Easy Peasy Computer Literacy
At 50 years old, I discovered my passion for Linux, Python, vim & git, and have been mastering it for 10 years. I use JupyterLab for learning, and am concerned about relying on vendor-driven power-tools like VSCode. To combat this, I'm following the JupyterLab contributors on Github and Twitter to ensure the Mac and Windows versions are up-to-date. Read my article to learn more about the divide between VSCode.
Discovering My Computer Literacy at 50 - Exploring the Divide Between VSCode and Vim
By Michael Levin
Friday, May 20, 2022
Finding & Following JupyterLab Github Contributors
Some of Amiga’s Loveworthiness Came From Unix
Sometimes I work on mlseo. I should really plant it’s documentation in a subfolder of this MikeLevinSEO.com website, because MLSEO, you know. Also, I’ll actually be making it Machine Learning SEO in short order, so stay tuned! Life really does just begin at fifty. It is a blessed few who find their ikigai in their twenties, and I wasn’t one of them. I got a very strong clue though, because so much of the Amiga computer’s operating system was inspired by Unix that I hardly realized how much of the important lifelong loveworthy stuff I really was learning.
At Fifty Years-Old, I Found My Ikigai
I have a lot of people to thank for that towards whom I was quite bitter for a large chunk of my life, oh say from 21 years-old through 41 years-old. Fourty is when I had my kid and realized life was too short to switch my professional passions around more than one more time. And that 1-more time was to Linux, Python, vim & git. And I found my Ikigai now, and I’m about 10-years into it, being 51 years old as I am. And that puts about those 10,000 hours and 10-years of mastery under my belt. Woot! Yeah, and I do feel it. I do feel it “in my fingers” as they say. My violin be internal. I think in vim. That’s the biggest take-away now. I think in vim. And so onto JupyterLab, LOL!
It’s Exploratory Learning, Not Exploratory Coding
Despite thinking in vim (which is where I’m typing this right now), I keep my primary Python package code in JupyterLab because it’s just a much better environment for exploratory learning. I want to say exploratory coding, but we’re always coding. Talking is coding. Writing is coding. Technically, we’re encoding our thoughts. And I think it mystifies the process if we use code-words. So call it what it is. When you’re working in a Jupyter Notebook, you’re doing exploratory learning (and coding… encoding… get it?).
Donald Knuth Coined The Phrase
Next thing to think about is that all this stuff about exploratory learning in order to develop easy peasy literacy expressing yourself in tech comes from a guy called Donald Knuth who is still around as of this writing and is one of the grandparents of tech, much in the same way and generation as Ken Thompson who invented Unix. Don wrote TeX which the still-popular math formatting language LaTeX is based on. So while not quite the contribution as Ken, Don’s stuff is still kick-ass important.
Jeremy Howard Connected The Dots
Another guy, a cool Australian named [Jeremy Howard](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Howard_(entrepreneur), has connected the dots between Jupyter’s Notebook .ipynb-files and Python’s .py-files in such a way as to “bring alive” Don’s vision of Computer Literacy. He’s also the writer of the fast.ai machine learning library, so he’s no slouch. The dot-connecting package I’m using that allows me to use Notebooks to make Python packages is called nbdev. It’s a game changer.
Easy Peasy Computer Literacy
Wow, this mere opening to the MLSEO work I wanted to sit down an do before the sun even came up this morning (I started at 4:30 AM) grew into an article-like post that no longer belongs on MikeLevinSEO.com. So even though it’ll confuse a few people when the read the intro and it’s residing on MikeLev.in, I feel the need to yank the article over there. That amounts to just copy/pasting between two already loaded text-files, each of which contains the entire blog as one-long-file for the entire respective site. Easy peasy lemon breezy, Computer Liter Literacy.
Copy/Pasting Journal Entry Between Websites
And so… POOF, now we’re on MikeLev.in. And now I am free to ramble without being compelled to actually go over to JupyterLab and get to work, even though I do indeed want/need to. But I feel a deeper need to finish out this thought and to do so in uninhibited article form.
War Of The Text-editors Still Waging & VSCode Ain’t In It
There is a divide. That divide is between vendor-driven power-tools like VSCode and vim. It’s an agonizing soul-wrenching divide because the vendors are going to infuse your blood with super-soldier serum and you’re going to wake-up Captain America… for as long as they say-so and under the conditions they say-so. VSCode while awesome today, is a blocker to your long-term obsolescence resistance and ability to stay tenacious in the tech industry. That’s because when everything changes around you—yes, even VSCode’s appeal and viability—vim will still be there. So will emacs. The original text-editor wars is still as real today as it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Don’t End Up Shit’s Creek Without vim or emacs
Just because Microsoft bought Github and stole the Atom text-editor’s innovations and threw millions of dollars worth of employee support behind Atom 2.0 (VSCose), it doesn’t undo 70-years of “old-school” text-editor evolution. Vim is the crocodile design. eMacs is the turtle design. Turtles and crocs have survived longer than dinosaurs and humans put together. Now while that doesn’t invalidate the much more “human” VSCode, it should be a warning that forming habits that you should wish to last a lifetime (keyboard shortcuts, macros, etc.). The realities of tech, platforms, fads or whatever will change, and those completely dependent on VSCode will find themselves up shit’s creek without a paddle. vim or emacs are your only paddles on shit’s creek.
So Then Why JupyterLab?
So why in the world would I advocate stand-alone JupyterLab desktop…
Oh! This shouldn’t only be an article on MikeLev.in. I should also livestream the process of following the JupyterLab contributors on Github (and maybe Twitter), which just occurred to me.
The little things that make all the difference. Here’s why I’m so anxious about this, and thus also motivated:
- The Mac version has auto-update
- The Windows version doesn’t
- This is Sooooooo important for mainstream adoption
- Because the uninstall/download/re-install story on Windows is horrible
- Uninstall 2 components
- Find the .exe download
- Override all of Microsoft’s anti-spyware defenses (scary)
- Find the hidden “run anyway’s” TWICE
- Wait for the “new version available”
- Rinse & repeat
There is a resistance to get stuff into the official “Stores” from Apple and Microsoft, because it “feels” incompatible with the spirit of the free and open source software movement. This is initial inertial resistance of the type that slows-down or even kills endeavors. It hasn’t happened yet with JupyterLab on Windows, but something like it has happened on the Mac.
I plan to follow all the contributors to JupyterLab Standalone (Desktop, a.k.a. electron) version.