PyCon 2010 Ruminations

Friday – This day seemed more disjointed than most, which I’m going to hang on the fact that my MacBook was out of sorts. How out of sorts? 1 out of 3 boots failed and the audible feedback was three long beeps. More on that later. Here are my thoughts on the sessions I attended:

Simple WSGI Composition (Ischenko) – Really dug Max’ talk on the motivation, process and result of refactoring a complicated piece of code.

A Short Pinax Tutorial (Greenfield) – Really have to applaud the way Danny Greenfield rolled with the A/V punches – my worst nightmare for PyCon 2009 was that my machine would crash or that I wouldn’t recover from A/V complications. The talk stayed at a pretty high level, but it did make me want to take a deeper look @ Pinax.

It was @ 11:45 AM that I wish I either had Nikola Tesla’s Transported Man machine or was the mutant Jamie Madrox so that I could try and be in three places at the same time. Since I couldn’t acquire the machine and I’m not a mutant, I tried to catch three different talks.

Import This, That and the Other Things (Cannon) – I always pull a lot out of Brett’s talk and this one was consistent with his PyCon 2008 (How Import Does It’s Thing) and PyCon 2009 (How Python is Developed). Don’t make your own custom importer!

Deployment, Development and a Little Cloud (Bicking) – Predictably, a standing room only affair and really how couldn’t it be since (1) it’s Ian Bicking and (2) his successful topics of interest. I only caught about 10 minutes but the reports I heard from my other colleagues has me somewhat anxious for the video.

Creating RESTFUL Web Services with Restish (Gheorghiu) – I was pretty impressed with Grig’s talk because he was able to – ambitiously – start with the definition of REST conceptually, introduce some use cases, introduce Restish and then hammer out a live working demo during the talk. Very well done and relevant content on architecting scalable systems.

The State of Packaging (Ziade) – Right up there as one of my favorite talks of PyCon. Tarek spoke at length about the packaging mess Python’s currently in and also highlighted the mass confusion that compounds the problem. I really think Tarek should be commended for the Herculean effort he and the Distribute contributors have undertaken over the past 18 months.

Ring of Python (Krekel) – I had the pleasure of meeting and having Holger on a testing panel in 2009, he also demoed some Execnet work @ the TiP BoF in 2009 that blew the audience way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but I really liked how he used Prezi and the story behind his talk was solid.

At this point, I had to take off on the MARTA to get to the Lenox mall so I could have an Apple Genius take a look @ my laptop. Thankfully – even though it took forever – they were able to reseat all of my memory. MemTest passes on both chips was fine, so one of the RAM chips must have slipped loose. At this point, however, my MacBook was back in order.

I went out to dinner with Luke Opperman and Kumar McMillan to the pub/brewery down the street – which was nice to eat drink and talk things over that happened. I also went to bed early – like 10 PM probably the smartest thing I did @ PyCon.

Saturday – With my MacBook back in action, it was a mad dash all day to pull together two presentations. I wanted to do some slides for opening remarks before the TiP BoF and I also had the kernel of an idea for visualizing test output data – with that, I woke up and started assembling the outlines. And before the TiP stuff here’s a review of some of the sessions I was in:

Decorators From Basics to Class Decorators (Merriam) – I don’t want to be all dude like, but I listened to about the first 10 minutes which were great and I’ll definitely rewatch the video but I was caught up with the presentation.

Unladen Swallow (Winter) – A highly informative and quotable talked. I thought Collin brought some good energy to the talk and was able to summarize the idea behind what started Unladen Swallow, how it currently compares to other Python versions and what’s on top.

The Other Kind of Testing (Ippolito) – I passively listened to a lot of this talk, but most of it was pretty well-known since Bob’s talk are the exact kind of things we’ve been doing at work for a number of years. I do like Bob’s style and he was supremely prepared and engaged his audience and clearly knows his shit.

Mastering Team Play (Hettinger) – My favorite talk of PyCon – hands down. Raymond was able to talk through some really complicated ideas – super fast and make it accessible to different levels of Python programmers. I also liked his enthusiasm as did the jammed packed crowd.

For the next couple of hours I continued to work on finding Creative Commons photos for my slides. And here’s the thing, when I’m doing my slides I normally come to points where I have the words: Why/How/Where on them … and traditionally I try to go with some related image to whatever I’m talking about. For some odd reason, I typed into Flickr “confused animals” and lo and behold I found some pictures of some goats. So I naively began adding them to my presentations.

Why Not Run Your Tests All the Time (Brown) – I always enjoy Titus’ talks. There’s a deep interplay or wit, humor, fact, opinion, intelligence, cynicism and mockery. It’s not something to ever be missed even though I pretty much knew in advance where Titus was going with his talk. And, no, I’m not kissing up to him because he’s mad about the Testing Goat. OK, maybe a little.

Tests and Testability (Batchelder) – When my company was giving away nost tshirts during PyCon 2008, I made it a point to make sure to get Ned a tshirt. Sure enough at the end of the conference on Sunday, I rudely interrupted a hallway-track conversation to give him a shirt. When I see him now, we laugh about the tshirt and the delivery method. This was also one of my favorite talks and was also jammed packed. Ned went through different code examples and discussed different strategies for making the code more testable. Excellent talk.

The (infamous) Testing in Python BoF – This started out innocently enough last year when Titus suggested on the list that we have an Open Space to just talk testing. We started a wiki page and some people signed up but to our surprise a bunch of people showed up that we weren’t expecting. Mozilla and Disney were kind enough to feed us and we bought our own drinks – several hours later a “event” was born.

This year, it again started it out innocently enough. About three weeks ago, I mailed the TiP list and started a wiki page. Some people signed up but most of us had the feeling that it would be a little bigger this year. So when I went to the room @ 6:45 PM (15 mins before the official start) I was pretty amazed to see that the room was already packed with people.

I would like to thank everyone that came and attended the Open Space, it’s really become one of my most anticipated events of PyCon. It’s great to have a large concentration of vocal/opinionated testers and developers in one room for a couple of hours because it creates great creative tension and highly intelligent discussion as well as some good natured ribbing. I’d also like to personally thank everyone that gave a lightning talk – they were great. And also, thank you for introducing yourself to me – it’s always great to put a handshake and a face to a person I follow on Twitter or who follows me.

For those that missed it – this is what we covered (and I know I’m missing stuff … mail me @ peppers at the place called gmail and i’ll edit the post or direct message me on twitter using the club_is_open handle).

Travis Bear – The Grinder
Matt Harrison – Emacs Testing Configuration
Andrew Dalke – AST
Brian Beck – Nose Achievements
Jesse Noller – Multi Mechanize
Kevin Boers – Sauce Labs Demo
Nat Williams – Hanky
Vicki Laidler – Test Collection with Pandokia
Doug Hellmann – Criss Cross
Gary Bernhardt – Fast Testing
Eric Holscher – Pony Barn
Michael Foord – Mock
Jason Huggins – Orbison
Terry Peppers – Visualizing Test Output
Trent Nelson – Adventures with Snakebite

Alfredo Deza was able to capture some of the proceedings which he put up as a set on Flickr. And yes, there are goats. Also thanks a lot to Paul and Roy from Disney for everything. And also, thanks to Titus and his crew for supplying us with libations. It’s going to be really hard to top next year.

And on the goat thing, I did have a lot of goats as I mentioned earlier in my slides and I made a joke about how maybe the goat could be the next testing mascot. I didn’t have anything to do with Jesse Noller, Andrew Dalke or Michael Foord pushing it along. As I said to Titus, I just planted the seed.

Sunday – The last day of PyCon is always bittersweet, lots to do and still lots to see. Plus the impending slap of reality of going back to work weighs over the day for me a lot of times. Here’s what I saw:

Eventlet: Asynchronous I/O (Preston) – A very good and informative talk. But, the projector was so fuzzy I felt like someone should have handed me a pair of 3-D glasses.

Modern Version Control: Mercurial Internals (Ochtman) – Nice talk by Dirkjan on the code behind the power tool that is Hg. Very good talk.

Hg and Git: Can’t We All Just Get Along (Chacon) – A very very good talk by Scott on the similarities and differences between Hg and Git. I have to say this, I’m going to spend some more time with git after seeing this talk. And also, I really appreciated the energy and passion Scott brought to the talk – it was great, really great.

I could go on and on about how our flight was delayed forever, and how I didn’t get to bed until 12:30 AM and then how we got 4 inches of thick, slushy heart attack snow but I’d like this post to have a happy ending. So I’ll conclude by saying thanks PyCon 2010 – you did it again. You brought together a great collection of speakers, you challenged me with engaging material and you gave me a venue to visit with my old friends and make some new ones.

Comments 2

  1. Simelo (Olemis Lang) wrote:

    I suppose the all the people who could not attend PytCon 2010 (/me included ;o) it’s good to know about what happened (and the related thread @ TiP mailing list is the most funny I’d ever seen in there :o).

    It’s good to know that the Python crew is really involved and unveils interesting subjects, great talks, and awesome libraries one year after another.

    My Qs:

    – Do you know if there’s a way (similar to
    playlists) to see just the videos recorded
    @ PyCon 2010 in order to download them
    all from bilp.tv at once ?
    – Do you know if all videos are
    already available ? For example, I
    couldn’t find Titus’ talk

    Thnx in advance !

    Posted 03 Mar 2010 at 2:41 pm
  2. Simelo (Olemis Lang) wrote:

    Ooops ! Sorry, Titus’ talk is here

    http://pycon.blip.tv/file/3259794/

    Thnx anyway !

    Posted 03 Mar 2010 at 2:45 pm