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[Discuss] learning python - formal training opportunities ?

On 06/12/2013 11:33 AM, Kent Borg wrote:
> On 06/12/2013 10:00 AM, Stephen Goldman wrote:
>>          Would the community know if a scripting language such as 
>> Python would be offered at a community college ? If not other means 
>> .. other than buying a book?
> Classes are a great way to drive focus and have a place to ask 
> questions. So if you want to do that, cool.
> As for "other means" a neat thing about Python is that I can sit at a 
> Linux shell prompt, type "python" and get an interpreter that lets me 
> start playing with real code, right away.  With something like C I 
> need to declare and initialize so damn much stuff before I can begin 
> to do anything interesting. In Python typing "import somenewlibrary" 
> instantly gets me into a usually interesting place.
> I use Python when I can, and certainly a real program requires an 
> editor, but I still use the interpreter frequently, pasting in code 
> fragments, verifying syntax (making sure I have my "slice" specified 
> correctly), etc. Something about the design of Python lets me do real 
> stuff quickly.
> Whether you find a good class or not, I encourage you to play with 
> Python. Look for excuses to use it for little things.
> As for books...a few years back I spent a few hours at the Harvard 
> Coop looking at all their Python books and decided upon "Python 
> Essential Reference" by David M. Beazley. A key feature is that it was 
> about Python, not about computers via Python.  (I think Python is a 
> great beginner's language, but I am not a beginner.)  I went through 
> the book, making something completely trivial out of most of the 
> described features or libraries, then proceeded on to the next chapter.
> While on the topic of books, the O'Reilly "Python Pocket Reference" is 
> great. Really small (and so handy), it can keep reminding you of 
> correct syntax. "And what the heck are the available string methods 
> again?"  Bring it to your class...
> One thing that might be particularly useful about a physical class is 
> wrapping your head around what it is to be "pythonic". (You don't want 
> to write Python as if it were C, you want a different style.) In 
> looking at potential classes, try to figure out whether the instructor 
> him/erself understands what it is to be "pythonic"...
I agree with this. As a long time software contractor, it is important 
to write code in the culture of the language as well as the culture of 
the client. If you are working with C++, you can write a C program in 
C++, but it is much better to write a C++ program. The absolute worst 
violation I have seen is a Fortant programmer who hated COBOL who wrote 
a COBOL system exactly if it was a Fortran program complete with 2 
character variables et. al. Also, think of Python as a programming 
language not just a scripting language.

Jerry Feldman <gaf at>
Boston Linux and Unix
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