[Edu-sig] more on digital math...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Aug 9 01:38:34 CEST 2009

On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 3:40 PM, Scott David
Daniels<Scott.Daniels at acm.org> wrote:
> kirby urner wrote:
>> ... Another piece of feedback came from this PSU professor who really
>> likes the language but found IDLE to be almost a show stopper on her
>> Mac, as it'd crash and then not reboot because of some "socket error".
>> I mentioned killing zombie snakes in the task manager on Windows but
>> she assured me this wasn't the problem, plus her students reported the
>> same thing.  Her impression was IDLE is not supported and that there's
>> no one to turn to when your IDLE is crashing.  I said I'd look into
>> this for her.  I've not had this specific problem, though I do need to
>> kill zombie snakes on occasion.
> My hope is tat with Snow Leopard we get to a more stable Tkinter, and
> because of that, a more stable Idle on OSX.  I've no inside knowledge
> about whether that will come true, but I'm hoping the Aqua vesion of
> Tk will do the trick.  I see a little movement of fixes connected to
> Idle (as in I finally got a note from someone about an old Idle Patch
> of mine), so there is definitely some reason to hope.  If Tk is not
> stable, there is no hope for Idle.  If Tk gets stable, I think we
> ought to be able to repair the Idle bugs.

Do we think of Tk as being stable on Windows and/or Linux?  We do yes?

This might be another argument for steering clear of over-priced
Cadillac OS with too many bells and whistles.  I know "blaming Apple"
isn't popular, but if learning Python easily is really that important,
then maybe school districts will think twice about paying that much
for something that's unsupportive of Tk.

Of course this doesn't fix the problem of not being able to run
another Tk process within IDLE that easily, i.e. the old Tk in Tk
problem.  We need to teach how to drop into the shell.

I was thinking Wing IDE 101, a free version of Wing, might be the
answer.  Or Eclipse?  IDLE is a great tool, but has some problems.

Going with wxPython e.g Pyshell might be the way to go, but I'm not
sure Patrick is interested in those any more, or what the levels of
problem might be with PyCrust on a Mac...  I have very limited
experience with Macs except I admire them from afar.


> I personally think Idle is crucial to learning Python easily.  If
> Idle does wind up broken, perhaps the better educational scroungers
> could rustle up a few shekels or skilled software hors to fix it.

I've always thought so too.  So easy and it's there right out of the box.

> I'd make sure they know about numpy and/or scipy as well, because
> having easy matrix calculations is a _big_ win as you get into
> 3-D calculations.

True.  Pygeo depends on these features, and VPython, as a 3D
projective geometry application.


> --Scott David Daniels
> Scott.Daniels at Acm.Org
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