PyCon 2011: Friday Morning Talks (with Bicking and Beazley)

I started out my morning session by attending Michael Foord’s Mock talk, but due to my green room volunteering position, I had to leave early. We were having some behind-the-scenes issues that needed to be taken care of. Alas! Anyway, I ended up skipping most of that, but I made it to another Python luminary:

Ian Bicking’s Talk on Javascript

Ian Bicking is well regarded in the Python community and at PyCon. He spoke on Javascript for Pythonistas this year. Here’s what I got out of it:

  • Javascript have objects everywhere, much like Python
  • Javascript has an object similar to Python dicts, at least syntactically looking
  • He spoke on variable scope, but I missed the point of that slide
  • undefined is falshish, different than null, not magical, and it’s an object!
  • typeof is slightly magic
  • prototypes are like Python classes?
  • this is like Python’s self. this always has a value even if it is not useful
  • arrays in Javascript suck
  • If you like Python, you’ll probably like CoffeeScript

David Beazley’s Talk

David Beazley gave a talk on Using Python 3 to Build a Cloud Computing Service for my Superboard II. He had been talking about this project on his blog too and I thought it sounded interesting. He talked about how the Superboard II was his first computer at age 12. If my notes are accurate, it had the following specs: 1 mhz cpu, 8k ram, 300 baud cassette.

He discovered that his parents still had the thing in their basement, so he got it out and tried to figure out what to do with it. His idea? Use Python to store it’s programs in the cloud! Or something like that. It uses audio cassette tapes to tell it what to do, so he had to port pyaudio to Python 3 and then simulate those sounds using his Mac. Eventually, he wrote an emulator of the Superboard II for testing purposes (I think). He also talked about writing a 6502 assembler in Python 3 in around 500 lines.

The takeaway here was that he had to port around 6 libraries to Python 3 (including Redis and pyPng). He used Redis to create his cloud and he showed a lot of recorded demos along the way demonstrating how he communicated with the Superboard and eventually how he stored its programs in the Redis cloud and even restored programs from the cloud to the Superboard. Overall, this talk rocked! I definitely recommend trying to find the video of this one.