Monday, August 6, 2007

Stephan Deibel

Stephan Deibel has for four years been Chairman of the Python Software Foundation. When he isn't donating his time to the Python community he runs Wingware, makers of the Wing IDE product that your editor uses daily.

My physical desktop is constantly under siege and changing, subjected to the ebb and flow of the tides of my disorganization and general chaos. Right now it looks like this:

You may notice it's a mess. I've got papers and bills interspersed with CDs and books on odd topics like building fences and gates, and natural insect pest control. There's also a broken toy baby carriage recently deposited there by my four year old daughter, and a printout of a paper called "Newsflash: Time May Not Exist".

I haven't had time to read that one yet so it might be true. Between working at Wingware, chairing the PSF, fixing broken toys and various parts of my house, working my ridiculously oversized garden, and writing drivel for no apparent reason... well, you get the picture.

On my computers' desktops I try to calm myself with this lovely view:

It's a photo I took some years ago in the Nilgiri Hills in southern India, where I visited pretty much at the moment that the dot com bubble burst. Not far away, at the top of the Ooty botanical garden shown in the above photo, I quite unexpectedly met some members of the Toda tribe, who showed us their village temple:

Note the phallic standing stone and very cool petroglyph-like decorations. The man in the photo is the temple keeper, the only one allowed inside the temple which wikipedia inexplicably thinks is a "hut".

This is all getting rather a long way from the desktop, but I feel an inexplicable urge to follow. Who knows where these ramblings will lead, and the pictures are interesting.

We asked so many apparently not entirely idiotic questions that they invited my travel companions and I to a wedding 17 km out in the middle of nowhere. I think it was about here. We went, and didn't even get mugged or kidnapped, as we half expected. This was in the days when the famous bandit Veerappan was still alive and active in the area. It was all very exciting and National Geographic, as you can see:

I'm the one doing the towering. Here are the bride and groom:

She's 6 months pregnant. We saw one of several ceremonies, sort of a sealing of the deal once she's safely with child. Here is the tree where the ceremony took place:

I'll spare you the rest of the wedding details which are covered in our breathless spur-of-the-moment between-power-failures email travelogue.

To close out my ramblings on this particular tangent, here I am looking like an incredibly dorky white guy in the tourist grade, but still amazing, embroidered garb that I had just purchased from our Toda hosts:

Well, that one pretty much sums it up right there.

I am tempted to somewhat cynically suggest that the whole thing was an excuse to sell clothing to gullible tourists, but I don't really believe it.

Oh yea, for those of you that thought they were going to hear about my computer desktop: I run a fairly fast machine with two 250 GB disks on which I've got multiple VMs (using vmware) containing all the various non-Mac build and test environments for Wing IDE. I use KDE on Ubuntu 6.06 LTS as the base, and also run Windows 2K and XP, Suse 10, Redhat 7.1 (really!), Solaris, and, oh heck, I forget and who cares anyway.

I also have a PPC Mac mini and Intel Macbook, both running OS X, both acting as build and test machines. And a second laptop, also with Ubuntu, so I can take some of the show on the road or at least down to the back porch. But I generally prefer working at a desktop, where I have my weird ergonomic keyboard (see photo) to help keep my arms functioning more or less properly.

That is certainly the weirdest keyboard I have ever seen. It looks as though you would have to type with your hands crossed (which in my case probably wouldn't make a lot of difference).

As far as software goes, I use Firefox as a browser, Gaim and XChat to keep in touch with my fellow Wingwarians and PSF board members, and Thunderbird for email, although I'm not entirely enamored with it and only begrudgingly gave up on pine for reasons that I forget but somehow suspect I don't want to revisit.

Not pine-ing for it, then (snicker, snicker)?

For development and text editing, I use Wing IDE almost exclusively, a choice that was clearly not biased in any way. I've also been known use gdb, Visual Studio, and the usual slew of other programming related tools, gnucash, open office, and yadda yadda yadda and so forth.

And in spare moments (assuming time does exist after all), I use Picasa in futile attempts to tame my 29GB of digital photos. But let's not even go there.

Thanks for sharing your desktop with us, Stephan.

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