Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PyCon Speaking

Do read Moshe's How to give an OK talk, esp the Narrative part. It feels quite silly to repeat yourself on every slide but you are preforming live and not writing on paper - so tell the audience why slide N+1 is important and for the same reason as slide N at every opportunity. During my talk I felt as though I was being overly repetitive, but on watching it after the fact I feel like I didn't hammer home the point enough (you should do more shit like this!).

Speaking of speaking: I asked a few popular conference warriors (Martelli & Hettinger) how many talks they had given and when they first felt comfy giving talks. They didn't know. I should have asked Beazely and C.T. Brown but they're professors and get more practice in a year than most people get in a lifetime.

But seriously, those popular conference regulars didn't know. Hettinger estimated he had spoken 30 times. His wife then pointed out he did 15 talks last year and so he upped his estimate to "more than 15 twice." Martelli estimated 50-100 talks but was equally uncertain. Myself, I've only done 7-8 and still get nervous if the room is less than 30 or more than 300 people. Hettinger said something like "I still get nervy when it the audience is 10x what I'm used to." I couldn't coax an admission out of Alex (I had only vague thoughts on the topic when I asked, and no narrative).

Take it all as paraphrased hearsay, but anytime I have to step up to a podium I just say to myself "suck it up, princess." It mostly works.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PyCon Detritus

PyCon proper is over and sprints have begun.

Language Summit

The Summit was boring again this year, and this is good. The language moratorium is over so PEP 380 ("yield from") is moving forward. The stdlib will get its own repository so it can be shared between CPython/Jython/IronPython/PyPy. Likewise all the commiters from the not-CPython projects will have commit privs to CPython (most already do).

My Talk

Useful Namespaces: Decorators and Context Managers went over well: video available here and here's the live Convore thread from the talk.

Every year I say I'm not going to do another talk, but it is years like this that make it worthwhile. Dozens of people I don't know have offered me thanks, jobs, free beer, and ZJs. There is no worse feeling than spending 40 hours on something and having it be less than good. I'm a happy camper.

The first question was asked by Larry Hastings ; it's become an inside joke because Larry has asked the first question at ALL my past PyCon talks (having a confederate to break the ice on questions is handy). I zinged him a bit in my response ("thank you for pointing that out, and may I point out it's just an example slide"); apparently most people thought I was razzing a random questioner even though I was addressing him by name.

Another questioner objected to my use of a module named "UnicodeNazi" because it isn't nice to talk about Nazis even (or especially) jokingly. I restated his objection and said he should take it up with the module's maintainer. That maintainer is Austrian, natch.

The room was pretty full. Not going out the night before definitely helped my delivery. There were some A/V problems at the start (lots of those this year) so I rushed the last few slides. Better that than running short though.

Other People's Talks

So far, so good. Yesterday my talk was in the afternoon so I spent all day preparing and didn't make any talks. Today I went to three: Alex Gaynor's "Python's Data Structures," Larry Hasting's "The Python That Wasn't," and Richard Saunder's "Everything You Wanted to Know About Pickling..." Most of my time was consumed by the Hallway track.


The hotel has banned alcohol (or at least implied a ban) in public spaces that is not purchased from the hotel. I don't know if this is because of money or just because they want fewer drunks walking around. Annoying either way.


A woman came up to me and said that something I told her last year had stuck with her. Last year she was sitting at a table with myself and another core dev, and holding her own when discussing eldrich corners of Python. The topic turned to contributing to open source and she had a list of reasons she felt she couldn't contribute, none of them very good. The good news is that she sprinted remotely last year, is sprinting in person this year, and has contributed code to projects over the past year. Oh, and the thing I said that stuck with her? "Suck it up, princess." So I have struck a blow both for and against diversity. [FYI, I don't remember saying that but it is the kind of thing I might say after a few beers]