[Baypiggies] Discussion for newbies/beginner night talks

Delbert Franz ddf at lka.com
Mon Feb 12 03:01:31 CET 2007

On Saturday 10 February 2007 11:15, jim stockford wrote:
>     what's the assumption of a newbie? I'm guessing
> not new to programming but pretty well experienced
> in C, VB, Java, Perl 5 (and maybe interested in future
> features in Perl 6), maybe looking at Ruby as an
> alternative commitment to Python. I think our group
> has at least one ADA-experienced coder, certainly
> there are a few assembler experienced. All of the
> above might identify themselves as newbies wrt
> Python.
>     If you buy the above, the decorators and other
> new and/or exotic features in Python might be
> very interesting for them.
> On Feb 9, 2007, at 4:04 PM, Tony Cappellini wrote:
> >> 5) Understand and use the decorate/sort/undecorate (DSU) idiom.
> > I wouldn't agree that this is a beginner topic, especially since it's
> > relatively new to the language.
> > _______________________________________________

I have been reading this thread with considerable interest.  I'm 
what you would call a newbie.  My first meeting of baypiggies was
on 8 February.  I got word of the meeting and the group via
Wesley Chun, as I was one of 24 students in his latest "Intro
to Python" class.  By the way, it's a great class! 

Here are some of my thoughts on  newbies/beginner night

1. It is generally helpful to know something about one's audience before
making a presentation:)  However, the range of background and experiences of
people coming to Python is varied.   The background outlined above 
is quite distant from me.  I programmed in C about 20 years ago for 
about 6 months on an eight-bit computer with 64KB RAM!  Other than 
that, I have experience in none of the languages listed.  

2. Based on the attendees at the class I took, the backgrounds are diverse:
two of us had extensive education outside of IT, the rest had various software
application, maintenance, sys admim, etc. experience. Some had C and C++, 
and others had a background in Perl.  Some were there primarily because their
boss sent them!  Quite a number had not encountered any object-oriented language

3.  I have come to Python after about 40 years of experience in Fortran,
about five in PL/I, about two years of assembler for a Dec PDP 8/I, and some Basic.
I have had one university course in what would now be called Computer Science
(the term was not yet coined when I started).  The reason my clients retain me
is for my expertise in solving their problem.  The software I develop and use
comes along with me and for their staff, but it is my expertise in applying
the software and training users that gets my foot in the door.  Of course I have
to maintain and extend the software as I go along and sometimes that is 
an explicit paid item but often it is just part of my "overhead".  Thus software
development is somewhat of an adjunct to my main body of expertise. 

4. My interest in Python is for developing GUI-based data displays and analysis
of the results from  my software which models unsteady free-surface
flow in rivers, canals, storm sewers, and related structures.  I'm also interested
in the scientific and numerical packages in Python: numpy, scipy, matplotlib, 

5.  Here are some topics that I would find interesting and also useful:

5.1 Someone giving a talk on their experience in using scientific/numerical
applications via Python.  I don't have enough knowledge yet but perhaps in 
a year or two I may:) 

5.2 A recent "newbie graduate", whose only exposure to object-oriented programming
came from Python, sharing how they came to understand, view, and use classes,
inheritance, methods, etc.   What attracts them to that approach and how is it
better than the non-object oriented approaches? Comparisons with other object-oriented
languages are useless to me but might be useful for other newbies.

5.3 Some talks on experience with various graphical interfaces: TK, GTK, pyQT, etc.
I currently have  some experience with TK, having constructed an interactive package
to create 2-D time-series plots of flows, and elevations during flood events.
I have not had time to give another interface a try.   GTK sounds interesting 
in combination with glade.  I must say that doing this with Python is so much more
fun than when I did a more limited package with a proprietary add-on to Fortran!
I also like that fact I don't have to pay anyone for the privilege of using the

5.4 Some introduction to using Python for web programming.  I currently have
a web site I created and being able add some more dynamic content might 
prove useful. 

5.5  Extending Python by interfacing to Fortran code.  This will be on my 
to-do list as I move into using Python as a front-end for more heavy-duty
number-crunching software. 

Sorry for the long e-mail but it does give some feed back from a newbie
who hopes to "graduate" in the not to distant future:)



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