26 September 2007

Python North-West meeting

So here it comes!
We sorted out the location thanks to the fantastic Manchester Digital Development Agency. They offered us their room free of charge, with projector & free wifi! For once, I'm very happy about paying taxes (MDDA is funded with public money).

The first meeting of the Python North-West community will feature a short talk on Django, "the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines"; I'll share my experience in building a django-powered site using some of the "contrib middleware", and what you can expect from it. I'm confident I'll lower the bar so much, that people will step up for further talks real quick ;)

Then people will be able to showcase their cool python stuff, get tips from others, and just have a chat with fellow-minded python geeks. Since there's free wifi and the room is secure, laptops are welcome!

If anyone wants to give a talk at this meeting (or the next one, or the one after that...), they can post the idea on the mailing list or contact me. Michael Sparks will probably talk about "Greylisting with Kamaelia" next month.

I also created a Python North-West Google Calendar, to track meetings & other stuff: feed - iCal - HTML.

See you there!

Alive and (almost) well

Still recovering from a week of bad health, trying to get back to speed at work & at home... BTW, I'm looking for other (popular) social networking sites apart from the Facebook/LinkedIn/Orkut "trimurti"... suggestions?

18 September 2007

Back from Oslo

Back after a 3-days "city break" in Oslo. It was ok, I guess. Smooth experience: everyone will speak English and nobody will ever judge you from appearances (they kept trying to talk to us in Norwegian first). Lots of smiles, lots of new buildings, lots of money (it's freakingly expensive, even for people coming from "rip-off Britain"), lots of tech, lots of water, lots of people trying to make the world a better place... We packed quite a few activities thanks to the Oslo Pass, which you certainly want to buy if you are in town for one or two days; it looks expensive at first, but check the museum entrance fees and you'll see that it's extremely easy to break even in a couple of hours, plus it gives you free travel on all the (ubiquitous, clean and well-run) public transport.

To be honest though, I left with an "underwhelming" feeling that there was nothing to discover, nothing that wasn't perfectly organized, nothing terribly unique apart from the unique efficiency. Even bakeries all looked like classy joints straight out of the IKEA catalogue. Also, I expected more "Nordic specificity" but the city looks astonishingly like your average central-European town (plus the fantastic fjord). It looks like a very nice city to live in, but not the most appealing to tourists. If I ever go back to Norway, I'll probably skip Oslo and go straight to the northern fjords to enjoy the wilderness, which is the best thing in the country (as the fantastic panoramic movie at the Maritime Museum clearly demonstrates).

10 September 2007

Introducing Python-North-West

On the wave of the great time we had at Pycon, it was decided we should have a proper mailing list dedicated to North-West-based Python users... so here it comes!

The list is open to everyone in the area who loves coding/playing/enjoying Python. To join, you don't need to know your django from your pylons or your pyqt from your wxwindows... and certainly you don't need to pronounce WSGI. Don't worry, it's going to be uber-informal and very low-traffic, and I promise we won't use lolcats (not much anyway).

You can subscribe from the Python North West googlegroup page. Introduce yourself to fellow pythoneers, talk about your Python projects... you might get help!

Ideas on how to link this to other social software (facebook etc) are welcome.

PyCon UK fantasy stats

 Thomas Guest (aka "the one with the freaky 70s shirt", aka "pitch Python as "high-level" language") invented statistics which look pretty accurate:

I’ve invented some statistics about the conference.

  1. 123% better attended than first predicted
  2. 72% of laptops used were apple macs
  3. 50% of keynote speakers were female
  4. 20% of conference organisers were female
  5. Less than 1% of the remaining delegates were female
  6. Sessions were 99% punctual
  7. Virgin trains to and from Bristol were 68% punctual
  8. Beautiful Code, a book I’d hoped to browse at the book-stand before buying, was 100% sold out just 10% into the conference

PyCon UK: statistics, pictures and perennial problems

I think the only one he got wrong is the first 123% (my guess is 160%+), but only Midlands guys can tell. And hey, 3 statistics about female attendance... Thomas, did you hope to pull?

I'll add my own fantasy number too:

  1. 70% couldn't pronounce WSGI (whiz-gee? whis-ge-hai? double-u-es-WTF ?).
  2. 20% of attendees were Django junkie, 20% were Turbogears supporters, 20% said a prayer to Pylons before every meal, and 40% didn't really care as long as it got the job done.
  3. 100% of available large-sized Debian t-shirts were bought in the first 10 minutes.
  4. 90% of lightning talks were cut short (people talk too much! off with their time!).
  5. 10% of lightening talks were kind-of-related-to-Python-but-not-really (I'm not complaining here, just had a couple of WTF moments).
  6. 100% of the attendants to the PyQt tutorial loved the Trolltech goodies.
  7. 100% of dinner attendants thought Jono Bacon was funny, or they were already too drunk to notice.
  8. 20% of all clapping time was reserved to John Pinner. We should raise it to 30% by law.
  9. I didn't know 85% of North-West pythonistas who showed up.
  10. 3% of attendees got a prize. One of them even renounced his prize out of sheer generosity.
  11. 15% were over-50, which means it's never too late to learn Python.
  12. 15% were under-21, which means it's never too early to learn Python.
  13. 5% were labeled "Large Type" on their badge. I suppose it's better than "Medium Unbounded Variable" or "Extra-Large Exception".
  14. 5% of presenter used lolcats in their slides.
  15. 30% were a bit uneasy eating food bought by Microsoft, and made sure it wasn't poisoned before trying it. (MS geeks were awesome anyway.)

09 September 2007

See you next year!

PyConUK is now done! Thanks to all the amazing people at Python West Midlands and Python London! Also to all the sponsors (Revolver, Microsoft, Trolltech, and all the others -- including Ravenbrook!)

The breaking news are that not only PyconUK will happen next year too, but John Pinner wants to submit a bid for EuroPython 2008/2009! woot woot! John, you are full of win.

Oh, sorry if I didn't liveblog the last few talks, they'll be posted to the pyconuk site anyway. The presenter for the (impressive) gSculpt project won the xBox (bad! it lowers productivity!) and Mr. Etienne from Belgium was the lucky N800 winner! (and btw his ideas are very worth checking out, if you are a medium-small python shop interested in public money you should check it out and consider proposing to the EU commission or something).

Liveblogging PyconUK 2007 - Sunday

Whew, was saturday a busy day! Simon Willison's keynote on OpenID was disappointing, he basically responded to any critique of the (flawed, IMHO) security model by saying "well, recovering passwords through email is as insecure as this!" which is balderdash :) (there are legal QOS agreements between email providers) and then "well, of course banks will never use this, but your generic stuff might" which again is balderdash because even people behind "generic" stuff do care about security of their data UPDATE: see Simon comment further down for clarifications... Simon is a good speaker, but feedback from people was still sceptical to say the least.

Dinner was awesome, met lots of great people and Jono "LUGRadio" Bacon delivered a "rock&roll" after-dinner (what next, LUG-StandUpNight?) on why his pet-project JoKosher ended up being written in Python, and be fairly usable in less than a year (for an audio editor, apparently, that's a good timescale).

And we start again! David Boddie on the awesome QtDesigner, looks easy to do custom widgets, and autoconnecting features promise to do away with the signal/slot paradigm as much as possible.

UPDATE: Jonathan Hartley on the basics of TDD in python; I was probably expecting a more "theoretical" talk, or something more advanced, but it was just an introduction really. I suppose I should just be glad I already know about this, stop being lazy and JUST. TEST. IT.

UPDATE: The European Union gives 2.5 million euros to the SQO-OSS people to find new ways of measuring software quality: impressive! Paul Adams made an important point on developer turnover and how to get people on your project: open it! (mailing lists, wikis, svn, etc).

UPDATE: the presentation on Python EGGs was very informational, there are lots of ways on which you can use easy_install, not just to install stuff but also to update it, have multiple versions, get svn versions of installed software, and aslo package un-EGGed software. It's a shame that the presenter was trolled in Q&A time, it shouldn't have happened.

I confess I didn't really listen to the Pylons/WSGI talk. Middleware doesn't really turn me on. I filled in my (great) feedback form for a chance to get my dirty hands on a Nokia N800 -- apparently the best presenter will get an Xbox! Lunch was also sponsored from Microsoft, am I supposed to feel guilty? ;) I see the first slides are being posted online already, I shared some of them in my Google-powered sidebar feed as I find them, I'll try to link them all in the next few weeks, many were also recorded so they should appar on the pyconuk site.

I'm almost sad that in only a few hours everything will be gone... My target now is to have a lighting talk next year on my (very cool) django-powered app! The countdown begins, better start coding...

08 September 2007

Liveblogging Pycon UK 2007 - first notes

Lots of people, fantastic atmosphere, lots of kudos to the Birmingham user group. "Msdn magazine" in the goodie bag sounds like MS really wants to invest in Python, that's probably why Sun decided to go on Ruby instead.

First talk on SQLALchemy by Paul Johnston, very very interesting, too bad it was a bit squeezed, another 15 minutes would have helped. Must investigate the reflection vs autoupdate stuff & migrate (django doesn't manage db changes very well at the moment).

Second talk: Mr. Voidspace (Michael Foorde) on Silverlight & IronPython -- lots of possibilities there, but still very very early. 1Mb of local space is very little for serious usage, there are accessibility issues (but possibly less than Flash) and limitations (1 Canvas only). But having an embedded mini-CLR/DLR in every browser (currently IE/FF/Safari, with Opera in the works) gives me a feeling of "ActiveX done right", something Java should have done 5 years ago.

Made contact with other Manchester pythonistas, it's really true that pythons hide under rocks! Looking forward to build a community in Manc when we go back, people really wants to invest serious time on Python apparently. Oh, and Resolver is hiring, but it's London-based and they do Xtreme (pair) programming, so no telecommuting, but if you are in the area and you fancy "coding the way Guido indented it" give it a go, they seem very nice guys.

Time for Django stuff with Simon Willison!

UPDATE: Simon rocks. Fast as lightning and to the point, lots of goodies for serious django usage, I hope the session was filmed because it was really worth it.

UPDATE: I met Phil Thompson, the creator of PyQt! Jeez, I probably sounded like a fanboy (that I am). And I also met a guy not just from around Manchester -- from Stockport! Astonishing, the world is so small these days. Am now on the PyQt tutorial from Mark Summerfield (who has a book finally coming out on PyQt! fantastic), Trolltech provided some very nice freebies. I feel in geek heaven.

UPDATE: Mark was great, but 2 hours straight are a bit much, so in the end the class was clearly a bit tired. Will definitely go back to his presentation very soon. Break now, then on to the lightning talks -- the list looks endless, might not do them all. Organizers expected about 100 people, got more than 200...

UPDATE: the first lightning talks: Open Spaces (weird, not sure I got it), a lovely chap trying to convert the Hansard (which is getting XML already) in RDF, Jeff Tupholme on putting javascript inside python (crazy) within LiveConnector.

UPDATE: pydoctor statically analyses code to generate docs and then uses a pseudo-wiki interface to correct typos and generate diffs (sounds nice); a lexer parsing thing which went over my head; a freakily-dressed guy from ACCU on how to pitch Python to C(++) shops (use "high-level"!); Software Freedom Day next week (eek! I'm in Oslo)!