PyDev of the Week: Tommy Falgout

This week we welcome Tommy Falgout (@lastcoolname) as our PyDev of the Week! Tommy works on the Robo-Clippy project. You can see what else he is up to by checking out his website. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Tommy better!

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

I grew up in the bayous of Louisiana, and while everyone else was interested in 4-wheeling and hunting, I gravitated towards computers and spent hours on my Commodore 64.  Early on, I knew what it meant to be an outcast.
As I matured, my hobbies became numerous and varied, but all focused around my passion of building.  For 5 years hosted and competed in Dallas/Fort Worth’s annual trebuchet competition: Slingfest, and was even featured on an episode of Dude Perfect on Nickelodeon as a Trebuchet expert (complete with my own IMDB page!).  I also volunteer at a local Makerspace in Plano, TX (TheLab.ms), built a LEGO Robotic Clippy and competed in the Red Bull Soapbox Derby race.  After a few exciting near-misses from bodily harm, I’ve settled down and recently taken up crochet and hobby electronics.

Why did you start using Python?

My first experience with Python was over 15 years ago when I needed to automate ~100 network switches and I had to choose between Python and Perl.  I will admit, I chose Perl because I liked its terseness and didn’t like using forced spaces.  Looking back, that was a silly reason as I created really unreadable code and hardly anyone uses Perl anymore. (Except for maybe Larry Wall)
My second experience was about 10 years later when working for Yahoo and I wrote their Network Automation Discovery System.  I took my lessons learned from my previous experience and wrote it in Python.


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

I’ve written production code in C, C++, Java, PHP, Python, Javascript, Typescript, Perl and Clojure while dabbling in Go, Rust, Erlang and Ruby.

Funny enough, my favorite is assembly.  Because I could trust it.  I never wrote anything useful; however, there’s a lot less surprises when there’s few language primitives.
Being realistic my favorite is Python, as it’s easy to get started and the community support is strong so there’s modules for almost everything.

What projects are you working on now?

Outside of work, three main projects are Robo-ClippyLED Lanyard and whatever crochet pattern inspires me.  2 of those 3 projects are written in Python, only because I haven’t incorporated Python and crochet. Yet.

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

I’m a fan of simple interfaces and few surprises.  When getting started with Python the “request” library really hit that for me because most of my projects start with HTTP API.  I’m also a huge fan of using a REPL.

What motivates you to write on your blog?

My mother was a librarian, so information sharing is in my DNA.  Since I love integrating technology, I often hit fringe cases that others haven’t hit but will soon enough.  I want to share my findings with the world in hopes of saving others time.
I’ve also been in meetings where the client said that they knew me because of a blog article I’ve written.  That felt amazing as I had an instant connection with them and the rest of the meeting went extremely smooth because of a background of trust.

I see you help organize a maker space. How did you get into organizing?

Because I love building and was already organizing a trebuchet competition, it made sense to join forces with the Plano, TX Makerspace and build something together.  It’s exciting to work with like-minded builders who aren’t afraid to try something new and love bounce ideas off of each other.  If you’re not already involved in a local Makerspace, I highly recommend it because they are a great hub of knowledge and experience that you wouldn’t get otherwise.  For example, I got up the confidence to build and fly my a drone (Thanks Pat and Brian!).  I’ve made many friends there that I will never forget.

Do you have any advice for other developers that would like to create a meetup?

If something has sparked a passion in you, the best thing you can do is share it.  So often, we’re waiting for someone else to take the reins, but as a programmer you’re are a natural leader. You have an innate ability to create ideas and see them to completion.  Yes it’s scary, and yes, you might fail.  But it’s worth it.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’ve love to share my favorite tech talk, by Rich Hickey: Simple Made Easy.   His analysis of Simple vs Easy, Hard vs Complex really stuck with me and changed the way I build systems.
Thanks for doing the interview, Tommy!
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