Notes from Python SIG, 22-Jan-2009

The twenty-second of the month was the fourth Thursday, the usual night for the Python Special Interest Group to meet at the Amoskeag Business Incubator in Manchester, New Hampshire. Thirteen attendees made it to the January meeting, making PySIG one of the more popular regional/topical meetings of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group.

As usual, coordinator Bill Sconce had a printed agenda with lots of news to go over. We had a round of introductions, though it was mostly a gathering of the regulars. We talked about Gotchas! — those little surprises that pop up while working through the day — and “reverse-gotchas!” — the ah-ha moments that bring enlightenment.

Kent Johnson presented his regular Kent’s Korner presentation on context managers and the ‘with’ statement. Kent’s notes for this and all past Kent’s Korners can be found on his web site. The with statement, along with decorators and generators (see how the KK sessions build upon each other!) can make a very powerful and very pythonic addition to writing Python code.

Arc Riley made the main presentation, on writing extensions in C. Arc was apparently one of the very first programmers to actually attempt to build an extension from scratch in Python 3.0, as he found that some of the key documentation was missing and some of the most important declaration about structures can only be found by reading the source code of Python itself. Arc documented his adventures for us, found a bug report to the Python folks, and provided the group with a very useful document of where the gotchas are, and some very useful bookmarks. The last link includes Arc’s notes as well as the C and Python code for the sample extension.

Thanks to Arc and Kent for great presentations, to Janet for the cookies and Ray for bringing the milk. Thanks, as always to Bill for running the meetings and to all for attending and participating!

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