Tuesday, March 31, 2015

For S/He's a Jolly Good. . .The PSF Fellow Recognition Program

As most of you already know, last year the PSF changed the bylaws regarding membership in order to become more inclusive, diverse, and participatory. Several previous blog posts have detailed aspects of this change and its implications (see e.g., Enroll as a Voting Member, or Membership Vote).
Building on this foundation, PSF Director Nick Coghlan has recently completed a draft of the procedures detailing the process for recognition as a PSF Fellow Member. The full text of this draft has been posted to the members' list and to the PSF Wiki, for your review and discussion.
The category of Fellow Member is described in the bylaws as 
based upon certain criteria to be established by the Board of Directors and which criteria shall be designed to emphasize extraordinary contributions (see Bylaws).
The full text of Nick’s draft has been posted to the Members' List and to the PSF Wiki, for your review and discussion. 
These bylaws will be approved in accordance with the new procedure for Strategic Decision Making (see Let’s Make Decisions Together). For your convenience, I’ve excerpted some of the basic ideas from the draft text below: 

 PSF Fellow Recognition Program 

Proposal editor: Nick Coghlan
(DRAFT for discussion with full PSF Membership) 

The PSF Fellow recognition program aims to explicitly acknowledge notable efforts of Python community members in contributing to, managing and growing the global Python community […] 

Nominating candidates for recognition as PSF Fellows 

To nominate a candidate for recognition as a PSF Fellow, the following steps should be completed by the nominating Fellow:
  1. affirmatively ensure that the potential candidate is interested in recognition as a Python Software Foundation Fellow
  2. confirm the candidate has registered as a PSF Member
  3. work with the candidate to prepare a recognition statement for reference by Voting Members when voting on the recognition nomination
  4. submit the nomination to the PSF Board for inclusion in the next PSF Fellow recognition ballot
Nominations for recognition as a PSF Fellow should be based on one or more of the following criteria:
  • the candidate has been active as a managing or contributing member of the Python community for at least 3 years, or
  • the candidate has initiated or significantly influenced a project within the Python community which has significantly increased the Python user base, has significant relevance for Python applications, or has had a significant impact on the public awareness of Python as a programming language, or
  • the candidate has received an official Python community award (e.g. PSF Community Service Awards, Frank Willison Award).
The following non-exhaustive list of significant contributions to the Python community and ecosystem may help make the above criteria less abstract and provide assistance in preparing a compelling recognition statement:
  • leaders of and long term contributors to PSF Working Groups
  • founders of and long-term contributors to major Python implementations (e.g. CPython, Jython, PyPy, IronPython, Stackless)
  • founders of and long-term contributors to projects in the Python Packaging Authority ecosystem (e.g. PyPI, pip, setuptools, packaging.python.org)
  • founders of and long-term contributors to other significant open source Python software libraries, frameworks, environments and applications
  • founders and long-term organizers of local Python user community groups
  • founders and long-term organizers of Python conferences
  • authors of Python focused technical books and other key learning materials
  • organisers of Python focused educational workshops and teaching programs
  • long term moderators of community mailing lists and other communication channels
  • long term curators of content on the Python wiki
  • as above, but for subcommunities of the Python community with a significant impact on the broader community, whether organized around a particular tool or framework (e.g. Django, NumPy), a particular problem domain (e.g. data analysis, network security, community outreach), a particular platform (e.g. Linux, Windows), or a particular region (e.g. USA, India, Europe) […]

 Recognising nominated candidates as PSF Fellows

[…] If a nomination for recognition is approved by 2/3rds of the eligible Voting Members (discounting failures to vote and abstentions), then the candidate will be formally recognised as a Fellow of the Python Software Foundation, explicitly thanking them for their significant contributions to the Python community[…]

As always, the PSF welcomes your input, so please review the full text of this proposal and then let us know your thoughts. Many thanks to Nick Coghlan for his hard work on this as well as on the proposal for Strategic Decision Making. 
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Friday, March 27, 2015

To sublicense or not to sublicense? That is the election.

Earlier this month, the PSF opened an election on two issues: the first was a straightforward vote on the adoption of new Sponsor Members; the second was more experimental: a non-binding vote for the membership to weigh in on a complex issue to be decided by the Board. This poll was part of the larger project (featured in several recent blog posts, see, for example, Let’s Make Decisions to make the PSF a more inclusive, diverse, and democratic organization.

Source: National Museum of American History. PD-USGOV
The election was closed yesterday, March 26th. The results can be found at Election 9 Results and are as follows:
Sponsor Members, Bloomburg LP, Fastly and Infinite Code were all voted in by large margins.
Sponsor Member Candidatesyesnoabstain
Bloomberg LP174728
Infinite Code1471349
The second issue:
The PSF Board of Directors is seeking the collective perspective of PSF Voting Members on the appropriate handling of video recording sublicensing for presentations at PyCon US (see Membership Vote). 
This poll sought members' views along two dimensions of the sublicensing issue: the entities to whom licenses should be granted; and the timeframe of the videos to be licensed.
The results of the poll were quite divided.
Sublicense entities
Only YouTube (others embedding)As many mirrors as possibleOnly non-commercial mirrors
Sublicense timeframe
Prospectively onlyIncluding retroactivelyNot applicable
The PSF wishes to thank everyone who participated. This input of the membership is extremely valuable to the PSF, and this was a useful first run at use of non-binding polls.
There will be a lot more discussion around this topic while the Board continues to weigh pros and cons prior to making the decision that best supports the interests of the membership. Please feel free to comment on this Blog, on Twitter, to the PSF (or in the Hallway Track in Montreal).
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

World Domination: One Student at a Time!

A couple of years ago, I discovered the edX MIT course 6.00x Intro to Computer Science and Programming Using Python. At the time, I was eager to learn Python and CS basics, so I took the plunge. 
The course has been offered through edX each semester since, and at some point it was divided into two courses to allow more time for in-depth study, as the original one-semester course moved very quickly from basics to more advanced topics, such as complexity classes, plotting techniques, stochastic programs, probability, random walks, and graph optimization. I can’t say enough good things about the excellence of Professor John Guttag, who developed the course and wrote the accompanying textbook (which is recommended but not required), along with co-teachers, Profs. Eric Grimson and Chris Terman.
I was grateful at the time to have found a free introductory college-level course in computer science that uses Python, rather than C, Java, or another language, as I had already had some acquaintance with Python and wanted to solidify my foundation and gain more skill. Working through the course led me to appreciate the features of Python that make it a wonderful teaching language. Since it is relatively easy to learn, it allows the learner to get up and running quickly, to write code and get results early on, without getting too bogged down and discouraged (something that I, as a humanities rather than a math person, had experienced in the past.) In addition, Python teaches good programming habits, including the importance of good documentation, what Prof. Guttag frequently referred to as "good hygiene." I remember wondering at the time why Python wasn’t always the language taught to beginners.
Well, today this is the trend.
According to a July 2014 study by Phillip Guo, Python is Now the Most Popular Introductory Teaching Language at Top U.S. Universities. Guo analyzed the course curricula for the top 39 CS Departments in the US. He used U.S. News' ranking of best computer science schools in 2014, which begins with Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley (he stopped at 39 because apparently there was an 8-way tie for #40), and found that 27 of them teach Python in their Intro courses. Of the top 10 departments, the proportion was higher– 8 of them teach Python. The next most-taught languages the study found were (in descending order): Java, MATLAB, C, C+, Scheme, and Scratch. Moreover, in addition to edX, both Udacity and Coursera use Python for their introductory courses.
Anecdotally, Guo found that professors in academic fields outside of CS are increasingly using Python to fill their students' needs for programming skills. See February’s PSF blog post Python in Nature for an explanation and example of this trend by Dr. Adina Howe, Professor of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University.
The increasing popularity of Python as the language for introductory CS courses in the US will undoubtedly lead to further growth of the Python community and the language. As Guo explains: 
… the choice of what language to teach first reflects the pedagogical philosophy of each department and influences many students' first impressions of computer science. The languages chosen by top U.S. departments could indicate broader trends in computer science education, since those are often trendsetters for the rest of the educational community.
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's make decisions together!

Personal opinion: I think it’s always a good idea to periodically revisit one’s purpose and basic goals; speaking from experience, getting lost is inefficient and no fun at all.
Photo credit: Gerd Altmann; License: CC0
So, let's review:
The mission of the PSF is to:
[…] promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of a diverse and international community of Python programmers.
The PSF takes this mission seriously. Last year, the Board of Directors changed the membership by-laws in order to make the PSF a more inclusive and diverse organization. Since then, the PSF leadership has been working on ways to build on that change. The recent non-binding poll of voting members (PSF Blog) is one such tactic. Another is a new procedure for strategic decision-making recently proposed by PSF Director Nick Coghlan.
Last week, Nick posted this proposal on the Members' List for discussion (it's also on the Python wiki).
According to Nick,
One step we are proposing is to have a more open strategic decision making process where significant decisions which don’t need to be made quickly, and which don’t require any confidentiality, can be discussed with the full PSF membership before being placed before the Board as a proposed resolution.
The new guidelines are similar to the process used for Python Enhancement Proposals (PEP)–whereby developers and user groups make suggestions for design decisions to amend the Python language (PEP). Nick also took inspiration from Red Hat’s “Open Decision Making Framework,” and the Fedora change approval process.
Since this proposal is itself the first instance of its use (in what Nick calls “a delightfully meta exercise”), it’s important that the membership review it and offer feedback. And if you’re not a member but would like to become one, see Enroll as a Voting Member to sign up.

Below I’ve excerpted some of the basic ideas from the text of the proposal, but I urge members to read the entire draft before weighing in.  
PSF Strategic Decision Making Process 
The primary mechanism for strategic decision making in the PSF is through resolutions of the PSF Board. Members of the PSF Board of Directors are elected annually in accordance with the PSF Bylaws, and bear the ultimate responsibility for determining “how” the PSF pursues its mission [...]
However, some proposed clarifications of or changes to the way the PSF pursues its strategic priorities are of sufficient import that they will benefit from a period of open discussion amongst the PSF membership prior to presentation for a Board resolution [...]  
Non-binding polls of PSF Voting Members  
At their discretion, the PSF Board may choose to include non-binding polls in ballots issued to PSF members [...]
Proposals for Discussion  
Any PSF Member (including Basic Members) may use the Wiki to submit a proposal for discussion with the full PSF membership [...] 
Proposals for Resolution
Any PSF Director or Officer may determine that a particular proposal is ready for resolution [...]
Proposals submitted for resolution will be resolved either directly by a Board resolution, or, at the Board’s discretion, by a full binding vote of eligible PSF Voting Members.
Nick is also currently drafting proposed guidelines for “PSF Strategic Priorities” and for procedures for recognition and promotion to the designation of “PSF Fellow."

Stay tuned to the members' list and to this blog to stay informed and to participate in the discussion and adoption of these additional proposals to improve the PSF's role as an organization that truly reflects and supports the needs and views of its membership.

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Google Summer of Code Applications are open!

Google Summer of Code is a program for post-secondary students who want to work on open source projects as a means of summer employment, and the Python Software Foundation is serving as an umbrella-organization to a large number of Python-based open source projects this year!

Whether you want to write code to help with manned missions on Mars, help manage online content, do machine learning, enhance medicine, study complex networks, do faster mathematics, create innovative user interfaces or... well, we'd say the sky's the limit, but with folk like AstroPy on our sub-org list, our sights go pretty far into the sky!

Check out the full list of participating sub-orgs here:

We know it can be overwhelming, so here's 7 things you can do to get yourself started:

1. Choose an organization to work with.
2. Start communicating with the developers.
3. Set up your own development environment.
4. Find some beginner-friendly bugs and try to fix them.
5. Even if you don’t have time to fix them right away, report them.
6. Help write and edit documentation.
7. Help others!

... and get started on writing your application!

Make sure to get those applications in by the deadline, 27 March at 19:00 UTC.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Raspberry Pi 2: Even More Delicious!

For those of you not familiar with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this UK based educational charity provides fun projects and opportunities for bringing coding literacy to students in the UK and to learners all over the world. This blog previously featured two of their projects, Astro Pi and Unicef’s Pi4Learning. There are many more, including Piper which uses the game, Minecraft, to teach electronics to kids, or the use of Raspberry Pis on weather balloons to observe and record (from the UK) today’s solar eclipse, or Picademy, which teaches programming skills to teachers (for these projects and many more, see RPF Blog).
The one thing these widely-varied projects have in common is that they all rely on the high-performing, incredibly affordable, versatile, and fun to use Raspberry Pi! First produced for sale by the RP Foundation in 2011, the device has become hugely popular, with over 5 million in use around the world. And it just got even better! 
The new Raspberry Pi 2 went on sale in February 2015. The reviews have begun pouring in, and the consensus is that it’s truly great! 
Still selling for a mere $35 USD, still the size of a credit card, and of course still pre-loaded with Python (along with Scratch, Wolfram Mathematica, and much more), the new Raspberry Pi features increased speed and functionality over the B and B+ models. With 900MHz, quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, and 1 full GB of RAM (over model B+’s 512 MB), it’s been benchmarked at speeds of 6 to almost 10 times faster than the first B model (see Tao of MACPC World).
Its 4-core processor can run all ARM GNU/Linux distributions and the new Pi is fully compatible with the earlier models. In addition, Windows is poised to release a version 10 that will work with the Pi, thus increasing its already broad appeal and versatility (see Raspberry Pi 2).

photo credit: da.wikipedia.orgunder CC license
Features it retains from the previous Model B+ include 4 USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet, Micro SD, Broadcom VideoCore IV Graphics, and Sound Card outputs via HDMI and 3.5mm analogue output (see PC Pro).
Currently the ties between the PSF and the RPF are strong, with many Pythonistas using the Raspberry Pi and many Raspberry Pi projects being done in Python. We hope more people will take a look at this remarkable tool and use it to teach Python, spread programming skills, and put computing power in the hands of anyone who wants it. 
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

PSF Python Job Board relaunched !

We are happy to announce that we have successfully relaunched the PSF Python Job Board.

After almost one year of development and lots of work by our volunteers and contractors, we are now live with the new Python job board system.

New modern system

The new system is fully integrated into the python.org website. Job submitters can create an account on the system, log in and directly submit their job posting for approval by the PSF Job Board Team.

The team can then review the postings, check them against our submission criteria, possibly fixing some formatting, and then approve or reject the postings directly through a web interface.

No more sending dozens of emails back and forth to get the job template fixed and adding jobs to the website by hand.

Thank you to our volunteers

The new system was a major effort for all of us and I'd like to say thank you from the PSF to everyone who helped make this happen (in alphabetical order):


  • Simon Hayward
  • Melanie Jutras
  • Marc-Andre Lemburg
  • Giles Thomas


  • Wiktor Bachnik
  • James Bennett
  • Jacob Burch
  • Jon Clements
  • Gil Gonçalves
  • Simon Hayward
  • Sarah Kuchinsky
  • Marc-Andre Lemburg
  • Berker Peksag
  • Benjamin Peterson
  • Frank Wiles
Plus everyone I forgot in this list (sorry; mail me and I'll have you added).

We'd also like to thank to Martin Thomas and Chris Withers, who each ran the Python Job Board for several years by email before the job board team was set up.

Job submitters

If you want to submit a job, please visit the how-to page which describes the process.

Submissions are free, but we'd appreciate a thank you in form of a donation to the PSF.

Job seekers

You can click through the jobs on the jobs listing or subscribe to the RSS feed we have for the listings.
Please note that we do not post CVs on the site. You will have to contact the companies directly.

Good luck with finding a new job !

Brand new bugs for free

As with every new system, there are still some bugs left. If you find something, please report it on the Github issue tracker.

More information

More information on the PSF Python Job Board and the relaunch project is available on our project page:

If you have questions, please write to jobs@python.org.

Marc-Andre Lemburg
Director, Python Software Foundation

Monday, March 16, 2015

Manuel Kaufmann and Python in Argentina

Several recent blog posts have focused on Python-related and PSF-funded activities in Africa and the Middle East. But the Python community is truly global, and it has been exciting to witness its continued growth. New groups of people are being introduced to Python and to programming so frequently that it’s difficult to keep up with the news. Not only that, but the scope and lasting impact of work being accomplished by Pythonistas with very modest financial assistance from the PSF is astonishing. 

One example is the recent work in South America by Manuel Kaufmann. Manuel’s project is to promote the use of Python “to solve daily issues for common users." His choice of Python as the best language to achieve this end is due to his commitment to "the Software Libre philosophy,” in particular, collaboration rather than competition, as well as Python's ability "to develop powerful and complex software in an easy way."

Toward this end, one year ago, Manuel began his own project, spending his own money and giving his own time, traveling to various South American cities by car (again, his own), organizing meet-ups, tutorials, sprints, and other events to spread the word about Python and its potential to solve everyday problems (see Argentina en Python).

This definitely got the PSF's attention, so in January 2015, the PSF awarded him a $3,000 (USD) grant. With this award, Manuel has been able to continue his work, conducting events that have established new groups that are currently expanding further. This ripple effect of a small investment is something that the PSF has seen over and over again.

On January 17, Resistencia, Argentina was the setting for its first-ever Python Sprint. It was a fairly low-key affair, held at a pub/restaurant “with good internet access.” There were approximately 20 attendees (including 4 young women), who were for the most part beginners. After a general introduction, they broke into 2 work groups, with Manuel leading the beginners' group (see Resistencia, Chaco Sprint), by guiding them through some introductory materials and tutorials (e.g., Learning Python from PyAr's wiki).

Foto grupal con todos los asistentes (group photo of all attendees). 
Photo credit: Manuel Kaufmann

As can happen, momentum built, and the Sprint was followed by a Meet-up on January 30 to consolidate gains and to begin to build a local community. The Meet-up's group of 15 spent the time exploring the capabilities of Python, Brython, Javascript, Django, PHP, OpenStreet Map, and more, in relation to needed projects, and a new Python community was born (see Meetup at Resistencia, Chaco).

The next event in Argentina, the province of Formosa's first official Python gathering, was held on February 14. According to Manuel, it was a great success, attended by around 50 people. The day was structured to have more time for free discussion, which allowed for more interaction and exchange of ideas. In Manuel’s opinion, this structure really helped to forge and strengthen the community. The explicit focus on real world applications, with discussion of a Python/Django software application developed for and currently in use at Formosa’s Tourist Information Office, was especially compelling and of great interest to the attendees. See PyDay Formosa and for pictures, see PyDay Pics.

It looks as though these successes are just the beginning: Manuel has many more events scheduled:
  • 28 Mar - PyDay at Asunción (Gran Asunción, Paraguay and PyDay Asuncion); Manuel reports that registration for this event has already exceeded 100 people, after only 3 days of opening. In addition, the event organizers are working to establish a permanent “Python Paraguay” community!
  • 20-22 May - Educational Track for secondary students at SciPy LA 2015, Posadas, Misiones, Argentina (SciPy LA and Educational Track); and
  • 30 May - PyDay at Encarnación, Itapúa, Paraguay. 
You can learn more and follow Manuel’s project at the links provided and at Twitter. And stay tuned to this blog, because I plan to cover more of his exciting journey to bring Python, open source, and coding empowerment to many more South Americans.

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Membership Vote

This morning, PSF Director David Mertz announced on the PSF Members' mailing list the opening of a vote. For those of you who have already self-certified as voting members, or if you are already a Fellow of the Foundation, you should have received the announcement in a private email.

This is our first stab at using the voting mechanism to get a sense of the larger membership's views on an issue currently under discussion (the non-binding poll), so we urge you to take a moment and make your voice heard.

To review your eligibility to vote and to see the certification form, please see my previous blog post Enroll as Voting Member or go to the PSF Website.

Here is the announcement:
Membership Vote for Pending Sponsors and Non-Binding Poll 
The candidate Sponsor Members listed below were recommended for approval by the Python Software Foundation Board of Directors. Following the ballot choices is a detailed description of the organization (the submit button is after the descriptions, so scroll down for it).
This election will close on 2015-03-26.
Sponsor Member Candidates
Bloomberg LP yes no abstain
Fastly yes no abstain
Infinite Code yes no abstain
Non-Binding Poll on PyCon Video Sublicensing 
Purpose: The PSF Board of Directors is seeking the collective perspective of PSF Voting Members on the appropriate handling of video recording sublicensing for presentations at PyCon US. These videos are currently made freely available on Google's YouTube, and may be incorporated into other sites through YouTube's embedding features. There are no plans to change that arrangement, but a separate question has arisen that requires determining whether it would be appropriate to exercise the sublicensing rights granted to the PSF under the PyCon US speaker agreement. This part of the poll serves as a non-binding survey of PSF Voting Members, intended to help the Directors formulate a suitable policy in this area based on the way the PyCon US speaker agreement is generally perceived, rather than based solely on what it permits as a matter of law.
Background: A request has been made to the PSF to sublicense video recordings made at PyCon of speaker presentations. The license agreement signed by speakers gives the PSF the right to grant such sublicenses, however the Board of Directors is of mixed opinion about whether we should do so. The release form (i.e. license) agreed to by speakers is at https://us.pycon.org/2015/speaking/recording/ for reference. Note that YouTube is explicitly mentioned in the release as an example of such a sublicensee, and pyvideo.org has always been given this right (although they have only exercised it thus far by embedding YouTube hosted videos, not by mirroring content, and hence are not technically a sublicensee at this point). Embedding a video does not require a sublicense, only mirroring it does.
There are two axes along which the Board is divided. On the one hand, we are not unanimous about whether we should grant a sublicense to commercial entities which may benefit financially by providing local copies of these video recordings, and may even potentially grant such local access only to subscribers in some manner. In favor of granting such access, some Directors feel that the more widespread the mirroring, the better, regardless of the commercial or non-commercial nature of the hosting (i.e. as long as the gratis access is never removed, which is not being contemplated). In opposition to granting such access, some Directors feel that for-profit sublicensees will gain unfair commercial advantage by bundling PyCon videos with other content sold for profit. Potentially the PSF may require payment, and gain revenue, for granting these sublicense rights.
On the other hand, we are also not unanimous about whether—if we do grant sublicenses—we should do so only prospectively, once we can inform speakers of our intent prior to their talks, or whether we should exercise the rights given in speaker releases even retroactively for previous PyCons. While speakers have given such rights already in a legal sense, some Directors feel they may not have fully contemplated that grant at the time, and only going forward, with more explicit information about sublicensing intents of the PSF, should sublicensing be allowed to other entities.
Sublicense entities Only YouTube (others embedding) As many mirrors as possible Only non-commercial mirrors
Sublicense timeframe Prospectively only Including retroactively Not applicable

Bloomberg LP
As the market data and analysis industry leader, Bloomberg LP provides a broad portfolio of innovations to our clients. Bloomberg's Open Market Data Initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to foster open solutions for the the financial services industry. This includes a set of published Python modules that are freely available to our clients at http://www.bloomberglabs.com/api/libraries/. In support of promoting further Python usage within the financial services industry, we have hosted a number of free public developer-focused events to support the Python ecosystem—including the Scientific Python community. Please refer to http://go.bloomberg.com/promo/invite/bloomberg-open-source-day-scientific-python/ and https://twitter.com/Mbussonn/status/533566917727223808. By becoming a member, we wish to further increase our support of the PSF in its mission to promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language. 
Fastly provides the PSF with unlimited free CDN services, a dedicated IP block, and hosted certificates. We also provide the PSF with free Premium Support. Over the last few months, Fastly’s comped services to the PSF totalled up to ~$20,000/month. In January 2015 alone, the PSF sent 1.7 billion requests and 132 TB through Fastly.
Python is a the go-to language at Fastly for building developer tools. Python allows Fastly to rapidly prototype and deploy novel protocols and services over multiple platforms, including devices like network switches, which are traditionally not programmable. Fastly relies on Python for data analysis and to dynamically reconfigure network switching and routing to steer every request to the closest available server. These tools are instrumental in helping Fastly reliably deliver more traffic in less time.
Infinite Code
Infinite Code is a software development firm with offices in Beijing, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We are strong believers in Free/Open Source Software and the people centric principles of Agile Development. Our language of choice is Python for software development where possible. Our recent Python developments run the range from high volume, real money gaming platforms to massively parallel data gathering and transformation for large quantities of data. Our developers have been using Python since 2001.

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Unicef Pi4Learning

I previously posted about a wonderful education program utilizing Raspberry Pis (AstroPi). Here’s another one:
Since last May, Unicef has been using Raspberry Pis to educate Syrian children who have been displaced into Lebanon due to their country’s civil war. The program, called Pi4Learning was developed by James Cranwell-Ward, UNICEF Lebanon Innovation Lead, and Eliane Metni of the International Education Association.
With approximately 300,000 Syrian school children living as refugees in Lebanon with no educational resources, Unicef’s Cranwell-Ward sought an inexpensive, ready-to-go solution that could be implemented in refugee camp environments. Already a Raspberry Pi enthusiast, he paired the device with Alex Eames' KickStarer funded HDMIPi screens. Working with Eliane Metni, who had been piloting Raspberry Pis at Dhour El Shweur Public Secondary School in Lebanon, they obtained free Arabic language curriculum from Khan Academy and began providing free classes to the Syrian children.
The Pi4L program is divided into learning tracks: Core Skills Modules for ages 6 – 12 (literacy, numeracy, and science, using Khan Academy content); Technology Applications for ages 5 – 18 (Learning to Code and Coding to Learn); and Continuing Education and Certification for Teachers. 
Each complete computer system costs around $100 and the Khan Academy content is stored and can be delivered offline. Currently approximately 30,000 refugees are using the program, and the goal is to continue to expand.
Both Cranwell-Ward and Metni are especially excited that the program teaches kids to code and to become creative participants in an increasingly technological world community. According to Cranwell-Ward, “The rate at which tech is being rolled out into our lives is phenomenal and coding - or the understanding of technology and how to manipulate it - is going to be a core component of our lives and our children’s lives moving forward… . “There needs to be some basic understanding of what technology is, how it can be manipulated, how we can use it to help ourselves, and not just be a consumer or slave,” quoted from the The Guardian.
One of the students is 11-year-old Zeinab Al Jusuf. There is a video about her experiences and the Unicef project at Unicef stories
There is also a wealth of information online about this project, so if you’re at all interested I urge you to read more. For an excellent overview by Unicef’s Luciano Calestini, see Innovation
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

BBC launches MicroBit

This morning, PSF Fellow Nicholas Tollervey of the UK posted the following to the PSF Members List:
"Today the BBC announced the MicroBit (part designed by [Pythonista and friend] Michael Sparks) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31834927.
About 1 million of these small programmable devices will be given away to 11-12 year olds starting their secondary education at the start of the UK’s next academic year in September.
Students will use the devices to learn programming and to create games. Python is one of the three languages that work with the device.
The PSF is involved in helping to generate community sourced Python resources for the project and we hope the MicroBit will be a big part of PyconUK’s education track (taking place at the end of September).
In addition to the BBC article above, the Guardian gives a good summary and mentions the PSF here:
I have an alpha-version of the device sitting on my desk and my impression is that kids will have a lot of fun. Think Pythonic blinkenlights, buttons, bluetooth and IO."
Image credit wired.co.uk

BBC director-general Tony Hall, speaking at the program’s launch, had this to say: "The BBC, our partners and everyone involved want this to be a defining moment for digital creativity, and a vital one for our country’s digital economy."
The MicroBit is not intended to compete with other devices. In fact, The Raspberry Pi Foundation is involved in creating learning content for the device, and the final version of the MicroBit will be able to connect via Bluetooth with Raspberry Pis and other computers, including Kano and Arduino. One goal is to teach children to write code in collaboration with others, so interconnectivity will be important.
According to the BBC article, the initiative to increase computer skills among UK school children is motivated by need, "with 1.4 million digital professionals estimated to be needed over the next five years." To answer this need, the Make it Digital Initiative is a group effort, involving approximately 50 other organizations including Microsoft, Google, Code Club, and the PSF.
A list of other participating organizations can be seen here, along with Nicholas' statement explaining the PSF’s participation:
"Education is a fundamental aspect of the continuing development of the Python programming language. The Python Software Foundation (PSF) and wider Python programming community fully support BBC Make it Digital’s efforts to encourage, engage and inspire the programmers of tomorrow. The Micro Bit is a fuse to ignite an explosion in digital creativity and we’re delighted to be a partner in such Python programming pyromania."

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Hyperion Development Awarded Fourth PSF grant

Today’s blog is about another African educational project that the PSF has recently funded. 
Hyperion Development, a South African based company, has been providing online training in web development and programming Python Courses, as well as in-person training and workshops in specific IT topics, to people around the world. Hyperion offers free courses to students, many of whom are unable to take formal computer science courses and others who wish or need to supplement their formal Computer Science studies. Hyperion also provides workshops and courses for businesses and professionals. They are currently the largest non-university trainer of Python in South Africa. 
According to their founder and director Riaz Moola,
Over 3500 full-time university and high school students have completed free training courses in C++/Python/Java/ programming and Computer Science topics with Hyperion. Students from over 80% of all tertiary institutions in South Africa take our courses, with approximately 54% of these students studying for full-time Computer Science degrees.
Hyperion’s courses are run on the Python-powered Virtual Learning Environment, which was developed with the help of a PSF grant awarded in 2013. The Hyperion Portal, a platform built entirely by South Africans, is used to deliver their Massive Open Online Courses, which are 100% free to full-time students. In addition, Hyperion helps students and IT professionals find jobs through their Referrals Program.
Currently, Hyperion’s Cape Town team is attempting to expand further by offering free Python training to students at the University of Cape Town. They have also conducted teacher training events, most recently in Cape Town at the 2014 Department of Education Western Cape Teachers Conference.
Their excellent work has earned them three previous grants from the PSF since 2013. How Hyperion advances the PSF’s mission is evident from a recent remark made by PSF Director and Co-Chair of the Outreach & Education Committee, David Mertz: 
The reality of the world is that not everyone can gain admission to, nor afford to attend, elite universities. It is my belief, and the belief of the PSF, that computer literacy today has a status increasingly similar to natural language literacy, and should be a skill and capability that all people obtain and have access to. More advanced research in these areas in universities has an essential role, but a basic capability is something we should strive to universalize, not to gate with accreditation, admission procedures, strict academic prerequisites and other requirements, etc.
The current grant will sponsor free 5-month Python training at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.