Skip to main content

PyCon 2011: Interview with Zed Shaw

Speaking and teaching for the first time at PyCon is Learn Python The Hard Way author and software developer Zed Shaw. As the author of numerous open source projects involving a number of languages such as Lamson (Python), Mongrel (Ruby), Mongrel2 (C), and Tir (Lua), I asked what brought him to his involvement with Python.

He began in 2003 with a server that interacted with fingerprint scanners, complete with a web front end to manage them. “My interest in Python is now more as an educational tool. It's really the only language with the right balance of not too much punctuation or ‘syntax junk’ and not too little,” he says. Python seems to hit the sweet spot for him in terms of the amount of punctuation needed to build structure, “but not so much that you're filling out forms in triplicate just to get something printed to the screen.”

The idea for his Learn Python The Hard Way book came from his experience with Mickey Baker’s “Complete Course in Jazz Guitar.” “I learned a lot from it because a trainer sort of inverts how you're taught by having you do exercises, then explain them, then apply them,” says Zed. “It's easier to explain something that someone has already experienced,” he claims, which explains his “Do Not Copy-Paste” introduction. Readers are encouraged to manually type all examples, as copy-paste defeats the purpose of learning. “The point of these exercises is to train your hands, your brain, and your mind in how to read, write, and see code,” he says in the book.

Zed’s Python For Total Beginners tutorial uses his book to give a lab-style introduction to the language. Along with the tutorial comes a bonus offer from Zed: if enough people are interested, he’ll keep going and teach the whole book throughout the conference.

He has also offered to be somewhat of a guide to new Python users in the group. “I thought that if there was a cadre of folks who helped newbies at least understand the culture then they'd have more fun. This year I decided to give it a shot and see how well it'd work,” says Zed. The plan is to mix in Learn Python The Hard Way lessons with talks, including post-talk discussion to dive in further. If you’re interested in this, contact Zed and let him know.

Along with the beginner material, Zed plans to kick it up a notch with an extreme talk on ZeroMQ. The talk, titled Advanced Network Architectures With ZeroMQ, jumps right into the swimming pool of messaging and heads quickly for the deep end. He starts with pub/sub, works through distributed queues, inter-language communication, and onto whatever other deep things he can get through “all in a short talk with only code, no diagrams.”

He’s pretty well invested in ZeroMQ, choosing it as the messaging platform for his Mongrel2 web server, which hit a major release three months after starting. “My favorite thing about ZeroMQ is not having to care about it. It just works and I can do all the stuff I generally do with raw sockets,” he said when asked what he liked the most. He goes on to say, “I just love that it's easy to use it for various architectures that would be a huge pain to create otherwise.”

We welcome Zed back for another PyCon and hope to see him and his extended tutorial group around the conference. Check out his talk, tutorial, and get your tickets soon. They are running out. Seriously.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Registration is Now Open!

The PyCon 2014 organizers are thrilled to announce the opening of registration for the April 9-17 conference, taking place at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. This event represents the first of two annual PyCons to take place in Montréal, following a hugely successful two-year run in Santa Clara, California.

As with years past, ticket prices remain unchanged, and value is ever increasing. At the close of talk and tutorial proposals last week, a record 565 talks were submitted -- over 100 more than for PyCon 2013. Reviewers have been hard at work to begin shaping the 2014 schedule, which is expected in December.

Quantity-based early bird rates are back for 2014, with the cap set at the first 800 tickets receiving the discounted rates. Total sales are initially being kept to 2,000 tickets. For an individual buyer, the regular $350 USD rate is cut 15% for during the early bird period to $300 USD. The $600 USD corporate rate is dropped to $450 USD during early…

Young Coder Tutorial Helps Daughter, Father Get Into Python

PyCon 2013’s “Change the Future” theme was a nod to Python’s growing use in education, and to devices like the Raspberry Pi and their targeted child audience. Before 2,500 attendees descended upon the Friday through Sunday conference, which gave each of them a Raspberry Pi, kids filled a lab for two days of free tutorials on the tiny computer that taught them the basics of Python. They, too, took home a Raspberry Pi.

Not only did the “Young Coder: Let’s Learn Python” tutorials lay the foundation for many children to go on and learn to program, they sent at least one father down that same path.

9-year-old Havana Wilson of Denver, Colo., made the trip to PyCon with her father, Bruce. After she showed interest in building video games, dad looked around the web for how to get her involved. “It was my job to turn her desire into action, so I did research on the most intuitive programming language that has the ability to produce games but also could be a wonderful gateway into programming,” h…

PyCon 2018 Registration is Now Open!

We’re thrilled to announce the opening of registration for PyCon 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio! The prior six PyCons have sold out, so prepare for another one and get your tickets early. The first 800 tickets sold are priced at an early bird discount, saving over 20% on corporate tickets and over 12% on individual tickets. Students save $25 if they purchase early!

To get started, create an account and head to https://us.pycon.org/2018/registration/ to get your tickets!

You get a package that is hard to beat when you register for PyCon. The conference itself is three days worth of our community’s 95 best talks, amazing keynote speakers each morning, and our famed lightning talks to close out each day, but it’s much more than that. It’s having over 3,000 people in one place to learn from and share with. It’s joining a conversation in the hallway with the creators of open source projects. It’s taking yourself from beginner to intermediate, or intermediate to advanced. For some, it’s getting st…