Getting a copy of Python
Here’s how to get Python:
Python is a group effort of the Python Software Foundation. Their main page is http://www.python.org/.
These instructions are for the version of Python available at the time of writing. Updates may be made available at any time, so adapt as needed.
The source for Python is https://www.python.org/downloads/release/python-343/ You need to download Python version 3.4.3. Select the installer appropriate for your machine.
For most PCs running Windows®, it should be https://www.python.org/ftp/python/3.4.3/python-3.4.3.msi.
If you are running Windows® and your machine has a 64-bit processor, get https://www.python.org/ftp/python/3.4.3/python-3.4.3.amd64.msi.
For a Mac, it should https://www.python.org/ftp/python/3.4.3/python-3.4.3-macosx10.6.pkg (for Mac OS X 10.6 and later) or https://www.python.org/ftp/python/3.4.3/python-3.4.3-macosx10.5.pkg (for Mac OS X 10.5 and later).
If you are running Linux, select the appropriate version.
There is also a version 2.7 – don’t get that one. It has significant differences. There are plenty of older versions; you may even have one already installed on your machine.
It should be pretty straightforward to install on your machine – let me know if you have problems. I haven’t heard of any major problems. Save the downloaded file and then run it. Accept the default settings.
If you are using a Mac, there are a few differences from the Windows version. These aren’t too significant, but the specific directions I give are for Windows; you may have to make accommodations for the Mac.
Assuming the installation works, launch IDLE on the computer. On a PC: Go to start in the lower left corner of the screen, and left click the mouse. That opens a window. Near the bottom of that window you will see all programs. Roll the mouse to position the cursor over all programs, wait briefly, and another window will appear. Somewhere in the list of programs you should find Python 3.4. Put the cursor on that, and one more window will appear. Put the cursor on IDLE (Python GUI), and left click once.
Macs are different; I don’t have one and can’t help much with problems.
You should now have a window that says Python Shell at the top, several lines of text, and at the end, >>> with a blinking cursor after. (If the window says Untitled, put your cursor over run, and then click Python Shell.) This is Python, ready for instructions.
If you are on a Mac, there’s a similar integrated development called IDE. It’s a bit different, but you can do pretty much all the same things. I don’t have access to a Mac, so I can’t easily help with Mac-specific problems.
The >>> with a blinking cursor after is the command prompt. We will be able to execute many commands from this place. For the moment, just try using it as a calculator.
Type in 1+3+5, press enter, and observe the result: 9. You can try other things; it’s a great calculator, but it’s a lot more than that.
That’s enough until you actually start the class. I’ll let you know when things are ready.