the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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PyCon 2007 (Part One)

After escaping from the madness of the office, we had a pleasantly uneventful flight to Dallas, notable only in that it was coworker Dave Noyes' first time on an airplane. I enjoyed watching his reactions to things that had become completely natural and unremarkable to me, and I smiled a little inside remembering what it used to be like. Had a small bit of annoyance with the hotel (the main hotel decided at the last minute that they couldn't accommodate our Thursday-night reservations), but there was free breakfast, so I'm less annoyed now. We missed the shuttle to the main hotel by about fifteen seconds, so we ended up grabbing our bags and hoofing it over to the Marriott Quorum, and leaving our stuff with the bellman.

I've been taking fairly copious notes this year so that I can try to bring back some useful stuff to AG. I won't do massive dumps of that here, but will comment on a few things that have stuck out in my mind.

First, the high points:

  • Today's keynote from Ivan Kristic about One Laptop Per Child which I had been mildly intrigued about but slightly skeptical of... and I'm blown away. They've engineered a great tool, and the project is very inspiring. They're using Python for darn near everything, including an amazing sounding filesystem that's more of an object store, capable of timelining, collaboration, N-way syncs, and more. Mesh networking. Dual-mode touch pad that can be used as a writing/drawing tablet. Durability of the unit. Experimental battery chemistry. And what I am really blown away by is the "view source code" button on the keyboard that can instantly show you what's running and let you tinker with it! Frickin' cool. Ivan gave out one of the prototype laptops to Guido and one to an attendee--I got to hold the laptop and get a couple photos of probably not very good quality that I might post later. I'd love to figure out a way to help out; time is unfortunately a big problem there. But this stands a good chance of changing the world in a positive way... Very exciting! I'll probably stop by the laptop demo session tomorrow night to see it in action.
  • Using Stackless gave a lot of interesting insight into rigging up cross-task communication within Stackless, how to make asynchronous API calls look like nice, simple synchronous ones, and some other cool stuff. I'll definitely have to dig into this more.
  • Lunch! Fajitas! Little bean burritos! Refreshing salads! Yum!
  • A bonanza of swag: on top of the four shirts in the conference tote bag, I scored an EWT "Born To Code" shirt and a small Rubik's cube, bought a "Zen of Python" shirt that'll give me some much needed color options (black is starting to get old), and scored a Google Python shirt (which must be earned by having a suitably engaging conversation with one of the guys at the table; I spoke with a chap named Thunder, who has probably the second coolest name (number one still belongs to Ransom Love)).
  • Ian Bicking's "WSGI: A Series of Tubes" combined whimsy and hand-drawn diagrams with a nice, friendly overview of what WSGI is all about. I keep missing the WSGI bus, so it was great to finally get clued in. Some interesting philosophical topics here, like microframeworks vs. monolithic frameworks.
  • Chatting and hanging out with friends from PyCons past as well as Clepy folks who are joining us for the first time. Long story short--geeking out around cool people rocks!

Slightly less awesome:

  • The network is apparently a lot better now that we have our own implementation, but I'm still having tons of problems with it. Probably because there are only three 802.11b channels, and I have no g or n capabilities on the hand-me-down PowerBook G4. Still, a lot less painful than last year.
  • I was somewhat let down by the i18n talk; it was more from the perspective of someone new to i18n and some very basic techniques and hazards, ended quickly, and there were many unaswerable questions. On the plus side, I did learn that difference between StringType and StringTypes.
  • I had been looking forward to the PyCon 2007 Web Framework Panel, and while there were some fun moments and the occasional pointed and politically incorrect remark, I didn't really learn anything new about any of the projects that were represented.
  • I had hoped to get some useful programming insight out of "Iterators in Action" but instead learned some important things about presenting that I will take into consideration for prepping for my session tomorrow. Specifically, don't spend a ton of time talking about all the things you don't have time to talk about--omit it entirely or find a smooth transition and skip directly past the things you can't talk about; don't keep harping on it. Also, I should consider the pros and cons of animated slide transitions; they seemed overused here, but in one or two places could be helpful.

Lightning talks are starting to wind down... So it's probably about time to find a posse and go hunt down some food, followed by an exciting evening of tweaking and practicing my presentation.

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