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Richard Jones: Python Game Programming Challenge (PyWeek) #14 is coming!

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

The 14th Python Game Programming Challenge (PyWeek) is coming. It'll run from the 6th to the 13th of May.

The PyWeek challenge:

  1. Invites entrants to write a game in one week from scratch either as an individual or in a team,
  2. Is intended to be challenging and fun,
  3. Will increase the public body of game tools, code and expertise,
  4. Will let a lot of people actually finish a game, and
  5. May inspire new projects (with ready made teams!)

If you're in the US and can make it I'm co-presenting a 3 hour pygame tutorial at PyCon in March.

Richard Jones: Python 3.3 and virtualenv

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

We're kicking off some new projects using Python 3 (yay!) but had some issues getting virtualenvs working. Which is kinda ironic given that Python 3.3 included virtualenv in it, as pyvenv. Unfortunately, pyvenv isn't quite the same thing as virtualenv, and in particular it doesn't install/include pip and setuptools. There's also some additional issues introduced under Ubuntu.

First, you'll need to obtain Python 3.3. Some of the methods you could use will work and some are known to produce a non-viable environment. In particular:

  • OS X: get it from homebrew ("brew install python3"). I've not tried other avenues, but this works and is the easiest approach in my opinion.
  • Ubuntu: get it from source, building like so: sudo apt-get install build-essential libsqlite-dev sqlite3 bzip2 libbz2-dev wget tar jxf ./Python-3.3.3.tar.bz2 cd ./Python-3.3.3 ./configure --prefix=/opt/python3.3 make && sudo make install Do not attempt to use any currently-available pre-built packages (eg. from a PPA) as they will create broken virtualenvs. See this discussion for some enlightenment, but note the lack of a reasonable solution.
  • Windows: no idea, sorry.

Now that you've got a Python 3.3 installation, you can create your virtual environment. You do this with this command combination:

pyvenv-3.3 . /bin/activate wget python3.3 wget python3.3

Now you should have a viable, working Python 3.3 virtual environment.

Fortunately Python 3.4 is going to improve on this by installing pip alongside python.

Also, pip 1.5.1's "" will let you skip that extra setuptools install above when it's out (real soon).

Richard Jones: PyWeek #14 date change

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

The next PyWeek will be in May from the 6th to 13th. Not April.

Richard Jones: PyPI password-related security changes

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25
TL;DR: please log into PyPI and change your password.

Recently we have been auditing and improving security of the Python Package Index (PyPI) and other hosts.

You may be aware that the host was compromised. Since we must assume that all passwords stored in that system are also compromised, and we also assume that some users share passwords between systems, we are performing a password reset of all PyPI accounts in one week's time, at 2013-02-22 00:00 UTC.

If you log in before that deadline and change your password then you'll be fine, otherwise you'll need to use the password recovery form after the reset has occurred.

Additionally, we would ask you to begin to access PyPI using HTTPS through the web. We're in the process of installing a new SSL certificate so the current Big Red Certificate Warning should go away very soon.

We are in the process of updating the Python packaging toolset to use HTTPS.

These steps are but a couple of those we're intending to take to better secure PyPI. If you are interested in these matters I encourage you to participate in the discussion on the catalog SIG.

Finally, we apologise for any inconvenience these changes have caused.

Richard Jones: PyPI is an OpenID provider

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

PyPI is now an OpenID provider.

To use this OpenID provider, enter into any form that expects an OpenID*. Should the service not support OpenID 2, you will have to enter instead (using your PyPI username.) Log into PyPI and visit your details page if you'd like to cut-n-paste the URL.

We follow the emerging approach that you have to sign into PyPI before signing into the actual services. This is intended to prevent phishing, as otherwise the relying party may fake PyPI's login page and collect your PyPI password (which they can still do if you fall for it.) It also avoids "nested" logins (i.e. where you need to log into PyPI with an OpenID while trying to login elsewhere with the PyPI id.)

If you find any problems with this service, please report them to the PyPI bug tracker.

*: of course for sites that extend PyPI this can be simplified to a simple button saying "link to my PyPI account".

Richard Jones: PyCon Australia 2011 - Registration Open and CFP Almost Over

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

A reminder that the Call for Proposals for PyCon Australia 2011 will be closing soon. We've had some great proposals so far, but there is still time left and program to fill.

PyCon Australia is Australia's only conference dedicated exclusively to the Python programming language, and will be held at the Sydney Masonic Center over the weekend of August 20 and 21. See below for more information and updates on:

  1. Call For Proposals
  2. Registration is Open
  3. More Sponsors Announced

Please share this message on to those you feel may be interested.

Call For Proposals

The deadline for proposal submission is the 2nd of May. That's only a few days away!

We are looking for proposals for talks on all aspects of Python programming from novice to advanced levels; applications and frameworks, or how you have been involved in introducing Python into your organisation. We're especially interested in short presentations that will teach conference-goers something new and useful. Can you show attendees how to use a module? Explore a Python language feature? Package an application?

We welcome first-time speakers; we are a community conference and we are eager to hear about your experience. If you have friends or colleagues who have something valuable to contribute, twist their arms to tell us about it! Please also forward this Call for Proposals to anyone that you feel may be interested.

The earlier you submit your proposal, the more time we will have to review and give you feedback before the program is finalised.

Speakers receive free registration for the conference, including a seat at the conference dinner. Don't miss out, submit your proposal today!

Registration is Open

We offer three levels of registration for PyCon Australia 2011:

Corporate - $440
If your company is paying for you to attend PyCon, please register at the corporate rate. You'll be helping to keep the conference affordable for all, especially for students and those needing financial aid. Government employees should also register at the corporate rate.
Full (Early Bird) - $165
This is the registration rate for regular attendees. We are offering a limited Early Bird rate for the first 50 registrations until the end of May. Once the Early Bird period ends, or when all Early Bird slots are filled, registration will increase to $198. Full registration includes one seat at the conference dinner on Saturday night.
Student - $44
For students able to present a valid student card we're offering this reduced rate. Student registrations do not include a seat at the conference dinner.

Additional seats at the conference dinner may be purchased for $77 each.

All prices include GST.

Information about the registration process is on the PyCon Australia website.

More Sponsors Announced

We are delighted to announce that ComOps has joined as a Gold Sponsor. Thank you to the following companies for their continuing support of Python and for helping to make PyCon Australia 2011 a reality:

Gold: Google

Gold: Microsoft

Gold: ComOps

Silver: Anchor

Silver: Enthought

Silver: Python Software Foundation

Thanks also to Linux Australia, who provide the overarching legal and organisational structure for PyCon Australia.

Richard Jones: PyCon AU 2014 CFP about to close!

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

The PyCon Australia 2014 CFP is about to close! Last chance to get your proposal in! Quoted:

The conference this year will be held on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 August 2014 in Brisbane. We'll also be featuring a day of miniconfs on Friday 1 August.

The deadline for proposal submission is Friday 25 April, 2014.

PyCon Australia attracts professional developers from all walks of life, including industry, government, and science, as well as enthusiast and student developers. We’re looking for proposals for presentations and tutorials on any aspect of Python programming, at all skill levels from novice to advanced.

Presentation subjects may range from reports on open source, academic or commercial projects; or even tutorials and case studies. If a presentation is interesting and useful to the Python community, it will be considered for inclusion in the program.

We're especially interested in short presentations that will teach conference-goers something new and useful. Can you show attendees how to use a module? Explore a Python language feature? Package an application?

Proposals about the Django web framework are very strongly encouraged, and will also be considered for inclusion in DjangoCon AU, to be held on Friday 1 August.

There will also be a Science and Data Analysis miniconf and an OpenStack miniconf held alongside DjangoCon AU. Proposals on either of these topics will be considered for inclusion in these miniconfs.

We welcome first-time speakers; we are a community conference and we are eager to hear about your experience. If you have friends or colleagues who have something valuable to contribute, twist their arms to tell us about it! Please also forward this Call for Proposals to anyone that you feel may be interested.

See you in Brisbane in August!

Richard Jones: PyCon AU 2013 and Things You Should Not Do In Python

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

So PyCon Australia is done for another year and it was a corker. I'm somewhat overwhelmed and Graeme Cross has an great summary of the event, but I really must repeat what an amazing job the organisers did in running a quality, smooth event packed with Python. See also Katie Miller's writeup about the 10 things that PyCon AU does particularly well.

Personally, I pleased as punch that my talk Don't Do This went as well as it did - I had a blast giving it and it was well-received.

Also, Ben Finney talked a bunch about PyCon AU in Wednesday's Byte Into It on 3RRR.

Richard Jones: New Year Python Meme

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

Thanks, Tarek, for this fun idea.

1. What's the coolest Python application, framework or library you have discovered in 2011?

I was pretty happy I discovered the awesomeness of bottle when researching my web micro-framework battle (video.)

I've started using Python 2.7 and 3.2 which is pretty cool (having been stuck in 2.3, gasp!)

I've been working with Twisted again after a couple of years' break and have discovered txpostgres and Twisted's own inlineCallbacks. Both are pretty cool. inlineCallbacks make Twisted programming quite bearable to think about :-)

2. What new programming technique did you learn in 2011?

I've been honing my testing skills and learned about Behaviour Driven Development. I've also learned to use both Mercurial and Git (and the latter still drives me insane sometimes) and their related websites bitbucket and github.

I also started using virtualenv and Fabric way more this year.

3. What's the name of the open source project you contributed the most in 2011? What did you do?

This year I created parse, overload and ooch and contributed to behave. I also helped run PyCon Australia.

4. What was the Python blog or website you read the most in 2011?

Planet Python and the New Packages feed from PyPI.

5. What are the three top things you want to learn in 2012?

I can never predict what I'll end up learning. Or what software I'll be writing.

I know I'll be learning a lot more about Mercuruial (and Git, I suppose) and the vagaries of modern software deployment.

I plan on working more on my test- and behaviour-driven development practices.

I also want to learn how to bake more things thanks to the Great British Bake Off :-)

6. What are the top software, app or lib you wish someone would write in 2012?

I'm hoping that someone will do something cool with the new PyPI OpenID provider ;-)

Want to do your own list? here's how:

  1. copy-paste the questions and answer to them in your blog
  2. tweet it with the #2012pythonmeme hashtag

Richard Jones: Introducing - the new

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

We've just added a new domain to the stable,, to replace the existing domain. All accesses to the old domain are redirected to the new - all existing references will work. Google et al should catch up eventually.

This was done as part of an overall review of security of the PyPI website. Warning, that thread is longish :-)

Richard Jones: How awesome was PyCon?

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

PyCon was awesome.

It started with the Young Coders tutorial where I had the privilege of helping out as an assistant. The kids were amazing. Barbara Shaurette and Katie Cunningham were amazing. It was awesome.

The next day I popped in to help set up that room again but then spent the rest of the day focusing on my afternoon tutorial teaching people to write games in Python. It was packed - 35 or so attendees had signed up but then a bunch of the kids from the first day of Young Coders also came along to watch and learn. Including an 8 year old girl who told her dad she wanted to write video games. Awesome.

Then the conference proper started with an inspiring opening speech by the conference chair Jesse Noller about his vision of Change the future - education, outreach, politeness, respect, tenacity and vision. A broad, ambitious and awesome vision, and one I can fully get behind. Then Eben Upton took the stage to tell us about his journey with the Raspberry Pi project and a little of his vision. Lots of similarities. And then everyone got a Raspberry Pi. Awesome.

People wanting help figuring out how to teach kids to program their Raspberry Pi could try the free Raspberry Pi Education Manual PDF.

I spent a lot of time during the conference split between talking through various things in the hallway (I'm the Cheeseshop BDFL and there's many things afoot there and PyCon is a great time to move things forward very quickly), and spending time in the Raspberry Pi lab, chairing talk sessions for amazing speakers and generally having my mind awesomely expanded.

I taught many people the basics of pygame. I ran into the Kivy developers, and talked to them about the Pi. During the sprints they ported Kivy to the Pi and even developed some simple games using Kivy, the Pi and some simple hardware sensors (I'm playing the game with a tilt sensor).

I had an inspiring conversation with James Bennett during which a light went off in my head and the result is Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) 439 for "Inclusion of pip bootstrap in Python installation". (apologies if you get a badly-formatted version; it should be fixed shortly.)

I'm exhausted. The people here - the community - is amazing and vibrant and brilliant and huge. 2500 people at the conference, 20% women. Awesome.

Seriously, look how many people were there...

Richard Jones: Compiling cx_Oracle on OS X

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

Occasionally I need to compile cx_Oracle on OS X and the 32- and 64-bit worlds collide head-on in a mess of "implicit conversion shortens 64-bit value into a 32-bit value" and "file was built for unsupported file format which is not the architecture being linked (x86_64)" errors.

I keep forgetting the various steps needed to make this work correctly so here they are:

  1. Create a virtualenv with a python interpreter stripped to 32-bit only. In the virtualenv bin directory ($WORKON_HOME/name_of_virtualenv/bin): % mv python python.fat % lipo python.fat -remove x86_64 -output python Doing this saves all the hassles of that "arch", "VERSIONER_PYTHON_PREFER_32_BIT" and "defaults write blah blah" guff and doesn't affect any other virtualenvs.
  2. Now that we have a "thin" Python compatible with the Oracle library, we can build cx_Oracle. Unfortunately even though Python is thin its configuration is not so we need to force things using an obscure environment variable that distutils will pick up: ARCHFLAGS="-arch i386" pip install cx_Oracle

There, that was easy, wasn't it?

Richard Jones: Cheese Shop (PyPI) sprinting at PyCon AU

Mon, 2014-08-11 14:25

We've had a fun couple of days sprinting on the Cheese Shop at PyCon AU where a number of contributors have fixed bugs and improved or added features (though always with the goal of keeping the service simple of course.)

In particular:

  1. Andy Todd helped clean up some aspects of the underlying database and fix up some of the sql.
  2. Capel Brunker added some more XML-RPC functionality, performed some tracker triage and also addressed some bugs and security issues.
  3. Kaleb Ufton, in his first contribution to Open Source development, added a bug tracker URL field to packages (which persists across releases and you must enter by editing through the website.) He also helped me sort out some twisted Apache configuration issues.
  4. I finally got around to writing the "newest packages" RSS feed.

There's another secret project we kicked off that will hopefully appear in the next couple of days, and some additional work that will hopefully come to fruition within a week or so. Stay tuned :-)

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Ian Wienand: Finding out if you're a Rackspace instance

Mon, 2014-08-11 10:26

Different hosting providers do things slightly differently, so it's sometimes handy to be able to figure out where you are. Rackspace is based on Xen and their provided images should include the xenstore-ls command available. xenstore-ls vm-data will give you a handy provider and even region fields to let you know where you are.

function is_rackspace { if [ ! -f /usr/bin/xenstore-ls ]; then return 1 fi /usr/bin/xenstore-ls vm-data | grep -q "Rackspace" } if is_rackspace; then echo "I am on Rackspace" fi

Other reading about how this works:

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2014-08-04 to 2014-08-10

Mon, 2014-08-11 01:26

Colin Charles: MySQLNoSQLCloud 2014 – Edition #3

Sun, 2014-08-10 19:25

I’ve enjoyed visiting Buenos Aires once a year for the MySQLNoSQLCloud event, put together by the awesome people at Binlogic (in particular, their proprietor Santiago Lertora). It’s happening again in 2014, which by my count is the third edition, and there’s a twist: Buenos Aires on 13 & 14 November, and Cordoba on 17 November. It’s never been held in Cordoba before (like an annex event), so I think this could be extremely exciting.

If you’re looking to speak, send Santiago a note at (or leave a message here). I’ll put you in touch with him. If you’re looking to sponsor, you get attendees from all over Latin America.

Related posts:

  1. Upcoming MariaDB/MySQL events: Tokyo, Buenos Aires
  2. Sun Systems Tour; MyGOSSCON
  3. MySQL Community Awards: Community Contributor of the Year 2014

Russell Coker: Being Obviously Wrong About Autism

Sun, 2014-08-10 03:26

I’m watching a Louis Theroux documentary about Autism (here’s the link to the BBC web site [1]). The main thing that strikes me so far (after watching 7.5 minutes of it) is the bad design of the DLC-Warren school for Autistic kids in New Jersey [2].

A significant portion of people on the Autism Spectrum have problems with noisy environments, whether most Autistic people have problems with noise depends on what degree of discomfort is considered a problem. But I think it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of kids on the Autism Spectrum will behave better in a quiet environment. So any environment that is noisy will cause more difficult behavior in most Autistic kids and the kids who don’t have problems with the noise will have problems with the way the other kids act. Any environment that is more prone to noise pollution than is strictly necessary is hostile to most people on the Autism Spectrum and all groups of Autistic people.

The school that is featured in the start of the documentary is obviously wrong in this regard. For starters I haven’t seen any carpet anywhere. Carpeted floors are slightly more expensive than lino but the cost isn’t significant in terms of the cost of running a special school (such schools are expensive by private-school standards). But carpet makes a significant difference to ambient noise.

Most of the footage from that school included obvious echos even though they had an opportunity to film when there was the least disruption – presumably noise pollution would be a lot worse when a class finished.

It’s not difficult to install carpet in all indoor areas in a school. It’s also not difficult to install rubber floors in all outdoor areas in a school (it seems that most schools are doing this already in play areas for safety reasons). For a small amount of money spent on installing and maintaining noise absorbing floor surfaces the school could achieve better educational results. The next step would be to install noise absorbing ceiling tiles and wallpaper, that might be a little more expensive to install but it would be cheap to maintain.

I think that the hallways in a school for Autistic kids should be as quiet as the lobby of a 5 star hotel. I don’t believe that there is any technical difficulty in achieving that goal, making a school look as good as an expensive hotel would be expensive but giving it the same acoustic properties wouldn’t be difficult or expensive.

How do people even manage to be so wrong about such things? Do they never seek any advice from any adult on the Autism Spectrum about how to run their school? Do they avoid doing any of the most basic Google searches for how to create a good environment for Autistic people? Do they just not care at all and create an environment that looks good to NTs? If they are just trying to impress NTs then why don’t they have enough pride to care that people like me will know how bad they are? These aren’t just rhetorical questions, I’d like to know what’s wrong with those people that makes them do their jobs in such an amazingly bad way.

Related posts:

  1. Autism and a Child Beauty Contest Fenella Wagener wrote an article for the Herald Sun about...
  2. Autism, Food, etc James Purser wrote “Stop Using Autism to Push Your Own...
  3. Communication Shutdown and Autism The AEIOU Foundation The AEIOU Foundation [1] is a support...

Maxim Zakharov: So tango

Sat, 2014-08-09 14:25

I feel happy returning home at 2am last night catching the last train from the city. I’ve been to my first milonga, dancing and watching real life tango for almost 5 hours. It was an amazing experience!

Half year ago I’ve thought I can not dance at all. It is changing since then with the help of Sophia de Lautour (Alvarez), my tango instructor, who is passionate about tango, very friendly and patient teaching someone who was not born to dance. If you wish to try learn tango, especially in North Sydney or Eastern suburbs, please take a look on the web-site of her school: So Tango: tango classes and private lessons in Sydney.

The topping of the evening were 3 tangos performed by Natalia Hill and Alejandro Aquino who showed the art of tango haute couture. Watch them dancing in Taipei last year:

Brendan Scott: brendanscott

Fri, 2014-08-08 23:29

In July I got an update to Android on my phone (an otherwise wonderful Galaxy Note 3).  It’s not awful, but the choices it has made are very annoying. In particular:

* email – I cannot now just have my email update when I click the refresh icon because I need to have auto sync data enabled.  So to have manual syncing of data I need to go into settings ->connections->data usage, press the menu button, select “auto sync data”, then go to my email app and click its refresh icon (then, technically, go back again to turn off auto sync again)

* wifi – everything is now dependent upon whether or not I’m connected to wifi, because, if I’m connected to wifi everything must be ok right? Well, you genii, who put wifi hotspot functionality into my phone? Now, I can’t actually use my wifi hotspot without worrying whether my tablet is going to auto-download a ton of stuff and blow my cap when I least expect it.  Thanks, thanks a lot.

* internet – I used to be able to have a number of windows open, and scroll through the open ones.  Now only my last _four_ are visible.  What the hay?  Sort of undermines the point of being able to have a number of windows open much? (Internet in general has a heap of odd design choices – forcing new tabs to open in the foreground being a pet hate)

* background data – if I want to have background data restriction on it puts a permanent notification in the notification bar.  Get that junk out of there. I’m a responsible adult for heaven’s sake.

* wifi direct (not actually from the update): why can’t I use wifi to transfer files directly between my phone and tablet without without going via a third router?  My phone can act as a wifi hotspot, why do I have to connect both devices to a third device?

These mind boggling UI choices make me wonder what’s going on with Android and whether it’s turned a corner – the wrong corner.




Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 191: A quiet day at home, Science Friday returns

Fri, 2014-08-08 23:25

Zoe woke up at 2:30am because she'd lost Cowie, and then woke up at 6am for the day. It took some effort to get out of bed this morning.

Getting out of the shower, I received a call from a trainer at the REIQ this morning saying I'd officially passed the registration block of my real estate license training. I'll get a Certificate of Registration, which is the bare minimum to work in the Real Estate industry soon. I took a moment to reflect on the fact that I've only been working on this for about 3 months, so it's a nice milestone and achievement. I've got plenty more units to do to get my full licence though.

Zoe was a bit more sniffly today, so I thought a quiet day at home was in order. I haven't done Science Friday since we got back from our US trip, mostly due to lack of planning. I wasn't that much more prepared today, but I did think of it earlier in the day, so we did a couple of things.

First up, we tried a twist on the old "vinegar and sodium bicarbonate" one that we've done in the past. This time, we filled a balloon with the sodium bicarbonate, and put some vinegar in the bottom of an empty 2 litre soft drink bottle. We put the balloon on the neck of the bottle and allowed the sodium bicarbonate to fall into the bottle. We got enough gas from the reaction to inflate the balloon, although some leaked out around the thread on the neck. Zoe was impressed.

I've also had two jars of polyvinyl alcohol solution sitting in the fridge since we last tried making slime, so it was a pretty easy one to just make another batch of slime. This time Zoe chose yellow.

Zoe wanted to work on the cardboard box robot she's been on and off wanting to make, but after a trip to the compost bin, it was time for lunch. After a fairly sizeable meltdown, we had some lunch.

I couldn't find my Leatherman after lunch, so we couldn't work on the robot anyway, so we read some books instead. Zoe wanted to read her Grug books, so I decided it was a good day to surprise her with the plush Grug that I'd purchased on impulse last year and squirreled away.

After some reading, I thought I'd try and get her to take a nap, so I told her that she could sleep in my bed and I'd read for a bit. She liked that idea and was in my bed faster than you could say "Jack Robinson". After reading some e-books, she fell asleep pretty quickly, and I used the couple of hours to catch up on some reading.

She woke up a little bit grumpy, but perked up after some TV and afternoon tea and then Sarah arrived to pick her up. It was nice to have a quiet day at home. The only time we left the house was to visit the compost bin.