Blockchain madness

Some technologies I really notice only when they hit me directly into the face.   That’s the case of blockchain  –  I have been looking into Bitcoin several years back and found it quite interesting (especially from cryptographic perspective – as interesting usecase for applied cryptography), but never expected that it’ll reach such extensive grow in popularity as we have seen in past half year or so.   This forced me to looked again into these technologies and get bit more detailed understanding about blockchain technologies, why it’s so popular now and particularly look at recent development and on  next big player in this area Ethereum project.

In this article I’ll share some initial thoughts of mine about blockchain, what I think it is and why it matters. In later article(s) we’ll look into  Ethereum from purely practical perspective. We will build a local playground for Ethereum, where we can try immediately some basic functions of the system. Continue reading Blockchain madness

In RUST We Trust

Having been programing recently mostly in dynamic untyped languages (aka Python and JavaScript) I though that it would be nice to try something else, bit different –  meaning compiled and statically typed. Last adventures in this area were with OCAML, which I used for few learning projects couple years ago( like this one).  OCAML is very nice language indeed, and learning exercise was very valuable for me (especially getting more accustomed to functional programming style),  but apart  of that learning experience I did not follow it  further (mainly due limited ecosystem of OCAML).

Looking recently to languages and technology survey on Stackoverflow  where Rust is leading the list of most “loved” languages (meaning developers who used the language like it and want to use it for their next projects) with head start on   second one (SmallTalk) .   This caught my attention and looking quickly at Rust site I decided to give it a try.  Below are my first experiences learning this language. Continue reading In RUST We Trust

Run and monitor tasks via WebSocket with ASEXOR

Many modern web applications require more then just displaying data in the browser.  Data may need to be processed and transformed in various ways, which require intensive processing tasks on server side. Such processing is best done asynchronously outside of web application server, as such tasks can be relatively  long running. There are already many existing solutions for asynchronous task scheduling, some of them are quite sophisticated general frameworks like Celery, Kafka, others are build in features of application servers ( like mules and spoolers in uWSGI).  But what if we need something simpler, which can work  directly with Javascript clients and is super simple to use in a project.  Meet asexor – ASynchronous EXecuOR,  a small project of mime. Continue reading Run and monitor tasks via WebSocket with ASEXOR

Comparison of JSON Like Serializations – JSON vs UBJSON vs MessagePack vs CBOR

Recently I’ve been working on some extensions to ASEXOR, adding there direct support for messaging via WebSocket and I use JSON for small messages that travels between client (browser or standalone)  and backend.  Messages looks like these:

I wondered, if choosing different serialization format(s) (similar to JSON, but binary) could bring more efficiency into the application –  considering  both message size and encoding/decoding processing time.  I run small tests  in python (see tests here on gist) with few established serializers, which can be used as quick replacement for JSON and below are results: Continue reading Comparison of JSON Like Serializations – JSON vs UBJSON vs MessagePack vs CBOR

Easy SQL Schema Migration for SqlAlchemy and Flask

While SqlAlchemy (and Flask-SqlAlchemy) provides an easy way to create DB schema from scratch,  migration of an existing schema is bit more challenging. As soon as you change attributes  in your declarative ORM models, the underlying DB schema is to be changed for application to work.   If you need to keep data , you’ll need to modify DB schema with some DDL commands (ALTER TABLE …)  and this functionality is not part of SqlAlchemy nor Flask-SqlAlchemy. Continue reading Easy SQL Schema Migration for SqlAlchemy and Flask

Mybookshelf2 Alpha Version is available

Mybookshelf2 enters the stage, when code can be considered of alpha quality.  Basic functionality is there, so it could be tried and I plan to move my ebooks collection to it soon.  MBS2 is packed with new technologies and comparing to previous version (Mybookshelf) it can be considered a completely new application.

So what’s new?  Concerning functionality not much,  but a lot happened internally. For me it’s more about testing and playing with new technologies then managing ebooks (which is still important of course).  Maybe some of currently used technologies are bit of overkill (like using WAMP protocol), but nevertheless they play important part in the application. Continue reading Mybookshelf2 Alpha Version is available

NetworkManager Script to Set HTTP Proxy

While Gnome and it’s derivatives support automatic proxy detection,  it do not work well for all programs, particularly for command line programs.   I’ve found  that using simple script in /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d works better for me, which sets and unsets fixed proxy works better.   NM dispatcher scripts are run each time network connections change (network up, down, VPN connect etc.) and received two parameters ( interface name and status) and bunch of environment variables. Continue reading NetworkManager Script to Set HTTP Proxy

Asyncio Proxy for Blocking Functions

File operations and other IO operations can block asyncio loop and  unfortunately  python does not support true asynchronous disk operations (mainly due to problematic state of async disk IO in underlying os – aka linux – special library is need for true asynchronous disk operations  so normally select (or other IO event library) always reports file as ready to read and write and thus file IO operations block). Current solution is to run such operations in thread pool executor. There is asyncio wrapper library for file object – aiofiles, but there are also many blocking functions in other python modules – like os, shutil etc.  We can easily write wrappers for such methods, but it can be annoying and time consuming if we use many of such methods.   What about to write a generic proxy, which will assure that methods are executed in thread pool and use this proxy for all potentially blocking methods within the module. Continue reading Asyncio Proxy for Blocking Functions

Revival of Neural Networks

My actual master studies topic was AI (more then 20 years ago).   Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) were already known and popular branch of AI and we had some introduction to basics of artificial neural networks (like perceptron, back propagation, etc.). Though it was  quite interesting topic, I had not seen many practical applications in those days.  Recently  I’ve chatted with old friend of mine,  who stayed in university and is involved in computer vision research, about recent advancements in AI and computer vision and he told me that most notable change in last years was that neural networks are being now used in large scale. Mainly due to increase in computing power neural networks now can are applied to many real world problems. Another hint about popularity of neural networks came from my former boss, who shared with me this interesting article –  about privacy issues related to machine learning. I’ve been looking around for a while and it looks like neural networks are becoming quite popular recently – especially architectures with many layers used in so called deep learning. In this article I’d like to share my initial experiences with TensorFlow, open source library (created by Google), which can be used to build modern, multi-layered neural networks. Continue reading Revival of Neural Networks

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