A very quick pyGTA meeting summary

Mike Fletcher gave a really good and engaging talk on Python metaclasses last night. While it’s highly unlikely that I’ll need them (the advice seems on when to use metaclasses seems to be like the advice for knowing when you’re in love; when it happens, you’ll just know), the tour of the underpinnings of Python’s class/object system was pretty enlightening.

We also had a pretty high Mac laptop count — there were about ten of us there, and there was an iBook, my 12″ G4 PowerBook and a 17″. If only the meeting place had WiFi.

(I’m looking into getting Tucows to let us use on of their meeting rooms for upcoming pyGTA meetings — that way, we’ll have connectivity, demo machines, whiteboards, comfy chairs, WiFi and a nearby pop machine.)

Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Attention attendees of the 61st Annual World Science Fiction Convention

A special entry for the attendees of this weekend’s WorldCon:

Hello, Writers! Hello, Fans! Welcome to Accordion City!

If you look to the south of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (the location of the Con) and upwards, you’ll see the CN Tower. If you look elsewhere, you’ll see…


Well, you’ll see an office complex and some pretty sad-and-generic resto-bars across the street from the Convention Centre. West of it is a lot of condos and construction sites for more condos. To the east is the south end of the Financial District, which is pretty quiet at night.

Don’t let the boringness of the area around the Convention Centre (or the recent Simpsons episode set in Toronto) fool you into thinking that Accordion City is the Canadian Cleveland! Toronto, long-derided for being “too boring” by the Americans, “too American” by Montrealers and “too uptight” by Vancouverites, is none of those. Instead, it’s North America’s most multicultural city, a city the size and population of Chicago but much, much safer, has waaaay more nightlife than San Francisco (I know, I lived there) and hey, the weed’s pretty good (so I’m told).

Watch this space for places to go. I’ll mention lots of places that are either within walking distance or a quick cab ride away from the Con that get the Accordion Guy seal of approval. And if you can’t trust a guy who walks around with an accordion, who can you trust?

Alernately, you can hire me as your guide for a night out on the town. For the low, low price of a couple of pints of Guinness, the use of your powers to get me invited to a suite party or a signed copy of your book/graphic novel/model lightsaber, I will take you out on a Saturday night tour of various hangouts mentioned on this blog, including Toronto’s most notorious speakeasy. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

I am also available for accordion performances and am not above filking. I am not proud.

And once again, welcome to Accordion City!


Even the faerie folk fear me…

…for I wield the only human weapon that can harm them.

(Thanks to Jeff Darcy for the link!)

It Happened to Me

"It’s the post-electrical age!", part 3

Here are three videos from the DECONISM talk that I mentioned in this entry from a couple of weeks ago.

The original plan was to have Derrick de Kerckhove moderate as engineer/cyborg Steve Mann, VR artist Maurice Benayoun and philosopher Pierre Levy sat in a hot tub while discussing “fictitious truth, virtual fiction, realiction, and conjured reality” as the audience sat in a room made up to look like Plato’s Cave through the use of projections. Joi Ito was going to be present via telepresence through WiFi, Boris’ laptop and an Apple iSight.

It would’ve been pretty “cyber”, if we all hadn’t been plunged into darkness earlier that afternoon.

Troopers that they were, the gentlemen pressed on with their talk. Steve seems to have a bat-utility belt full of power cells with enough juice to power incandecsent lamps, and cyborg and artistes still sat in a tub; it just wasn’t very hot nor did it have jets.

I took some videos with my Coolpix while it was still light out. Luckily, the gallery room in which the talk took place had a large skylight, which provided enough ambient light for me to capture what the room looked like.

A view of the room, including a close-up of the hot tub. (494K QuickTime) “Arr! Here be cyborgs!”

Filling the tub, requests to conserve water be damned! (164K QuickTime) Forgive the sideways shot — I was thinking like a still camera guy (are there any cheap utilities for rotating video 90 degrees?). “We must preserve our precious bodily fluids.”

The cyborgs got me! (117K QuickTime) “He’p me, he’p me, he’p me p’ease, ah been hyp-mo-tized!”


pyGTA meeting tonight

(Sorry ’bout the short notice.)

The Greater Toronto Area Python Group will have a meeting tonight at the 519 Church Street Community Centre (519 Church Street, just north of Wellesley) at 8 p.m.. I’ll be there, as will my housemate Paul, and there’ll be a presentation on Python’s metaclasses — about which I know nothing, nada, zero, zip, honkis de konkis — so I’ll be paying extra-special attention.


Never mind "Freddy vs. Jason" — how ’bout "Python vs. Ruby"?

Well, it’s more of a comparison than an actual battle. In comp.lang.python (Newsgroups? How charmingly retro!), Python guy Alex Martelli compares the two languages and says that their similarities outshine their differences:

Below a thin veneer of syntax differences, I find Ruby and Python amazingly similar — if I was computing the minimum spanning tree among just about any set of languages, I’m pretty sure Python and Ruby would be the first two leaves to coalesce into an intermediate node:-).

Martelli says that comparing Python to Ruby is like comparing capelli d’angelo (that’s Angel-hair pasta) to spaghettini (that’s “really skinny spaghetti”).

Of course, saying that two programming languages are very similar is a very good way to incite a flame war. Quick, Robin, to the flame-mobile!


The best cure for an awful movie is to see a good one

To make up for the self-inflicted torture of watching Freddy vs. Jason (at least I was seeing it with people I liked), I saw American Splendor — the biography of great comic book author Harvey Pekar — with my friend Anne on Friday.

(Friday was a busy night — first the Hawksley Workman secret concert, then American Splendor, then running into my friend Lori and getting hooked up for some future accordion jazz stuff, then dancing with the girls from the Empire Sandy. Interesting stories all, and I suppose they’ll eventually get blogged.)

Paul Giamatti played an amazing Harvey, and well, Hope Davis is one of my indie film dream dates. The movie captures the spirit of Pekar’s autobiographical comics of his everyday life in Cleveland, Ohio, which take the incredibly banal and turn it into something incredibly interesting. Today’s “alternative comics” — by alternative, I mean the ones that cover quotidian life as opposed to superheroes or detectives — owe Harvey Pekar a big debt.

Recommended reading

Wouldn’t ya know it, Harvey Pekar has a blog. As does his wife Joyce and his daughter Danielle.

You may have seen the movie, but you should read the comics that inspired it!