Do the Dojo

Much fun and laughter at the Dojo last night (helped along, as always, by Fry-IT’s generous sponsorship of location, beer & pizza). Despite the name, this month’s was more of a talks session, picking up threads from previous Dojos and a couple of other random things. Went on a bit long as a result, but good fun nonetheless.

I kicked off with a talk about Pyro, which has recently announced a major version alpha release with versions for Python 2.x and 3.x. We’d discussed the possibility of enhancing our desultory Adventure Game efforts with multiplayerness and I’d volunteered to show how Pyro might be used for the purpose. Of course, the last-minute neatening-up and bugfixes I’d made before leaving the office didn’t make it onto my laptop, leaving me scrambling to correct code with minutes to spare. (Let this be a lesson to you: hg commit && hg push). Although I’d prepared a fairly tight series of examples and didn’t hang around, I still ran for 40 minutes with a few questions thrown in. (Coincidentally, as I sat down again, I had an email from Irmen de Jong, the author of Pyro, asking if I’d tried the new Pyro 4.x on Python 3.x yet. As it happens, I’d intended to do a simple comparison as part of my presentation, but I ran out of time).

Dave Kirby followed from the same angle, with a presentation about Twisted. *His* talk was hampered by laptop-to-projector issues which gave us a green screen, then a red screen, then as we were preparing for a blue screen it went green-red before Gaultier kicked the projector and we went back to white. I certainly came out understanding more about Twisted (which isn’t saying much, admittedly) and I can see why people enthuse about it so much. I’m also aware, from comments on the main Python mailing lists, that the Twisted guys have done a lot of work to file away the rough edges which result from getting low-level cross-platform networking code running.

I think Tom Dunham’s presentation was the best of the night (altho’ I’d had a glass of wine by then, which probably helped). A few dojos ago, one team had used Divmod’s Reverend implementation of a Bayesian classifier as a way to have more flexible parsing / analysis of the user input. It had worked at first, but had soon fallen apart in spite of some ingenious (read: desperate) attempts to “trick” the classifier into giving the desired result. Tom had gone away to investigate how we’d misunderstood the way in which such a classifier works. He came back with a presentation which skipped the maths (fortunately for most of us, I suspect!) and focused on the internals of the classifier, showing how our approach was hopelessly overloading the classification pools to the point where it would classify “the moon is cheese” and “the” in exactly the same way.

Jon Ribbens followed with a demo of his — now quite mature — web framework, built before almost all the other ones in common use today but still offering remarkable value for (no) money.

In spite of the late hour (gone 10pm before he started) Nicholas Tollervey, our brave organiser, gave a Lightning talk on FluidBD, which answered at least some of the questions we had about it (such as: what is it?), although it left me with the impression that it could be a Brave New World or a Interesting Curiosity.

Next time we’ll probably go back into Dojo mode proper, and with a new project to replace our slightly tired Adventure Game.