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I encountered the same issue. I found the callback oriented programming style to be confusing and overly complex for the sake of a fast application. Although I managed to build something and still work with it, the uses for Node.JS are quite limited.

Want to build a realtime analytics platform? Node has you covered. Want to build a super lean and powerful server for an iPhone game? Node also has you covered. Want to build a web application that doesn't require anything realtime? Not so much.

Node serves a purpose for a lot of things, anything that requires a lot of connections and continuous streams of data it is a perfect fit, but nothing much else.

As for the Python remarks and websockets, I find Beaconpush does the job well: http://beaconpush.com/ - the server that drives Battlelog on Electronic Art's game Battlefield 3 is a python framework with websocket support, I believe it uses Beaconpush.

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