Notes from Python Special Interest Group, 27-August-2009

Twelve folks attended the August meeting of the Python Special Interest Group, one of the most active chapters of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group. The meeting was held on the regular night, the fourth Thursday of the month at the Amoskeag Business Incubator in Manchester, gathering at 6:30 with the formal meeting starting at 7 PM.

I gave the usual pitch about the GNHLUG, checking the calendars for upcoming meetings, joining the announcement mailing lists for low-traffic meeting announcments, or the GNHLUG and PySIG discussion list for slightly-higher traffic but high-quality technical discussions, and mentioned some of the upcoming meetings. I also reminded members that user group discounts are available from many of the book publishers, and that if they are interested in reviewing a recently released book, I can request one through the user group program.

Software Freedom Day is coming up September 19th, and Arc will be running an event in Manchester. Keep an eye on the mailing list for further details.

Mark talked about his monthly Tech Talk presentations in at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA (next meeting, September 30th), and his Tech Talk newsletter. Mark is doing a great job getting the word out there and spreading the message about Free/Open Source to non-technical folks. He’s also tried to get a hearing about Open Source in his local schools, but without much luck. Mark also pointed out the new Full Circle magazine Issue 27, which starts a tutorial series on Python.

Arc Riley gave a quick demo of Crunchy, a python-based local web server for serving Python tutorials. Looks neat.

Arc talked about the Python Software Foundation and the Google Summer of Code and also here. The project Arc mentored helped to develop the 3to2 program for rolling back code written for Python 3 to run in Python 2.x. While the code is still in an alpha state, it successfully performs a lot of the conversion needed, and will continue as a framework for the final product. Arc managed the GSOC for the PSF. The Python Software Foundation had the second largest number of sponsored GSOC projects (Apache was #1) and most were completed successfully. Thanks to Arc for a lot of hard work this summer!

Kent S. Johnson talked about itertools. Itertools provides a simple way to represent and manipulate large sequences of numbers without the necessity to consume large memory and CPU resources with creating the entire sequence before iterating over the sequences. Starting with some simple examples of arrays and lists, sequences and generators, Kent built up examples (with some contributions from Bill Freeman) into a more complex problem that illustrated why itertools is so handy. Well done!

Bruce Labitt is almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the pysig mailing list going this summer. Bruce talked about the work he’s doing with intensive calculations and huge arrays. Bruce is building some complex simulations of radio waveforms and calculating various aspects of the radio waves for regulatory compliance. He’s using Python and NumPy and other libraries to generate test data and simulations, and interfacing common PCs with some supercomputing facilities for the heavy number-crunching. Very interesting talk.

Thanks to Bill Sconce for organizing the meeting, to Mark, Arc and Bruce for presenting, to Janet for the awesome cookies, to the Amoskeag  Business Incubator for the great facilities, and to all for attending and participating.

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