Next London Financial Python Users Group meeting

Posted on 28 January 2010 in Finance, Python

The next meeting of the London Financial Python Users Group will be on Feb 3, 2010 at 7pm, and is being kindly hosted by KBC Financial Products at their offices: 111 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1FP (just opposite Tower 42).

All are welcome, but for security reasons you need to register in advance; just drop an email to Didrik Pinte. (Update: old mailto link removed)

The topics planned for this meeting are:

  • Improving NumPy performance with the Intel MKL - Didrik Pinte, Enthought
  • Python to Excel bridges:
    • "PyXLL, a user friendly Python-Excel bridge" - Tony Roberts
    • Discussion on connecting Python and Excel (xlrd/xlwt, pyinex, win32com, pyxll, ...)
  • Speeding up Python code using Cython - Didrik Pinte, Enthought

New laptop!

Posted on 28 January 2010 in Gadgets

Back at the end of October, I asked whether when I bought a new laptop I should get one with a Core 2 Duo T9600 or a i7 720QM. They both cost the same, and there seemed to be pros and cons to each.

After weighing things up, and particularly with the advice of Greg Bray in the comments there, I'd pretty much decided on the i7, so on 2 November I was ready to buy. I went to the Dell shop... and discovered that they'd added GBP400 or so onto the price for both models in the spec that I wanted. Welcome to the pre-Christmas price rise.

So I waited until early January, and finally the price for the i7 returned to where it had been (though the T9700 was still expensive). And last Thursday, the new machine arrived. i7 720QM quad-core at 1.6GHz (up to 2.8GHz when only one core is active), 4Gb RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670 with 1Gb RAM (which can do 432 GigaFLOPS[!]), Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, 256Gb SSD, and a 16" RGBLED screen (if I understand that correctly, the backlight is an array of LEDs in groups of 3, and it adjusts the backlight colour in a screen segment to match the colour in that part of the screen). All for the same price as the cheapest 15" MacBook Pro.

It's lovely. The build quality is excellent -- the only comparable machines I've tried have been the MacBook Pros and the Air, which are nice but slower and considerably more expensive. (To be fair to Apple, the MacBook Pros are better-made than this Dell. But it's a close thing, and I don't think it's worth the extra. YMMV.) The screen is the best I've seen since I saw high-end CRTs on SGI Workstations back in the 90s.

Size and weight-wise, it's comparable to a MacBook 17" -- smaller, but in the same category. So I wouldn't recommend you get one as a netbook -- but as a desktop replacement, it really looks like it's going to be perfect.

The only thing that sucks is the face recognition login widget, which has so far managed to recognise me once. Out of 30 tries. But hey, it can be uninstalled.

Joining TheyWorkForYou to Twitter

Posted on 20 January 2010 in Politics, Programming, Resolver One

I'm putting together some spreadsheets that we're going to use to publicise Resolver One over the coming UK electoral campaign, and one set of data I needed was a list of Members of Parliaments' Twitter accounts indexed by an ID that I could use with I was delighted to discover Tweetminster, a site analysing MPs' tweets, and in particular their Twitter list of all UK MPs' accounts, but there was no link to TWFY.

So, given that no-one else seems to have done it, here's my own list:

Hope someone finds it useful. It's up-to-date as of this posting, and I'll endeavour to keep it up-to-date, at least for as long as we need it at work :-)

IT headhunters considered harmful

Posted on 7 January 2010 in Business of Software, Rants

I got an interesting call from a headhunter today; he knew that we were likely to start hiring software developers at Resolver Systems soon (keep an eye on our jobs page or drop me a line if you're interested) because he had helped someone who'd chosen to leave us to find their new job.

As I said, it was interesting. I admire his honesty if not his morals; while most such people will merely hint about things, this chap came straight out with it: "we're actively trying to poach people who work for you, and we'll stop doing it if you stop trying to recruit people on the open market and use us instead".

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