3 Months to learn Python

I’ve always wanted to learn how to code but I’ve never transitioned from wanting to doing, but with an upcoming conference (BruCon) I’ve decided to set myself a challange and learn how to code in Python before BruCon. That give’s me about 3 months of time to get something in to my head and allow me to understand a small part of the Hacking with Python workshop that Vivek Ramachandran is doing at BruCon. I don’t expect to start hacking with Python straight away after the workshop or even a year after the workshop, I just want to be able to understand some of the processes in the workshop and advance what little Python knowledge I have just a little bit more. I’ve only been to BruCon once and most of the talks went over my head, it’s something that I realised I really needed to change.

To start off I’ve gone with Learning Python The Hard Way, it’s been recommended as a good start for anyone that wants to code with Python and it looks like a great way to do it, best of all it’s free! Mostly free if the HTML version is suitable for you, the PDF and other format options are dirt cheap as well. I really like the method it uses to teach python, a learn as you do approach combined with some experimenting (extra credit sections at the end of each exercise) so far I’ve managed to do the basic lessons and now I’m just looking for the extra time to continue on and understand. I used to have game time set aside each night but it’s time to replace that with python and other projects.

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Wifi for a castle: physical security of a AP

My castle wi-fi project has hit a set back and a quite large delay. The last access point I had put in the castle has been stolen :( and that presents two problems.

Cost and Security.

For security we’ll have to come up with some good idea’s to keep the AP’s hidden out of plain site to stop the opportunistic thieves. We’ll also have to keep the AP’s physically secure so anyone who really wants to steal it will have a hard time getting to the AP or removing it. All of this brings us back to cost, most of the ideas involve a plastic weather proof box of some sort. A cheaper and less obvious alternative is a wooden box made on site, in some area’s this would be able to blend in to the surrounding décor and we have quite a bit of spare wood on site that can be used for this. The next largest cost factor is going to be the AP itself, we have to look at the cheapest AP we can use for this which will give us a reliable service and have plenty of options to allow us to expand the network with the least amount of cabling, essentially a series of wireless repeaters that will also act as access points.

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IMGP6106-002 by beer_squirrel
IMGP6106-002, a photo by beer_squirrel on Flickr.
We found this guy wandering around the graveyard at Glendalough on a rainy day. We had planned to go look at hawks flying but it was much to wet and cold for them to get outside so it had to be postponed. It felt kinda strange to to see him/her wandering around the graveyard alone but it seemed fairly content to keep wandering after having a look at us for a minute or two. The only thing I can say about it is that it looks like a type of deer to me, I’ve no idea what type or even if it’s a juvenile.

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Beer_Fire by beer_squirrel

This was taken quite awhile ago. I was using a Zenith (russian pentax clone) in a very dark pub with some Ilford 400 DELTA or 3200, I can’t remember which right now. Still, I was using a fairly fast shutter speed for the very dark conditions in the pub, when I got the developed roll back from the camera shop they apologised as the film was completely blank from looking at it. It had happened a few times before so I knew I was the cause but I also knew it wasn’t completely blank. It was fairly simple to load them in to a scanner and then push the brightness setting to the extreme to start seeing some detail.

The fire in the photo is caused by a friend who likes his fire, usually drunk people are easily convinced that it’s caused by a build up of alcohol fumes when the real culprit is lighter fluid. Hold your hand over the glass, stick a lighter in the side and hold down the gas release for about 20 or 30 seconds then release and add a flame to the top of the glass. He swore it tasted better. If you want to know what’s in the pint then look around it.

Beer_Fire, a photo by beer_squirrel on Flickr.

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Wifi for a castle

In the next few weeks I’ll be starting a project to wire up a castle for wireless. I hope to outline the process in a series of posts which will act as a form of documentation over the next few weeks. Like most castles it is quite a unique place and with that come unique issues along with a good few standard issues. Like for instance the castle is staffed an run by volunteers so this is a completely volunteer power project, the equipment is the same, donated by volunteers or purchased by their funds. Even though funds are low we’ll aim to build a robust network that will handle anything from a single person on a PC to several hundred smart phone users in a festival setting.

The main aims are

  • Supply the main floor and kitchen area of the castle with good wifi coverage
  • Supply the living area upstairs with good wifi coverage
  • Link a workshop/site office/stage area outside via wireless to the network
  • Provide coverage for the entrance to be used during festivals/events

At the moment only three access points are setup, they cover the most used area’s of the castle but these area’s are usually social points or smaller area’s used for office work and not suitable for large meetings or able to reach additional work area’s. One of the first unique problems we face is that the building is also a protected structure, any changes we make must have minimal impact on the structure, that means we won’t be able to drill holes anywhere, mounting any ducting is also out except in some special circumstances. Should be fun alright! :D

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IMGP6087 by beer_squirrel
IMGP6087, a photo by beer_squirrel on Flickr.

Cats, cats, cats. This one likes to lie on things and go murp in the night, usually around the 4am mark. Yeap, murp. He just murps quietly to himself…. outside the bedroom door. It’s quiet enough so that it won’t wake you up straight away but slowly brings you out of your sleep. You can’t catch him as he hears you getting out of bed, when that door opens there is no cat, he’s after running off to a favored hiding spot and will be back in 5 minutes when you’ve settled down again.

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IMGP0404 by beer_squirrel
IMGP0404, a photo by beer_squirrel on Flickr.

The tower of Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

I sometimes spend a lot of time here, the castle itself is a great please and with places that size it’s inevitable it attracts interesting stores. The people currently inside the castle are also the type of people that have interesting stories and attract more as time goes on.

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1_2 by beer_squirrel
1_2, a photo by beer_squirrel on Flickr.

As I don’t really know what to do with a blog, rather like a fish with a bicycle or a cat with a large vegetable, I’ll see if I can do some random things. I’ll start off with something I like a lot. Black and White film photography.

This photo is of two large eggcups, or rather some breadmixers that where used in the Magazine Fort that sits in the Pheonix Park, Dublin. They’re not much use now as rust covers them.

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