Stavros' Stuff

On programming and other things.

A schemaless layer over SQLite

I’ve been hard at work these days, and to relax I decided to develop a small application/side project. As with many applications, I needed a reliable, persistent store, so I went with the most reliable, easy to set up, performant, and generally awesome store I knew: SQLite.

However, since this was a very experimental prototype, I got tired of the frequent schema changes and wished I had something

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Winning at Puzzle Adventures

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine started playing a Facebook game, Puzzle Adventures. This is a (pretty fun) jigsaw puzzle game, so I played a few levels at some point. The game limits you significantly in many areas (e.g. you can only play three or four games before you have to wait for minutes to play more, or pay). The game is also geared against

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How to handle Python package installation on GAE

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, I’m a big fan of Google AppEngine. I like the free tier, the effortless scaling, the zero administration, and how I can run Django almost unmodified and deploy in seconds. It has its downsides, but overall I like it very much.

The one part of deployment I didn’t like was dependency handling. Due to the way GAE works, you need to install all packages in t

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On authentication usability

A few days ago, I tried to log into my alternate Facebook account, one I hadn’t logged into for a while. After the first or second failed attempt at logging in (I couldn’t remember the password), my mail client rang and I saw the following email from Facebook:

Facebook login email

This struck me as a fantastic touch and a great usability boost. It also made m

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A short update

As I have mentioned previously, this blog is running on Google’s AppEngine, and I have just migrated it to the HR datastore to test out Python 2.7. Hopefully this will go well and the concurrent requests will keep the instances to a minimum. I am curious to see how well this will perform.

I am especially interested in the change of instance hours between the old and new backends. Based on a quick

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How PostgreSQL's SR (Streaming Replication) works

Recently, I have come upon the need to deploy a high-availability/performance postgres cluster, and I looked into various replication solutions. Of the ones I saw, Streaming Replication was the easiest to set up, fairly performant and a good fit for what we wanted to do, and it’s built into postgres 9.0+.

Unfortunately, checking the documentation and howtos, I gained little insight into how it works. There are plenty of detailed guides on how to set it up, but none explain how exactly it works, so it was a bit of a black box for me. Fortunately, the guys in #postgresql are extremely helpful, and quickly explained to me the specifics of replication, which I am going to post here for

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App Engine pricing changes revisited

As anyone who knows me will already have noticed, I’m a quite an outspoken proponent of Google AppEngine. Many of my projects nowadays run on GAE, including this very blog, as I love the ease of deployment, the provided services and low cost. I decided to migrate this blog to it from a VPS after many troubles with Drupal (lack of customizability, security problems, etc). It didn’t help that it get

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Secrets of Power Negotiating

A few weeks ago I was recommended Roger Dawson’s Secrets of Power Negotiating, and decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is full of practical tips and helpful pointers about negotiations of every type, be it salary increases, house purchases, and even negotiations between countries (especially helpful if you’re eyeing some islands in the middle of the atlantic).

What I especially liked about this book is that it contains useful information, examples and techniques without veering into the all-too-familiar territory of most self-help books nowadays, which is to inundate the reader with a series of irrelevant or inapplicable anecdotes about how people who used technique X became rich and handsome.

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Book clouds

As someone who is on the road a lot, I frequently have a lot of downtime during road trips. I don’t like driving, because it’s mostly wasted time, so I thought I would do something useful while driving. Unfortunately, about the only useful thing you can do while driving is listen to music, but there’s something better: Audiobooks.

Audiobooks are a fantastic way to read (or, well, listen to) books on the road, and it’s largely made long car trips bearable, if not desirable. On the last trip, I decided I would listen to some Lovecraft, as I enjoy his writing and the genre of horror in general, so I loaded “At the Mountains of Madness” on my mobile phone and off I went. While listening, however, I was struck by his frequent use of words like “terrible”, “horrible” etc. I know he’s trying to convey a sense of foreboding, but, come on, Howard, not every rock has to be grotesque.

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Blog migration

The old blog software was showing its age, so I decided to write a few lines of code and move the blog over to Google App Engine. Most things should work properly, but if you notice any broken links please let me know by emailing me on the address on the “About me” page.


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