19 March 2013

More PyCon! It's a wish, not just a title.

I left the last post minutes before Jessica McKellar's keynote at PyCon 2013. Unfortunately the keynote was cancelled. Raymond Hettinger followed a series of lightning talk with a keynote the theme of which was "Python is amazing" (I don't rememeber the exact words, but that's the main idea). YAY!

Getting started with automated testing, by Carl Meyer, was a great introductory talk, a good way to remind me that not writing tests is not (just) being lazy, it's counterproductive (and therefore leads to more work later).

Then I moved on to a couple of much-needed talk on community building: Scaling community diversity outreach, by (take a breath) Asheesh Laroia, Jessica McKellar, Dana Bauer and Daniel Choi, and, after lunch, How (Not) To Build An OSS Community by Daniel Lindsley. So far my contacts in London for programming have been by mentor in the TechAbility programme (my gateway drug pusher, the way I really got into programming - thank you Ben!), a couple of friends and of course my husband (but I tend not to talk too much about computers with him). I probably never realized how much I miss a "real life" (as opposed to "just IRC/internet") community since I got here. There are the GNOME beer events, of course! But the only London Python User Group I see online is "professionals only", so it doesn't look very newcomers-friendly... and there is no chapter of the PyLadies in London. (I was told that I should set one up - but I cannot do it on my own. And yes, dear Londoners, this is another cry for help!) All of this probably just means that I need a job, I am tired of doing things on my own. End of the rant, sorry.

Later in the afternoon, yet another fantastic talk. Lynn Root presented Sink or swim: 5 life jackets to throw to New Coders. It was perfectly tailored for the stage I am in my programming education: I know the basics, now what? Well, there is her website, then there is... teaching others. I sense a pattern here...

And then I went to rest, because the day after I had to present my poster and I was already too nervous.

The day after - the last day - was basically "hey, here's my poster". I had presented a poster only once in my life, but it was a much smaller (although quite big!) conference, and it was in another field (game theory).

And you know what? I loved it! (Even if it meant missing the keynotes... and the other posters.)

I talked about what I did last summer, why it's a good idea to do something like that, how you do it (and what you shouldn't do); most important, I spread the word about the Outreach Program for Women - all the leaflets but one or two were gone by the end of the session, and many people went away with the link to the website scribbled on a piece of paper!

I wasn't able to stand on my feet, afterwards. So: nap! And then, introduction to sprints...

...so that yesterday I managed to find something for me at the OpenHatch sprint. I helped with a webpage that was incomplete (a webpage that was... teaching - how to contribute to an OpenSource project. Mmmmh, more of that pattern), and I cleaned up the wiki a bit. I had never heard of OpenHatch before this conference, but I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful frienship (to use the words of Claude Rains in Casablanca).

And now I should be packing (how will I stuff all the t-shirts I got into my suitcase?) and go on my way...

So: a big thank you to PyCon, to the PSF (who generously sponsored my travel and my hotel!), to all the wonderful people I met, too many to fit in a post here (also: I am terrible with names, I would probably forget someone). And... maybe see you in Florence later this year!

PS: I wrote the post this morning (PST). It's now almost night (also PST, I don't want to know what time it is in London), and I am at the airport - flight delayed by approximately 3 hours. I use the airport connection to give you... the poster! With a huge thank you to Marina Zhurakhinskaya and Meg Ford who sent me so many useful suggestions.

16 March 2013

So: PyCon!

I should have probably written something in the last days, but I was, well... overwhelmed.

I arrived in Santa Clara (after about 12 hours on a plane, and that was just to San Francisco) on the 12th - in the afternoon, local time. A few hours to rest, to get used to the jet lag, and then...


A hands-on introduction to Python for beginning programmers, by Jessica McKellar, was the perfect start: a smooth (re)introduction to the basics - it made me feel well. Hands-on intermediate Python, by Matt Harrison, followed. Fantastic. I learned so much, in such a short time: the balance of theory and practice was the right one. And the handouts are going to provide a very interesting (re)read for the future.

And on Wednesday night, some of the OPW women of the area had a small outing... (A special thank you to Aleta Dunne for the organization!)

Then, Thursday. Scripting: from Hard-drive to Github to PyPI, also by Matt Harrison, was advertised as "Novice" - but unfortunately I found it a bit too fast-paced for me. More precisely: the Python in it was not too difficult, but the "software engineering practice" level was above me. I look forward to re-reading the handouts in a less hectic environment. In the afternoon, there was Jessica McKellar again with Contribute with me! Getting started with open source development. Some much needed git practice - I will just say that.

And then... PARTY! I met nice people, I browsed the booths of the job fair getting contacts (and merchandise)... great time.

The conference started on Friday. Moving remarks by Jesse Noller on "changing the future" were followed by a keynote by Eben Upton... and the announcement that all of us (all 2500, and yes, that is two-thousand-five-hundred!) were going to get a Raspberry Pi. I will let you imagine the enthusiasm in the room.

I had to pick a talk. I was undecided between Jessica McKellar's How the Internet works and Esther Nam's How to Except When You're Excepting: I went for the first, and it was a fantastic introductory talk. I have to find a good book on the subject... (yes, dear reader, that is a cry for help!)

Then I spent some time browsing around, and after lunch I crashed in the Ada Initiative booth. I have rarely seen such a welcoming crowd, so great at making you feel at ease... Talking about the Imposter Syndrome mixed with nail painting (don't ask), and I also got a lot of good advice for my career.

I was really looking forward to a couple of talks on documentation - but I was feeling terrible (one of my dizziness attacks, a particularly nasty one) and I moved back to the hotel for a quiet night. I hope that the recording will be put online soon.

Now I am here, completing this post... But wait! It's almost time for the first keynote of the day! I'd better hurry! Talk to you soon! Bye!