EuroPython 2012: Day 1

by Lynn Root conferences EuroPython Python

If you’re a Python enthusiast, and you're **not** at EuroPython, you’re missing out, I’m sorry to say.  

Not only has the conference organizers put on a near flawless first day, they provided attendees with amazing food for thought with a fantastic program of keynotes to kick off the event.

Me on EuroPython 2012 slide

Everyone was a bit start struck that Guido van Rossum was here; it’s funny to see folks put him on a little bit of a pedestal when he’s a normal nerd like the rest of us.  And naturally, he was wearing his favorite shirt: Python is for Girls.  (f&ck yea!)

Side note: Female attendance of EuroPython has doubled since last year, from 4% to 8%, while the overall attendance has increased about 100 people, or about 15% from last year (a rough estimate from collected conversations).

Guido’s talk was very similar to his closing keynote at PyCon US this year, Not the State of the Union.  What I found more interesting was the moderated Q&A he did towards the end of the day.  More on that in a second…

Alex Martelli did a talk on the fantastic subject of Ask for Forgiveness, not for Permission, inspired by Grace Hopper.  It was very awesome and heart-warming to hear the crowd on twitter really welcome and embrace that line of thought, both because it’s a great motto to live by (esp for engineers), as well as a very prominent and well-respected woman said it.  Only, he used Apple’s version of Comic Sans on his slides: Chalkboard.  Not that forgivable… (although I’ve committed that crime as well in my Python study group slides *hides head in shame*).

Also, I didn’t realize that Martelli was the author of Python in a Nutshell, and co-edited w/ this wife, Anna, the Python Cookbook. I should have lugged that door stopper to get it signed!

Next, Febo Cincotti presented on the progression neuroscience has made in allowing those who have absolutely no way to communicate without the help of computers in his talk titled “Let your Brain talk to Computers.”  While not Python-centric, it was very inspirational and detailed on how far science has come with respect to helping those like Stephen Hawking in the ‘locked-in’ state.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a Python conference without a state of the PyPy endeavor and a GIL-less future by Armin Rigo, Antonio Cuni, and Maciej Fijalkowski.  I really enjoyed this talk mostly because these gentlemen had such a dorky, academic/scientist-like passion about the progression of PyPy.  Their story came off as very inspiring, honest, and enthusiastic about the massive undertaking of a project.  It was interesting that Armin even spent some time making his own Python interpreter (seriously, how passionate & dedicated is he?).  It will be great to see how these gentlemen progress with Transactional Memory & Automatic Mutual Exclusion.  Fascinating.

An unexpected highlight of the evening was the quality of some lightning talks.  Specifically, Lukasz Langa’s I Regret Nothing, You can’t judge me.  Full of hilarious memes, fast-paced jokes, and honest confession of his horrible habits, Mr Llanga showed EuroPython just how lazy of a Python programmer he is.  From simplified and nearly unidentifiable variables, to multiple inheritance, to horrific monkey patching, he convinced the audience that a) he’s lazy, b) he doesn’t regret it and c) god bless your soul if you inherit his code.

To wrap up the evening, Guido van Rossum did a casual but well attended moderated Q&A.  He was quite frank in answering his questions, from “I just don’t know what this person is asking” to “I’m not going to waste my time answering this.”  My next post will be the loosely transcribed conversation, after I refactor it a bit to actually be readable.  But believe me when I say that while Guido is quite tired of the same question, “Looking back, what would you do differently”, he’s a fantastic sport that offers great dialogue for us in the Python community.  So stay tuned!

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