Resources for creating the “What’s New” talks

The monthly Melbourne Python User Group meeting has a regular section covering “What’s new in Python”.

Javier asked me what resources I use to compile “What’s new” when I present, so here is the list of resources I use.

Posted in Python, Talks | 1 Comment

Notes from MPUG, July 2014

We had over forty people brave the Melbourne winter to come to the July meeting, to hear Bernie Pope‘s brilliant talk on “Implementing Python in Haskell, twice!”. Most people sleep on trans-Pacific flights; Bernie is not one of those people: “By the end of the trip I had a workable Python-to-Haskell translator”.

This talk was an adapted version of an earlier talk that Bernie had given to the Melbourne Haskell Users Group earlier this year.

The slides (PDF) are online, and the different projects are available on GitHub.

And finally a reminder that MPUG is not on tonight: to avoid a clash with PyCon AU, this month’s meeting has been moved to August 11. See you there!

Posted in Python | Leave a comment

PyCon AU 2014 runs

For the last two PyCon AU conferences in Hobart, we informally organised morning runs before the conference day commences and had a lot of fun in the process.

This year, in slightly warmer Brisbane, the runs will be happening again, on all five mornings of the conference. We hope you can join us for an early morning run, so pack your running gear and read the info below.

If you are a runner and not sure you are fit enough:

  • These runs are designed to be inclusive, not a race
  • The runs are designed to be 5 – 6 km long and we will aim to run them at a 5:00 – 6:00 min/km pace, depending on who turns up. If we have enough people who want to run faster or slower, we can always split into two groups
  • The runs are out and back, so even if you fall back, we will pick you up on the way back and you can’t get lost (unless you try really hard!)

If you are not a runner:

  • I would encourage you to still get some exercise in the midst of days of talks and hacking on a laptop; perhaps organise a bike ride or walk around town
  • Consider joining us next year. There are good “introduction to running” programs that you can use, including “Couch to 5K

Here are the details for the runs:

MEETING PLACE: We will meet at the conference venue, the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, at the main entrance on the corner of Merivale and Glenelg Streets. Don’t know where that is? Check out this PDF map of the venue: we will meet at the “Main Entrance” in the bottom right hand corner of the map.

DAYS: We will run all five mornings; Friday (miniconfs) through Tuesday (last day of the sprints).

START TIME: 7am sharp, aiming to be back around 7:30 – 7:40, giving you time to shower and eat before the conference starts at 9am.

ROUTE: We will vary the route each day, but it will be approximately 5 km long.

IF IT’S WET? I will still run if it’s drizzling. If it’s a torrential downpour, I’m sleeping in. On the sliding scale between drizzle and downpour, it is safe to assume that I will be more likely to run than not, so see you there.

And remember that it can get cold in Brisbane in winter, with a sub 3 degree morning last week, so a long sleeve top and a running cap or beanie are probably worth packing.

Posted in Python, Running | 3 Comments

Notes from MPUG, June 2014

We had over 30 people at the June MPUG meeting. Here (finally) are my notes…

1. “What’s new in Python”

Lars Jencken gave a great update on what’s new in the Python ecosystem, and sent his notes to the list afterwards. Here they are verbatim:





  • Software Developer, Biarri
  • Short term network engineering role, Python Charmers (
  • 6-month role at Medibank (more details?)

2. Machine learning with Pandas and scikit-learn

Chris Hausler has put up the slides and ipython notebook from his talk.

3. pyenv

Tim Asquith introduced us to pyenv, for managing different versions of Python; for example, for testing an application against different Pythons.

For example:

pyenv install 3.4.1

pyenv showversions

pyenv shell 3.4.1

Some random notes:

  • You can autoswitch between Python versions
  • There is support for virtualenv
  • It works with Jenkins

4. Coming up

The next MPUG meeting is Jul 7, 6pm at Inspire 9. Bernie Pope will be speaking on “Implementing Python in Haskell, twice!”

There is an open science workshop on July 19.

Posted in Python | Leave a comment

Melburn Roobaix 2014

This year’s Melburn Roobaix was certainly different!

If you are not familiar with this Melbourne bike ride, it is a nine-year old tribute ride to the Paris Roubaix, in which riders find their way from Hawthorn velodrome to Brunswick velodrome, having to ride twelve cobblestone laneways along the way. This is the closest that Australia will ever get to a cobbled classic.

The first difference this year was that there was a choice of cobblestone lanes for the first six sectors. I assumed that this was to help reduce the crowds in the early sectors and it worked. There was a choice of “red” sectors or “black” sectors, or you could choose any combination of the red and black, as long as you completed six before moving on to the last six sectors around Moonee Ponds and Brunswick.

The second difference compared to the last couple of years was the weather: it was foul! It rained all day and even hailed in the afternoon. Cobblestones and rain don’t usually mix, so we took them carefully and didn’t see any accidents along the way.

As someone once said: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear – we donned our rain gear and did the whole day and had a lot of fun in the rain as well as plenty of good food, including a coffee and cake stop at Cru in Kew followed by a fantastic lunch at John Gorilla in West Brunswick.

My favourite costume of the day was the Thomas the Tank Engine tandem. The engine played the Thomas theme song and had “steam” (but I suspect it was dry ice). They apparently won the “Cutest Couple” award. 

Thomas the tandem

Posted in Cycling, Local and/or General | Leave a comment

PyCon AU 2014 Science & Data miniconf – call for talk proposals is now open

The Science & Data miniconference organisers for PyCon AU 2014 are pleased to announce the call for proposals is now open!

The Science & Data miniconf is a one day conference held on Friday, August 1, 2014 in Brisbane as part of PyCon Australia.

The miniconf is dedicated to talks related to science and data analysis and, as a community conference, we are keen to hear from people in the community who would like to present a paper related to science or data analysis using Python.

We welcome proposals of all kinds, from all kinds of speakers: first-time through to experienced speakers. There will be short (20 – 25 minute) talks as well as longer 45 minute talks and 5 minute lightning talks (which you don’t have to register a proposal for).

Presentation subjects may cover applications of science, engineering, mathematics, finance, and data analysis using Python, including AI and ‘big data’ topics, either academic or commercial. Formats may be either tutorials or case studies.

The deadline for proposals is June 20, 2014.

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.

To submit your talk proposal, please use the Science & Data miniconf CFP submission form.

See you in Brisbane in August!

Regards, Graeme Cross & Ed Schofield; PyCon AU Science & Data miniconf convenors

Posted in Python | Leave a comment


All night it rained. We woke to even more rain, which wasn’t promising for a 90km offroad bike ride. We flipped a coin and decided that it was still worth heading north for the Dirty Gran Fondo ride.

About 10km in, Anna’s bike decided it was tired of the perpetual mud bath and ate its rear derailleur, trashing any hope of finishing the ride.

2014-05-10 09.25.21

We managed to fix it so that it would work as a single gear bike and limped back to Wandong. One hot shower and two coffees later, it all seemed a lot funnier.

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

Notes from MPUG, May 2014

The May Melbourne Python User Group meeting had 25 people and three speakers.

1. Tim Richardson: An introduction to web2py

Tim walked us through the web2py web framework. Along the way we learnt that Tim is a contributor to the web2py project.

Some take home messages that I wasn’t previously aware of with web2py:

  1. web2py uses a DAL (Database Abstraction Layer) instead of raw SQL
  2. There are inbuilt validator widgets
  3. There is good support for AJAX views (in templates)
  4. Also good support for authorisation and authentication
  5. web2py has it’s own scheduler, running as a separate process with primitive comms via the database
  6. With dynamic construction of the global namespace, some IDE’s struggle. PyCharm (Pro) and PyDev work
  7. There are mixed opinions on web2py’s high load performance
  8. There is a one click installer for Ubuntu
  9. web2py has an inbuilt code editor and debugger

2. Tom Allen: NP-Complete game design in Python

Tom has been designing a two player game where one player lays out track and the other races it. This led to some interesting challenges in dealing with the combinatorial problems.

Some useful resources:

3. Ben Finney — What’s new in Python

There are lots of interesting things happening in Python at the moment. Ben touched on:

  • PEP 0466 – network security enhancements for Python 2.7
  • PEP 0461 – adding % formatting to bytes and bytearray, for Python 3.5
  • PEP 0465 – matrix infix multiplication operator, for Python 3.5
  • Pyston – a new Python implementation on LLVM (being developed at Dropbox)
  • Proctor – HTTP proxy that will distribute requests across a number of managed Tor circuits
  • Lots of interesting videos from PyCon 2014 (in Montreal), including:
    • Brython – Python in the browser
    • Outreach program for women
    • Python in two genders
    • Interactive psych experiments in Pandas 3D
    • Hitchhikers guide to particpating in free software
    • Python packaging: a zeitgeist

Thanks to Inspire9 for hosting the meeting and for videoing the meeting: talks are available on the Inspire9 Vimeo channel.

The next meeting is June 2; 6pm at Inspire9.

Posted in Python | Leave a comment

The Odyssey 50km

The Giant Odyssey 50km mountain bike race was held in Forrest at the end of April. I survived. I enjoyed parts. I need lots of work on my handling skills. I didn’t crash, and the only injuries were to my pride. I will be back!

As you can see from the altitude graph below, it was a brutal course, with over half the distance on single track and a lot of technical sections, especially in the later stages. (For the observant readers: no, I didn’t do the course in 3:55 as Endomondo is reporting. My Garmin Fenix was set to auto-pause in cycling mode when I’ve stopped, so it screwed up my timing stats. I will change that for the next race.)

Giant Odyssey 50km stats

A note to self: when you’ve only mountain biked six times before, fitness is not enough to get you through 50km. My lack of technical skills seriously hindered me in the last 15km of the course, but I didn’t need any skills to walk up hills like this:

On the Odyssey

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

(No) notes from MPUG, April 2014

I was overseas last month so missed the April MPUG meeting. For the record, here’s what happened:

  • Ed Schofield spoke on “What’s New in Python”, which is now a regular feature in our meetings
  • Adrian Higgins from Planet Innovation spoke about work he has been doing integrating specific hardware with Python using existing C libraries on Windows
  • Ben Finney spoke on “A Pythonista Meets JavaScript™: first steps”

Next meeting is tonight: 6pm at Inspire 9 in Richmond.

Posted in Python | Leave a comment