PyCon 2017 Postmortem

The first half of this year has been full of travel for me – I’m hoping to post a data visualization of that at some point this year. In the meantime- I’d like to write a bit about PyCon.

PyCon (US) this year was in Portland, Oregon, home of Powell’s Bookstore, Voodoo Donuts, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, and Blue Star donuts. Of these, I would say that Salt & Straw and Powell’s were my favorite.

bookstore photo
Powell’s Bookstore

While my colleague and I were at the coffeshop inside Powell’s bookstore, we decided to take some time to catch up on work. I didn’t intend to break Python3 on my personal computer the day before tutorials started, but that’s basically how it went.

Kelsey Hightower’s brilliant closing keynote began with a recap of some of the rules about Python. One of them:

The first rule of Python: never mess with system Python

Of course, I had already broken that rule (rendering the GUI on my personal laptop unusable) the night before PyCon started.

Okay- now that embarrassing stories are over with, let’s get to the fun stuff. My main takeaways from the tutorials I went to were:

  1. There are matplotlib wizards in the world, and I would like to someday be one.
  2. I need to find an excuse to use Bayesian Machine Learning at work.
  3. I have a couple new reference points for how to test my code and my data.

I have to say that the testing BoF (Birds-of-a-feather) gathering was one of my favorite events. I enjoyed the conversation and the lightning talks, and it was a good way to unwind from a day of hard thinking.

Of the talks I went to, I probably most appreciated the ones that looked through Python C source code: several talks about the internals of Python’s GIL, and one on dictionaries. Other talks I went to looked through bytecode during the presentation. Both of these exercises I found incredible helpful, if only to provide a couple more tools for me to problem-solve and learn in Python.

If I’m still doing math and programming stuff for my day job in a year, I 100% would go to PyCon again.