PyCon Ireland 2010

What an awesome, awesome conference this has been.

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Saturday

Many interesting talks and presentations on Saturday, mostly on different aspects of web development (saw 2 on measuring and improving UI performance), one on Clojure (I'm glad I know more about it though I still don't feel interested enough to want to give it a go yet) (Scheme is higher on the list!), a dynamic introduction to writing your own XMPP bot. There's a few talks like the Python puzzlers I want to catch on video when they're available. I saw lots of people with N900 around and oh, how I lust.

The venue could have used some air conditioning but besides that it was great, especially in the afternoon once there was more talks going on at the same time, so the rooms were less likely to be filled up. The corridors were not blocked but because the space was still, let's say cosy you would often end up besides someone and just strike random nerdy conversations. I really enjoyed that and met some very interesting people.

The evening was very well organised as well. Tasty dinner in the Radisson then live music, way too loud like Irish people tend to like (?), but after moving away a tiny bit further with a couple of attendees I met at the bar  we were able to talk about Tog and other topics. Lots of people asked me about the hackerspace over the week-end actually (I was proudly wearing my Tog tee-shirt on Saturday!), it's great to see people so curious and inspired by the idea.

And oh, the swag. Yay! Tee-shirts my size!

Sunday

I'd never been to a Python sprint before so I wasn't sure at all how it organises / self-organises. I felt very inspired by the XMPP talk from the day before (such simplicity, and yet, such power!) and I wanted to give a go at the sample bot the speaker, Victor Hugo, had published on GitHub before the talk. So I ended up with my name on a whiteboard besides XMPP, heh heh. At the beginning of the day one of the organisers asked us what we wanted to "lead a session on" and put the names, topics and rooms on a whiteboard. People were free to add up other topics as the day went along, or drop by on a session they were interested in.

Overall this felt like one of Tog's synchronous hackathon except more organised. I was delighted when someone showed up a bit later who was curious about XMPP too and sat besides me so we could work at figuring it out together. Having the speaker sitting nearby was handy too to answer questions on some aspects of XMPP communication through Python. After having the basic code running I decided to try to scrap my favourite dictionary website, wordreference.com to get basic English to French / French to English word translation. It took me longer to remember how to work with BeautifulSoup than adding the XMPP command but still, it works and was good fun. (The code is here!)

After the tasty lunch at Boticelli, I went to the "Python: building community" session, which touched on topics  like enabling newcomers to join the community and feel welcome, how the existence of a Python certification would help increase Python visibility and credibility with employers, and then one of my favourite topics, outreach to students and younger people. I got a lot of energy out of that last part and I'm motivated to set up my "introduction to programming using Python" workshop/course that has been postponed since June. More on that on this blog soon. We talked about organising quarterly events such as sprints, particularly aiming to involve university students which should be great fun too.


I'm delighted with my (quite exhausting!) week-end, and very thankful to the conference organisers for enabling us to have such an awesome time. Very energising, or as I should be saying: it was great craic.

(Updated Sept 2011 to fix broken links... Come to PyCon Ireland 2011 :))


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