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The week before last was PyCon 3 in Washington D.C. Evelyn and I attended, and, ltd. sponsored, and since then I've been meaning to write up a wrap up report on the conference. I've been kind of busy getting caught up though. So, here we go…

The first 4 days, Saturday through Tuesday, were Sprints. Sprints are where a bunch of people get together at the conference and work on various projects. It's very much like what happens at the Hacking Society meetings, though there tends to be more teamwork going on because you have 3 to 10 people all together working on a single project.

Sprint day #1 I hung out at the Twisted Python table. My Twisted work was limited to checking in a newer version of the RPM spec file. I also worked some on a web page for the tummy virtual machine hosting control panel, and started work on session authentication code for JOTWeb. That code I ended up abandoning, it was kind of ugly. I was also striving to keep up with my e-mail, even though it was Saturday, I had been traveling all day Friday so there was some catch up to do.

That night we ended up going out to dinner in a big group, walking from Foggy Bottom to the Dupont Circle area because somebody didn't know about the Metro. ;-) The idea was to go to this really good sushi restaurant, because there's no way that would be busy on a Saturday night. efm was very hungry, so I ended up taking charge of a smaller group that found a nice Mediterranean restaurant a couple of places down that was deserted and we got food there with dash, Tim, and someone else.

Sprint Day 2, I was hanging out at the Mailman 3 table. Gave some input on various things related to mailman, but mostly was still working on e-mail and the control panel page. Before we left for PyCon in the morning, I woke up really early and went down to the lobby and worked on the session authentication code. Got it working for this application, and then spent some time poking at the layout.

Jeff had a Kuro Box, which is a little PowerPC system in a little, tiny case. It doesn't include video or audio, but does have USB and gigabit Ethernet. Cute boxes. Twisted outgrew it's table and started adding extensions. That evening we had dinner at Baja Fresh with Pavel, Michael Bernstein, Jeff, and Facundo.

Sprint Day 3 I spent in the other Sprint room at the Distutils table. Problems with creosote, the main Python web server, continued today. The Wiki software (MoinMoin) we were using kept eating up all available resources and driving the system into the ground. For the Distutils guys, I was able to get psycopg and a few other packages installed for their use.

Later in the day Steve Holden brought in a bunch of stuff from his place to give away. Anyone need a 2GB SCSI drive. Moshe Zadka ended up taking a few books and a bunch of Jaz discs and a drive. Later we found that Moshe had picked up an AUI-to-10baseT adapter because it “looked neat”, but he had no idea what it was for. ;-) In the evening we went across the street for Indian food with Richard, Kragen, Michael, Andrew, and Holger.

The last day of Sprints was also the setup day for the show. Steve Holden was working on getting things prepared. Evelyn set up an assembly line for putting together the show bags (which each had to have media from the 6 to 8 sponsors loaded into it). The Twisted folks made a nice sign and hung it above their huge table. Evelyn graciously took a bunch of the volunteers out for dinner for their help putting the bags together. We went to the Chinese place across the street from the Indian place with Andrew, Larry Austin, and Larry Landis.

Pycon Day 1: It was rainy today. We arrived at the show a bit late, my alarm clock didn't work and then we stupidly waited for a taxi to show up instead of walking in the rain. It didn't show up in the allotted time, and so we ended up walking anyway, but by that time the rain had gotten a fair bit worse. It was only about 1.5 miles, though. By the time we got to the conference, it was well in swing, and mostly I just hung around in the hallways chatting with other people who were hanging out in the hallways. There weren't really any presentations I wanted to see in the morning.

In the afternoon, I chaired a session on web programming in Python. Michelle Levesque gave a session on comparing different Python web frameworks. She tried Nevow, Webware, and Quixote. She had a nice slide with names of all the different systems, and it was jam packed with them. She thinks it would be nice to have one single framework, or maybe a few, to point a newbie at so they could just pick one. I, on the other hand, think that there are so many different frameworks because people have so many different needs.

Next up was Ian Bicking speaking about WSGI and WSGIKit, systems to make it easy to build new web frameworks by making a standard way for them to integrate with web servers. So, yes, making it easier to make more frameworks. Finally, Donovan Preston demonstrated using Nevow to build “Live Pages”. Nevow has a neat way to easily make Ajax-like page interaction without having to do page reloads, instead it uses Javascript to dispatch events on the server, including things like telling you when a user leaves your page (not just when they retrieve it).

I think the rest of the afternoon I spent in the Open Space rooms. Open Space is where people can sign up for impromptu presentations on various things. I probably should have demonstrated JOTWeb or something, but didn't. In the evening we again did dinner at Baja Fresh with Andrew, Kevin, Michael, and D'Arcy.

PyCon day 2: Started off with Guido's State of Python address. Pretty much just a recap of what's been discussed on the python-dev mailing list and set up as PSP's for upcoming releases and for Python 3000. Guido still thinks Python 3000 is about 3 years away, but he's been thinking that for probably 3 or 4 years, so…

Next up was a PSF Q&A session about what the PSF is. They asked that people promote the PSF and try to get more people to join it. Go join the PSF. The Python Software Foundation is the entity which owns the Python code, and is responsible for ongoing maintenance of Python and it's Internet presence, the PSF grants to pay people to work on interesting projects in Python, and more.

In the open space today there were Lightning Talks. This is where people get 5 minutes to talk about a topic, something they're doing with Python. This is a great part of the show, probably one of my favorites. At one point in the evening, some students from GWU were walking by the halls, and I heard one of them reading the subject of one of the presentations: “Studying African Lions in the Serengeti Ecosystem with Python. I don't get the "With Python” part.“ ;-)

I did end up going to Kevin Altis' talk on Python Card. It looks like a really good way to build GUI applications in Python, but I had problems getting WxWindows installed on my system. Couldn't get the RPMs installed. For lunch a bunch of us set up a picnic on the floor by the ballroom, including Anna Ravencroft (it was her idea, IIRC) and Tim Peters and Fred Drake.

In the afternoon, I chaired a set of presentations on rich data in Python. Karden Katz spoke on a rule engine called Pychinko, and Phillip J. Eby spoke about another rule system. Looks like a pretty cool way of adding rules to your program. To finish it up, Nathan Yergler talked about using RDF with Python and the Semantic Web. The Semantic web is this very cool idea of providing extra data in the web, and has been just around the corner for about 5 years now.

That evening Evelyn set up a "Business Python” dinner at TGI Fridays across the street. There were probably about 30 people there. They only allocated one waitress to us, so service was pretty bad as you can imagine. It was a good discussion.

The last day of PyCon 3: I missed Greg Stein's keynote on Python at google for no good reason. 9am is just hard for me to make… I spent the morning in Open Space talks, and in the afternoon I chaired talks on networking. First, Itamar Schtull-Trauring spoke on ways to increase performance of Python network applications. Next, Thomas Vander Stichele presented a system for doing streaming of cams and other data using Python. It included really nice looking icons for the different states of the sub-systems.

The last presentation I went to was Glyph Lefkowitz's talk on a mechanism he's come up with for Divmod to make communication between Internet endpoints easier. Ways to get through firewalls and authenticate users. That sort of thing. It's called Q2Q, because it's designed as a way for Quotient servers (the thing Divmod is building) to communicate).

That's about it. PyCon is a great conference, but to be honest I go more for the people and the sprints than I do for the presentations. Being around and working with all these really smart, enthusiastic, Python programmers, is great.

See you next year.

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