Pycon 2009 Day 2

Day two of the Python Programming Language Convention!

I got up and headed out at 7:45 to attend the morning lightning talks (luckily I hadn’t been out all too late the night before). I didn’t know what to expect: lightning talks are 5 minute talks on whatever topics people had decided to speak about the day before. Many of them were funny or just plain fun, but one of them stood out for me in particular. It also foreshadowed the rest of the day: today was to be the day of useful tools.

Anyway, the lightning talk that really interested me was on a tool called SQLPython. It makes talking to Oracle databases (which I sometimes need to do for work) very easy by creating a shell for them that gives you interesting UNIX-style commands like ‘ls’, ‘cat’, and ‘grep.’ I will definitely be looking into this further.

After the lightning talks was the keynote by the inventor of Python and “Benevolent Dictator for Life”, GvR. Guido’s talk was a little underwhelming, but as always interesting. I think he may be burned out on giving keynotes after doing it every year for many many years in a row.

Anyway, then I attended two more talks about tools that seemed very useful. First was The State of Django. Django is the darling Web Framework in Python and, while I have never used it, this talk definitely made me want to. It didn’t hurt that the next talk, Pinax: a platform for rapidly developing Websites was about a tool that is built on Django and lets you build sites with all kinds of social networking widgets automatically available (thing like wikis, tagging, user management, user signup, photo sharing, etc). This definitely made me want to get my brother (the idea guy) to come up with some ideas for sites that I could try to implement for him.

Lunch was just as fancy as the day before: pasta with a tomato sauce, broccoli, and key lime cheesecake.

After lunch I only attended 3 talks (out of a possible five). The first was a panel on Object Relational Mappers, which help you to define and use a database without leaving your Python code. This was not as interesting as it could have been, but ORMs definitely seem like they might be useful tools.

Then it was time for another tool that might be fun: I attended Seven ways to use Python’s new turtle module. Turtle, if you don’t know, is a cool way to teach young people how to program by giving them a little turtle on the screen that they can control. They can move it around the screen and have it draw lines and do other things; this cute old high school teacher from Austria was demonstrating the turtle package he had written and gotten included in the Python Standard Library. The talk had a lot of cool examples and, though he ran out of time, definitely made me want to show turtle to some folks and get them to learn Python.

Finally, I attended Python 2.6 and 3.0 compatibility which was a little dry, but very important information to have.

After the conference events, some coworkers and I went down to the Logan Square area of Chicago and went to a restaurant called Lula Cafe. It was sleeting at the time, and very cold. The food was good and we had planned to go to another mexican restaurant in the area after, but the weather was just too harsh. We made our way back to the hotel and hung out in the bar next to a fireplace. We had the prime location for Earth Hour, when the hotel turned out all the lights for an hour, and I tried my first margarita. My coworker Dan is an excellent photographer and took some cool pictures; if I get access and permission I may post a few here.

I am very excited for tomorrow’s keynote, by the creators of Reddit. Let’s hope I can wake up on time!

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2 Responses

  1. Glad you enjoyed — I think you meant — Lula Cafe. Readers visiting Chicago should also check it out (brief video at this post: http://peoplingplaces.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/urban-laugh-track/ ).

    If the Mex. restaurant you were going to go to was El Cid #2, it is not to be missed if you have a summer visit as it has a great patio on which to sip margaritas!

  2. You’re absolutely right!

    Sorry for getting the name wrong, I’ll correct it. 🙂

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