Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009 Pycon Highlights

I didn't get a chance to go to Pycon last year, and was very excited when I had the opportunity to come this year.

It turns out that you can indeed teach an old(ish) dog new tricks. It all began with a talk about Python Namespaces (and Code Objects) by Jeff Rush. I thought that the "Easy AI with Python" talk would be a bit over my head, but Raymond Hettinger showed how to teach simple AI concepts using python.

The ever humble Guido Van Rossum gave a keynote that was quite different from his past talks. It was part reflection and part introspection into python and the community as a whole. He revealed that he is getting older, and more tired, and sees himself backing away from the spotlight a bit over the next several years. He seemed very pleased with where the community is, and ready to release his child out on its own. Thank you, Guido, for creating such a great language that makes my job a lot more enjoyable every day.

Ian Bicking brought down the house with his talk about various Topics of Interest. Video is available, but I doubt it will do it complete justice. He displayed comments from IRC on the projector while giving his talk. If you were not there, you really missed a hoot.

The open spaces were quite a hit and provided a great opportunity for people to further interact with each other. It was cool to hear how others were using AppEngine. Angie and I also had a great time playing Catan at the board game social.

Concurrency was a hot topic this year. Jesse Noller gave great talks on Multiprocessing and on Concurrency and Distributed Computing with Python. Coroutine based concurrency is also quite the rage this year, and I enjoyed getting together with some others who are using my favorite, Eventlet. If you are interested in such things, I highly recommend giving it a look (a new version should be coming out very soon).

The guys from reddit gave an interesting, if a bit light, keynote. Evidently they had planned to release (yet another) web framework, but weren't quite ready yet. Sounds like they are still having fun, and have a lot of interesting problems to solve.

Someone gave a quick demo of GeoDjano which looks quite slick. They even give you a nice interface to edit the country geo data from the admin interface. Another guy is working on a lightweight version of python that runs on micro controllers (like the arduino) -- looks very promising.

The lunch setup was very nice. The tables were already set, and so you were more or less forced to sit down with random people that you didn't know. I had an opportunity to talk to people from all over the python community that I would've never approached on my own. At past conferences, I would grab my food from the buffet table, and then be content to find a quiet place to sit by myself.

Overall, it was a great experience and I would like to thank all of the organizers, volunteers, and speakers for making the Pycon possible.