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Why it is good to learn Python?

Backgroup

Recently, I recommended that my kid to learn Python because I think it is good for a kid to know some basic computer programming. Specifically, I think Python is a good language to start.

According to bitdegree.org (https://www.bitdegree.org/tutorials/most-used-programming-languages/), Python is the #3 computer programming language. The top 10 most popular computer programming languages are:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. Python
  4. C++
  5. Visual Basic .NET
  6. C#
  7. JavaScript
  8. PHP
  9. SQL
  10. Objective C

I have experience in Java, C, C++, VisualBasic, PHP, Ruby and other programming languages. But I think Python is the computer language to most people to learn.

Advantage of Python

First, Python is cross platform, you can use it on all three major operating systems: Windows operating system, Mac operating system and Linux system. You learn one language and you can use it everywhere. C and C++ applications are supposed to be cross platform, but they require re-compilation if use in other platforms. Java, like Python, is truly cross platform. That is one reason that Java is the number one in the top ten computer programming languages.

Second, Python can perform at local level as a local application. It also can be used as web server or used as part of a web page. Actually, Google made a decision at its beginning that “Python where we can, C++ where we must.” Netflex, Facebook, and InstaGram among other Internet giants are using Python.

Third, there are a lot of ready made packages in Python for other users. A lot of programming languages tried to make its code re-usable. However, in my opinion, Python finally reaches this goal of re-usable code. You can find a package for most of your needs. If you need connection to Oracle database, you can install cx_Oracle. If you need to create a web server, please install Python Flask. If you want to create game, you can install PyGame… Packages not only make code easier, several lines of code can perform task that takes thousand lines of code in other language, but also make code easy to understand and maintain.

Four, Python is easy to learn. Python does not require programmer to declare variable type at the beginning, which is hard for new programmer to understand. Also, being a scripting language, programmer can run the code without compilation.

Drawbacks of Python

There are drawbacks of Python language. Mainly, Python’s performance is not as good as some low level languages such as C, C++ or C#. Secondary, programming graphic user interface (GUI) in Python isn’t as easy as other packages, especially GUI for Windows platform, which Microsoft Visual Studio dominates.

Conclusion

Overall speaking, Python is an excellent language to learn. It should benefit the one who learns it for a long time to come.

Is Costco a good money saving choice for a small family?

Costco is a warehouse club. It boasts that it does not have minimum mark up on their product. It seems like a good warehouse club to save money. However, I was cold to the idea – there are three members in my household. Costco’s packages are too big for us, for example, pork packages are more than ten pounds. It would last more than a month for us. Meat can be frozen for later use, but milk, fruit and vegetable should be used fresh. Their smallest milk package is one gallon. It will last at least two weeks in my house. Bread packages have two loafs, corn cooking oil is one gallon or two gallons. So I haven’t joined the club. But I noticed a lot of people around me were Costco members. There is a Costco store less than five miles from my house, so I decided to give it a try and see if it made money sense for me.

There are two levels of Costco membership: gold membership with fee of $60/year, executive membership with fee of $120/year, which has 2% reward on normal purchase. I selected the executive membership, hoping that cost saving and reward can cover the membership fee. After three months as a member, here is a reality check.

Item

Costco price

Market Price

Yearly Costco Cost

Cost Saving/unit

Yearly Saving

Costco Hotdog with drink

$1.50

$3.00 (MCD dollar meal)

$1.50 x 4 = 6.00

$1.50

$6.00 (not every time)

Gasoline – Car 1

$2.57/Gal

$2.69/Gal (WalMart)

$2.57 x 15 x 50 = $1,927.50

$0.09/Gal (with WMT gift card)

$67.50 (15 Gal/week)

Gasoline – Car 2

$2.57/Gal

$2.69/Gal (WalMart)

$2.57 x 15 x 30 = $1,156.50

$0.09/Gal (with WMT gift card)

$40.50 (15 Gal/ 2 weeks)

Organic Egg (24 count)

$5.99

$3.45 (WalMart, 12 counts)

$5.99 x 50 = $299.5

$0.91

$45.50

Bottle water (40 count)

$2.99

$2.49 (GV, 24 count)

$2.99 x 6 = $17.94

$0.029

$6.96

Milk (Gallon)

$2.09

$2.33 (WMT)

$2.09 x 6 = $12.54

$0.24

$1.44

Auto insurance

$1,718

$1,279.50

$1,718

-$438.50

0 (no change)

My regular base yearly spending will be around $3,414. My 2% reward will be $68.28 ($3.414 x 0.02 = 68.28). Cost saving will be $167.90 (6+67.50+40.50+45.50+6.96+1.44=167.90). Total saving will be $236.18 (68.28 + 167.90 = 236.18). Costco’s saving is less than I think, but it is still a saving I can use. I heard Costco offers great services on car purchasing, electronic warranty, travel planning and others. I will check them out if the opportunity arises. Opportunities for Costco: 1. If Costco offers smaller food packages, such as 1/3 or 1/2 of current package size, to be comparable with retail store package size, more small families would join Costco. 2. I was annoyed by the double gas filling station sometime – the front car filled up and left but the second car was still filling and blocked the way. I wish Costco use single car filling stations to remove this potential choke point. More filling stations also helps – normally the waiting is four cars deep over the weekend. Conclusion Costco does save money even for a small family like mine. More than likely, I will renew my Costco membership next year.

Update at 2020-06

After two years, I am still a member of Costco Club. In addition to saving I outlined above, I also found more Costco benefit:

  • Costco car rental: If you rent a car from Costco’s website, your spouse is automatically included in the contract and you do not need to pay for additional driver. Also, comparing a one week one-way rental from Los Angeles to San Francisco, same rental company and same type of car, Costco saved me $50.
  • Costco car purchase program: Costco member can use Costco car purchase program to purchase new car or used car. Designated car dealer can give you a fix price less than the public price. It may not be the very best price in the city, but it may be good enough. If you like it, you can take it. Or you can continue shopping.
  • Costco money back saving: With the executive membership, I had 2% cash back on every Costco register purchase (inside the store); with a Citi Visa card, I received 4% cash back on gasoline purchase everywhere. I also received 1% cash back with other Citi Visa card purchase. I was surprised that I received more than $250 cash back for last year.

Day Light Saving Start Time and End Time from 2013 to 2025

Day light saving time begins in the United States on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. On Day Light Saving Time start day, be sure to move your clocks forward by 1 hour (in theory, it should be set at 2:00 AM local time to 3:00 AM). On Day Light Saving Time Ends day, be sure to move your clocks back by 1 hour (in theory, it should be set at 2:00 AM local time to 1:00 AM).

Below are start date and end date for next thirteen years.

Year Start Date End Date
2013 March 10 November 3
2014 March 9 November 2
2015 March 8 November 1
2016 March 13 November 6
2017 March 12 November 5
2018 March 11 November 4
2019 March 10 November 3
2020 March 8 November 1
2021 March 14 November 7
2022 March 13 November 6
2023 March 12 November 5
2024 March 10 November 3
2025 March 9 November 2

Reference:

Daylight saving time in the United States on Wikipedia.com