Default Parameters Values and Mutable/Callable Objects

Quoting from the python Language Reference[link]:

Default parameter values are evaluated when the function definition is executed.
This means that the expression is evaluated once, when the function is defined, and that that same “pre-computed” value is used for each call. This is especially important to understand when a default parameter is a mutable object, such as a list or a dictionary: if the function modifies the object (e.g. by appending an item to a list), the default value is in effect modified. This is generally not what was intended. A way around this is to use None as the default, and explicitly test for it in the body of the function, e.g. …

I was not aware of this. I have an excuse though, in previous versions of Python, language reference was described as “for language lawyers” [link]. Since I never liked lawyers, I never bothered reading it. I am happy though it was changed in current release and now it is described as “describes syntax and language elements”. I guess I have to read it now.

Below is an example for a bug I had caused by this feature and which made me aware of this issue.

>>> import time
>>> def now(t=time.time()):
...     print t
>>> now()
>>> now()

error_help() for python hackers

Just came across this what might be a usefull utility which provides help within the python interperter using collaborative data gathered at


tzury@regulus:~$ sudo easy_install
tzury@regulus:~$ sudo /usr/bin/python
tzury@regulus:~$ python
Python 2.5.2 (r252:60911, Jul 31 2008, 17:28:52) 
[GCC 4.2.3 (Ubuntu 4.2.3-2ubuntu7)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> 0/0
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo by zero
>>> error_help()
========== 1 of 7 ==========
Error: Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo by zero

Solution: I divided by zero as a test. Maybe you did the same thing? The trick is not to divide by zero!


Pydoc’s built-in HTTP server

Just came across this in python mailing list (link)

import pydoc

(then click the ‘open browser’ button)

A Couple of Nice and Handy Python Modules

python-wifi 0.3.1

Python-Wifi is a Python library that provides access to information about a W-Lan card’s capabilities, like the wireless extensions written in C.

>>> from pythonwifi.iwlibs import Wireless
>>> wifi = Wireless('eth1')
>>> wifi.getEssid()
>>> wifi.getMode()

A simple unix/linux daemon in Python

by Sander Marechal

A simple python tcp server

 # a simple tcp server

import SocketServer

class EchoRequestHandler(SocketServer.BaseRequestHandler ):
    def setup(self):
        print self.client_address, 'connected!'
        self.request.send('hi ' + str(self.client_address) + '\n')

    def handle(self):
        data = 'dummy'
        while data:
            data = self.request.recv(1024)
            if data.strip() == 'bye':

    def finish(self):
        print self.client_address, 'disconnected!'
        self.request.send('bye ' + str(self.client_address) + '\n')

    #server host is a tuple ('host', port)
server = SocketServer.ThreadingTCPServer(('', 50008), EchoRequestHandler)