PyCon 2008 (Chicago) – Day 1 (part two)

The first talk I went to was entitled “Developing with Repoze2.Zope” by Chris P McDonough. It was a pretty interesting presentation on middleware that can re-implement ZPublisher in such a way that it allows Zope2 to run within Apache + mod_wsgi. Repoze depends on Python Paste and setuptools. If I recall correctly, he gave a demo where he gave Trac a Plone-like interface without modifying either.

After that was over, I went to see Brett Cannon’s talk about “How Import Does Its Thing”. This is a very complex topic and I wasn’t able to follow all of it. The gist of it though is this:

  1. There’s a function call to import
  2. an import lock is issued
  3. the name is resolved to be resolute
  4. it checks sys.modules; if found, it stops here. If not then
  5. it checks sys.meta_path; if found, it stops here. If not then
  6. it checks the parents __path__ or sys.path

You can download his slides here:

It has lots of flow charts and will probably make much more sense than my summary. Just mouse over it and a window will pop up that allows you to download the PDF.
Next, I checked out a talk on creating a local Python user’s group that Jeff Rush was giving. He talks fast, but I got a lot of information about creating a good PUG and hope that I can found one for Iowa. His slides are also available at that link above.

The next two talks I attended were for System Administrators. One was on using Optparse appropriately called “Using Optparse, Subprocess, and Doctest To Make Agile Unix Utilitie”. It was given by Noah Gift. I didn’t get much out of it because the PyCon wireless was down, so I couldn’t use the code. However, it was well presented and his materials are also available on the PyCon schedule site, so I recommend downloading them and giving them a look.

The presentation following Gift didn’t have any slides due to technical difficulties and hardly had anything to do with Python. It was given by one of the Chicago User’s Group members by the name of Sean Reifschneider, who called it: “Python in System Administration: How, When, and Why one SysAdmin uses Python”. Unfortunately, he mostly talked about how much he loved Nagios as a network monitoring tool and rsync as a backup utility. The slides that he was unable to present are supposed to be here:

“Use Google Spreadsheets API to create a database in the cloud” with Jeffrey Scudder (Google) was next and it rocked! He showed how one could modify a Google Spreadsheet using Python in real-time. You can view the slides at but it requires a Gmail account. Anyway, I see lots of benefits to putting one’s data in the cloud, being able to do simultaneous editing and being able to save the data to your hard drive. He also showed how you can do CRUD on the Atom Feeds. The python bindings can be found at

Scudder was also one of the nicest people I met while at PyCon.

The final talk of the day for me was called “The REST is Easy” by Paul Winkler. To be completely honest, I didn’t get much out of this one either. The main reason was that he went through 23 slides before showing any code whatsoever. Even so, the code was bland and uninteresting too. It’s also available from the PyCon Schedule site. Hopefully Winkler will improve with experience. The topic is intriguing, but the execution of the talk was not.

I’ll try to get the rest of my experiences at the conference up shortly. Sorry for the delay!