At the beginning of 2017 I decided I needed to figure out how to tighten the margin of error when matching tubes for the M97 Compressor/Limiter. It didn’t take long before I realized I was going to need something better than a spreadsheet to do what I wanted to do; what I really needed was to be proficient with a computer programming language.
It turns out computer programming has changed a little bit since my last big coding project, in 1985! After digging around and reading about modern programming languages, it seemed like Python might be a good place to start, and a quick search for “Chicago Python” brought to my attention a local group of Python programmers called ChiPy. They had an event scheduled that week that looked interesting — participants in their mentorship program would be giving 5-minute presentations showing off the projects they built over the course of a 3-month mentorship. It seemed as good of a place to start as any.
All the presentations I saw were great, and I immediately found myself dreaming of all the ways I could implement the data science tools into my workflow in the lab. I started exploring on my own, and a month later the application process opened up for the next session. ChiPy’s mentorship program is free; you meet with a mentor once a week, attend some workshop events, and learn Python. What did I have to lose? I applied, proposing my tube-matching software project.
In the meantime, my mind was being blown by what I was discovering about Python: Guido van Rossum and the Python Software Foundation had developed a powerful, widely-compatible language with a simple and eloquent syntax, and the open-source community returned the love by contributing over 100,000 open-source libraries! The sheer size of the community and quality of available information is amazing. I was further inspired by an interview with Guido in which he proudly declares himself a feminist, and describes some of his efforts to ensure the global Python community is equally open and welcoming to everyone. I was sold! In mid-March I got the good news that ChiPy had picked me to be a mentee.
My hope is to include interesting things about Python as I learn them that others may also find interesting; however, I’ll also be throwing around some basic electronics concepts, reminiscing about my last programming project, etc.. I’m guessing the number of people interested in this could be represented by a 2-bit integer, but who knows? Maybe there will be a nugget in here that someone will be happy to have read?