Thursday, April 27, 2017

Python 1994: Recollections from the First Conference

We are happy to announce PyCon 2017’s Sunday morning plenary event — the final day of this year’s main conference will feature Guido van Rossum on a panel of Python programmers who attended the first-ever Python conference back in 1994! Paul Everitt will moderate the panel as they answer questions and share their memories about that first Python conference when the programming language was still young.

At the beginning of 1994, the World Wide Web consisted of less than 1,000 sites. There was no distributed version control. No public issue trackers. Programmers communicated their ideas, issues, and patches in plain text on mailing lists and Usenet newsgroups. The small community of Python programmers were connected through both a mailing list and the comp.lang.python newsgroup, which was busy enough that several new messages were appearing each day.

An exciting announcement blazed out to subscribers of the Python mailing list in September 1994: Guido van Rossum, the Dutch researcher who had invented Python, was going to visit the United States! An impromptu Python workshop was quickly organized for the beginning of November where Python programmers could for the first time meet each other in person.

Attendees of the first Python conference, in a tiny and highly artifacted JPEG that was typical of the era

Of the small group who gathered at NIST over November 1–3, 1994, several will be on stage to share about both the triumphs and the mistakes of those early years. The panel is currently slated to include:

  • Guido van Rossum
  • Paul Everitt (moderator)
  • Barry Warsaw
  • Jim Fulton

There is one way that you in the Python community can go ahead and start helping us prepare for the panel:

We need your questions!

You can go ahead and suggest questions by tweeting them with a hashtag of #nist1994. The panel will curate your tweeted questions along with questions that they solicit elsewhere, and will have their favorites ready for the panel at PyCon.

Thanks to Paul Everitt for organizing the panel, which will aim to spur not only nostaligia for a lost era but lessons, warnings, and inspirations for future generations of Python developers!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Announcing the PyCon 2017 Keynote Speakers

Only one month from today, PyCon will be almost over! The conference will be on the third and final day of its program. The sponsor booths will all have been packed up the night before and the Expo Hall re-purposed for a morning full of Poster presentations and Job Fair tables. Only one quick afternoon of talks will stand between us and the closing ceremonies.

Here in the present, the hatches are nearly all battened down. The schedule is set. The conference is completely sold out of registrations. The sponsor lineup is nearly finished, with only a few booths still left to be claimed. Almost everything is now in place — though, we do still need more attendeees to sign up as volunteers, a topic about which we will blog in further detail next week.

Meanwhile, the time has come to announce this year’s keynote speakers, who will be addressing the conference during our plenary sessions! They are:

  • Kelsey Hightower
  • Katy Huff
  • Jake Vanderplas
  • Lisa Guo & Hui Ding

We look forward to hearing from each of them!

You might be wondering: where on this list is Python’s fearless leader and perpetual keynote favorite, Guido van Rossum? Don’t worry! Guido will definitely be on stage this year as part of a special Sunday morning plenary session — the details of which we will be announcing soon. Intrigued? Watch for our announcement next week!

Here are more details about 2017’s keynote speakers:

Kelsey Hightower

Kelsey Hightower is an open source advocate and recovering sysadmin who is currently serving the application container and distributed systems community as an educator and toolsmith. He is currently employed by Google.

Katy Huff

Dr. Kathryn D. Huff is an unapologetic advocate for open reproducible scientific computing and for emissions-free base-load nuclear energy. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she leads the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group. She holds an affiliate faculty position with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and is one of the University of Illinois' most recent Blue Waters Professors.

Her current research focuses on modeling and simulation of advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles. She is currently the elected chair of the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division of the American Nuclear Society. Through leadership with the Hacker Within, Software Carpentry, SciPy, the Journal of Open Source Software, and other initiatives, she strives to advocate for best practices in open, reproducible scientific computing. With colleagues, collaborators, and friends, she has co-authored two books to help scientists with these practices: Effective Computation in Physics, O’Reilly, 2015 and The Practice of Reproducible Research, UC Press, 2017.

Jake Vanderplas

Jake VanderPlas is an astronomer by training, and a long-time user and developer of the scientific Python stack. He currently works as an interdisciplinary research director at the University of Washington, where he writes, teaches, collaborates on research, and spends time consulting with local scientists from a wide range of fields.

Lisa Guo

Lisa Guo is a networking, platform, and scalability software engineer with over 20 years experience. She has been working with the Instagram Infrastructure team since 2014, where she led efforts to expand from a single to multiple data centers and improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Prior to joining Instagram, Lisa worked on Facebook’s Software Defined Networks strategy and deployment. She was also Director, Engineering at Juniper Networks in charge of software development for EX switching series. She joined Juniper through its acquisition of NetScreen, and held core infrastructure development roles at Shasta Networks, Tahoe Networks.

Hui Ding

Hui Ding is Head of Infrastructure org at Instagram, where he oversees the scaling of Instagram backend platform that supports hundreds of millions of concurrent users on a daily basis. Hui has been with Instagram since 2012, and has led the development of many Instagram product launches as well as all infrastructure efforts.

Before joining Instagram, Hui was a core member of the Facebook infrastructure team, building its distributed data store for the social graph. Hui holds a PhD in computer engineering from Northwestern University.