Older blog entries for titus (starting at number 441)

Lazyweb query: CloudStore (or KosmosFS)

Does anyone have any experience with CloudStore, formerly known as KosmosFS? From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CloudStore:

CloudStore (KFS, previously Kosmosfs) is Kosmix's C++ implementation of
Google File System. ... CloudStore supports incremental scalability,
replication, checksumming for data integrity, client side fail-over and access
from C++, Java and Python.

The project site is here: http://kosmosfs.sourceforge.net/

I'd be interested in comments on general usability, quality, and "feel"...



Syndicated 2009-11-25 04:14:30 from Titus Brown

Diversity in a Nutshell

Since a few people have asked, here's a rough guide to the diversity discussion. No specifics allowed.

1. diversity list created to (among other things) ponder an official diversity statement for Python. List is closed-archive but open for general subscription.

2. Various diversity list discussions become heated. Some people (including myself) leave list in response. Sigh of relief, back to normal life; is that a good response?

  1. A few weeks pass.

4. Diversity list discussion hunts me down on psf-members and tries to pounce. Narrow escape.

5. Proposed diversity statement from diversity list posted to psf-members for discussion and hopefully? approval; diversity discussion engulfs psf-members list like a revenant whale.

6. 1000s of messages pass. Or at least many dozen. People agree, disagree, agree to disagree, disagree on their agreement, and otherwise cause trouble by collectively failing to accept any part of the proposed diversity statement. (Tho it's actually much more complicated than that.) Troubling and unprovable accusations of widespread anti-diverseness in the Python community are softly bowled across the lawn.

7. Diversity discussion from psf-members cross-posted to diversity list. Non-PSF members on diversity list freak out at the idea that the PSF might adopt a diversity statement that did not take into account some of the issues they had discussed. Hurt feelings ensue, including frustration by various people that other people are doing things they don't want them to do, in complete violation of expectations. Troubling and unprovable accusations of fairly specific anti-diverseness in the Python community are left, steaming gently, on the lawn. Closed nature of both lists engenders and amplifies confusion.

  1. Still no diversity statement from the PSF on the horizon.

Things have quieted down for the evening.

Personally, it's been the most unpleasant set of interactions to watch and (occasionally) participate in that I've seen in the Python community in a long time; one can only hope that we reach some form of passionate agreement in the future:

Agreement in a group setting is truly a wonderful thing. But we should be wary of agreement that comes without any work, any disagreement, and disruption. We must never mistake quiet civility for passionate agreement.

(See this link for the whole post from which that quote is taken; Godwinning is unintentional but, frankly, a rather ironic endpoint to my meanderings.)

My new theory? It's all a plot instigated by the Perl community to distract the Python community so that Perl 7 can get the jump on Python 4k. It's the only way I can make sense of it all.


Comments closed, because I just don't care what anybody thinks any more.

Syndicated 2009-09-17 04:11:46 from Titus Brown

More GHOP -- conference call on Friday

As I wrote over the weekend, the Google Highly Open Participation contest (intended to get high-school students involved in open source work) may be run again this winter. I say "may", because quite a bit of work needs to be done on the GHOP hosting app, Melange.

We in the Python community are in a uniquely Good position to help out with this: Melange is written in Python, on Google AppEngine, using Django. It would be great were a horde of Django experts to descend upon Melange to offer their help. Melange also could use some help testing; any testing experts out there that want to donate their time?

If you want to get involved, please attend the IRC meeting on 18th of September 18:00 UTC on #melange.



Syndicated 2009-09-14 13:50:29 from Titus Brown

GHOP to run again; HELP.

The contest formally known as GHOP is going to run again this fall, and we need your help.

Yes, you. YOU, over there in the corner. Stop avoiding this post!

GHOP, for those of you who don't remember or weren't around 2 years ago, was the very successful pilot sister program to the Google Summer of Code that involved 13+ yro students from countries around the world (excepting only the Axis of Evil) in open source work. Nearly 400 students (!) participated and there was much rejoicing. (Summary post here, and all of my blog posts on Python's GHOP here.)

The good news was that GHOP was a big success from the perspective of many people: unlike the GSoC, which requires a substantial time investment from the mentor, and is only intended for coding work, GHOP involved byte-sized chunks of work in all areas (docs, testing, etc.) and rewarded both students and mentors for even a little bit of participation. In a signal of GHOP's success, by the end of the contest coming up with new Python-based tasks was easy -- people were literally throwing them at me, because they saw the rate at which existing tasks were being completed! I know that GvR was happy with the doc patches that made it into Python, and Andre Roberge gives GHOPpers a fair bit of credit for their contributions to Crunchy; there are a number of other success stories, too, including when Kumar told me that a task was too big and open-ended and then a 13 year old took the task and aced it, proving that I am not always wrong to ignore Kumar.

The bad news was that running GHOP was an immense amount of work, largely because of a lousy infrastructure -- Google Code isn't intended for this kind of thing, but we had to use something Google-hosted because it was a contest.

So what did Google do? They created the Melange project to help provide infrastructure for the GSoC and the GHOP both. It was used for the GSoC this last summer, and despite its rough edges, it worked out quite well.

Now Google is running GHOP again, and they're aiming to start December 7th. Unfortunately, in order to make that happen, they need a LOT of help on Melange.

Where do YOU come in?

Well, presumably you're a Python coder. You may be an expert in testing. You might be a Django nutcase. You're probably a Web developer (and odds are you've written your own Web framework, too, but never mind).

And guess what Melange is written in?

That's right, the best language on Earth (or at least a reasonable facsimile of it) -- Python.

You already know the language.

You already know how to use it in anger, to make the computer do your bidding.

Why not put your skillz to use?

I will be hitting up specific people and specific lists once we know when the IRC meeting to discuss Melange development is. Why not save yourself the aggravation of feeling guilt when you get my e-mail in a few days, and just sign up the Melange dev list right now?


Seriously, GHOP was awesome last time and we got a lot done for quite a few different Python projects. This time, we're older, more experienced, and better prepared to take advantage of GHOP. Join us, and you will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!

You can find a list of areas where Melange devs feel they need help right here. I look forward to seeing YOU working on them!


Syndicated 2009-09-12 03:42:08 from Titus Brown

How the Python stdlib changes (a public service message)

In the interests of social anthropology, I feel compelled to point Pythonistas at this fascinating discussion on the stdlib-sig on adding argparse to the Python stdlib. (Yeah, it's pretty much the only traffic that list got so far this month.)

Fascinating stuff. If there's a secret cabal out there masterminding Python development, they are clearly rather poorly organized ;)


Syndicated 2009-09-12 02:27:04 from Titus Brown

Buggy Python code?

I'm looking for examples of frustratingly simple-yet-wrong Python code, suitable for an undergrad class to debug. I'd prefer things that don't rely on tricky features of Python (like shared list references), but rather code where subtly bad logic or program flow leads to bad behavior.

Comment below, or e-mail me; I'll post the ones I pick later. thanks!


Syndicated 2009-09-09 02:13:57 from Titus Brown

Chickens are not a rate limiting factor

My wife and I were talking with my USDA collaborator about some possible chicken research, and I asked about access to animals. His response? "Chickens are not a rate limiting factor."

Did you know that 1 million chickens are slaughtered per hour, on average, in the US? Wow.


Syndicated 2009-09-06 23:59:31 from Titus Brown

Success, at last!

For only the second time (out of many tries) I managed to smoke some salmon and trout so that it was not overcooked and dry as a bone. Conclusion? I think my smoker thermometer is about 50 deg F off of the true "on grill" temperature, probably because it's about 3/4 of a foot above the grill level. So I just let the smoker sit at a lower measured temperature and voila, tasty fish!

I also got a full Windows dev environment working, from scratch, for Python. I took advantage of the Snakebite MSDN account to grab Windows XP and Visual Studio 2008, and then used Parallels to create a VM and install everything.

A few comments:

Parallels (a Mac OS X app) makes Windows much more bearable. On first blush, they've really got a good setup for people who only occasionally need to use Windows and generally hate every minute of it. It's kind of funny, really; even the Windows emulator is better on the Mac than Windows is itself!

It took about 24 hrs of futzing to get everything installed and updated. I ran into several situations where I had to turn off the Parallels disk sharing setup (which shares disks between the Mac host and the Windows VM) in order to install packages. This included the Python 2.6.2 MSI installer, the Service Pack 2 upgrade, and (I think) MySQL 5.1.

The purpose of this Windows futzing is to get a build client system going for Windows XP; for that, I needed git and svn. I'm happy to report that both git and svn have clients that are pretty much trivial to install on Windows, and seem to Just Work: I used msysgit and the Tigris.org download.

I ran into an infuriatingly opaque error compiling MySQLdb, and had to figure it out myself; I didn't run across this response until too late. Briefly, if you have MySQL 5.1 installed, _winreg returns an error, "the system cannot find the file specified"; you need to update MySQLdb's site.cfg to look for MySQL 5.1 instead of 5.0. This seems like something that should be in MySQLdb...

Speaking of MySQLdb, it'd be nice to have binary packages of some version or another for Python 2.6. Binary builds for Windows of packages with C extensions are really important for users. Hopefully I can help provide a better solution for this down the road.

Anyway, now I have a full blown dev environment: I can compile and test pygr, I can compile and test CPython itself, and I'm happy.

I can even sit back and eat some yummy smoked fish. How is that not a win?


p.s. Now I have to repeat all of this for another Mac by which time I will be an expert, I'm sure! Bleah.

Syndicated 2009-09-06 19:12:40 from Titus Brown

Why does my iPhone know how to spell Cthulhu?

Very odd. I mean, it's nice to have my prayers spell-checked and all, but really, Apple? Cthulhu?

Also, jinja2 rocks. I think I'll be teaching it as a templating language this term...

And finally, people interested in using sqlite3 for shelve-like storage in Python 2.x can take a look at issue 52 in pygr's issue tracker; I've taken the code from bugs.python.org/issue3783 and "backported" it to Python 2.x. Since bsddb is no longer going to be part of the Python stdlib, we're planning to switch to using sqlite3 for scalable data storage.


Syndicated 2009-08-30 17:59:02 from Titus Brown

Teaching girls to program in Ruby

Sarah Mei posts about teaching Ruby to high school girls. Good stuff.

While searching for some GHOP info from way back, I ran across this post asking "where are the girls among the GHOP winners?" (The statistics mentioned in the post may have been posted since, although I haven't seen them.) We asked the Python mentors to "rate" the students, and the hands-down winner was someone who had worked closely with several different mentors and performed very well. Perhaps next time we should highlight everyone who did well; there were several women in the group, too.

In general it's tough to raise the visibility of minority groups, though. Do we engage in affirmative action of some sort, and if so, how do we do so without being unfair to others? Or do we simply rank people in a presumably gender- and color-blind way and see what happens? I've talked several times in various venues about trying to run a female-oriented GSoC derivative, like GNOME's Women's Summer Outreach Program, which would at least call attention to one minority in OSS... and if GHOP ever happens again, we could work on getting younger women involved.


Syndicated 2009-08-28 03:02:20 from Titus Brown

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