Python 2.7 stack, OpenCV 3, Visual Studio 2013

I’ve started working with Python (2.7 and 3.x) and OpenCV 3 recently, and the IPython Notebook way of working with inline plots is awesome. But the debugging, editing and some other features are not great when compared to working in a Visual Studio environment.

So now I’m trying Visual Studio 2013 as the IDE, OpenCV 3, and Python 2.7 via the numerical and scientific WinPython stack.

I extracted OpenCV and WinPython to:

  • My Documents\OpenCV
  • My Documents\WinPython-32bit-

From VS2013 I then installed Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS).. I did this within VS2013 using the Extensions and Tools dialog.

Finally I configured a new Python Environment:


From an Interactive Window I can then check everything works as expected. First, Open CV3:

Python interactive window. Type $help for a list of commands.
import cv2

Next up, NumPy and a MatPlotLib chart:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
x = np.linspace(0, np.pi * 2, 100)
y = np.sin(x)
plt.plot(x, y)

This gives us a popup (model) window:


Now to make it a bit more interesting – inline plots.. ! The Python Interactive Window has options for the Interactive mode:


The default Interactive Mode is Standard but we can change this to IPython:


After restarting VS2013 we can now go inline…


And lastly an OpenCV 3 test:

In [4]: import cv2
In [5]: img = cv2.imread(r"C:\Users\jon\Pictures\Samples\eye.jpg", 0)
In [6]: plt.imshow(img, cmap='gray')
Out[6]: <matplotlib.image.AxesImage at 0x5b8e510>


In [34]: blur = cv2.medianBlur(img, 91)
In [35]: plt.imshow(blur, cmap='hot')
Out[35]: <matplotlib.image.AxesImage at 0x1edea7d0>


The great thing is I can now move this code into a Python project, get it into git, distribute among colleagues, and use the excellent intellisense and debugging powers of PTVS ! (Obviously not this actual code !)

OS X: IPython Notebooks on an an external drive with Anaconda

Anaconda, running on El Capitan, only provides access to files and folders under the current user’s home directory.


My Dropbox folder lives on an external drive and therefore isn’t accessible from the folder list. (I actually use a slimline 128 GB JetDrive card from Transcend.. fast enough for my 100+ GB of Dropbox files).

The solution was to create a symbolic link in my Documents folder which referenced the external Dropbox folder.

$ ln -s /Volumes/SDCARD/Dropbox ~/Documents/DB

From Anaconda’s perspective this looks like any other folder:


OS X, Python 3.3, LiClipse

Yesterday I tried to get Eclipse and PyDev installed on my MacBook Pro (running Mavericks). After a couple of hours of struggling I gave up and discovered LiClipse which is a highly recommended system for working with Python and many other languages from the Eclipse framework.

I used a clean OS X Mavericks virtual machine to get my installation nailed down, especially important since I wanted to work with Python 3.x.


Download and install:

  1. Python 3.x.
  2. Java 7.
  3. LiClipse: click the Google Drive link, select the latest version (currently 0.9.6), click and download the OS X file (currently liclipse_0.9.6_macosx.cocoa.x86_64.dmg), then install using all default options.


Eject all download package (DMG) folders on the desktop.

Use Finder and go to Applications, open the liclipse folder, then drag the LiClipse app to the dock.

Run LiClipse. If a software update prompt appears for Java SE 6 then install it.

Accept all defaults when starting for the first time and restart the app.
Select File / New project, then select PyDev/PyDev Project:

Hit Next, then set a project name and click the link to configure an interpreter:


Select the advanced configuration option:


Then select python3.3:


On the next screen make sure all folders are selected:


Back on the new project screen make any other changes – I opted not to configure the Python path – then click Finish:


The Open Associated Perspective prompt may appear – I chose to associate the project with the PyDev perspective:


These Python and perspective settings will be used the next time LiClipse is started for Python projects.

Quick Python test

Following on from the above new I added a new Python file, entered a couple of lines of code, and ran it:







If the debugger is used, for example by stepping through the code, there’ll be an option to switch to another perspective – this should be used for debugging:


This presents more window areas for examining variables, viewing the editor and console output, etc:


After the debugging session is complete the Debug perspective will still be active. To switch back to the original perspective use the menus:
  • Window | Open Perspective | Other, then select PyDev.

Automated Dynamic DNS updating on Raspberry Pi

I use a Raspberry Pi to host SVN and Git repositories but don’t have a static IP with my BT Infinity account. To support remote connectivity I use a dynamic DNS service from Dyn.

The only feature missing was the ability to detect when the IP address had changed, and then to automatically update it.

So with a bit lot of Googling I’ve put together a Python 3 script which is run hourly via crontabThe script uses Dyn’s IP address utility to find the current IP address. This is compared to the last known IP address which I store in a text file. If the address has changed then Dyn’s Perform Update utility is used to sent the new IP address. Any changes or errors are emailed back to me.

Here’s the script:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import re
import urllib.request
import os
import sys
import smtplib

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# variable: lastIPAddressFileName
# The name of a file used to store the last committed IP address.
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
lastIPAddressFileName = '/var/tmp/last_router_ip'

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# function: mailInfo
# Emails a message to one or more recipients. This should just be used for
# errors and successful changes of IP. (I.e. not used for regular no-change
# messages).
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
def mailInfo(info):
	#print('Sending email [{0}]'.format(info))
	from email.mime.text import MIMEText

	msg = MIMEText(
	"Hello from the Raspberry Pi DNS IP update utility.\n"
	"I have a new message for you:\n\n{0}".format(info))

	msg['Subject'] = 'CDS.RPi DSN IP Utility'
	msg['From'] = 'CDS RPi'
	msg['To'] = ''

	s = smtplib.SMTP('', 587)
	s.login('', '******')
	s.sendmail('', [''], msg.as_string())

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# function: findRouterIP
# Returns the IP of the router by scraping the results of the DYN DNS check
# IP web site. None is returned if the address cannot be found.
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
def findRouterIP():

	ipAddress = None
	webAddress = ''
	siteData = urllib.request.urlopen(url = webAddress).read()
	siteAsText = str(siteData)
	ipAddresses = re.findall('\d{1,3}.\d{1,3}.\d{1,3}.\d{1,3}', siteAsText)

	if(len(ipAddresses) == 1):
		ipAddress = ipAddresses[0]

	return ipAddress

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# function: dynDnsPerformUpdate
# Updates the IP address of a DynDNS host using Dyn's Perform Update request.
# The resulting web page is scraped and the function will return True if one
# of the valid results codes is seen (meaning the IP address was either updated
# or was not changed).
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
def dynDnsPerformUpdate(username, password, hostname, ipAddress):

	url = 'http://{0}:{1}{2}&myip={3}&wildcard=NOCHG&mx=NOCHG&backmx=NOCHG'.format(username, password, hostname, ipAddress)
	fancyOpener = urllib.request.FancyURLopener()
	siteData =
	siteAsText = str(siteData)

	acceptableResults = ['good', 'nochg']
	isOk = len([r for r in acceptableResults if r in siteAsText]) > 0
	return isOk

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# function: checkForNewIPAddress
# Finds the current router IP address and compares it to the last address
# saved to the lastIPAddressFileName file (if it exists).
# Returns a tuple:
#	Current IP address (string)
#	Is this a new and valid IP address (boolean)
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
def checkForNewIPAddress():
	lastIPAddress = None

	if(os.path.exists(lastIPAddressFileName) == True):
		with open(lastIPAddressFileName, 'r') as f:
			lastIPAddress =

	currentIPAddress = findRouterIP()
	isNewIPAddress = ((currentIPAddress != None) and (currentIPAddress != lastIPAddress))

	return currentIPAddress, isNewIPAddress

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# function: saveNewIPAddress
# Sends the new IP address to Dyn DNS. This is also saved to the
# lastIPAddressFileName file if the web operation succeeded.
# Returns True if the operation succeeded.
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
def saveNewIPAddress(newIPAddress):
	username = '******'
	password = '******'
	host = '******'
	didUpdate = dynDnsPerformUpdate(username = username, password = password, hostname = host, ipAddress = newIPAddress)

	if(didUpdate == True):
		with open(lastIPAddressFileName, 'w') as f:

	return didUpdate

# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
# Script main
# -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

	currentIPAddress, isNewIPAddress = checkForNewIPAddress()

	if(currentIPAddress == None):
		mailInfo('ERROR: failed to get current IP address')
	elif(isNewIPAddress == False):
		print('IP address is unchanged - nothing to do')
		mailInfo('IP address updated to {0}'.format(currentIPAddress))
   mailInfo("ERROR: An unexpected error was detected in the script:", sys.exc_info()[0])

Note: the scripting presentation in this post was done by using’s sourcecode widget, as described here.

The script was saved to:


and made executable with:

sudo chmod +x

It was scheduled to run hourly by editing root’s cron file. The command to run the editor is:

sudo crontab -e

The cron file was edited to include the following two lines:

# DNS update, every day, hourly
0 * * * * /bin/ &