------

   Kirk Haines posted a patch to fix a major memory leak in Ruby FCGI.
   (FastCGI, used in web application servers.) The bug only affects the C
   extension version, not the pure Ruby one.

  Using DL on Windows
  -------------------

   Stephan K?mper was finding that DL could not locate the DLL he was using
   when he referred to it with DL.dlopen("libs/one.dll").

   Dave Burt explained that DLLs need to be accessible in one of the
   following ways:

     * in the working directory
     * in the PATH
     * registered (regsvr32.exe one.dll)
     * referenced directly

  IORCC Crossword Puzzle Tips and Hints!
  --------------------------------------

   Todd Nathan announced a series of "Tips and Hints" for the IORCC Crossword
   Puzzle.

  prime genrator in 34 bytes
  --------------------------

   Simon Strandgaard reported that "JIX" came up with a 34 character Ruby
   program that lists all prime integers: i=l=1;(l%i+=1)>i-2&&p(i)while l*=i

  Dwemthy's Array-the Ruby mini_adventure
  ---------------------------------------

   why the lucky stiff introduced the sixth chapter of Why's (Poignant) Guide
   to Ruby.

   "This chapter covers metaclasses and method_missing with the help of
   Dwemthy's demonic list."

     "Since you were a very young rabbit in little cotton pants, Dwemthy's
     Array has breathed on your neck and you're tired of it. You draw your
     glistening Hero's Sword from its sheath and cut a low-circling falcon in
     half as a confidence building exercise. Your eyes flick about in a cool
     and freaky way.

     You're ready... It's time to stare this construct in the face."

  Ruby newbie: 3 week learning project
  ------------------------------------

   Al Abut decided to blog every day of a 3 week course in learning Ruby
   (using the book Sams Teach Yourself Ruby in 21 Days).

   He invited others to learn with him at the same time.

  English Numerals
  ----------------

   Timothy Byrd came up with this week's Ruby Quiz.

   "While we normally write numbers using Arabic (or since Quiz #22, Roman)
   numerals, numbers can also be written out as English phrases."

   For example,

       "7    seven (the hard way)
       42    forty-two (a very important number)
       2001  two thousand and one (a space odyssey)
       1999  (party like it's) nineteen hundred and ninety-nine"

   The problem this week is taken from a Pi Mu Epsilon newsletter. (A U.S.
   mathematics club.)

   "When the integers 1 to 10_000_000_000 are written in the English
   language, then sorted as strings, which odd number appears first in the
   list?"

   The task is to write Ruby code to turn a number into its English
   representation, and to then write a program that solves the above problem.

  A Poll
  ------

   jeem started a poll, asking the following two questions:

    "1. Do you use Ruby in your "day job"?
     a.) Yes! Lots!
     b.) Some.
     c.) I little bit when I can get away with it.
     d.) I wish!

     2. What are your one or two principal programming languages other than
     Ruby?"

   There were many responses, and Phil Tomson began a thread comment on
   today's poll and more questions, noting that there were a large number of
   "a.) Yes! Lots!" answers. "This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby
   community since a year ago when the `a' answer would have been much
   rarer."

  koders has indexed rubyforge.org
  --------------------------------

   Martin Ankerl noticed that koders.com (a site which allows you to search
   through web-available source code) has indexed rubyforge.org.

   Hiroshi Nakamura said that the RAA has opened its own experimntal source
   code search interface.

  OO database concepts...
  -----------------------

   This thread discusses "Object-Oriented Databases", for example ORDBMS vs
   OODBs.

  Evaluator for a mini-Ruby in Haskell
  ------------------------------------

   Daniel Berger spotted a simple evaluator for a subset of Ruby, written in
   Haskell.

   It also shows how to define a Ruby method that behaves like while. (Using
   retry.)

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

     * FireRuby 0.2.0
      
       Peter Wood released the second version of FireRuby, a
       library that provides support for accessing the Firebird RDBMS.
       Queries now return Row objects instead of arrays of data. Row provides
       information like column name and row number.

     * Ruby wrapper for Flickr, flickr-ruby 0.2

       Premshree Pillai wrote a Ruby interface to the Flickr photo-sharing
       site. It allows you to get and create photosets, search and tag.

       Version 0.2 was later released, adding support for uploading pictures.

     * Multiblocks 0.1.0-emulating Smalltalk type multiblock calls

       Csaba Henk announced the first release of a framework which allows you
       to define a "callgroup": a group of methods that behave like a single
       one.

     * midilib 0.8.4

       Jim Menard updated midilib, a pure Ruby library for reading and
       writing MIDI files, and dealing with MIDI event data. There were some
       API improvements, plus new methods to turn note names like "32nd",
       "dotted quarter" into notes.

     * Revolution - a Ruby binding to Evolution

       Tom Copeland released the first version of Revolution, a Ruby binding
       to the Evolution email and personal information management (PIM)
       application. Example uses are for extracting contact, calendar and
       task information.

     * Ruby Facets 0.6.2

       TRANS announced a new version of Ruby Facets ("Fantastic Atomic Core
       Extensions").

       Additions include Time methods (3.hours and so on), module/redirect
       (like alias, but wraps methods instead of copying them) and
       enumerable/uniq_by.

     * Syntax 0.7.0

       Jamis Buck improved Syntax, a library for performing lexical analysis.
       (In particular, for syntax highlighting text.) Accuracy and robustness
       have been improved.

     * FastCST 0.5.2

       Zed A. Shaw let a "major release" of FastCST escape the laboratory.
       FastCST is the "Fast Change Set Tool", which "implements a working
       repository that actually functions like a version control tool
       should".

     * Bangkok: Musical Chess

       Jim Menard released Bangkok, much to the relief of its ten million
       residents. Ahem. "Bangkok reads chess game descriptions and re-play
       the games."

       It comes with a listener that converts the game into MIDI music.

     * sys-admin 1.0.0

       Daniel Berger was "happy" to announce the first release of sys-admin,
       intended to be a cross-platform replacement for Etc. The win32-etc
       package has now been deprecated, and will be removed from the Win32
       Utils project in the near future.

     * Hash::MixIn and Python style Object#dict

       Florian Gross wrote a quick implementation of Hash::MixIn ("you
       provide .keys, .fetch, .store and .delete and get a full-blown Hash
       interface"), plus Python-style access to the methods of an object.

     * eXPlain Project Management Tool - 1.0

       John Wilger was "pleased" to announce the initial public release of
       the eXPlain Project Management Tool. It's a web-based project
       management system that supports the Agile software development
       methodologies.

     * First release of Rant

       Stefan Lang wrote a build tool, similar to Rake. "The equivalent to a
       Makefile for make is the Rantfile. An Rantfile is actually a valid
       Ruby script that is read by the rant command."

       Stefan explained the differences between Rant and Rake: Rant has
       built-in support for C#, and has cleaner internals.

     * Tar2RubyScript 0.4.5

       Erik Veenstra made some changes to Tar2RubyScript, a tool for
       transforming a directory tree that contains a Ruby application into a
       single Ruby script.

     * AllInOneRuby 0.2.1

       Erik also released an update to the AllInOneRuby tool. This creates a
       compressed executable for Windows, Linux or MacOS X that contains the
       Ruby interpreter and runtime libraries, providing a "just-in-time and
       temporary installation of Ruby".

     * RubyScript2Exe 0.3.3

       Another release from Erik: RubyScript2Exe. This one is used to create
       a single executable containing your application, the Ruby interpreter
       and runtime libraries, easing distribution. It works on Windows, Linux
       and MacOS X.

     * Ruby/GtkMozEmbed 0.3

       Mirko Maischberger introduced Ruby/GtkMozEmbed, a Ruby binding to
       GtkMozEmbed, a Gtk+ widget that embeds the Mozilla browser.

     * ruby-oci8 0.1.10

       Takehiro Kubo released the latest Oracle8 client library. There were
       several changes, including improved cursor support.

     * Rake 0.5.0

       Jim Weirich "finally" came out with a new version of the Rake build
       tool. Bugs have been fixed, recursive rules are now supported, and a
       man documentation file was added.

       The following people also contributed to this release: Tilman
       Sauerbeck, Brian Chandler, Eric Hodel and Jani Monoses.

     * ruby-dazuko 0.1.0

       Aredridel announced ruby-dazuko, a Ruby interface to dazuko. Dazuko is
       a kernel module for Linux and FreeBSD that allows userspace programs
       to monitor file accesses, and optionally deny access.

     * RubyCocoa 0.4.1

       kimura wataru delivered a new RubyCocoa release. RubyCocoa is a Ruby
       binding for the Cocoa API in MacOS X.

       MacOS X 10.3 and Xcode are now supported. There is also a new option
       to allow the RubyCocoa framework to be bundled with youir application,
       allowing it to be used on a system that otherwise lacks RubyCocoa.