Copyright 2017-2018 Jason Ross, All Rights Reserved

Python 3.9
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Python 3.9’s scheduled release date is 5th October 2020, and it seems lots of people are getting very excited about this. With the new yearly release schedule for new versions of Python, is it really worthy of all the excitement, or is Python 3.9 just a small incremental improvement over Python 3.8?

Python
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If you're running Ubuntu 16.04 or later, the first time you try to create a virtual environment with Python 3.6, Python 3.7 or Python 3.8, you'll get the following error:

python3 -m venv ./venv
The virtual environment was not created successfully because ensurepip is not
available.  On Debian/Ubuntu systems, you need to install the python3-venv
package using the following command.

    apt-get install python3-venv

You may need to use sudo with that command.  After installing the python3-venv
package, recreate your virtual environment.

Failing command: ['/home/mystuff/Development/venv/bin/python3', '-Im', 'ensurepip', '--upgrade', '--default-pip']

Lambda, A Greek Letter
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In my last article on AWS Lambdas - Creating An AWS Lambda With Dependencies Using Python - I described how to create an AWS Lambda using Python, where the Python code has dependencies on other packages such as requests, and you're seeing errors like:

Unable to import module 'lambda_function': No module named 'requests'

That method works well for many packages, but there are limits.

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I’ve worked for large companies from both the UK and the USA, and they all loved making their staff watch training videos about “standards”. The UK companies’ videos were mostly about financial regulations, health and safety, and things like that. The American companies though, took a slightly more “intense” attitude. Their videos were about the danger of talking to people who may be on the list of people banned from trading with the company, the perils of bribing foreign officials, and people who never took their vacation. This might strike you as odd; after all the rest of the world doesn’t usually think of US companies forcing staff to take all of their vacation allowance, but in this case they were making a point of it.

Image courtesy of Jan Willem Geertsma, rgbstock.com
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It’s easy enough to choose an item at random from a collection, if they all have the same probability of being chosen. When each of them has its own probability though, things get a little more complicated.

A Chain, with a lock.
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Banks, financial institutions, governments and public companies all want to see the future. Not in a crystal ball and tarot cards kind of way, but in a way that allows them to forecast economic events, share prices, voting patterns, disease spread and so on. They ways they do this vary, and usually involve a lot of expensive hardware and even more expensive people, but many of the underlying methods used are reasonably understandable. They can get a little involved though, so this is the first in a series of articles about them.

I’ll start with the basics, and then get into the more interesting stuff...