Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

OSCON 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

OSCON 2012: Tutorials

I'm glad my co-worker is here, currently based in Peoria.  He went on the OSCON 5K run tonight, which was interrupted by a bridge going up, apropos for Bridge City.  The Bartons, me 'n Steve, in the meantime, were at Camp OSCON, this year's fun fest, the night before OSCON proper begins.  We've had the two days of tutorials.

Fortunately, I had a 3 button mouse, the wheel counting as a button.  Blender, the full featured open source 3D / 4D polyhedrons-based rendering program, with a Python console, is pretty useless without such a mouse.  Our teacher is so much the Blenderphile that he'd switched away from Apple, because there's never a number pad (lots of hot keys).  He recommended Logitech's 3-button mouse, which is what I had, supplied by my place of work.

Speaking of which, Tim O'Reilly was there at Camp OSCON.  I was thinking this guy looked a lot like Tim, but he was looking so informal, no name tag, kinda street person, kinda Occupy.  Then I realized this was Tim for real, and he was clearly thinking about following Steve in the dunk tank, raising funds for Free Geek ($10 for three balls).  I tried to sink Steve (courtesy of Patrick), as did Patrick, and came close (I hit the target, but not hard enough).  Steve sunk Tim on his first throw.

My second tutorial was about the Go language, a tightly designed little gem from Google, a new general purpose language akin to C in some ways, but with more emphasis on concurrency through channels.  I got it installed at least, and somewhat followed, but I'm not released from my day job to come here and needed to attend to my queues.  Think of me knitting, multi-tasking.

The Bartons seemed to really enjoy their experience.  Steve had snagged them some passes.  Camp OSCON was a very kid-friendly event, despite the alcohol, like a Fourth of July picnic in many ways.  It had been planned for outdoors, but with the threat of storms, it was moved into the Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A.

Last night we snagged some random attenders and showed them around the hood.  Our friend from Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) quickly tuned in that a bunch of experts on Antarctica are in town, and is now dividing his time.  Jose is from Guatemala, though he's now from Miami, and his never seen snow before.  He hopes to, up close, after OSCON is over.

Our third guest, in addition to Josh, was from Baltimore and joked that his company made "replicants" (sounds science fictiony).  We showed them Backstage, and Greater Trumps (where we met up with Trevor).  We also ducked into the theater itself, where a panel discussion on electric cars was in full swing.  The Revenge of the Electric Car was on the marquee, with several parked around the block, recent models (no Tesla though).

I had my camera going quite a bit.  The guy behind me at the Go workshop at a Raspberry Pi.  I asked him about the cool little case and he said he'd "printed it this morning".  Yes, I'm a bit of a paparazzo, surreptitiously collecting pix of celebrities.  Ah, there's R0ml.  And Alex Martelli.  Selena.  Gabriella. Mark of DemocracyLab.  Lots of beautiful souls here (nice auras), looking forward to keynotes, other talks, such as I am able to attend.

The Expo Hall was only opened briefly, a foretaste.  OSCON is well planned.  We're shown a good time, and people tend to enjoy Portland with its many delights.  The Mayor will address us tomorrow.

Josh was also on duty, with Skype conferences to join.  He might have made it to Puppet Labs tonight, for their party.  Steve and I headed back to the hood, taking Max.  Patrick and family returned home. He's been working with Nike these past several months.

At the lunch (which I hadn't expected), I joined one of the Pythonista tables (they had tables labeled by 'tribe').  My table mate to the right was from the Netherlands, from which Python originally hails.  This was his first OSCON and first trip to Portland.  To my left were some Eventbrite guys, while on around was a Plone developer from New Mexico, who sometimes worked with Sandia (where Patrick used to work).  We talked about Zope quite a bit, a cutting edge product in its hay day, and still maturing.

I read and reviewed quite a few talk proposals as a member of the planning committee this year, so was permitted admission.  The Blender tutorial was one I'd strongly advocated we include.  Having experienced the workshop, I feel vindicated in my advocacy, though Blender cannot be mastered in a few short hours.

Our teacher wisely gave us a lot of big picture overview, about the rendering pipeline in general.  He's an artist and sculptor, not a coder, which is encouraging in terms of community building.  He's also a core member of the Blender power user community and was able to let us in on a lot of insider information about what's happening in that world.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

PPUG 2012.7.10

I was so immersed in teaching Python to unseen others, perhaps some of them veiled in Tehran, that I forgot about our Portland Python User Group (PPUG) meeting.

Usually I'd take the 4, but given my already extreme lateness, I hopped in the car, and did Hawthorne, MLK, I-5, Broadway Bridge to the Pearl.  Urban Airship was my destination.

In retrospect, it's probably good I got there late, as the rampage through the pizza boxes was mostly over.  I might have become too much the frenzied pizza eater.  Such a crowd we were.

Case was already deep into his talk on extending Python in C.  He was wading through lots of C code, as the audience stared in quiet attentiveness, with a few raising hands to ask questions.

Wraithan was next up, and did the beginner talk, on iterators and generators.  The way Michelle has it designed, is we'll have talks hitting different tiers, in terms of advanced versus beginner.

That's a good approach, as advanced users benefit from both seeing and communicating the basics, where those just learning the ropes like to see into the distance, into what might be in store for them, if they keep ascending the learning curve.

Iterator syntax has changed slightly in Python 3 in that it has been rationalized somewhat.  Whereas in 2.7 we have an "__iter__" and "next" method protocol for iterators, in Python 3.x it's "__iter__ and "__next__" i.e. both methods are "magic" (__rib__ syntax) with "__next__" being triggered by the builtin function next( ).  I interjected to this effect.

Wraithan kept it low key, good natured, and interactive.  Michelle put him on the spot a few times, and he handled her questions gracefully, keeping it friendly to beginners.  I was impressed.

This was an idyllic summer night and wandering around the Pearl, watching people having fun, was amusing in itself.

I'd lucked out on parking.

New construction is happening.

Portland is still a boom town, another of several jewels on the Pacific Rim, not yet wrecked by tsunami or earthquake, InshaAllah (or knock wood).

I chatted with the author of the Kindle eBook on Python decorators, over on edu-sig.

Joe and I are still hammering away about "axioms" on Math Forum (I'm contributing new curriculum writing for STEM).

I've been discussing my "anti-Anglo chauvinism", as Mirsky calls it, on the Wittgenstein list.

The Physics Learning Research list has been fun, but is harder to access, ditto Wanderers.

Does this all add up to a party platform?

Only in the inner reaches of my "Oval Office" I'm sure.

Sunday, July 08, 2012


These panels were broken into hours for workshop purposes, assuming participants have time for several hands-on exercises, however if doing a high band-width animation, the transmission could be much faster and/or contain a lot more repetition and cross-connecting ala hypertoons.


The genesis story begins with a single polyhedron with an ability to beget a dual, an inverse self or alter ego.  We are free to play with the terms.  Overly rigid formalisms need not predominate.  Just the tetrahedron with this operation is able to beget another, and here our second operation is introduced:  the combination of duals to create yet another polyhedron.  The three all-triangles shapes form a kind of backbone.

A computer game just playing on these two operations with this simple beginning could take us into a plenitude of complicated multifaceted shapes in a hurry.  However, even in the earliest of generations, combining the Platonic Five, we get our rhombics:  dodecahedron (12 diamond facets); triacontahedron (30 diamond facets).

The cube itself is also rhombic, taking a square as a subset of rhombus.  The dual of the rhombic dodecahedron is the cuboctahedron, so just out of the gate, we have the grist we need for our mill.


Here we distill the polyhedrons into a canonical structure, with the self-intersecting tetrahedron at the middle.  Twelve balls around a nuclear ball in a cuboctahedral conformation sets the stage.  Successive layers of 12, 42, 92, 162 balls, cuboctahedrally conformed, gives us entre into the micro world of crystals and viruses.  The twist of a cuboctahedron's shell to become icosahedral is part of our STEM vocabulary of visualizations.

1, 12, 42, 92, 162...

The need for a tetrahedral unit of volume, in relation to the canonical structure, the concentric hierarchy, helps motivate another use for the dam.

The dam is a subject of many open / closed source animations as our job as STEM teachers is to impart the basics of electricity generation.  The energy per time of the powerhouse, the generators, their wattage, will be a topic of many segments.

In this other use though, the dam is presented as a collaborate project between ETs and Earthlings.  The ETs are a source for our tetrahedral unit volume idea and bridging the cultures becomes and excuse for investigation foundational mathematics questions, thereby opening a door to philosophy.


Notions of work, energy, power, distance, momentum and time get a somewhat Newtonian treatment. Current and currency get connected in STEM, per systems theory roots and influences.  The caloric requirements of humans, and their wattage (work output), is studied, using a First Person Physics point of view.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Two Left Shoes

Two Left Shoes

I was just standing at the counter at Lucky Lab, getting a pint, a kind of Andy Capp figure, when I realized, looking down, that not only were both my shoes for left feet, but they were distinctly different models, though both slip ons.

This adds to my sense of being disheveled, as my hair has gotten long again, and I haven't shaved in a day or two.  The more poetic part is all this discussion I've been having recently regarding "congruency" at the Math Forum, regarding how it holds itself aloof from "handedness".
The area under my desk is somewhat dark in a darkened office, and I had several pairs lying about.  Tara was ready for a ride to the tram, so I just grabbed two I wouldn't have to lace.  Chances were against me they'd be from the same pair.