ClePy: Extending Civilization IV with Python (12/1)

As I read through my RSS feeds, I noticed that December’s ClePy meeting will get into extending Civilization IV with Python.

I’ve been a gamer most of my life, with my dad introducing me to Intellivision and Atari at a young age. I stayed solely a console gamer until we got our first computer. At that point, I figured that we needed games for it as well. Then, I was introduced to Sid Meier’s Civilization series, a great time sink that would get me in trouble many times, but it was well worth it.

As time has gone on, the games have gone through various changes, but the basic concepts have stayed the same. You’re constantly growing your civilization and trying to take over the world – through the various ways to win a game. You can form alliances with other tribes, and you can declare war as well.

While doing research for my “Behold the Power of Python” and “Pumping Iron into Python: Intro to FePy” talks, I had found out that Civilization IV was done in python. It’s one of two major games that I play that happen to be written in a variation of python. (EVE Online is the other game, written in stackless python.) It’s awesome to find one of my favorites series using a language that I am interested in.

I’m looking forward to finally attending a ClePy meeting, and I’m looking to see what Christian Wyglendowski will show in regards to extending Civilization IV!

Helvetica: A Documentary and Sarah’s Take on Fonts

While looking through the movies on Netflix last night, one title caught my eye – Helvetica. The font name jumped out at me, and I had to wonder… a movie about a font? It isn’t so much a movie, as it is a documentary on typography and thoughts about it throughout the world.

Helvetica is an interesting documentary on typography. Massimo Vignelli comments on the universality of Helvetica. Throughout the documentary, you see various other applications of Helvetica and will realize that it is quite prominent in advertising. It’s very easy to read, clear… quite ubiquitous.

Matthew Carter talks about what it takes to make a type and gets into designing a type. He is responsible for Verdana, a font that he worked on for Microsoft.

I am such a font geek. While watching this documentary, I saw the name Hermann Zapf, I perked up. Zapf Chancery and Zapf Dingbats both immediately crossed my mind.

If you are into typography or just like toying around with fonts, I’d definitely recommend seeing Helvetica.

I am very well aware of the impact that a font can make and the language one can speak. A font has its own character, its own style. My husband and I went to a new restaurant this weekend, and my only complaint is that they are using the wrong font for their logo. The font says one thing, but the atmosphere is something totally different. The logo uses a font similar to Papyrus or Viner Hand, but the environment is definitely more similar to something along the lines of Zapf Chancery.

Even when I worked on the layout for this site, I had to take fonts into consideration. For the blog posts themselves, all I cared about is that they’re readable. However, in redesigning the site, I wanted a font for my website title and sidebar headings to be a bit more feminine. When I think feminine, I think scripty. At the same time, I wanted to maintain readability, which can get difficult with script fonts. After looking at various fonts, I settled with Freehand591, which I think brings in the geekette part of me.

Look around you at the advertisements, books, and products – you never know where you’ll see Helvetica, or where a font stands out or seems inappropriately used. Take a closer look, and you may be surprised!

Pumping Iron into Python: Intro to FePy

One of the latest talks that I will be adding to my list is “Pumping Iron into Python: Intro to FePy”. Originally, I had named the talk “Pumping Iron into Python : Intro to IronPython”, but that title was too long for the CodeMash submission page. So then I shortened the name, but in changing the name, it changed the context of my talk as well. My abstract changed from an intro to IronPython similar to the one I did at Cleveland Day of .NET to this:

As python grows in popularity, IronPython has started making more waves. What is IronPython and why should regular python programmers be familiar with it? This session will introduce the open source .NET implementation of python known as IronPython without using Windows. Come see FePy (IronPython community edition) in action via Mono — a cross-platform open source implementation of the .NET framework.

I’m extremely excited to announce that it has been accepted for CodeMash, so I will be giving this talk in January 2009 at the conference at Kalahari resort in Sandusky.

When I first put together the abstract for this talk, I was looking forward to showing just IronPython. But after seeing Catherine‘s comment here and having to shorten my title for the CodeMash submission, I changed my perspective and decided to take this another way.

I decided to act on Catherine’s comment and submitted this talk for PyCon 2009. That talk is currently in the review process. Now I’ve spoken at user groups and Days of .NET, and those submission processes are fairly short and straightforward. Even the CodeMash submission process was fairly painless, other than maybe for the decision makers since they had quite a few sessions to review. But the PyCon submission process has been probably the most interactive, most detailed process that I’ve gone through so far – and I definitely like it.

I submitted the talk to PyCon on the same day I submitted it to CodeMash, before the November 3rd cutoff. Since then, I’ve had a few people look at my submission and comment on my submission. The comments came from my reviewers, who basically wanted to know more and had things to say about the topic with the description that I posted here. I was able to go in and hopefully answer their questions.

I liked that there was a way to interact with the reviewers. There are stricter guidelines and an agreement to be videotaped, amongst other things. This is what the PyCon submission timeline is for proposals. Now, I wait until December 15th or so, when I find out if my talk will be accepted.

However, I’m not really sitting and doing nothing while waiting. Remember… this talk has already been accepted for one conference, and I’m really looking forward to showing off IronPython in a different development environment besides Visual Studio. I’m looking forward to showing off Mono and developing with that. I will also be showing off some of the things that FePy has that makes it different from the standard IronPython implementation, as well as what IronPython has to offer for non-Windows users.

Look forward to hearing more about this talk as we get closer to CodeMash… teasers will definitely show up between now and then!

Mark Mydland Heartland Tour: Cleveland Stop

On this past Thursday, I caught Mark Mydland’s user group stop here in Cleveland, as part of his Heartland tour. He was showing off VSTS 2010, formerly codenamed Rosario, and some of the features it has to offer.

One of the things he showed us was a bug report complete with screenshots, comments, and even a TiVo-esque “XBox for Debugging” (Diagnostic Trace Collector) feature – where you can see the test as it was run, complete with a timeline. So you can watch the test as it was run and fast forward or rewind it. I have to wonder, since Mark kept referring to the XBox, do you unlock achievements after passing x amount of tests?

Tests XBOX Achievement

While showing off some of the features, he also wanted to show off a couple things that Microsoft Research has in the works. Pex is a whitebox testing tool that he showed off, generating unit tests with high code coverage. Originally part of MS Research, it is now handled by Devlabs.

The other project that he showed off, that will also be handled by Devlabs, is CHESS. Until Devlabs gets more up on their site for it, you can check out its Microsoft Research site. What CHESS does is it runs through schedules of threads to find various types of errors in multi-threaded programs. It can store the execution of the buggy thread, for the developer to play back and see just where the issue is happening. Currently, the Win32 version is available for academic evaluation, but other versions are in the works, including one to work with .NET apps.

If you get a chance to hear his talk, I’d highly recommend you check it out. Mark’s presentation is quite informative, definitely geared for developers to see what the testing suite can do.

Bennett Adelson .NET SIG Meeting Tomorrow

Just a heads up for those of you who are in the Cleveland area:

  • What: Bennett Adelson .NET SIG November Meeting, Steve Smith presents “Programmatic ASP.NET Tips and Tricks”
  • When: Tuesday, November 11th 5:45pm-7:30pm
  • Where:Microsoft Office, 6050 Oak Tree Blvd, Third Floor, Independence, OH 44131

See Steve Smith, Microsoft Regional Director, speak on Programmatic ASP.NET Tips and Tricks. Some of this group meets up after the meeting at the Winking Lizard for drinks and socializing, so go for the meeting and then stay a little later and hang out with some of the group after!

Meet the Principal Group Manager of Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers

On Thursday, November 13th, the principal group manager of Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers will be here in Cleveland, visiting various clients and then presenting for the GCPCUG VB.NET/C# SIG that night. All are invited to attend.

  • What: Meet Mark Mydland, Principal Group Manager of Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers
  • When: Thursday, November 13th, 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • Where: Beacon Place Conference Center, Beacon Place Office Building, 6055 Rockside Woods Blvd, Lower Level, Independence, OH 44131

Mark will be giving a talk on VSTS 2010, code-named “Rosario”.

Here’s the abstract for his talk:

The phrase “drive quality upstream” has been abused so badly by ALM software vendors that it has to be relegated to the platitude junk pile along with such all time favorites as “work smarter not harder,” “Think outside the box,” and “Synergistic leveraging of code reuse.” Before we drive quality anywhere we need to give quality a seat at the table. VSTS Rosario release will do this by automatically gathering critical information about the project and code and making that data available when, where and to whom it is needed. During this discussion we will examine how Rosario impacts quality across the application lifecycle by:

  • Allowing testers to provide developers with details about what the code did instead of just providing the details about what the tester did.
  • Allowing development leads and architects to visualize and understand their current code (not the code they wish they had, but the code they really have) so that they can minimize the impact of changes; and
  • Allowing developers to understand the impact of their changes in terms of affected tests, concurrency and bounds checking.

The Rosario release of VSTS will bring all project stakeholders together to allow richer information to be shared across every role to make software quality accessible and achievable.

Mark Mydland is the Principal Group Manager for the Visual Studio Team Edition for Software Testers product at Microsoft. In the past 12 years, Mark has worked as a developer and consultant across a wide variety of applications and industries. Mark first joined Microsoft in 2001 working as a member of the Natural Interactive Services Division (NISD). During his time in that group, Mark was the development manager for a team focused on analytics for assessing the efficacy of natural language interpreters with a particular emphasis on driving authoring simplification and relevance quality for user assistance. Based on this work, Mark filed numerous patents and coauthored a paper for the SIGIR journal. In 2004, Mark left Microsoft to work as a Director of Development at Getty Images where he led a change in process from a traditional waterfall methodology to a scrum-based agile approach which brought the release frequency from 12-18 months down to 1 month. Since Getty made extensive use of VSTS, it seemed a natural fit for Mark to join VSTS on his return to Microsoft in 2006. Mark received his B.S. from West Point in 1991. He has also held positions with USWeb/marchFirst and Andersen Consulting/Accenture.

Please visit the GCPCUG VB.NET/C# SIG site to RSVP for this event. Hope to see you there!