Is it time for Python 3?

I’d known that someday I’d have to start using Python 3. In fact I’ve wanted to but never got around to it. Part of it was the Python software I’ve been using, Plone is still in Python 2 and even with the most recent release of Plone 5 it’s still not there yet. They do plan on porting it to 3, but unsure of their timetable. Django on the other hand has been Python 3 for a little while now. Although I’ve wanted to move away from WordPress I hadn’t quite found a Django based CMS (content management system) that was as fully developed as WordPress. Plone is an awesome CMS but it is overkill for most of my clients, as they are individuals or small businesses.

Anyway, Python 3 was released in 2008, so it being 2015 I think it’s time. And I believe I have found a Django based CMS that will make it possible for me to move away from not only WordPress but also Plone. Both of them are ready go out of the box. This one isn’t and some assembly is required. Nor is it an exact replacement. It’s called Wagtail. I’d looked at some other Django based CMSes (including Django CMS), and I’d settled on Mezzanine for a while, but when I migrated to a new server on a python friendly host, I ran into some difficulties in re-installing Mezzanine. I’d resolved those difficulties but using Python 2.  There is no difficulty in using Python 3 though.

I’ve been making my development process more rigorous than I had in the past. I wasn’t so rigorous with WordPress which is written in PHP.  I need to be more so with Python as my work needs to be repeatable and better documented. I don’t develop in WordPress, I just customize child themes and add plugins if need be (which I try to avoid because updates wipe out  changes). There’s so many add ons and themes available, very little programming is necessary and many host providers have one click WordPress setups now and offer managed services (which is great).

To make my Python development process more rigorous I use virtual environments. This way I’m not polluting my OSes Python. And virtualenvwrapper is so much nicer than plain old virtualenv. I hadn’t forgotten about using version control. I’ve settled on git and I may write about that in future posts.

To use Python 3 make sure it’s installed on your computer whether it be Linux, MacOS or Windows. At a command prompt just type python3 –version and hit return. If it’s there you are good to go. You can make sure pip for 3 is installed by issuing the command pip3, though it’s not necessary when using virtualenvwrapper.

It’s fairly straightforward to getting virtualenvwrapper to create a python3 project just issue the following command:

$mkproject --python=path_to_python3 project_name
$which python

to verify you are indeed using Python 3. And then you can pip install your little heart out.

Note: I’m not abandoning my existing WordPress customers. It’s a good platform and I’ve been working with it for over 10 years. It has a large development community and large user base. I don’t plan to take any new clients on for it, but it doesn’t mean I won’t. Since Wagtail requires more work I’ll have to seek out different clientele for it once I’m ready. This is a transition period for me. I plan on converting a few sites, the first of which is this one. I want to do more programming and I’m more productive in Python than PHP. It’s also easier for me to maintain my code and understand it. I don’t have to do a lot of programming with WordPress.

Wagtail, part the first

Seriously considering moving my website away from WordPress to a Django CMS (not Django CMS). There are a lot to choose from. Mezzanine was recommend to me and I had gained some familiarity with setting one up and was about ready convert a small Plone website to it. Plone was overkill for it. I ran into some difficulties in setting up Mezzanine on one of my host providers and in doing research on various Django CMSes (was seriously looking at Django CMS) also read a description of Wagtail, one the newest content management systems that sits on top of the Django web framework.

My preferred programming language is Python. Alas, WordPress is written in PHP. PHP is fine. It owes it’s origins to Perl, but I find I’m more productive in Python and it’s easier and cleaner to maintain. Also, there are a bunch of great people in the Python community (though I have found a bunch of great people in the WordPress and JavaScript communities in Tucson).

Wagtail isn’t a ready to go out of the box CMS like WordPress or Plone and does require work in setting it. Even Mezzanine is more ready to go out of the box. For a low cost web host, you really can’t beat WordPress. It is everywhere and there are a large number of developers who make, themes and plugins for it. They help to make up for the shortcomings of PHP.

I’ll have more to say as I learn about Wagtail in future posts and my possible journey from WordPress to it.

Star Wars Again (Episode VII)

I didn’t expect to be excited about the new Star Wars movie and became even less enthused when I found out the title The Force Awakens or that light saber with the tangs like it was a broadsword. Nor did I expect to get sucked in to the trailers or speculations about the new film, but I have.

Who knows if it’s going to be any good? Disney purchased the the franchise from George Lucas and they intend to make lots more money from it, so no doubt it will do that.  Here’s the final trailer to get you in the mood.

The first is the speculation that Luke Skywalker is the villain of the Episode VII. Again like my earlier post Growing Old With Star Wars I mentioned that all these speculative pieces though compelling they may be may simply be a result of too much time on their hands.

This Luke Skywalker Theory Destroys Everything You Thought You Knew About ‘Star Wars’

The second one is speculation that Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord. I did recognize that Jar Jar was a fool and fools are a common archetype in fairy tales and are prominent in Russian fairy tales. They aren’t really fools at all.

[Theory] Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens

Text with animated gifs illustrating points of main article.

This Guy Just Changed The Way We See Star Wars. Mind Blown.


In a few days the historic first reconnaissance of the Solar System will be complete. Let us hope that it is not the end of our exploration of the Solar System that it is not the beginning of the end, not the end of the beginning but the beginning of the beginning (not the best turn of phrase but it’ll do for now).

Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were all known to our ancestors. So it only matters when they were first visited by spacecraft.

  • 1957 Earth
  • 1959 Moon
  • 1962Venus
  • 1964 Mars
  • 1972 Jupiter
  • 1973 Saturn

But for those discovered in historical times what is the shortest time from discovery to first visit?

  • Uranus discovered 1781, first visited by a spacecraft in 1986, 205 year gap.
  • Ceres discovered 1801, first visited by a spacecraft in 2015, 214 years.
  • Vesta discovered 1807, first visited by a spacecraft in 2011, 204 years.
  • Neptune discovered 1846, first visited by a spacecraft in 1989, 143 years.
  • Pluto discovered in 1930, first visited by a spacecraft in 2015. From discovery to first visit by a spacecraft it only took 85 years for Pluto.

I suppose I could throw Charon into the mix. Charon was discovered in 1978, scant 37 years after it’s discovery because Pluto-Charon are properly a double (dwarf) planet.

Regardless of what it’s classified as, a dwarf planet or planet that many in the public still want to call it that, Pluto has now become a place, a world in its own right. Just asComet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) has become a world since Rosetta and Philae have visited it.

Our reconnaissance of the Solar System started in 1962 with a flyby of Venus, a scant five years after the first satellite was launched in orbit about the Earth. The first wave of recon could be said to end this year in 2015 with the visit of Pluto by New Horizons.

"Houston we have geology."
“Houston we have geology.”

It will take a few months before all the data New Horizons collected to be beamed back to Earth but no doubt we’ll see a few stunning images shortly after this historic flyby. I recall reading about possible targets post Pluto that New Horizons might be aimed at. I’ll have to check up on that.

Growing Old with Star Wars

I saw Star Wars in the movie theaters when it first came out when it wasn’t called Episode IV A New Hope. I saw it four times. My friends at the time saw it dozens of times. By the time The Empire Strikes Back came out it was Ep. 4. And as far as I’m concerned the second film, aka Episode V is the best one of the six. After the first movie came out I recall reading that Lucas was planning on making nine films Then Return of the Jedi came out and nothing untilThe Phantom Menace came out sixteen years later.

I should back up a bit and say that I watched Star Trek first. It was and always shall be the first scifi show that I loved. TV introduced me to science fiction. Not only did I watch Star Trek, I saw Batman, Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeanie, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, and Land of the Lost. It wasn’t until much later that I got to see Time Tunnel and Space 1999, so they weren’t formative.

As for movies, I saw Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rollerball, and Logan’s Run. I also watched many a Godzilla movie and the Planet of the Apes movies. This was all before Star Wars. 1977 was a turning point as SciFi went mainstream and became Hollywood blockbusters. Star Wars wasn’t science fiction and to compare it to Star Trek is like comparing apples and oranges.

Thanks to Star Trek and DC superhero comic books I became interested in literary science fiction. I was introduced to the big four, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. I stuck with science fiction until I met my friend Mike in college. He introduce me to fantasy, authors such as Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Glen Cook, and Roger Zelazny. I could list many other writers I discovered in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but I’m not here to reminisce about them.

Over the years I’d encountered the fandom that Star Wars generated. I should note I did see the Star Wars Holiday Special when it was broadcast. Lucas tried his best to bury it, but bootlegs of it can be found all over the place. It was notable for introducing us to Boba Fett.


Here are the best Star Wars parodies I have seen over the years.
Hardware Wars was the first and it paved the way for all parodies and pastiches that followed.

The absolute best one I’ve seen so far is TROOPS. It is very clever and tracks the plot of A New Hope.

The second best parody film which is almost tied with TROOPS Star Wars Talk to Your Kids PSA. Although I do not have kids, I know fellow fans that have encountered this dilemma.


There have been critical looks at the films. One of the best is when Joseph Campbell talks to Bill Moyers about the first three films in the landmark mini-series, The Power of Myth. However, there are some other analyses and that put new interpretations on them. Now the thing is they could simply be people with too much time on their hands, overthinking what is in the movies and then cherry pick the elements that fit their hypothesis. I do find them compelling and they may change the way you view the films.

6 Reasons The Jedi Would Be The Villain In Any Sane Movie

Star Wars: A Long Time Ago, in a Hive Far Far Away?

Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate


There is much more I could say. I could even expand this post, but I’m done for now. So lastly if you still want to watch or re-watch the films consider watching them in the Machete Order.
The Star Wars Saga: Introducing Machete Order

[Inspired by it, I’m trying to come up with an order to re-watch the Babylon 5 series. The idea is to list determine the few key episodes from Season 1 and Season 5 and then watch most of seasons 2,3, and 4.]