Python is fun (useless social thread) ;-)

Carl Trachte janencarl at
Thu Jun 15 17:39:30 CEST 2006

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Re: Python is fun (useless social thread)  ;-)
From:    "Carl Trachte" <janencarl at>
Date:    Thu, June 15, 2006 8:21 am

> So out of curiosity, I'm just wondering how everyone else came to learn
it. If you feel like responding, I'll ask my questions for easy quoting:
> Did you have to learn it for a job?

Yes.  I was a production geologist in a copper mine in the mid 90's.  Our
mine planning software vendor Mintec ( had chosen it as
their API for programmatic access to the three dimensional geologic block
model and two dimensional polygons that defined geologic shapes on a level
bench or in vertical cross section.

> Or did you just like what you saw and decided to learn it for fun?

That too.  I had been using Visual Basic.  For what I was doing (mine
engineering), there was just a lot more functionality available in Python
and its external modules (numeric, for example).  Organizing a lot of
engineering data dumped as text is easier in Python than it is in VB
(IMO), because of the way Python handles lists and dictionaries.

> Also, how did you go about learning it? (i.e., like I described above, I
started with the main stuff then moved on to the different available

I started with Mintec's mine planning software API, then realized that a
lot of stuff was easier in Python.  VB was great for making GUI's quickly.
 Python (Tkinter) is harder because you have to code your windows
(although once I got over that initial hump, it got a lot easier - there's
decent documentation for Tkinter on the web, and it doesn't cost a

My employer was good enough to send me to M. Lutz' 3 day course on Python
in Colorado.  This was helpful.  Up until that time I had been coding VB
in Python (a lot of it was "translating" code from one language to the
other).  After that course I started to think in Python and make better
use of the features Python had (OO, exception handling, etc.).

> Was there any necessity in the specifics you learned, or did you just
dabble in something (e.g. wxPython) for fun?

As I mentioned with the Tkinter example above, there was almost always
necessity.  Fortunately the stuff we do necessitates a lot of different
language features and modules.  The datetime module was something I didn't
know about until I bought the latest version of the Python cookbook.  The
thing is a huge productivity boost, especially for the stuff I do
(daily/monthly/yearly production reports).

> Are there still some things you feel you need to learn or improve?

Always.  Always.  Always.  Extending to Fortran and C are things I'd like
to accomplish.  There is a lot of old, but useful Fortran code around.  If
you can marry it with Python instead of trying to rewrite it, that's a lot
of coding time (and money) saved.  There are accounts of this sort of
thing out on the web, but I'm yet to accomplish it myself.  Langtangen's
scientific Python book offers a start.  I've got a copy and have read
through it, but I've got to work on some real examples before I have any
success with it.  I'm not there yet.

> Additional comments/complains here:   :)

Life's too short to use and enjoy everything Python's got to offer. :-)

> --

-Carl Trachte

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