Potato Prints at the London Python Dojo

So I couldn't resist the obvious pun: the London Python Dojo was hosted yesterday at Potato, a Django-based web agency somewhere off Tottenham Court Road. (Which is a bonus for West Londoners like me). And after the initial round of pizza & beer generously provided by our hosts, the choice of activity for the evening was to generate ASCII art from images. And so I feel justified in perpetrating the punny title.

It was a good choice for a challenge. We allow something between an hour and a quarter and an hour and a half to get all the work done. If something's too complex you'll hardly have worked through the documentation before time is up, which can be a bit dispiriting. (This happens when we select tasks like "Use a neural network to generate Trump-like tweets"). Occasionally the task is too easy, but this is better as there's lots of scope for what teachers would call "extension activities" -- ie bells & whistles.

One of the joys of the London Python Dojo is that it's up to each team to interpret the challenge as they wish. Not always but often someone comes up with an off-beat interpretation or solution which adds to the fun. Last night's involved a team who used the potato emoji as their character cell for any faces which OpenCV could recognise in the underlying picture.

Our team had myself & Tom Viner, the evening's cat-herder, plus Jen & Chris, two less-experienced Pythoneers. We split into two, Tom & Chris using Pillow to analyze pictures for brightness, while Jen & I mapped "bright" pixels onto particular ASCII characters on a 64x64 grid structure. You can see the results of our joint efforts on Github: https://github.com/tomviner/ascii-art.

I was pleased to able to use my Dojo Board library again. It does nothing which you couldn't do yourself in a few minutes, but it does make that part of the work a piece of cake. Naturally, I did have to extend it a little to suit our needs -- scratching my own itch while eating my own dogfood!

As always, the atmosphere was good; the hosts were very welcoming and friendly; O'Reilly continue to support us, month after month, with a donated book.

We're on the look-out both for venues to host & sponsor the event, and for people willing to cat-herd for an evening. Please let us know via email or Twitter if you're interested in either of those things.