Monday, May 30, 2016

Pycon 2016

I'm feeling somewhat dense today, as in slow, relative to the various speakers I've been listening to.

The talk on the basics of Git (which I use) went by too fast.  Writing an interpreter for PHP in RPython... amazing that any solitary Joe could take that on and get real results.  RPython is a reduced version of Python that's designed to run a lot faster.  PyPy is implemented in RPython, which latter has become more of it's own project than it used to be.

The morning keynote, presented by Dr. Lorena Barba, was philosophical in tone and felt more like a home base.  She was highly focused on the work of Fernando Flores and Terry Winograd as a context for how the Python community might carry the torch forward, in the education space especially.

Bring the language of open source, which includes workflows (like on Github), into the wider culture, which of course would include the business world.  Players make requests, commit, confirm delivery, register satisfaction -- or not, the flowchart varies.  Sometimes players renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

The language-action perspective (LAP) would graph as an influence on the Forum as well.  One of my house guests went through that program recently.  As an est grad, I was welcome to the Sunday wrap-up.

Erhard, the creator of est, worked with Fernando Flores back in the early 1980s.  The Hermenet chapter.  I was following from a distance, from Jersey City.

The Forum is highly language-oriented.  What gets in the way of achieving desired results may well be a "buggy grammar", using "grammar" in the Wittgensteinian language-games sense.  Participants are challenged to be more reflective about their operating system.

Fernando was imprisoned for a period, after serving as Finance Minister of Chile when a military coup happened.  Barba is one of his long time students and fans.  I was glad to see these dots being connected, betwixt open source and an idealistic regime.

Ian Benson was certainly into some of this same philosophy, with his Sociality initiative.  His project was not focused on any particular device, challenging the PSF to find a specifically Pythonic angle.  I see he's made progress with the Cuisenaire rods.

Pycon 2016 Concludes
EduSummit / Pycon 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

PPUG 2016.5.26

Fuller vs. Genomic Projections

I'm at the Portland Python User Group at Urban Airship (@PDXPython), the main Python user group in town, though the Monday Night Circus @ <guild /> is also well attended, and more informal. Some of the same people go to both (hi Ben).

Here we gather for presentations and sometimes pizza.  Tonight Cloudbolt Software is getting to sponsor.  The pizza is not here yet.

Trevor does a better job of archiving the Bucky stuff in the meticulous fashion researchers require.  The Linus and Ava Helen Pauling collection at Oregon State, with the Douglas Strain Reading Room, showed me what a state of the art archives is all about.

Trevor is uber diligent even in the absence of much funding, which is characteristic of those who bring order to Fuller's work.  Not being paid is part of what makes it work, hard work.

I'll plan to get him these materials uncovered above.  The paper by Dr. Bob Gray shows how the characteristic arrangement of continents that go into making up the Fuller Projection is really what makes it stand out.

Using the Snyder or Genomic Projection algorithms, as distinct from Fuller's, results in mathematically measurable differences, but to the naked eye, the distortion is about the same i.e. minimal (compared to a Mercator, which takes the flat Earth perspective to an extreme).

Dr. Ernest Bonat, Senior Software Engineer, will address us tonight, on the topic of Implementing MVC Arcitecture in Python for Data Analysis.  He works full time at Intel, but does data analysis consulting on the side.

He's here to tell us about his stack, 64-bit Windows based (Core i7, 16 GM RAM).  Getting all the software in one place is his goal:  Anaconda is his solution.  He's Cuban, not Italian -- he wanted us to know.  Eclipse IDE / PyDev plugin / EGit plugin (free) is a good one.  Microsoft is providing quite a lot for free these days, community edition everything, Python tools for Visual Studio, SQL Server etc.

I've used Eclipse a lot, our defacto IDE at O'Reilly School, but since getting Anaconda I've been practicing with Spyder a lot.  PyCharm is an old standby as well, and popular with this audience (we did a show of hands).  I'm glad he's showcasing Eclipse.

Pycon is next week, May 28 through June 5th.  This particular Pycon, organized directly by the Python Software Foundation, is the largest annual gathering for the community using and developing the open source Python programming language.  Steve Holden got the ball rolling on Pycons.  EuroPython was first.

Steve is not coming to Pycon this year, which is unfortunate.  I'll be hosting Henrique from Brazil as my guest.

Cloudbolt is looking for a full stack engineer.  The pizza has arrived!

I heard some grumbling that Bonat's version of MVC is treating Visualizations more as reports (final output) than a full interactive GUI controlled by the end-user.  In web development, the visualization is more or less synonymous with the web page presentation itself.

Ernest's end users are client-recipient of the data analysis, not the real time users of a custom GUI.  Ernest himself is happy running his source code directly, given everything is so well organized.  For him, Eclipse itself is the GUI.  The data went from .csv files into pandas.  This was not Big Data in the sense of mapreduce or Hadoop.

Dr. Bonat was certainly right to emphasize unit testing and TDD.  When it comes to job interviews, he's looking for well commented, documented solutions that come with unit tests.  I need to keep that in mind as a job hunter.

The Lightning Talk was also interesting and statistical in nature, though also more number theoretic.  How many digits does it take to represent a natural number 1/n, including one digit to designate "repeating"?  For example 0.5 is 1 digit for 1/2,  whereas 0.333... for 1/3 would be 2 digits, as the 3 repeats.

The speaker, who's name I missed, showed us several plots, including varying the number base.  Bases of a 2nd power, like 4 and 9, have special properties apparently.  Primes especially often take as many digits as in the base to represent the number.

On the way to the meetup I was communicating with Trevor about getting him the above materials.  I also sent him this link to recent writing, on 4D vs. 4D vs. 4D, a theme of my enthno-mathematical investigations.

Trademark Layout

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monday's Game of Pinball

Great Math Kit!

I decided to give the Code School a break from my presence this Monday, having ascended Dog Mountain and thinking to just kick back and not go anywhere.

However an event at PSU caught my attention and I grabbed a bus, only to find the published time on the poster had no bearing on reality.  The doors to the Smith Ballroom were still locked as of 6:17 PDT.

If you were already going with the flow as a PSU student, that wouldn't much matter, however in trying to land coming in from the outside, as a member of the general public, I just got confused, encountering locked doors, and took Tri-Met home again.  Having my cell phone die also restricted my degrees of freedom (in terms of ways to pay or find a ride).

I'd bounced around the 'hood earlier that day, testing the legs for new aches and pains, and contemplating a haircut.  I need to stay in interview mode, which I'd say I am, and plan to shake hands.

A thing I read on my smartphone told me the top ten things to do every day and one of them was shake hands a lot.  Another was do your chores.  I wonder if I can find that article again in this fish tank we call the Web.  I didn't bookmark it.  Found it.  Really?  Just men?  Oh, I see.

Anyway, no haircut occurred as Sam Lanahan was soon to come over with a shipment of Flextegrity, the remnants of "Big e" as Glenn and I called it, a spiral, now cut in pieces.  There's a project afoot to do something new with it.

Sam took us to Portland Fish House where we discussed philosophy and the Lanahan family heritage back through Baltimore to the original US citizen who'd arrived from Ireland as the name suggests.  The Lanahan distillery burned in the great fire that wiped out much of the harbor area.  San Francisco and Chicago also had great fires, as did London (at least one).

As you may have guessed by now, my use of "pinball" was metaphorical.  However a new pinball parlor has just opened, where Mt. Tabor Theater used to be.  I have every intention of paying a visit.  Patrick attests the machines are in great shape and in wide variety.

Playing computer games was another item on that list of ten.  Anyway, "lists of ten" are all over the place if you're into the genre.  I'm sure you can find one or make one up, that reinforces whatever habits you're keen to reward.

Glenn is reading that heavy German philosophy featuring Bubbles, Globes and Foam.  Given his fascination with the Geoscope (aka Macroscope) as a concept, the syllabus is fitting.  He wrote the author's name on a napkin for Sam, whereas I recommended Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Glenn also showed me this great Math Kit book (photo above) rescued by a dumpster diver. And speaking of dumpsters, I should mention I also drove to Beaverton with a load of styrofoam for recycling.  Quite the game of pinball.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (movie review)

:: bagdad interior ::

I think what we're supposed to get is Captain America is more than ambivalent about joining some United Nations, much as Brits feel conflicted about the European Union.  What if the UN picks the wrong bad guys, or fails to act when bad guy pillage is immanent?  The Avengers are leery of trusting anyone's judgement but their own.

However, shades of The Incredibles, ordinary mortals are sick and tired of their "collateral" status, as in "collateral damage".  The collateral rises up and says "enough is enough already" and asks the Avengers for a modicum of accountability.  Captain America has his moral qualms about this.  For one thing he's harboring a terrorist, his friend that gets activated by keywords.

I came to this movie with a sieve-like memory, a lot of the sand having trickled away.  Like I could not understand how that Mandela-talking prince could have superpowers until later it was explained to me his part of Africa was where the unobtanium was mined.  Then it all made more sense.

Other important plot elements maybe went by in a blur, as I was focusing on the ridiculously-on-steroids cartoon-like physics of it all (Marvel is originally a comic book publisher remember, only recently a studio).

That's the difference between film in a theater and a Marvel comic:  when reading, one may pause to puzzle, even cross-reference and refresh.  In a real time first viewing, a lot of information comes at ya, and there's always the risk of dropping some balls.

That's not as big a deal as it sounds however, as the movie is designed to be rented and/or owned at a later date, and when playing back, even pausing, is OK.

Viewing with controls can be a lot more like reading a comic book than taking it in at the theater.  The Marvel movie-makers reward those who pay twice: once for the once-through as a blockbuster, and then again for more reflective analysis, in a home theater context.

Another plot element I didn't quite get is why the liquid blue stuff was allowed to travel with Mr. and Mrs. Old Person on some back country road.  Is that how we'd treat plutonium?

Some terrorist swoops in and rains on their parade, but what institutional wheel-turning put them alone on a such a desolate road, with such stuff in the trunk in the first place?  They might have hit a deer, leaving it to some random hiker to discover the blue liquid's worth on e-Bay.

What risk management protocols were being followed?  Was this whole operation ISO-compliant? I guess in 1991 they didn't really have such standards.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thirsters 2016.5.12


I was unclear what the topic would be, but a friend on Facebook was suggesting I go.  My house guest, here on business, was game to come along and sample our subculture.

As luck would have it, Don's former student Mark was by.  We'd had a day on the boat together some years ago.  Don visited Mark in Guatemala that time, and talked to Wanderers about it.  The presentation was on recent developments in Guatemala.

In particular, our speakers included a forensic anthropologist, well-versed in crime scene discovery, and a mother-daughter team who had attended a part of a recent trial, brought by victims of abuse against the perps.

What was new in this case is (a) the defendants were military officers in the Guatemalan armed services and (b) they were found guilty by a court in Guatemala itself.

The steady flow of refugees from American states has everything to do with the culture of impunity they've permitted, frustrating the movement to eliminate slavery.


People in the US complain about immigration without understanding the dynamics behind people pushed off their ancestral lands, people who might have rather stayed put.

These women, now in their 70s and 80s, had been enslaved during the Reagan Era, when violence against native peoples was at an all time high across the board.

As the government effort has been to assist a property-owning class engaged in land grabbing, much as in the US, the Guatemalan military has been cast against native peoples as an enemy, and slave women have traditionally been among the spoils of war, just ask the Romans.

I asked if this recent guilty verdict in anyway imperiled business as usual around US bases, both at home and abroad, where a sex industry abounds, but without being seen as outright slavery.

The exiled people of Kwajalein and Bikini come to mind, as among those pressed into servitude and dependence, after having their ecosystems poisoned by radio-toxins.

Upon arriving home, I couldn't find my XQ-1, the camera I use for all these pictures.  That resulted in over an hour of searching high and low, retracing my steps, driving back to the venue.

I found it, finally, on the floor in the back seat area of the Nissan.  I'd looked under the front seats but hadn't spied it lying there.  I surmise it fell out of my coat pocket.

More Summer Reading

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

More Americana

Breakfast Stop

Another time in Richmond, I stayed at a Best Western and shot a picture across I-40 to the north.  On this trip, I was in that picture, at the Bob Evans, looking back.  Dawn preferred Bob Evans to Cracker Barrel, both mid-west phenomena (restaurant chains), extending on into the southeast.

What I have to keep remembering is how much closer the so-called "mid-west" is to the Atlantic coast, in comparison to its distance from the Pacific coast.  It's only a day on the road to Washington DC, whereas it's three times further to Portland.

I used Google Maps to plot a route from Champaign, Illinois to Portland, Oregon.  The computer said we'd have to drive a day and seven hours.  That's if we were in a Google car and could sleep a lot of the way, only slowing for gas and brief pit stops.  A crewed bizmo could do the job, though ideally the schedule is not that hectic.

My route from Champaign to the Budget rental car return at the St. Louis airport took me through Springfield, Illinois.  On the way out I'd stopped in Decatur for lunch.  The Abraham Lincoln Museum was well attended, especially by kids arriving by the bus load.  My schedule was tight and I was low on coins for the parking meter, which had failed anyway, as it turns out.  Shades of Detroit.  I took hurried pix in the Gift Shop by way of keeping souvenirs.

We hear a lot about Greece and its dire financials, but lets talk about Illinois.  Here's another state out of money, completely in the hole.  To whom does Illinois turn?  The Federation as a whole is even deeper in the red and mostly just likes to make rules it won't pay the states to comply with.  The old social contract is wearing thin in that sense.

The European Union is projected in US media as being in trouble, but as the Lincoln museum reminds us, it's the US union that's been through some tough times recently.  The EU has had nothing quite like the US Civil War (which was anything but civil).  This is not a nation that gets along with itself.  The breakdown into eleven states helps make sense of the jumbled war of words happening through talk radio, other social media.

Skywest operates a relatively new service for Alaska Airlines that got me from the St. Louis airport to PDX in under four hours.  We got in early and had to wait for our gate to free up.  I noticed an Icelandair parked at the concourse.  How long have we had direct flights to Iceland I wonder?

I sat next to an Illinois farmer, his wife across the aisle.  Their daughter is a professor at OSU and just had a first baby.  They'd been out before, but not frequently.  He didn't know what "IPA" was (as in "India Pale Ale").

I said the Brits invented this kind of beer to help prevent spoilage in the hotter Indian subcontinent, adding more hops than usual as a preservative.  In the Pacific Northwest, more fresh hops get infused later in the process, which actually shortens the shelf life of the beer (with refrigeration, which the Brits did not have in those early days, aging slows).

With the fresh hops IPA, the whole point is to drink it down soon after it's kegified.

I had a beer on the plane and another at Beaches, from whence I sent a note to Lindsey, as we'd earlier planned to talk around now, but then she realized there was no point renewing her cell phone contract, given where she'd be.  For the most part I'm not doing beer but for ceremonial and diplomatic occasions.  This whole week was about diplomacy.

Anywhere, America

Friday, May 06, 2016

Revisiting the Heartland

A year ago at this time, I was still with the O'Reilly School, and was lucky to get sent to the US Distance Learning Association (USDLA) annual conference in St. Louis.  Before the conference started, I rented a car and drove to Richmond, Indiana, via Champaign, Illinois, to visit my daughter.

This year, I'm following much the same script, minus the conference, to be at Earlham College for Tara's graduation.  I rented a car at the St. Louis airport, visited with greyhound and cat-owning friends (Afghan restaurant!), then headed to Champaign, where our code school used to have an office.

The original school was started by fans of the late Jerry Uhl, a professor at the University of Illinois, based in Champaign-Urbana, and was then purchased by O'Reilly Media and repurposed to be a code school.  I joined the faculty after this purchase, as a Python teacher, when the founding principals had already moved to Sepastopol.

Many memories came flooding back once I was back in the mid-west, reminders about the cultural currents, the geography.

I imagined being on assignment for National Geographic, visiting a master upholsterer (and his apprentice Lorri, my former supervisor), a new microbrewery (Triptych), a food cart (Dragon Fire) serving oven-baked pizza.  I've been greedily snapping pictures.  St. Louis has its special Provel cheese and Fleur d'Elise, in addition to the Arch and Climatron.

A most important technique, when it comes to cultural immersion, is to surf through radio stations, listening especially to Country and Christian genres, in addition to talk radio.  The freeway miles fly by faster with the radio on.

"The Donald" had just won the Indiana primary a few days before I arrived, with Cruz and Kasich pulling out of the race to become the Republican Party nominee.   Tonight, he's in Eugene, Oregon and Lindsey left me a garbled voicemail (lots of crowd noises in the background), reporting from the anti-rally, as she's in Eugene as well, freshly returned from Florida, in route to Nepal.

A year ago, when I was attending the conference, those big earthquakes hit Nepal.  Lindsey was in Kathmandu at the time, staying in a fifth floor guest room.  She's heading back.  When her voicemail came in from the anti-rally, I was in the process of meeting my mom's plane from DC.  Tara and I drove to the Dayton International Airport, in Ohio, to meet her.

Carol has been on the road for many more miles than I, earlier this year going from LA to Seattle by van, and more recently from Atlanta to Cape Code, Boston, New York and DC. Doing all the driving is Ellen Thomas, a long time activist very focused on the obscure House Bill 1976, introduced in 2015 by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton [D-DC-At Large].

The newspaper I read over breakfast in Decatur was not buying into "Islamophobia" and was encouraging more of a live and let live attitude. Refreshing.

Tara had been looking forward to a sushi extravaganza, in celebration of her graduation with honors in Physics and Philosophy, with a minor in Computer Science.  We enjoyed Yamato, with her friend Kristin (not a seafood fan, but other dishes available).  What a feast!  Congratulations Tara!