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Showing posts from March, 2014

Washing machine hoses

When our home inspector went through he mentioned to me that I should replace the existing rubber hoses on the washing machine with steel-reinforced ones. I wondered if washing machine hoses were specially prone to fail, perhaps something to do with the intermittent nature of the load (if you look at the hoses when the washing machine runs, they jerk as the machine draws water in phases). I also began to wonder if dishwasher hoses suffered from the same problem.

A quick search brought up two documents, one from a community association underwriter - which I assume insures people with rental properties. The other document I found was from an insurance association serving hotels and inns. The first one claims that steel-reinforced hoses are no better than rubber hoses since the hoses are damaged at the connection. The other one suggests that steel-reinforced hoses may be better than regular rubber hoses but all hoses should be replaced every five years or so.

I could not find reasons why…

execfile and imported modules

I was given to believe that Python's execfile statement simply executed all the commands in a file and continued on its way. This is not entirely true, at least in Python 2.7: imported modules seem not to be handled by the execfile statement, which seems to be rather odd to me.

import numpy def gen(n=100): return numpy.arange(n)
This code does what you expect when you import it as a module:

In [1]: import test In [2]: test.gen(10) Out[2]: array([0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9])
And when you run it as a script to incorporate it into your workspace:

In [3]: run test In [4]: gen(10) Out[4]: array([0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9])
However, when you use execfile to run the script you run into a snag:

In [5]: pars = {}; execfile('', {}, pars); pars['gen'](10) --------------------------------------------------------------------------- NameError                                 Traceback (most recent call last) <ipython-input-5-b06061c74d2b> in <module>() ---…

Parameter files in Python for Python programs

I often write and use Python programs that require input parameters to tell them what to do. When there are a few parameters I usually pass them through the command line (my current favorite framework for command line argument parsing is the amazing docopt module). When there are many parameters, however, command line arguments can get cumbersome.

In the past I have looked to configuration markup languages (YAML comes to mind) and have also used microsoft excel format files (using the excellent xlrd package). Using proprietary formats makes my stomach upset, but there are no good solutions for the odf counterparts.

Recently I have started to experiment with storing parameter files in python and reading them into my code.

__import__(filename) works and puts the parameters into a separate name space, so you can access them as filename.x, filename.y etc. However, the file needs to be in the module search path, and it feels a bit of a misuse.

A better solution, I find, is to use execfile …

git subtree split

Problem: You have a git hub repository with code in several folders. You want to move one of the sub folders into its own separate repository (for example, it was experimental code you were working on, which you now want to spin off into its own life)

Solution: Use git subtree split as detailed here (look for the answer that says The Easy Way™)

Another reason to love PyCharm

The latest version of PyCharm can run the tool on your code to flag coding style violations on the fly. I thought this was cool, but it can be annoying sometimes. This is because pep8 consists of coding guidelines and some of them are a matter of taste. My personal quirk is that I like to use 2 spaces for indents instead of 4. 
When I turn on PyCharm’s pep8 checking all my code gets underlined because I’m using two spaces for indents. However, I discovered that under Preferences->Inspections->PEP 8 Coding style violation and there is a properties list labelled “Ignore” where you can type in pep8 violations to be ignored.
UPDATE: From this very informative post here and a response from one of PyCharm's programmers there: Go to the error, click on the light bulb icon and then select 'Ignore errors like this'. This will automatically add a proper exception to this list. For those interested the list of error codes is here.

I typed in ‘indentation’ and was delight…

Ghost in the wiring

The kitchen has an old Nutone vent hood. The fan didn't spin as fast as it should and the fan blades looked rusty so I decided to replace the motor and blades. I found a replacement motor off Amazon (of all places) and found a metal fan of the exact same design off ebay. I dismantled the vent fan assembly and replaced the motor and fan and tested it and everything worked fine.

A few days later I switched the vent fan on and it did not work. Neither did the hood light. I puzzled over this, wondered if I'd blown a fuse, checked all the fuses - all were intact. I could not figure anything out. I decided that the wiring inside the hood was old and had come apart from my fiddling with it.

A few days later I idly switched the fan on - and it worked! Now I was sure there was loose wiring somewhere.

Then a few days later again I tried the fan, and it did not work. I banged the hood I banged under the fan trying to see if I could jar the loose wiring in place but nothing worked. I left…

Docopt notes

I raved previously about docopt. Docopt can be finicky about how you write the docstring. Here are some tips:

No empty line between "Usage:" and the first usage pattern.

Usage: <---- Don't do this mutate snp [-r <REF>] [-p <SNP>]
No empty lines between usage patterns

Usage: mutate snp [-r <REF>] [-p <SNP>] <---- Don't do this mutate cnv [-r <REF>] [-p <SNP>]