Python 2.7 still? Unicode and conversions...

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Stop using str()
If you are and get:
UnicodeDecodeError: 'ascii' codec can't decode byte 0xff in position 6:
ordinal not in range(128)

More here
Short version for the impatient (and in case that link goes away:
- Set your encoding to closer to ascii if possible like:
closertoascii = yourunicodestring.encode('utf-8')
- But it is best to use Unicode across the board as some bits have no replacement..