COhPUG Monthly Meetup and FreeGeek

Posted on Tue 27 September 2011 in Tech

This week I think I've met my geek quota a little early, so hopefully I can just cruise the rest of the week. I'm always pleasantly surprised by the amount of geekery that goes on in Columbus on a random week.

Tuesday was the monthly meetup for the Central Ohio Python User Group (COhPUG I think...). The main topic this week was Greg Malcom's talk on Unix streaming, piping, and forking, and how we can write very Unix looking Python scripts using the same concepts. This talk was apparently originally given at a Ruby conference, but thankfully, all but one Ruby reference was converted to Python.

The bit on forks, for me, was a bit of a refresher course, having taken a Unix class in college. Thankfully, I had forgotten everything so I was able to learn it all over again. With forks I feel like there's always an "Aha!" moment where the concept just sort of clicks into place in your brain, but until then you're all "what the crap is this?" So, that was a good talk. I was reminded how odd Python's Popen classes are with respect to piping. I think I usually avoided using those in favor of the commands module, but apparently that's deprecated these days.

Eric Floehr gave a talk on using PyGame to compete in the semi-annual PyWeek game development contest (in which he attempted to participate). PyGame, as far as I can tell, is a simple Python layer over OpenGL with some sound, font image, and sprite support baked into a Python module. Writing a PyGame...game involves the developer implementing a main runloop, much like other frameworks, and apparenly includes a sort of hybrid event queue mechanism that looks pretty handy. I don't know how well any physics libraries and such plug into PyGame, but judging from the sophistication of the entries, it doesn't look too amazing. That might be a good contribution to the project however, something like a Box2D port that plugs into the PyGame sprite system at some level.

The remainder of the meetup was spent listening to a fellow who created a nifty video visualization of all the Columbus Underground forum posts. He apparently used Amazon EC2 to setup render farm of 60 instances that rendered frames independently. This sped up the render from all night on his laptop to 60 seconds in the cloud. When the job was finished it allegedly cost about $8. Quite impressive.

I also spent this evening at FreeGeek. This week I attempted to build a computer, but the gods would not have it. I kept getting a random freeze. Normally I would chalk this up to memory but we test all the memory we get at FreeGeek so I assume it would either have to be a bad CPU or a PSU with damaged voltage regulators (but the voltage seemed to be fine in the BIOS). So I was stumped. Initially I found that the sound card was faulty and I replaced that, but that didn't stop the freezes. I also replaced the video card to be safe, no dice. So I gave up and just tagged it with my findings. The next thing I did was mostly a success, in that I was able to get through all quality control checks for a computer that was waiting to be tested. I ran out of time before I could test the disc drive, but a success I will take!