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August 9 2022 Conda, alias Anaconda, VPN, HD TODAY

Posted on August 10, 2022
( 3 minute read )

As BCB was closed, Bernard, David and John gathered at Wetherspoons where, by combining battery resources, they were able to hold an online meeting with Brian, Nick and John W.

Nick gave a presentation on Conda which was originally known as Anaconda and developed for use with Python/R but is now in more general scientific computing use. It is essentially a configuration manager; it does not replace anything else but allows you to manage different packages and versions of software in different environments without conflicts. It ensures reproducibility which is important for researchers when they wish to share findings.

The alternatives often have external dependencies, require admin rights, don’t work in High Performance Computing and are less user friendly.

There is a full windows installer available from Anaconda and a command line Miniconda version.

Conda keeps track of packages and their dependencies; these are downloaded from channels (software sources) and placed in isolated environments so that you can separate different software versions and packages. This avoids downloading excessive amounts of packages and makes it easier to track down issues.

Always start a session by listing the available environments. They are specified in environment.yml which defines the names of the environments, specifies the channels from which to download packages and specifies the packages and versions to be downloaded. It is best to create environment.yml manually.

Nick recommends:

  1. use miniconda
  2. have one environment per project
  3. add the minimum packages for each project to its environment
  4. manually write environment.yml
  5. only specify the versions of the top level libraries
  6. do not specify dependencies
  7. use version control to manage environment.yml.

He concluded by sharing an example of using the command line to manage an environment.

Brian mentioned that, when he had tried to renew his commercial vpn, he had been quoted $99; but, when he had cleared his cookies and gone in as a new customer, he had been able to take out a new subscription for next to nothing.

He also mentioned that the overall cost of his electricity in Spain is 24p per unit whereas it is 73p in the UK. Similarly a gym membership costs three times as much in the UK.

Finally he mentioned HD TODAY which he had been looking at and in particular Redemption, starring Paula Malcolmson, and Alex rider.