This week's PyHawaii meetup will be on

Dear Pythonistas:

Instead of meeting face-to-face, tonight's session will be held virtually through the magic of the Internet at

You won't have to battle traffic and you can enjoy PyHawaii from the comfort of anywhere!

Log in a few minutes early so you can ensure that everything works correctly!

See you tonight at 5:30 pm.

Tonight's session will cover:

 • Anaconda - what it is, why it is useful and how it can save you time.

 • IPython - how IPython makes it easier to learn Python and do the data analysis you love (and so much more)

 • Numpy - Why this is your numbers solution

 • Pandas - Where Pandas can help you do things faster and easier when analyzing data

 • And of course... puzzles (maybe!)

Pythonista Jeff Elkner shares his love for programming and teaching

Jeff Elkner
Jeff Elkner is a Computer Science teacher in Arlington, Virginia and made the extremely popular Python conversion of the book How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python.

PyHawaii: How did you become a programmer?
Jeff:  I have a master’s degree in computer science (CS), but my background is practical as I am a teacher and never really worked in industry. I started as a math teacher in the 1990's, and quickly got hooked on computers and information technology. At the time, the computer teacher was the math teacher who had a computer hobby. I was that guy and loved it. I then pursued a master’s in CS and since then I have been a full time CS and IT teacher. I first fell in love with computers because I am somewhat dyslexic, and I had such a difficult time with writing. The word processor was a liberation for me, and I loved writing when I found the word processor.

PyHawaii: Why did you choose Python?
Jeff:  Pascal was the lingua franca of teaching, but in the late 1990's the college board switched from Pascal to C++ and that was a disaster. C++ has been very successful professionally, but it was extremely difficult to use as a teaching language. At the time, there were no standard classes and the college board actually had to introduce a standard template library, called the AP classes, for students. However, that meant when we went to a programming competition, the students couldn't write a simple program because they couldn't use the AP classes. It was a very different world then, and I desperately wanted something besides C++. I was looking for anything and found Python. I don't have any proof of this, but in '99 I might have been the first high school teacher to use Python in the classroom. It started in 1995 when Python had been recommended to me at a Linux install-fest, and when C++ came out I remembered that conversation, tried Python, and have been hooked ever since. The language brought me to Python, but the community kept me there. It is a wonderful, inclusive, and welcoming group.

PyHawaii: What other programming languages do you use?
Jeff: I have to use Java. The AP exam has moved on to Java from C++ and so I need to teach Java. I am now getting into JavaScript as well. Things are changing and it is probably time to look at another system programming language as well.

PyHawaii: What has been your favorite Python project?
Jeff: The thing I love about Python the most is that students can contribute. I am a teacher in Arlington, VA and  it is a highly educated place. 65% of the residents have graduate degrees here. The students in the public school vary, but we get a lot of high-end students and I think what to do with them. Most students are average, and struggle with things like programming logic. But I always get a couple students that can complete the entire course in a month. I love dealing with students like that and the Python community makes it possible to hook them up with real world projects.

We have a great Linux User Group (LUG) and have had many notable groups like IBM and people like Vint Cerf visit over the years. One of my students helped win a competition to have Red Hat visit our LUG by writing a Python script that asked the Red Hat team if they were coming to visit our LUG. If you didn't pick our LUG, the script returned a fake traceback error with all the reasons to come to our LUG.

PyHawaii: What is your favorite Python module?
Jeff: - GASP. Graphics API for Students of Python. This is a set of wrappers around TK that some of my students wrote. GASP allowed you to do procedural style programming and recreate some of the 1980's style arcade games like Pong and Breakout. You could populate the world with objects, then hit an event loop and play the game. Most importantly, the students loved it! It made it possible to do easy graphics, and back then it was a wonderful thing.

There you have it folks! We would like to thank Jeff Elkner for his time and sharing his experiences and background with PyHawaii. Thank you, James, for putting together this amazing series, spreading the wonderful work that is done using Python.

2015 Holiday Cheer from PyHawaii

Hi! Ria here. It's been an event-filled November and December for PyHawaii. After the first annual PyNow! Competition and Conference, the crew revved up for the first Django Girls Workshop in Honolulu. It's already mid-December and 2016 is lurking right around the corner.

Here is some holiday cheer for you. I found this awesome Python code for a tree in Turtle. I forked it from jurandysoares on GitHub:
Run the .py file and you'll get this pretty tree:
Mele Kalikimaka!

More holiday cheer from us coming soon!

PyNow! 2015: A Look Back

I think it’s safe to say PyNow! Conference and Competition 2015 was a rousing success. With over 100 attendees, 28 pizzas, a slew of awesome talks, and some seriously creative competition, PyNow! is definitely here to stay and will hopefully grow even larger next year. While we could not have done it without our friends and partners at PCATT, Booz Allen Hamilton, the University of Hawaii, the Python Software Foundation and the Dark Art of Coding, it is YOU, our members and friends, who brought PyHawaii to where it is today and that made PyNow! every bit the amazing experience it was.

Check out some of what happened at PyNow!


PCATT is running three programming courses in the near future:

Look at that grin!

Awesome talks!
Our speaker lineup
Top ranked competitors!

Thanks again to everyone who attended, gave a tech talk and/or competed! We’re only getting started, so stay tuned!
PyNow Call for papers is now open:

PyNow! the first ever Python Conference in Hawaii is looking for speakers, like you! to give talks on the following, sign up here!
  • Best Practices & patterns
  • Community
  • Databases
  • Data Science / Data Analysis
  • Education
  • Embedded Systems
  • Gaming
  • Python Core (language, standard library, etc)
  • Python Internals
  • Python Libraries
  • Security
  • Systems Administration
  • Testing
  • Web Frameworks
This event is being sponsored by
pyhawaii_200x200 PyHawaii (see PyHawaii's meetup site!)
PCATT_Logo_Colored_consortium PCATT Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training
uhhcc University of Hawaii Honolulu Community Colleges
BAH 100TH LOGO_black_red_tagline.jpg  Booz Allen Hamilton
logos.3.600.wide The Dark Art of Coding

- Chalmer


Pythonista Luke Davis, Engineer at Planet Labs, Shares His Love for Python

PyHawaii is happy to launch a series of interviews showcasing the diverse use of the Python programming language.

Our first interview is with Luke Davis, an engineer at Planet Labs. “Planet’s goal is to provide universal access to information about our changing planet through a platform that includes the daily imaging data from Planet’s fleet of satellites, along with data from various other sources.” Planet Labs has now launched more satellites into orbit than any other organization in the world and is devoted to using its platform to improve our Earth. Luke's recent projects involve a large Django framework so that the satellite operators have a web based GUI to control the entire network of spacecraft! His typical development environment involves virtual environments, private git repos, and lots of Python.

PyHawaii: How did you become a programmer?
Luke: In Spring 2008, I realized that programming was a way to think outside your head, and thinking was something extremely valuable. Therefore, with that idea, I knew I had to learn to program. I also knew that I had to be excellent at it, and move up that gradient to master it. At some point, I was given the opportunity to move from a hobby to a vocation and I jumped on the opening. I didn't set out to have a job as a programmer, I set out to become excellent at programming because of the relationship to thought.

PyHawaii: Why did you choose Python?
Luke: Universality. Python is the lingua franca of scientific computing and many other things. Python spans so many communities and you can take part in a huge conversation about programming, machine intelligence, and many other things. That opportunity doesn't exist in other languages like Ruby, C++, or JavaScript. The low barrier to entry and preeminence with the scientific computing community creates a perfect mix of easy for novices, yet full-featured enough for professional research. There is smooth onboarding from novice to professional. When you compare Python to Java/C++ , both have a great scientific community, but those other languages are much harder for people to get involved with. In a similar situation with R, there is a great community, but it is much smaller and not a good fit for what I like doing: thinking. All that is why I think Python is an attractive language.

PyHawaii: Do you use other programming languages?
Luke: Yes, JavaScript. JS is the native language of the winning platform, web browsers. JS is also good for teaching because of the immediate feedback and universal web browser. There is no need to set-up a development environment, dependencies, or anything else. It is really invaluable to do things on the web and I am doing a lot on the web. I wouldn't use JS if it wasn’t part of the winning platform. For instance, Lua is a great language that I would use but it didn't win, so there isn't a large community and there are not a variety of modules. When you go to look for something in Lua, you may end up having to go build it from scratch.

I think we are living in the zenith of JavaScript. You have already seen things come and pull the market from JS, like CoffeeScript, but soon if the WebAssembly train doesn't get derailed, we'll see the decline of JS. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and others have all agreed to push forward on WebAssembly to create a low level bytecode for web browsers. JS tries to be a good language and a good compiled target, but it isn't really good at either one. WebAssembly will be an extremely fast target for compiled languages for any browser that is part of the consortium. If WebAssembly doesn't get derailed, JS will decline.

PyHawaii: What has been your favorite Python project?
Luke: Well at work, we use Python to control satellites! We've built a suite of tools to control the birds, ground stations, and everything else. The satellite has a Linux-based controller and runs Python, so literally everything we do can be Python-based. An example: you can manipulate how the satellite is pointing. We have two systems for that, all controlled with Python. The first is a reaction wheel using gyroscopes, which moves very fast. The second, for slower movements, is a magnetorquer which applies torque to the satellite by interacting with the Earth's magnetic field! We also use Python to establish a radio connection with the ground stations and control the ground site antennas. The ground site antennas must point within 1-2 degrees of arc of the satellite in order to communicate.

PyHawaii: What is your favorite Python module?
Luke: Good old datetime! I hate calculating timestamps, and this saves me so much time. I literally use it every day, multiple times a day. We have 15 ground sites across the Earth so we are constantly calculating local time zones and time differences.

There you have it folks! We would like to thank Luke Davis for his time and sharing his experiences and background with PyHawaii. Thank you, James for putting together this amazing series, spreading the wonderful work that is done using Python. Also, if you’d like to learn more about Planet Labs, check out this video/article piece done by CBS News, “Entrepreneur Blasting Off Into Orbit” (August 23, 2015).

Interview and post by James.