RocPy: Advanced Edition

February 23, 2014

On February 18, I attended RocPy yet again. My classmates and I previously graced the meetup with our presence a few times, as part of the Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software class at RIT. This time, however, we have “graduated” to advanced status: we’re now in the second course in the sequence, known as Advanced FOSS.
The focus is still on creating free software to benefit humanity, but now the goal is to make small utilities, or “hacks,” with an emphasis on the Raspberry Pi. Being a meetup about Python, we gave a presentation on our wallpaper rating script, Entropy.
There were also some students from the first course present, many of whom are inexperienced with Python, so the presenters went over some basic nuances and best practices with the language. For example, in Python, it is possible to access a character index of a string like an array:
string = “python is cool”
string[2] #Returns ‘t’
Python arrays are zero-indexed, so the above code would return: “t”
The behavior in PHP is very similar:
$string = “PHP is cool”;
echo $string[2]; //Returns ‘P’
Both languages are wonderful products of the open-source community, and contain awesome features that reduce cognitive load on the programmer. Python is easy to pick up (especially if you already know PHP, Ruby, or JavaScript), but there are special nuances, so learning them in a communal setting is a great thing. Feedback from Python veterans on our projects is also an indispensable benefit. Rock on, RocPy.

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