The Python meetup gang

I love Python. It is easily my favourite programming language, so I decided to organise a meetup to teach and have a play with it along with some of my AL colleagues.

Python is an interpreted programming language that comes bundled with almost all modern Unix-like operating systems (Mac OS, Linux etc). Its English-like syntax makes it easy to pick up and understand but it’s depth and object-oriented nature (in the form of classes) make it also suited to more complex programs than something like Bash.

A very pixelated Flappy Bird implementation

I decided to implement a game, Flappy Bird which was an old iPhone game some time ago, in this first meetup. Using a single-board computer called a Raspberry Pi and a supporting piece of hardware called a Sense Hat. The Raspberry PI foundation produces both these and also supports the use of python as their main programming language of choice.

This meetup also gave me the opportunity to introduce the idea of writing code for hardware applications, something that our cloud-based engineers rarely work on. This platform also has online simulators, so rather than us all crowding around on one machine to write code we could develop code on the simulator and then run it on the hardware.

Sense Hat simulator allowing for development without actual hardware

So, after demonstrating how the game works (press up on the built-in directional pad and don’t hit the red pipes), I went through the code line by line to explain how the program worked.

Although there were engineers with differing levels of python experience the code was straightforward enough to be understood. After the explanation, it was then up to the engineers to implement their own games using the code that I’d provided them.

One of the flappy bird alternatives with a different colour scheme

These varied from giving the birds extra ammunition, to changing the game physics, one engineer even implemented Conway’s Game of Life.

I would definitely recommend other engineers organise meetups. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience in a particular language/technology, you can go through and learn the language together or pair with less experienced people.

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