Note to all readers: Its been weeks since I blogged and having started this entry roughly two weeks ago (20100219 21:43, precisely) but thanks to Broadcomm's proprietary bcm43x drivers meant wifi issues and I wasted a lot of time jumping hoops, and later downgraded the kernel version, time that could have been used to listen to more talks or even blog and tweet about how much fun pycon was! Broadcomm, dont be evil. I am less inclined to modify the older writing so here are some "as is" thought bits about my first pycon experience!!
I reached Atlanta after 4pm on thursday afternoon and Sylvia and me went straight to the Chicago room to volunteer for bag-stuffing and there I was rushing a guy ahead in line, little realising that it was CarlT who recognized me but I was so fixated on the task at hand that I didnt notice whom i was talking to. Yikes, assigning nicks to faces is not my strength! My nick generated some curiosity and left many people wondering how to read it --i had entered it in devanagari script but the glyphs didnt render it as it should " स्वक्ष " which triggered a mini discussion of sorts on python and unicode handling.
Next, it was onto the swag T-Shirts and since Greg had just 2 PP templates we had only two teams taking a go at it. Sylvia, me and Wei (and later various volunteers) had a simple humanized-robo process to maximize folded shirts output per minute. This drew tons of pycon gawkers and many onlookers wanted to pitch in and have a go at folding t-shirts. Greg's wife and daughter came to watch too. Our efforts were rewarded with yummy pizzas (yeah they had vegan pizza too) and drinks. It was a lot of fun for my first day and its really heart-warming to see icons who should be UP there, stand and work with you. The simplicity and lack of pride is endearing.
Python is for Girls
20100219, Friday, (the first day of) the conference, was kicked off by Van Lindberg and Steve Holden introducing the PSF and its objectives and stressing on the PSF's focus on diversity. This was echoed by GvR who started off his keynote for Pycon2010 wearing a t-shirt that had the python logo and "python is for girls", sent to him at Google by an anonymous person. Hmm...I am curious to know who is the $AnonPerson@Google !!
GvR is one speaker that I enjoyed listening to, for the casual twitter-feed keynote and yet informative speaking style sans slides. And no, GvR didnt wax eloquent on the "state of CPython" although that was what was listed on the guide. For someone of his stature, the lack of vanity in his community interactions is endearing and if you are not already a part of this space, you'd be inspired to want to chip in and do something. Another noteworthy aspect, the organizers make no bones about pycon being a commercial event. Unlike "some" private and commercial Indian events, there is no BS about claiming to be a "floss" event with shady financial(s) that are not privy to the community that makes the event, and neither is there a cabal that controls and pulls strings from behind the scenes. Their honest and transparent process is admirable, akin to other community conferences.
A round of snacks later it was over to many luminary speakers from the Python community and the first talk I attended was "The Mighty Dictionary" by Brandon Craig Rhodes and then I attended, Managing the world's oldest Django project by James Bennett who explained why it was such a bad idea to have different branches for each of your clients which will lead to an unwieldy and incompatible codebase over a period of time. Deployment headaches with each server-client network running its own software instance. Their solution was "hosted service". He spoke about unit testing, its importance and how they used spidering tools to test sites for all hosted apps. Saying "No" to customizations and instead creating re-usable customized apps from some requests. IIRC, his parting shot was "FLOSS, Internal code becomes external dependency. Floss jettisons legacy code."
The vegan lunch was fabulous but more about the post-lunch sessions. They were, Python 3: The Next Generation by Mr. Wesley j. chun ; Maximize your program's laziness by Dr. David Q Mertz ; The Ring of Python - Holger Krekel. The latter was a talk I simply loved so go and watch the videos which are online and linked via the pycon website. This is another aspect of pycon that I love --Sharing videos with those that could not attend pycon. They dont assume the worst about people, as in, people will not attend the event if talks are made available online (and hence the organizers wont make money when attendance drops), not including other arrogant (if not) silly excuses that I have heard from certain Indian events.
In 2010, attendance topped previous pycon's. It was announced that this year diversity was at its peak with 113.3 women attendees. No, I am not sure how 0.3% women attended pycon :). Danny blogged and Guido tweeted, and wrote to the list endorsing his support and thoughts on "diversity, people representing other countries and minority groups". I did make it a point to thank him and all the PSF member/organizers that I could remember for the PSF sponsorship, enabling me to attend. GloriaW deserves a special mention and a BIG thankyou for handling hyatt reservations for a bunch of women who were room sharing.
I also met Noufal and Satya (who was our room-share partner), who were also sponsored by the PSF this year. Satya was telling us about her horrid experience with the legendary US B1-visa process in India and the running around she had to endure. Hmmm, why am i not surprised at the horrid experience she had?! It was incredibly funny to hear that the officer asked her to speak in python....doh!! My immigration officer was a hulk at 6'4" and the only intimidating question he asked me was "So, is python like C language?" and before I could speak he cuts in with "Never mind, I'd never understand what you'd say. You are good to go."
LOL, more later.