PyCarolinas 2012: One Python for All the Carolinas
The 2012 PyCarolinas conference was actually the first, and it went quite well!
A Python Conference bringing together much of the Python Community from North and South Carolina was a great idea, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was the place for the gathering.
I wasn’t able to attend all the talks, but I did most of them, and the technical level of them was excellent. All in all, there were 30 presentation 2 rounds of lightning talks.
Before going in detail about the different talks I was able to attend, we should give a big thanks to Calvin Spealman. PyCarolinas 2012 was possible mostly by his work. He was the sole man in charge of the whole thing, with several sponsors and help from attendees that helped by volunteering.
Randall Hunt did a great, simple and very practical introduction to MongoDB, which included simple and usable explanations, “hands on terminal”, showing step by step how to connect and interact with MongoDB.
He also took some time to answer the questions about the problems we all know MongoDB had in the past. It seems, according to him, that all the bad performance issues have been resolved.
And he pointed out that the biggest issue they had was that 10gen they had grown way too much in very little time, which was something none of the developers were expecting.
So, when MongoDB hit the mainstream...the code was still...not very good. And when the community saw that, MongoDB was labeled as “non-stable” - to say the least-. They have worked a lot on the code, and now it’s much better and more stable. And lots of big companies are using it.
Later, I got to meet Pickle and Redis more closely thanks to Tim Hopper. He was also very hands on with the console, and showed us some very nice tricks to use Pickle to save Python complex objects (or anything) in files or databases. And Redis is a great tool to have working together with Pickle, since it allows you so save an in-memory map/hash-table. That way you can save your objects, with Pickel, in memory for later use with Redis.
We got the first round of Lightning Talks after that. First up was a very funny presentation from Google trying to get engineers for their North Carolina offices (I think it’s in Lenoir, but can’t say for sure).
We also got a great presentation about the Python Software Foundation, what it does, and why it matters.
For the next day, as it usually happens to me in Open Source conferences...I missed the Group Photo.
But I was able to attend the talk by Rick Copeland, about SocketIO and Gevent. For me, it was a very revealing talk, and showed me 2 tools I’ll for sure be using in the near future.
SocketIO is a cross-browser WebSocket interface you can use in browsers starting from Internet Explorer 5.5....up to the latest iPhone safari versions. What are WebSockets? They are connections you can create and leave open with your server to avoid “asking” it for new data. If you have an open connection with your server, your server can just send you new data without you having to ask. That way you have live data on your application without needing to hit your server every 2 seconds.
Gevent is a networking Library for Python that allows you to handle hundred of connections without having to deal with the Python threading library. You don’t need to create threads, you just create Greenlet, and they’ll work like threads...but just much better! Both tools work very well together, and Rick did a great job explaining how to integrate them in the best possible way, using also WSGI when necessary.
Michael DeHaan delighted us with his Ansible tool. You have probably heard about Fabric (and if you haven’t, go check it out). But Ansible is just so much better. It’s not just a tool to push (or pull) code, and execute remote commands. It integrates a configuration editor, so you don’t need to use external tools to make configuration updates. It allows you to, using the easy to read YALM language, create sets of tasks you will later execute, in parallel, in all your servers.
This is a great, and quite mature, tool, that several big players are using now!
I lost part of the Raspberry Pi presentation by Francois Dion since I was trying to prepare my Lightning Talk; but I was able to see part of it Raspberry Pi keeps growing, and everybody interested in having, playing and creating new software with a GNU/Linux box for $25...should definitely give it a try!
It’s hard to remember all the Lightning talks from that day, since I was mostly nervous about doing mine, for the first time in English, in 5 minutes, while I’ve prepared it in Spanish for 45 minutes.
I tried to plant the seed of the importance of understanding how human language works, and why that’s determinant for people, like developers, who work all day creating “stuff” with words!
And there was a great presentation on fast, easy and very productive tricks everybody should know about their console.
I did miss several talks, and from what I heard while taking some coffee and enjoying the complimentary pastries, which were all great.
PyLadies also had a great space trying to reach more ladies into the Python Community.
PyCarolinas 2012 was a great experience. I got to learn a lot of new tools, and meet great people from the Python community in the Carolinas.
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