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PyCon US: My First PyCon Experience - Rupa Dachere, CodeChix.org

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Post By Rupa Dachere - Founder, Chapter Lead - Bay Area, Software Developer - CodeChix.org

I didn’t know about PyCon until a friend of mine mentioned it to me about a month before PyCon 2012.  At the time, I was job-hunting and figured, why not go since it’s a language I’ve dabbled with briefly and it might be interesting to see what’s going on with it.  Also, it would be a good opportunity to see if CodeChix-Bay Area could be involved in some way.

I think it was one of the best decisions I made.  I asked for and received financial aid to attend and volunteered for bag stuffing - this involved an assembly line of several layers of sorting of stickers (about 8 different kinds), stuffing bags and carrying full bags to various bins for distribution.  There were all kinds of people helping out - organizers, geeks, programmers, artists etc.  We finished stuffing almost 2500 bags in record time (I don’t remember the time) and were rewarded with Pizza, Beer and hobnob-time.

I attended some of the tutorials that were offered the first couple of days - in particular, Hands-On Beginning Python and Hands-On Intermediate Python with Matt Harrison, Optimize Performance and Scalability with Parallelism and Concurrency with Bob Hancock and Making Interactive Maps for the Web by Zain Memon.  The content and quality of each of these classes was excellent and as I progressed through each of my classes/talks, I felt re-invigorated and enthused to explore and build something(anything) using Python.  My fellow CodeChick, Akkana Peck, had a talk on Writing GIMP Plugins with Python and that was standing-room only.  At times, it was a bit of information overload, but, that was totally fine with me.

During the conference, all food was provided - I’ve never been to a conference which served me a full-course sit-down meal for lunch every single day!   It was on one of the conference days that I got directed to a lunch table in the immense banquet room and sat down with a bunch of guys, none of whom I knew - something that I’m quite used to.   Casual conversations revealed to me that the person I was sitting next to (a very quiet, soft-spoken and humble guy) was Armin Rigo, the lead developer for PyPy, specifically the JIT compiler.  And a few chairs down from him was Guido Van Rossum (Armin mentioned this to me which is how I discovered this fact).   Armin and I conversed about the JIT compiler and I told him a little bit about CodeChix and what we do.  He was very encouraging and said that it would be good to have some female developers helping with PyPy - I said I would see what I could do.  He said he would be happy to help in whatever way he can as a developer.  I walked out of the lunch room that day feeling like I could scale Mt. Everest with no legs and one arm - that’s how ridiculously inspired I was.

And that was my first PyCon experience. PyCon 2013 is going to see a LOT more proposals from women and CodeChix-Bay Area will definitely be a big volunteer! To the organizers and PSF, thank you for all your hard work and dedication - I know what it takes.  Here is one fan that will try to do her best to see PyCon continue to inspire all female and male developers and be a huge success.


[Editor's Note]: I want to personally thank Rupa for sharing her thoughts - it's encouraging to me, and the entire PyCon team and Python community to see so many efforts come to fruition. As always - our call for proposals is open, and we always need more sponsors to help us be successful. Thank you Rupa, and everyone else who made PyCon 2012 amazing - and here's to PyCon 2013 topping that. - Jesse

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