This year, I decided to volunteer at PyCon. At both my previous PyCons, I had planned to help, but wasn’t sure how to join in. The evening before the tutorials started in 2009, I wandered all over the hotel looking for PyCon staff and found no one. Once the tutorials started, I felt pretty drained in the evenings because I was taking the maximum number of tutorials and that’s a lot of information to soak up. But back to this year. I volunteered to be a Session Chair for one session. It was an interesting experience. I got to meet a fair number of cool Python people, although the only ones that I really saw after the session were Stani and Nadia. Continue reading PyCon 2010 and Volunteering
The last plenary session for PyCon 2010 was on Sunday. In it, Van Lindberg told us that if we included all the vendors, our conference had hit over 1100 people. What that meant is that for PyCon 2011, they would probably have to put an attendance cap of 1500 so that we wouldn’t run out of room at the current venue. Is this good? I don’t really know. Sometimes it felt like it was already too big. Time will tell. Continue reading PyCon 2010: Sunday Plenaries
The last morning Lightning talks were on Sunday. I wasn’t able to stay for the Lightning talks that were given in the afternoon. Here’s a quick run-down (note that I wasn’t able to get the presenter’s name on a lot of these because they would show their first slide for just a few scant seconds):
- Please Pirate – This one was given over half an hour BEFORE lightning talks were scheduled. I don’t know why. His talk’s website is www.pleasepirate.com. His premise was that people should encourage others to pirate their intellectual property. It was pretty confusing, actually. He doesn’t think Creative Commons goes far enough either.
- You can write stored procedures in postgres – This was like a 60 second advertisement.
- PyAr – Natalia from the Argentina Python Users group spoke on how their group started and its mission / vision. It has 650+ members with a mailing list of 11000+ messages per month. She also talked about what they do as a group, such as PyCamps and sprints (cocos2d, lalita, CDPedia)
- Python Spring Cleanup – go home, figure out how to contribute to python, demo your stuff at a Python Users Group, get others to do it too
- You got your Cython in my NumPy – by D. Huggins – Went through a bunch of iterations of k-means code to show how Cython could make Python code much faster. He messed up at the end, so we never got to see how fast it really was.
- PiCloud – inspiration was facebook photo-tagging assistant but it turned into some kind of cloud-computing program. I didn’t really follow this very well, but they seem to have created a “cloud” module/package that allows you to utilize Amazon’s resources (EC2?) to do calculations.
- Mox – Mobile web in Django, presented by Tim Fernando from Oxford, UK – Molly is a soon-to-be open source project that focuses on providing web content to mobile devices. Example (I think) is m.ox.ac.uk. It also does maps and it’s RESTful
- CCP Games guy – custom stackless or socket api (accent is hard to understand), used cherrypy’s thread test to compare against his program to show that his version was super fast. I couldn’t read the screen, so I don’t know if he proved anything or not.
PyCon 2010 continued the practice of Open Spaces (if you don’t know what those are, click here). I really enjoyed the Open Space track last year and greatly looked forward to it this year. Unfortunately, I only managed to get to one and that was the wxPython BoF that I had posted on the board. The major flaw that I saw this year was that there were two contradictory Open Space boards. There was one outside the doors into the Open Space corridor that had blocks given using the 24-hour time format (i.e. 1300 hours) and then was another board just inside the doorway with the same room letters and most of the same times, but in normal U.S. format (i.e. 1 p.m., 2 p.m., etc). Thus, it was very hard to know which board to follow.
For example, I wanted to go to the Python Authors BoF (BoF = Birds of a Feather). When I went down there, the outside board said it was in so-and-so and the inside board was blank. I went looking for this room, but found other people instead (I think they were the django folk). I don’t know where the authors thing was or if it even happened.
My wxPython BoF fared no better. I had put down my time slot on both boards in hopes of mitigating the confusion, but there was some huge group in the room I had reserved anyway. They left about 5-10 minutes after my BoF was supposed to start, which I think caused us to lose participants. We only had 6 people show up whereas last year it was closer to triple that amount.
All in all though, I think the wxPython BoF was alright because I got to meet the two major developers behind Dabo, Ed Leafe and Paul McNett. And Stani showed up too, so I was able to rub shoulders with a few of the cool people of the wxPython niche. We discussed various projects we were working on and helped a wxPython newbie.
Another annoyance was that there never seemed to be any cards handy to fill out to post on the board(s)!. If I’m able to attend PyCon next year, I hope that this area of the conference is shown more love.
I only attended one of the two talks in the last session of the day. It was presented by Ms. Leigh Honeywell and called Think Globally, Hack Locally – Teaching Python in Your Community.
She started “Python Newbie Night” in Toronto, Canada. It was an informal, peer-taught class which often put code up on the wall with a projector. They would work through the Python book, “How to Think Like a Computer Scientist” which has chapter exercises (the book is online for free at http://thinkpython.com). She was in a hackerspace (her local one was hacklab.co) and seemed to recommend them. She gave a list of venues for teaching programming such as Community centres, churches, retirement homes, schools, jails and more. She also mentioned that the University of Toronto has switched to teaching Python from Java (I think).
She spoke on what worked for these classes and what didn’t work so well. For the most part, the talk was just general purpose tips for teaching Python. I do most of the stuff that she talks about for Pyowa (local python users group) and completely agree that doing it alone sucks. I also agree that teaching others about Python can be very rewarding. I thought this was a nice informal talk that would be informative to people who have never done this before. If you plan to start a user’s group, watching her talk or reading her slides would be a step in the right direction.
I managed to make it to three talks in the middle session. Here’s the list: “508 and You: Taking the Pain out of Accessibility” with Katie Cunningham, “Actors: What, Why, and How” with Donovan Preston and “Python Metaprogramming” with Nicolas Lara. I’ll see you after the jump! Continue reading PyCon 2010: Saturday Session 2 (early afternoon)
For the morning session, I went to “Decorators From Basics to Class Decorators to Decorator Libraries” and “Interfaces, Adapters and Factories”, which were in the first and second sections. I skipped all the middle talks as I just didn’t see anything that I thought sounded interesting. Unfortunately, Open Space was almost completely under-utilized during the morning and afternoon, so there wasn’t really anything to do. Anyway, on to my thoughts about the two talks I dd get to see. Continue reading PyCon 2010: Saturday Session 1 (morning)
After the technical difficulties that ended the Lightning talks this morning, Van Lindberg got up and stalled for time while they got it fixed so he could introduce the first plenary. He did a really good job and let us know that this PyCon had set two records: First, it has the largest attendance ever with approx. 1025 people. Secondly, around 10-11% were women. Very cool! Continue reading PyCon 2010: Saturday Plenaries (Dino Viehland, Maciej Fijalkowski and Mark Shuttleworth!)
On Saturday morning, PyCon hosted some Lightning Talks for about half an hour. Here are the topics and authors (when I caught their names):
Joseph Tate – A web anti-pattern
Securing Python Package Management – Justin Samuel
The State of Crypto in Python – Geremy Condra
Haystack for Django, has custom search, includes tests and docs. Install Solr/Whoose/Xapian, then install Haystack www.haystacksearch.org
Contribute to Twisted – a plea to get people involved in Twisted dev
There was another guy who presented without slides as he or the Twisted guy managed to blow a fuse that caused the projectors to malfunction or something. I’ve already forgotten what he presented on. I thought the Haystack one was the most interesting as it engaged me the most. The others were interesting in there own way, but most of those talks needed more than 5-10 minutes to truly flush out their topics.
The third session only was only two talks long. I decided to check out Ecommerce in Python: Introduction to Satchmo and GetPaid (#144) by Christopher Johnson and Chris Moffett. My primary reason for attending this talk is because I’ve thought that opening an online store sounds really interesting and I might be able to use the information at work since we have been doing a fair amount of online payments for various services.
Satchmo was born because a bunch of guys had girlfriends or wives who wanted to start a business. He mentioned Toys R Us Australia is using Satchmo as one of the largest companies using Satchmo, which is cool to know. Satchmo is a Django “plugin”. He said that it’s just normal Django code and over a hundred templates. The only example he showed was a screenshot that was extremely simplistic.
The GetPaid project started with a BBQ Sprint. Moffett isn’t a programmer, but more the organizer behind the project and raised support for it. GetPaid is for Plone / Zope3. Both projects are “easy to use”, “flexible” and “easy to extend”. Oddly enough, I wasn’t engaged with either of the presenters. Admittedly, I was distracted by an inane discussion on the #pycon IRC channel about the abstractness of Alex Martelli’s talk.
I had a hard time picking a second talk as there were several that I thought looked interesting. I ended up going to How Are Large Applications Embedding Python? by Peter Shinners. He seemed to be in the film or gaming industry, so he focused on software from that group that was embedding Python in their programs. The examples he covered were Maya, Nuke, Houdini and Blender. I’ve been interested in computer animation and film for a long time, but I had only heard of the first and the last of these programs. Mr. Shinners focused on how Python was embedded in each as well as their differences and similarities. While interesting, the differences appeared to be pretty subtle to me.
Overall, this was a decent session. I learned some new things and that’s always a plus!