Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to get ready for the PyCon development sprints

[A guest post by Kushal Das, one of the 2016 Sprint Coordinators]

So — you have already decided to join in the PyCon development sprints! The sprints run for four days, from Thursday to Sunday after the conference. You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend the sprints! Some teams plan to write code over all four days, while some projects plan a shorter sprint if the organizers cannot stay for all four days.

Can you start getting prepared for the sprint ahead of time? Yes!

There are several things you can do ahead of time, that can save effort once you arrive at the sprints — and some preparations can even be made at home, before you arrive at PyCon:

  • Have your operating system updated and patched — whether Mac, Windows, or Linux. This eliminates one possible source of problems with getting software up and running.
  • Go ahead and install the version control system that will be used by the projects you are interested in. If you install both git and Mercurial on your computer, you will be ready to help with almost any project at the sprints.
  • If you might be sprinting with a project whose code is written in C, you should have the default compiler for your platform installed. This will usually be make and gcc in Linux, and the Xcode tools on the Mac. You will have the chance to learn more about these at the Intro to Sprints session.
  • Browse ahead of time our list of projects that will be sprinting. If there are projects that especially interest you, try checking out their latest source code to your laptop and attempt to build the project and run its tests successfully. If you run into snags, see whether the project has a project mailing list or IRC channel where you could ask questions. Or you could wait and ask for help from the project leads in person once you arrive on-site at the sprint itself, where they can iterate more quickly on the error you are facing. I took this approach myself in 2013 while attending my first-ever PyCon development sprint! For the CPython project, you can consult https://docs.python.org/devguide/ for the steps on how to build it.
  • Not every project that will be sprinting is listed yet on our projects page. The official list of sprinting projects is presented in a quick presentation a few minutes after the final PyCon keynote ends and the conference ends. Each project lead will come to the stage and introduce their project in around 30–45 seconds. Here is the long queue of project leads waiting to present at 2013:

The long queue of sprinters

  • If you are yourself a project lead or developer for an open source project, feel free to add your project to our list if you are prepared to come lead a sprint. Be sure that you are ready with a checkout of the latest source code, and a list of features and bugs on which both beginners and experienced programmers can work.

  • Remember to use the rule of two feet: if you are not enjoying a particular project, feel free to go visit all of the other rooms and tables and projects. Work on whichever projects you like. No one will feel bad if you leave one table and join another one.

We will be presenting an “Introduction to Sprints” workshop starting at 4:30pm on June 1st in the Oregon Ballroom 201–202. If there are spaces left, you can pre-register yourself for the session on EventBrite:

Intro to Sprints event sign-up page on EventBrite

Finally, remember to enjoy your time at PyCon. This is the time of the year when we all can meet, discuss new ideas, showcase our work, and make new friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Childcare spots are still available for PyCon 2016!

A venue as exciting as the city of Montréal in 2014–15 and now Portland in 2016–17 often tempts attendees with children to want to go ahead and bring them along, turning what could have been simply a business trip into a full family vacation to a new city. Other attendees are in circumstances that make it impossible to leave their children at home, threatening to rule out PyCon entirely unless children can be accommodated.

For both of these reasons, PyCon is proud to be offering childcare again for Portland 2016 — our third year of being able to offer this service to parents who are attending the conference.

And we are especially grateful to our 2016 Childcare Sponsors: Facebook and Instagram!

Without the generous support of these Childcare Sponsors, parents would be facing a bill four times greater than the $50 per child per day that we are able to offer this year. By providing this generous subsidy, Facebook and Instagram are working to make the conference possible for parents who might otherwise have been not able to consider it.

Visit our Childcare page to learn more:

https://us.pycon.org/2016/childcare/

Several spots are still open — so if childcare could make your PyCon visit even better, there is still time to sign up!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Announcing the Startup Row 2016 Companies

[A guest post by Startup Row coordinator Yannick Gingras:]

What in the world could be more exciting than fantastic startups using Python to help change the world? The answer, simply put, is nothing.

Come visit the Startup Row in PyCon 2016’s Expo Hall to see some of the best young companies pitch their startup ideas, and to learn how they are using Python to make an impact.  These are the best Python startups in North America, many of whom had to win a previous pitch competition in their home market to make it to Startup Row.  It’s this next generation of Python startups who will continue to build up our community, so let’s show them the support they deserve.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for — drumroll, please —

Announcing the 2016 Startup Row Selections for PyCon:
  • UtilityAPI — An energy data infrastructure company that specializes in facilitating communication between utilities, account holders, and third parties.
  • Metabrite — Provides consumer and behavioral insights for the consumer packaged goods industry.
  • ReUP — An online marketplace for the wholesale distribution of regulated cannabis products.
  • Validate Health — an actuarial risk analytics platform that helps hospitals and other medical providers to identify and manage patient financial risk.
  • Bauxy — Administers a patient’s health insurance and financial accounts to help reconcile healthcare transactions at the point of service.
  • CodeUpstart — Lets anyone learn how to code by cloning real life startups like Kickstarter, Instagram, Medium and more from zero to launch.
  • Deako — Beautiful, connected light switches that allow you to control any light in your home from any light switch or your phone at one fifth the cost of comparable systems.
  • LadyMarry — A Virtual Wedding Planner who helps couples customize schedules, recommend vendors and coordinate all details. LadyMarry is powered by big data.
  • Script Speaker — A cloud-based service for rendering film scripts from text to audio files.
  • Textio — Shows you how your job listings and candidate emails will perform before you’ve even posted them.
To add this this impressive lineup, there is one company yet to be named.  As the Startup Row tour makes its final stop in Montréal on May 10th, the best of the companies to present that evening will also be part of the Expo Hall at PyCon 2016.

Finally, we would like to recognize all of the entrepreneurs who submitted their application to be part of Startup Row. This has been one of the strongest applicant pools we've seen yet. We wish every company the best of luck!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Introducing our 2016 Keystone Sponsor: Heroku!

We organizers of PyCon 2016 are grateful that, amidst a roiling stock market and uncertain economy, so many sponsors have stepped forward to assert that their relationship with the Python community is worth investing in. And we are particularly happy to announce that our highest level of sponsorship has been filled.

That’s right — a Keystone sponsor has stepped forward: Heroku is our Keystone sponsor for PyCon 2016!

If you have attended a recent PyCon, you might remember visiting Heroku’s elegant booth in the Expo Hall. And many more of you in the community have used Heroku before to deploy web projects large and small — in their own words:

“Heroku is a cloud platform that lets you build, deploy, manage and scale apps. We’re the fastest way from git push to a live app, because we let you bypass infrastructure and deployment headaches. You just focus on your code, and we make the rest easy.”

Speaking from personal experience, when I helped build a Django app for a non-profit: it is dismaying to explain to a small organization how much work is traditionally involved in self-deploying a new app. An organization would rent or purchase a server, monitor its logs, keep it patched and updated, install the app and Django and the other Python dependencies, install PostgreSQL, give the app access to the database, and establish backups that they then have to monitor and archive.

All of that disappeared when I pointed the organization at Heroku. Their app now serves users every day, without their staff having had to spend even a moment worrying whether their PostgreSQL write-ahead log is working properly, whether a critical operating system patch is overdue, or whether the database is being backed up.

I asked the folks at Heroku why PyCon is on their list of conferences each year:

“We know that building the best platform for Python developers is easier when we can talk to them and find out what’s happening on the ground. So, we’re thrilled to be participating again — so thrilled that we’re the Keystone sponsor of PyCon 2016. We can’t wait to explore Portland with you all, and build some really wonderful apps and memories along the way.”

And how did Python itself get on their radar in the first place? Has the language been a successful choice of target for their platform?

“Python is simple and elegant — which is exactly what your deploys on Heroku feel like. We’ve been seeing amazing growth in Python on Heroku, and that’s why we have folks on our team like Kenneth Reitz, who can advocate for the needs and interests of the community. He makes sure that Pythonistas are happy with the Heroku experience.”

The Kenneth Reitz they mention is, as you probably know, the famous author of the Requests library. When not working on his open source projects, he has spent the last several years crafting Heroku’s support for hosting Python-language applications.

We look forward to seeing Heroku in the Expo Hall at PyCon 2016, and are excited that they have stepped forward this year to take on the responsibility of the Keystone sponsorship. Thank you, Heroku!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Open Spaces — plan a day ahead this year at PyCon 2016!

What’s so awesome about PyCon’s Open Spaces?

Open Spaces are spontaneous, grassroots, and attendee focused. While most of the conference is scheduled months ahead of time, Open Spaces are created on-site by the participants themselves! They offer groups the ability to self-gather, self-define, and self-organize in a way that often doesn’t happen anywhere else at PyCon.

Open Spaces are little one-hour meetups during the three main conference days, held in free meeting rooms that PyCon provides at the convention center. Some people reserve spaces to talk about a favorite technology, whether web frameworks, neural nets, or natural language processing. Academics and scientists plan spaces around topics like astronomy, data science, and weather forecasting. Other attendees schedule actual activities during open spaces like yoga, nail painting, and board games!

Any topic that two or more attendees are interested in, or an activity that more than two people would like to do, is a great candidate for an open space. You can find a list of sample ideas a few pages down in the Open Spaces guide on our web site:

https://us.pycon.org/2016/events/open-spaces/

If you have additional ideas, please email us at pycon-openspaces@python.org and we can add them to the list.

For 2016, an extra day to plan each Open Space!

This year we are doing things a little differently. Instead of the sign-up board for each conference day only making its first appearance that morning, we are going to go ahead and make each day’s board available the previous day as well. This means that each day will feature two sign-up boards, which will be placed closed to the registration area: one for the current day, and one for the following day.

This will give Open Space hosts and their attendees the ability to plan further ahead. Hosts will be able to reserve a slot one day in advance — creating a longer window for them to advertise the space and let other interested attendees know. And attendees will be able to go ahead and start planning which Open Spaces they want to attend the next day.

In fact, the very first Open Spaces board will be up on Sunday evening during the Opening Reception, the evening before the main conference even starts! This will give hosts a chance to go ahead and reserve a slot for the first day of the conference while it is still the night before.

Promote Your Open Space

We are introducing the hashtag #PyConOpenSpace this year. We encourage you to use it as you promote your Open Space and let people know about it. It’s also a great idea to add your Twitter handle to the card that you pin on the Open Space schedule board, in case anyone interested in attending your open space has a question or wants to contact you about it.

If you’re unsure about whether people like your open space idea or whether they would attend, we encourage you to use the new Twitter polls function and mark your tweet with the hashtag #PyConOpenSpace so those interested in Open Spaces can vote on topic ideas.

The committee is looking forward to all of the great Open Spaces that are awaiting us at PyCon US 2016!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sign up now to volunteer at PyCon 2016!

While commercial programming languages often enjoy large and spectacular conferences from their beginning — think of the elaborate JavaOne conference, staged barely a year after Java’s first release — languages without corporate backing tend to accrete their community more slowly and organically. The first conference often takes place without dozens of paid staff to dash back and forth behind the scenes and make sure that the event happens.

Instead, that first event is possible because of volunteers.

PyCon is proud to be part of the long tradition of events that take place because the attendees themselves care and are willing to put forward hours of volunteer work to ensure that new arrivals are greeted at the registration desk, that speakers are guided to and from their session rooms, and — yes — that swag bags are all properly stuffed.

If you are already registered to attend PyCon and are interested in serving as part of the team that makes the conference happen in 2016, simply visit our “Volunteering On-Site” page to learn about the ways you can contribute:

https://us.pycon.org/2016/about/volunteers/

The roles listed there include:

  • Session staff who run the talks.
  • Registration staff who help people at the front desk.
  • Swag volunteers who hand out the conference bags.
  • Volunteers for lunch, tutorials, and Young Coders.
  • And volunteers for the famous Swag Bag Stuffing event the afternoon before the conference starts, when the materials provided by our sponsors get carefully distributed amongst the bags that will be handed out to our attendees.

When volunteers pitch in, even a conference like PyCon with three thousand attendees is able to function smoothly. If you have ever wanted a way to give back to the Python community then take a look at the volunteering page, balance the commitment of each position against your own need to have free hours to experience the conference for yourself, and — if you see a role that interests you — sign up!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Registration is open for our Young Coders tutorial!

PyCon is excited to once again offer a free full-day tutorial for kids! We invite children 12 and up to join us for a day of learning how to program using Python. The class is running twice, on each of the two final sprint days:

  • Option 1. Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
  • Option 2. Sunday, June 5, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

The sign-up page is here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pycon-2016-young-coders-tickets-24319019843

The Young Coders tutorial was first offered at PyCon 2013 in Santa Clara. It was an immediate hit, and has been an important part of every PyCon since — including a French edition for the two years that PyCon was held in Montréal! Whether you and your family are local to Portland, or you are traveling to PyCon and bringing your family along, this class is a great way expose kids to programming.

The Young Coders workshop explores Python programming by making games. It starts with learning Python's simple data types, including numbers, letters, strings, and lists. Next come comparisons, ‘if’ statements, and loops. Finally, all of the new knowledge is combined by creating a game using the PyGame library.

Registration is limited — sign up soon if you know kids who will be interested!