All Songs Considered SXSW Show

March 7, 2008

The All Songs Considered episode this week discusses the 2008 SXSW Bands. Host Bob Boilen is joined by Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein and music producer Stephen Thompson about their favorite acts.

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Fanfarlo – Fire Escape

March 6, 2008

Haven’t heard of the band Fanfarlo before, but found the song Fire Escape on the 2008 SXSW Music Showcase Pages, and I really like the sound. Professional and polished, with a hint of David Byrne in the singer’s voice. Good stuff.


Pyglet graphics for Python

March 5, 2008

Always slow to jump on the bandwagons, so I’m just now discovering Pyglet, and OpenGL context for Python. I’ve mucked about many times with OpenGl applications using GLUT, Tk, or WxPython, and I know that it can be really difficult to compile and install the context and the code. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when Pyglet compiled and installed in seconds, without problems or warnings.

The application that drew me to Pyglet was the game of life in pyglet program that I saw pop up on Reddit. It took me all of 10 minutes to download/install pyglet, and install/run the program.

Can’t say I’m a pyglet expert yet, but I like what I’ve seen thus far.


south by southwest MP3 list online

February 23, 2008

One of the great sources of free music by major acts, the south by southwest festivals MP3 archive is now online. Haven’t started mining the site for new music, but if I find anything good, I’ll post a link here.


Python snippet to get list of words

February 20, 2008

Here are a quick little snippet to get a Python generator object of the words from the Unix wordfile:

def get_wordgen(fname="/usr/share/dict/words"):
    return (line.strip() for line in open(fname))

You can pass this through Set() if you need to do membership tests (in a simple spell check, for example), or even use list() if you need the whole thing in memory.


How to Speak

February 20, 2008

Good video about how to give an effective presentation available here. The speaker is Patrick Winston, from MIT. At the beginning, he points out that many people will be judged by their ability to speak, their ability to write, and the quality of their ideas, in that order, and thus speaking is a crucial skill. I’ve now given hundreds of talks, but I’ve noted many things that I can do better from this material.


Scientific packages in Python I just discovered

February 20, 2008

I like to think that I’m abreast of the best of the scientific packages in Python, but I just discovered several cool packages today:

  • SymPy, a symbolic math package in Python, which actually is part of the Sage program that I like so much;
  •  sfepy, a finite element analysis package in Python (also symfe, for symbolic finite element analysis).

Why Molly Ivins will not vote for Hillary Clinton

February 19, 2008

Good article on why Molly Ivins will not vote for Hillary Clinton for President.


New in Python 3: Extended unpacking

February 18, 2008

Let me jump on the “me, too” bandwagon by echoing: This is really, really cool!

The Py Side of Life: New in Python 3: Extended unpacking


DOE/BES Proposes Energy Frontier Research Centers

February 16, 2008

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.- President George W. Bush, 2008 State of the Union Address

All is not bad in Washington. The DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences is seeing a big budget increase in the FY09 budget, and is proposing spending a large portion of that increase on creating a number of Energy Frontier Research Centers, each having a budget of $2M-$5M per year. Seems extremely well thought-out from both a scientific and a social level. The amount is enough to allow centers to think big, but not so big that many different solutions can be funded and tried out. And they seem to have a good range of problems in mind.