The past couple of months have been really crazy, so much so that even when I had topics I wanted to blog about, the very thought of trying to organize it into something meaningful filled me with dread… that and I discovered twitter. But a sort of normalcy has finally taken root in my life and I wish to get back into the swing of things. First, however, as is required under international blogging law, let’s do a quick mind dump on the events since last I posted. Read more…
This is a technology posting, but I’m asking a question to my political science readers, so I’m going to keep it simple. Future “Pillars of LegSim” postings will be more technical.
I am presently in the think of redeveloping LegSim, but in a way I would never have contemplated even six months ago. The current version of LegSim (v4.1) is what’s known as a CGI application, which means each and every time you ask LegSim to do something, it loads the whole program, executes, and then unloads. Sort of like if you had fire up your email client every time you wanted to send a single email. This is silly and making it better is, as David would say, “a solved problem.” And indeed, there are all manner of pre-existing web development frameworks that could be made to do what I want to do (Ruby On Rails, CakePHP, Zope… just to one from each of the big languages). Thing is, I like Perl… and at the risk of sounding like a language snob (not the Sarah kind of language snob mind you), I would like to stick with Perl, the original Perl language.
Of course, there are frameworks in Perl… like Catalyst, which actually got it start at the University of Washington back when I was an undergraduate. But, bottom line, I don’t want to have to learn someone else system and I don’t want to have to fight when it tries to tell me how things ought to be done. I would just use Rails if I wanted that experience. So, I’m writing my own. Which is exciting, I’ve enjoyed it so far. Done right, I can use the framework not just for LegSim, but for other projects I might want to take on. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Faithful readers, I turn to you to ask a simple question… what should I call this thing? My first thought was to name it after the first Speaker of the House of Representatives… but that turned out to be Frederick Muhlenber, and I’m not naming my framework after no Muhlenber. We are working on a CMS system built on top of Rails at work, which is codenamed Pericles (a name my boss will likely change). I like Pericles, having come up with it myself, but I’m not sure if I want to reuse the name.
The current leader in this contest is Astraea, the daughter of Zeus and Themis who would eventually ascend into the heavens and become Virgo. She’s also the Goddess of Justice, with the scales and stuff. While I like the sound, I’m not thrilled with the mythos. I’m looking for something more “governmenty” than justice (hence my initial interest in Pericles). Anyone have suggestions… needs to be a cool sounding word, cannot be in common use (to avoid confusion), and has some sort of tie in with government.
Drop me a line via email or a comment if you have any good ideas.
p.s. If anyone recommends Perl on Rails, I will ban you forever.
Updated – 6/11/2008
A friend wrote to suggest Solon, one of the fathers of Athenian democracy. The wikipedia page makes him sound like a pretty cool guy. But while reviewing the background I learned Solon eventually became an Archon of Athens, which was a sort of executive position within the Greek governmental system, both during it’s tyrannical and democratic days. But here’s the really cool part… the years in which no Archon was appointed where known as anarchy, meaning, literally, “no Archon.” How cool is that?!
So, bonus points for Solon, but at the moment, the top choice is Archon.
Washington Post has a Q&A up that asks “When I log into my Internet provider’s Web-mail page, I don’t see the usual lock icon. Isn’t it dangerous to send a password over the Internet without encryption?” And proceeds to tell people to fear sites which don’t employ the little lock.
It’s true, sending passwords over the public lines in clear text is asking for trouble. But that doesn’t mean that the little lock is the only way to do it. In fact, that little lock costs a lot of money for websites to purchase (and repurchase, on an annual basis). But there are alternatives that are just as good. LegSim uses such a system, relying on basic cryptography and some intelligence. Just because a site doesn’t chose to buy into the SSL certificate racket doesn’t mean it can’t be trusted.
One of the cool things about working with LegSim is I find out about neat academic work on Congress. Today I was pointed in the direction of Congress Power Rankings.
Essentially, the system ranks each member of the House and Senate using objective factors to determine power within their respective chamber. Once you know each score you can do all sorts of cool things… like find out who is most/least powerful within a particular state delegation. Check your your elected representative and see just how powerful you are in Congress.