Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Best Python book for beginners

It's really surprisingly difficult for someone who has been programming for a long time to write about programming at a level appropriate for real beginners. The first time I taught a class full of beginners at Neumont, I tried to take things as slow as possible. Then I spent the next week covering the material from the first day even slower.

So when the UGIC asked me to recommend a book to get for the participants in the Introduction to Python, I looked at all the ones I could find, but they all either assumed too much existing knowledge or covered material that would just confuse a beginner. Often both. But then Michael Bernstein pointed me to Python for Dummies.

If you're looking to teach beginners, or you're a beginner yourself, Python for Dummies is by far the best option. There's a few sections that are strikingly inappropriate for a book at its level (new-style classes!?) but it's still much, much better than any of the other books on the market in this respect. As a bonus, it's also one of the few that covers Python 2.5.

Introduction to Python slides

Here are the slides from my introduction to python at the UGIC conference today.

This presentation was meant for people with little to no programming experience. So I deliberately kept it pretty basic, and in fact in 90 minutes we only covered up to about slide 20 in the pdf. I also added an exercise before moving on to slide 10. ("Read 3 integers into a list, and print the sum.")

There were 17? people there (which was the room's capacity), so it was very nice to have Kevin Bell also answering questions individually during the exercises.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mercurial presentation slides

Thursday I presented on distributed source control and Mercurial to the utah python ug. Here are my slides.

Then on Friday, Mozilla announced that they're moving from CVS to Mercurial, joining OpenSolaris and Xen and others on hg.

It's exciting to see what is still a small and elegant tool gain traction like this, even though in some ways hg (and dscm in general really) is still in the early adopter stage.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mozy code deathmatch

My employer, the creator of Mozy, is running a programming contest this Saturday. 9 languages are allowed. The first 2 rounds are online; the finals are in American Fork (Utah), but if you make it that far you're guaranteed to win some money.

(We did this last year too; this year the prize money is doubled to $20k. Not to mention how we are super-experienced contest organizers now!)

Monday, April 02, 2007

New mailing list for utah python user group

Since I neglected to archive the old list when moving utahpython.org to a new server, the utah python user group has a new mailing list courtesy of Google Groups. (At least this way we're not dependent anymore on my incompetent sysadminning.)