- The fact that one or two people can hole themselves up for a while, churn out a bunch of Python code, and generate some pretty cool hacks (a userspace NFS fileserver, a really neat threaded email viewer, etc. etc.)
- The incredible warmth of the community. Person A might not care too much about web stuff, but he or she is still genuinely excited and supportive when Person B gets up to give a 5 minute lightning talk on his/her Python web templating library.
Alex's first talk centered on descriptors, decorators, and metaclasses. It seemed like a great 1-hour talk that had been squeezed into 20 minutes; if (like me) you didn't know much about descriptors before the talk, then it probably would have made you curious to learn more, but there just wasn't time to absorb much of what Alex was saying.
Alex's second talk was a much more accessible spiel about generators and iterators. Alex took us smoothly from introducing basic generator syntax up to introducing more complex, nested generators for things like tree traversal. He also made a great pitch for itertools, citing its elegance and high-level nature as a motivation for many people, and the fact that itertools are fast as a great motivation for the remaining, more pragmatic Python programmers. :)
Mike's talk also focused on descriptors and related language constructs, but some technical difficulty with his slides made things a bit tough. I did have a chance to speak with Mike for a while in the evening, and when I was praising the Traits talk from the day before, he mentioned a few other projects that are doing similar things (many of them using descriptors). He pointed me to wxOO/BasicProperty/BasicTypes and PEAK, and he said that Zope had something along those lines as well. (I might be forgetting one more). Mike had personally worked on the wxOO project, and he said that BasicProperty and BasicTypes had some web support, which is something that's currently missing from Traits.