Ping (zestyping) wrote,

PyCon 2008.

Last week i went to the Python Conference in Chicago. It was good to be among that crowd of familiar faces again. I've been feeling somewhat anxious and lonely lately in anticipation of the shift from school to Real Work and my imminent move out of the co-ops (yes, that's still months away but it makes me sad), so it's nice to be reminded of a community i can continue to be a part of. Quite a few Python hackers are at Google (including Guido himself), so i may be seeing more of them soon.

As usual, the hallway sessions were the best. Some of the talks were pretty fun too, but the best part of it for me was just feeling like part of the flow and catching up with all the interesting things people are working on. It's nice to be somewhere where most people either know who you are or are excited to get to know you.

PyCon was huge this year — something like 1100 people, compared to 600 last year. It was estimated that, assuming the current geometric growth rate continues, the entire population of the planet would be attending PyCon in some small number of years.

This was the first time i stayed afterwards for the coding sprints. Sprinting is a simple concept: get in a room with a bunch of other programmers and code all day. Even though it sounds just like work, somehow it's a lot more fun. I think it's a combination of working directly with awesome people (e.g. having the creator of Python sitting just two chairs over, or a co-creator of Django sitting across the table, so you can ask questions when you get stuck) and the focus brought on by the limited time and the specificity of the tasks. The atmosphere is different when everyone has flown in to be at the sprint and you know you're only going to be there for a few days. Travelling also gives you an excuse to ignore some of the sources of distraction that exist at home and at the office.

I did a little work on Python 3.0. It felt good to be productive and efficient. I got in 12 hours of work in a day, felt fine, and got decent, regular sleep. (I was hoping to keep it up, but alas, my sleep schedule immediately disintegrated and productivity plummeted upon returning home.) I've been carrying some guilt because i've been a long-time member of the core Python development team, with commit privileges and all, and have contributed absolutely nothing for the past few years. I think i get consistently too much credit in the Python community, both because of that unearned status and because of a bug-tracking program called Roundup that is awesome but that i didn't write. (Once upon a time, i wrote a proposed design for a bug-tracking program — basically a wishlist of things i thought would be cool to have. Richard Jones then did all the hard work to actually build it, but people keep complimenting me on it just because the name was initially associated with me.) The work I did at the sprint (which had to do with the handling of Unicode in the new file I/O module, if you're curious) was pretty small, but at least it was something. I hope i continue to have time to contribute.
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