How to handle sessions in Google app engine

While developing a GAE app engine recently, I came across the need to handle session variables. While session was a thing that I use to take for granted in ASP.NET (Session[“xyz”]) or php ($_SESSION[‘xyz’]), storing and fetching session variables isn’t something that straightforward with webapp2, the web framework widely used for building GAE apps with python.

However, I found a pretty easy way to implement sessions in my existing app (which was almost half-way done!) by creating a simple BaseHandler class that is session-powered, and then deriving all my url handlers with this new class instead of the usual webapp2.RequestHandler. Once you do that, you can straightaway use the python dictionary self.session[‘my_variable’] (that pretty much resembles $_SESSION[‘my_var’] in php). Here is the implementation for BaseHandler:

class BaseHandler(webapp2.RequestHandler):
    def dispatch(self):
        # Get a session store for this request.
        self.session_store = sessions.get_store(request=self.request)
            # Dispatch the request.
            # Save all sessions.
    def session(self):
        # Returns a session using the default cookie key.
        sess = self.session_store.get_session()
        #add some default values:
        if not sess.get(‘theme’):
        return sess

Here, you may initialize any particular session variables if you want and set default values for them (as I’ve done for the cosmo theme above).

Hopefully, this should save you some development time if you want to implement sessions in existing app engine code. As an example, here is how I make use of a session variable to pass on a user’s preferred theme to the template engine, so that the webpage can be displayed accordingly:

class MainPage(BaseHandler):
    def get(self):
        template = JINJA_ENVIRONMENT.get_template(‘stereo.html’)
        if self.request.get(‘theme’):

A simple pythonic script to log internet bandwidth usage on Linux

We often want to log internet bandwidth on our laptops or PCs in order to track our usage over a period of time. This also comes handy to cross-check our usage with that of our ISP’s invoice. Now how to do it on linux? While the Windows folk have all kinds of utilities for this kind of thing, we lunix folk have to invent it ourselves.

Some time ago, I wrote this small python script that writes your bandwidth stats to a log file each time you disconnect your internet connection. This, I’ve tested on ubuntu 12.04 and debian wheezy:

Source file:

# author: Prahlad Yeri
import subprocess, os, datetime, sys
def execute(command):
        p=subprocess.Popen(command, shell=True,stdout=subprocess.PIPE,stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
        #print str(result)
        if len(result[0])>0:
            return result[0].strip()
            return result[1].strip()
    except Exception as e:
        print ‘error occured:’ + errorstring
        return errorstring
mypath = ‘/etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/’
iface = sys.argv[1].strip()
status = sys.argv[2].strip()
log=open(mypath + ‘tata.log’,’a’)
#log.write(iface + ‘:’ + status + ‘\n’)
for part in sys.argv:
        log.write(‘argv:’ + part + ‘\n’)
if (iface == ‘ppp0’ or iface == ‘ttyUSB0’) and status == ‘down’:
        s = execute(‘iptables -L -v’)
        rules = s.splitlines()
        rx,tx = 0,0
        rxdrop, txdrop = 0,0
        inrule = False
        outrule = False
        for rule in rules:
                log.write(‘rule:’ + rule.strip() + ‘\n’)
                words = rule.strip().split()
                if rule.strip().startswith(“Chain OUTPUT”):
                        log.write(‘switch to outrule’)
                        outrule = True
                        inrule = False
                elif rule.strip().startswith(“Chain INPUT”):
                        log.write(‘switch to inrule’)
                        inrule = True
                        outrule = False
                elif rule.strip().startswith(“Chain FORWARD”):
                        log.write(‘switch to no rule’)
                elif len(words) >=3:
                        if words[6].strip() == “ppp0”:
                                #log.write(‘bytes=’ + words[1]
                                if inrule:
                                        if words[2].strip() == ‘DROP’:
                                                rxdrop += int(words[1].replace(‘K’,’000′).replace(‘M’,’000000′))
                                                rx += int(words[1].replace(‘K’,’000′).replace(‘M’,’000000′))
                                elif outrule:
                                        if words[2].strip() == ‘DROP’:
                                                txdrop += int(words[1].replace(‘K’,’000′).replace(‘M’,’000000′))
                                                tx += int(words[1].replace(‘K’,’000′).replace(‘M’,’000000′))
        #print ‘rx=’ + str(rx) + ‘ tx=’ + str(tx)
        #print ‘rxdrop=’ + str(rxdrop) + ‘ txdrop=’ + str(txdrop)
        execute(“iptables –zero”)
        if not os.path.exists(mypath + ‘usage.csv’):
                #create header
                header = ‘date,rx,tx,rx-dropped,tx-dropped,rx-tot,tx-tot\n’
        f = open(mypath + ‘usage.csv’,’a’)
        if len(header) > 0:
        lines.append(str(‘.’)[0] + ‘,’ + str(rx) + ‘,’ + str(tx) + ‘,’ + str(rxdrop) + ‘,’ + str(txdrop) + ‘,’ + str(rx+rxdrop) + ‘,’ + str(tx+txdrop) + ‘\n’)
        #rx = execute(‘cat /sys/class/net/ppp0/statistics/rx_bytes’)
        #tx = execute(‘cat /sys/class/net/ppp0/statistics/tx_bytes’)
        #line = strdate + ‘,’ + rx + ‘,’ + tx + ‘\n’

In the above script, replace ppp0 with the interface-name for the name of interface through which you access internet. For mobile broadbands it is typically ppp0, but you can issue the “ifconfig” command to list them all and make sure.

You have to place this script at /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d on debian/ubuntu systems so that it runs each time you stop using the modem. In case of other systems, or in case you don’t use NetworkManager, refer to your distro documentation to check the folder/script which is executed when an interface is down.