PyDev of the Week: Christopher Neugebauer

This week we welcome Christopher Neugebauer (@chrisjrn) as our PyDev of the Week! Christopher helped organize North Bay Python and PyCon Australia. He is also a fellow of the Python Software Foundation. You can catch up with him on Github or on his website. If you are interested in being a part of the North Bay Python 2018 conference, you can submit a proposal here.

Now let’s take a few moments to get to know him better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m originally from Hobart, the capital city of the Australian state of Tasmania, but these days, I live with my fiancé, Josh, in Petaluma, California. I hold a BSc in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Tasmania, and my current day job is in software engineering: I currently work on search ranking at Shutterstock. I’m a volunteer conference organiser by the rest of the day, my current project is the North Bay Python conference, but I’ve also been a co-lead organiser of PyCon Australia. I’ve been a Fellow of the Python Software Foundation since 2013.

On that note, we just announced dates for North Bay Python 2018 — it’ll be on November 3 & 4 in Historic Downtown Petaluma, California. You should follow us on Twitter at @northbaypython, or at least sign up to our newsletter at

Why did you start using Python?

In year 10 at school, I was taking part in a programming competition with one of my friends. One question involved finding some facts about a really big number, and I’d heard that Python supports bignum arithmetic out of the box. I tried it out, and of course, using Python made it really easy.

From there, I realised that Python might be able to make lots of other things easy… and it did! I’ve stuck with Python ever since.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

My first programming language was Microsoft QBasic, and I’ve also been known to write C, C++, PHP, tiny bits of Perl, Objective-C, bash, and AWK. The one that I keep ending up having to write, though, is Java.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a well-written Java 8 codebase, and I’m super-impressed with the work they’ve done adding anonymous functions and stream processing to the language. It’s nowhere near as tidy as Python’s list comprehensions and generators, but the number of complicated for loops I’ve needed to write has drastically reduced.

For this Python programmer, having the language I often use out of necessity fit my brain better is great!

What projects are you working on now?

The North Bay Python conference is my main side project, and alongside that I maintain a conference ticket sales that sits alongside Symposion. It’s called Registrasion, and I wrote it as part of a PSF grant over the course of 2016. It’s built around selling tickets for an event like (which has multiple dinners and networking sessions that are available to different people), but it proved flexible enough to work with smaller, simpler events like North Bay Python.

Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work testing differences between different search ranking techniques. My toolbelt for a lot of that work involves `concurrent.futures`, and `csv` from the standard library, and Kenneth Reitz et al’s wonderful `requests` library.

While Python’s great for building big and maintainable bits of code, being able to throw together small library modules together to solve ad-hoc tasks has been a huge win for me.

I see you do a lot of Python conference organizing. How did you get into that?

For starters, I ran my University’s Computer Science society/club for a few years, and that involved finding speakers and scheduling meetings and all that… but my organising career _really_ started when Richard Jones messaged me out of the blue in 2010 and reminded me that I’d volunteered to run PyCon Australia in 2012. I recalled doing no such thing, but I went along with it anyway.

Two PyCon AU’s later and I was hooked. I’ve since run 2017, and after I moved to the US, I’ve helped found and run North Bay Python!

Can you give any advice to someone who would like to start a regional conference?

Of course! Talk to other conference organisers. It turns out there’s a lot of shared knowledge out there, especially in the Python world, and like with most other Python things, we’re a pretty friendly bunch. Finding sponsorship leads, getting an idea of what tradeoffs you need to make, or getting warm introductions to people who you really want to speak at your event is _so_ much easier when there are people who’ve done it all before. We also run a yearly “Regional PyCons” BoF session at PyCon US, which also makes it really easy to make yourself known.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

One thing I really appreciate about the Python community is that I’ve been able to build up my reputation and skillset as an organiser and community builder. I’ve only been working in a full-time job that’s primarily Python for the last 5 months, and I’ve only made substantial code contributions to open source Python projects in the last two years.

I’m pretty sure I only had the means or ability to do either of these because the community recognises me as capable, and that definitely wasn’t from my code!

Thanks for doing the interview!