The AppNeta team has just returned from a fantastically fun, edifying, and exhausting weekend at PyCon 2015. PyCon was held in Montreal this year, giving team members the opportunity to brush up on their French, binge on poutine, and absorb the many fabulous talks given by this year’s speakers (including our very own development manager, Geoff Gerrietts!).
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite talks and hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
- Diversity in engineering is a common topic of debate, discussion, and lengthy blog posts–and rightly so. However, it’s less common to encounter a narrative that not only clearly defines some of the problems but also offers actionable solutions to them. Kate Heddleston’s well-researched and powerful talk on How our engineering environments are killing diversity accomplished just that. The most compelling idea to me was that of accruing “team debt” (alongside your technical debt) and how a “lack of on-boarding can hurt people who aren’t like the existing team.” I won’t spoil the rest for you, but I highly encourage checking out Kate’s blog.
- At AppNeta, we spend a lot of time thinking about how best to convey the meaning of our mountains of data, so I was really excited about Sarah Bird’s talk on Interactive data for the web – Bokeh for web developers. It was amazing to see the dynamic, interactive data visualizations we could create using only Python! Sarah did a great job of walking us through the process of creating a pretty complex Bokeh visualization, while also explaining what was going on under the hood.
- Melanie Warrick’s talk on Neural Nets for Newbies took an incredibly complex topic and broke it down in a way that truly was for “newbies.” As a person entirely unfamiliar with neural nets prior to the talk, I really appreciated that her goal was not for us to understand everything she said, but rather to give us a framework on which to build our continued learning. I walked away feeling as though I had a grasp on what neural nets were and how they worked and am excited to learn more.
- The Ethical Consequences of Our Collective Activities leads my list off. Our profession has more than a passing resemblance to the practice of law, and it should incur similar responsibilities and offer similar privilege. Glyph offers a compelling thesis with grace, nuance, and a little bit of provocation.
- In Distributed Systems 101 lvh provides a solid grounding in a complicated topic. As web developers, we wrestle with distributed systems problems quite frequently — “What happens when two web nodes try to write to the same row of the same table?” Grounding the discussion of those challenges in distributed systems theory makes resolutions clearer and more effective.
- “Words, Words, Words” harkens back to my origins as a student of English, looking to use computers to enhance our literary experience. Adam delivers on this premise, producing some real insights in the reading of Othello and the sonnets even within the short bounds of this talk.
- I was blown away by Jacob Kaplan-Moss’s keynote, I Don’t Deserve to be Here. Jacob talks about how the mythical “10X Programmer” stereotype creates a barrier to entry into the field of software engineering and draws comparisons that reinforce how ridiculous this idea really is. Highly recommended!
- Our fearless BDFL, Guido van Rossum, speaks in Type Hints about the current state of types in Python. The talk delves deep into PEP 484, which introduces a standard syntax for type hints using annotations on function definitions for Python 3.5. Before anyone freaks out about types in Python, Guido makes it crystal clear that this new addition is completely optional and being added to aid teams working on large Python code bases.
- Docker is so hot right now, so I couldn’t pass up on checking out Fire your supervisord: running Python apps on CoreOS by Dan Callahan. But be warned: this isn’t a tutorial on Docker, but an introduction into the world of CoreOS. So, if you’ve got a solid understanding of Docker but want to understand how you can deploy it in production, this is a must watch.
Here’s to another great year of innovation, talks, and programming in the Python community. See you in Portland at next year’s conference!