The Bug Returns

I’ve been farting around, looking for another programming project to sink some time into. I haven’t felt like doing any programming for a couple of months now, and I needed something to get my teeth into enough that it would draw me back in and make me excited to play with my computer once more.

More and more, I find myself losing interest in computers, not just professionally, but to a lesser degree, personally, too. I hope that’s just a symptom of feeling jaded and burnt out. I’d hate to permanently lose interest in a hobby I’ve had for most of my life, but we all get older and some of us even get a little wiser in the process, so maybe that’s the direction I’m heading in. I don’t think so, though; I think this is just a temporary malaise.

Anyway, I released version 0.8.3 of Ruby/Amazon a few days ago, but that was hardly a major event. It’s already the most complete high-level language interface to Amazon’s Web Services, so this release was just to add support for HTTP proxy servers. Some poor unfortunates still have to use those, I suppose.

Now back to my story. With Sarah’s company (well, her employer’s company, to be precise) having gone public last week, I fished around on RAA for a library to help me write a stock price grabber. To my surprise, there wasn’t yet anything available.

Well, it didn’t take me long to hack up a few lines of code to grab the current price and plonk it in the sidebar on our front page, as well as e-mail a copy to Sarah at work when the integer dollar price changes.

That set me thinking, though. E-mail is all well and good, but I wanted some kind of scrolling applet on my desktop. Unfortunately, ruby-gnome2 doesn’t seem to support the GNOME panel yet, so that was out as a possibility. Oh well, I thought, there must be a GKrellM plug-in out there and, sure enough, I quickly found what I was looking for: GkrellStock.

Upon untarring the archive, it quickly became apparent that this software would need Perl’s Finance::Quote., which I vaguely remembered once having read a little about. Anyway, once I’d acquired that, I was up and running with GkrellStock.

Finally, I’m getting to the point of the story. With Sarah’s company already floated on the stock market and mine destined to do the same at some point in the coming months, the need for a Ruby library to handle one’s financial networking is greater than ever. And thus was begun the effort to port Finance::Quote to Ruby.

After a few hours of hacking, I have implemented about 15% of what Finance::Quote can do, but even this is enough to have GkrellStock now work via Ruby/Finance or whatever it ends up being called.

I don’t normally port things, as it’s too much like reinventing the wheel and thus usually strikes me as a poor investment of my time. However, since the Ruby world is so lacking in this area, it seemed appropriate to put some time into the project. Depending on how much time I can spend on it this week, I should have something I feel comfortable having the hoi polloi gawk at pretty soon.

It really is quite nice to be hacking again.

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