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The PyCon Blog

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For Microsoft, Python support extends far beyond Windows installers

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
You might have known that Python's 1.0 release came at the start of 1994, but did you know Microsoft shipped its Merchant Server 1.0 product built on Python only a few years later in 1996? Microsoft, this year's Keystone sponsor, has long been a user and supporter of Python, with a history of use within build and test infrastructure and individual users all around the company. There are even a few lawyers writing Python code.

In 2006 they introduced the world to IronPython, a .NET runtime for Python, and later the excellent Python Tools for Visual Studio plug-in in 2011. They continue to release Python code, as it's "a must-have language for any team that releases developer kits or libraries, especially for services on Azure that can be used from any operating system," according to Steve Dower, a developer on Microsoft's Python Tools team.

"Python has very strong cross-platform support, which is absolutely critical these days," says Steve. "It’s very attractive for our users to literally be able to 'write once-run anywhere.'

"The breadth of the community is also very attractive, especially the support for scientific use," he continued. Microsoft has been a significant donor to the Jupyter project (formerly IPython) as well as a platinum sponsor of the NumFOCUS Foundation.

Along with supporting those projects, they have also been providing MSDN subscriptions to the core Python team to assist with development and testing on Windows. Beyond supporting the existing developers, they've jumped in the ring themselves as one of the few companies to employ developers working on CPython itself. "Python has done an amazing job of working well on Windows, and we hope that by taking an active involvement we can push things along further," offers Steve, whose work includes being a core developer on the CPython project.


Steve's CPython work has focused around Windows issues, including an improved installer for 3.5. Additionally, the team was able to come up with a special package for Python users: Microsoft Visual C++ Compiler for Python 2.7. Due to Python 2.7 being built on the Visual C++ 2008 runtime, which is no longer supported, they created this package to provide the necessary tools and headers to continue building extension modules for Python 2.7, which will live through at least 2020 as was announced at last year's language summit.


Along with efforts on Python itself, they're hard at work on improving tooling for the upcoming Visual Studio 2015 and Python 3.5 releases. "Practically everything we do will integrate with Visual Studio in some way," says Steve of Python Tools for Visual Studio. "PTVS has been free and open-source from day one, and combined with Visual Studio Community Edition makes for a powerful, free multi-lingual IDE."

As for what's next with PTVS, Steve says, "we try and be responsive to the needs of our users, and we are an open-source project that accepts contributions, so there’s always a chance that the next amazing feature won’t even come from our team. We've also recently joined forces with the Azure Machine Learning team and are looking forward to adding more data science tooling as well.

"We want new and experienced developers alike to have the best tools, the best libraries, the best debugging and the best services without having to give up Linux support, Visual Studio, CPython, git, or whatever tools they’ve already integrated into their workflow."

When it comes to PyCon, they see it as "a learning opportunity for Microsoft, as well as a chance for us to show off some of the work we’ve been doing." "For those of us at Microsoft who always knew how great the Python community is, it’s also been great to bring our colleagues and show them.

"We love that PyCon is about building and diversifying the community, and not about sales, marketing and business deals," says Steve. If you head to their booth in the expo hall, you'll find out first hand that they're there to talk about code and building great things. They're looking forward to showing off some great new demos and have exciting new things to talk about.

The PyCon organizers thank Microsoft for another year of sponsorship and look forward to another great conference!

Fourth annual 5K Fun Run benefitting Autism Speaks

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
We're really happy to be holding our fourth annual 5K Charity Fun Run on Saturday April 11 at 7 AM, before day two of PyCon kicks off. The event was introduced in Santa Clara and has been fun for everyone involved and each year has raised money for a bunch of great causes. This year's proceeds benefit Autism Speaks Canada!

Everyone is invited to come out and join us on the course which snakes along the Port of Montreál just a short walk from the conference center and hotels. Whether you're a runner, walker, or someone who just wants to come out and support Autism Speaks, registration is available at Eventbrite for $20.


For more information about Autism Speaks Canada, see http://www.autismspeaks.ca/.
At Autism Speaks Canada, our mission is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.

We are dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.

More Sponsor Workshops announced!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
As we previously wrote, signup for our free Sponsor Workshops is open and the schedule has now been completed! While registration isn't required, it helps us plan for room sizes and for drinks and snacks, so head to Eventbrite and choose as many as you want!

Wednesday morning gets under way at 9 AM with a team from Elastic taking attendees through the popular Elasticsearch distributed search engine. Honza Král will introduce the various Python clients for working with Elasticsearch, and will be joined by Logstash developer Pier-Hughes and Peter from their solutions engineering team. The full description is available at https://us.pycon.org/2015/schedule/presentation/475/.

The 3:30 PM Wednesday slot features Mark Lavin, Caleb Smith, and David Ray of Caktus Group taking the stage to share their knowledge of RapidSMS and Django. We previously wrote about how they've used SMS while building a voter registration system in Libya, so come see first hand how they do it. The talk is beginner friendly so bring a laptop to check out the code and follow along.

The last slot on Thursday, running from 3:30 to 5:00, will be a trio of talks from Google. Brian Dorsey will be on hand to show how Kubernetes can scale up your usage of Docker, complete with a live demo (he gives great demos btw). The second talk will be on CoLaboratory by Jeff Snyder, covering the project, its integration with Google Drive, and further integrations with IPython and now the Jupyter project. Finally, Alex Perry will cover the use of Python decorators within monitoring pipelines to deliver positive value with minimal impact.

Be sure to sign up today!

Get ready for Lightning Talks and Open Spaces!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
While the majority of the greater PyCon schedule consists of events that we've had calls for proposals for, there are two other big pieces to the weekend that are organized on-site in Montréal: Lightning Talks and Open Spaces.

Lightning Talks are five minute talks that take place at the beginning and/or end of the day in 30 or 60 minute blocks. We've had some amazing talks packed into such a small slot, either by people who planned them ahead, or even some that were conceived at lunch that day. The Django project was first introduced to the public in a lightning talk at PyCon 2004. Docker was first demoed in a lightning talk at PyCon 2013. It's definitely an event you don't want to miss, and there are five sessions worth of them: one Friday, and two each Saturday and Sunday.

If you're interested in giving a Lightning Talk, be on the lookout for the signup boards near the registration desks that you'll need to get your name onto. Unlike last year, we're not doing pre-selection for these talks, so while we encourage people to prepare ahead of time (but also to spontaneously do them), selection will be determined based on the boards.

Open Spaces are a way to organize a gathering of people to talk about a particular topic. With 2500 attendees, PyCon is a great venue to meet with others interested in the same topics as you and discuss problems, come up with solutions, learn new things, and make cool stuff. All it takes is two people to have a discussion, put it up on the board, grab a room, and get started. Before you know it, others with a shared interest will have joined and you're all working together to make an impact on the topic or each other. It's pretty great.

As with Lightning Talks, Open Spaces are organized in the same manner: the signup boards near the registration desks.

PyCon 2015 - Explore Montreal

Explore Montréal

Sponsored by Caktus Group

PyCon 2015 is in the center of an exciting city full of great food, culture, and history. It would be a shame to not check it out while you're in town!
In addition to the conference's five tracks of talks, there will be a sixth track – an opportunity for you to explore Montréal. These events are open to all PyCon attendees and those traveling with them to PyCon. 

WhatWhen
Free guided tour of Old MontréalFriday April 10h, 10:30am - 1pm
Free guided tour of Plateau Mont-RoyalSaturday April 11th, 10:30am - 1pm
Your own discovery of Montreal using DucklingSunday April 12th, 10:30am - 1pm

Guided Tour of Old Montréal (Friday)

The conference venue is adjacent to Old Montréal, the historical part of the city. This tour will take you through narrow cobblestone streets lined with buildings that date as far back as the 1600s. We'll pass by many souvenir shops, galleries, and restaurants, as well as take in some of Montreal's landmarks. Since we're not too far from the conference centre, grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants along Rue St-Paul before heading back is a tasty possibility! You'll be responsible for paying for your own lunch.

Eventbrite - PyCon 2015: Explore Montréal

Guided Tour of Plateau Mont-Royal (Saturday)

One of the most well known neighbourhoods of Montreal, the Plateau Mont-Royal is characterized by brightly coloured houses, cafés, book shops, and a laissez-faire attitude. It's the location of some famous attractions on Saint Laurent Boulevard, including Schwartz's Deli (famous for its Montreal smoked meat), and a weekend street fair during the summer that sees extremely crowded streets. In 1997, Utne Reader rated it one of the 15 "hippest" neighbourhoods in North America. Note: This tour will required 2 metro tickets ($6.00). If you can, please buy them before the tour to avoid line ups.
Eventbrite - PyCon 2015: Explore Montréal

Duckling Outings

Within a 10 minute walk, a world of choice awaits you. To find out where others are going and to join them, use Duckling, brought to you by Caktus Group.
Caktus made Duckling because of how much we love the impromptu outings at PyCon. We wanted to build an app that helps us focus on fun, not logistics. Duckling makes it easy for you to find and join outings during PyCon or to create your own.

Happy Exploring!

Signup for Sponsor Tutorials!

Thursday, March 05, 2015
Our Sponsor Tutorial schedule has come together and we've opened registration on Eventbrite! Running Wednesday and Thursday April 8-9, these free tutorials are offered by several of our generous sponsors. While registration for these tutorials is not required, it helps us plan for food and room size.

Check out the schedule at https://us.pycon.org/2015/schedule/sponsor-tutorials/. Each tutorial is 1.5 hours, and free!

We kick off Wednesday with David Gouldin of Heroku walking through building and deploying applications on Heroku. After lunch, Eric Feng of Dropbox introduces the Dropbox API and will take attendees through authentication to reading and writing files. There are two other open slots on the Wednesday schedule, and we'll update this post once those are known.

Thursday's schedule begins with Steve Downer and Chris Wilcox showing off how to build a Django app on the Microsoft Azure cloud. The folks at Code Climate are going to be talking about a number of important development topics, including how to be provide quality code review and build an effective pull request based workflow. Kyle Kelly of Rackspace will be discussing cloudpipe and showing attendees how to contribute to it. Wrapping up the Thursday schedule is Google, who will be hosting a trio of yet-to-be-announced talks during their time slot.


If you're interested in our instructor-led tutorials, spaces are still open in many of them, but keep in mind that those are likely sell out. The tutorial schedule is available here, and you can register for $150 per tutorial here.

PyCon 2015: Call for On-Site Volunteers

Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Got a couple of hours to give? PyCon is organized and run by volunteers from the Python community. This year we're looking for over 300 on-site volunteer hours to help make sure everything runs smoothly. Everyone who is attending PyCon is welcome to volunteer, but you must be registered to volunteer. All help is very much appreciated. Thank you!
Pro Tip: Sign-up to be a Session Chair or Session Runner – it's a great opportunity to meet the speakers!


Session Staff

Volunteer: Please read and understand the duties before you sign up to be a session chair/runner. Follow the links below for complete descriptions.
  • Session Chairs and Session Runners are present for an entire session (usually 2 to 3 talks in a row).
  • Session Chair introduces the speaker, manages the time, and facilitates the question and answer period. "Please be seated. Our next speaker is..."
  • Session Runner helps the speaker get from the Speakers Lounge to the appropriate stage. They help in any way needed to make the session run smoothly.
  • Only sign up for one role per session.

Registration Desk

Volunteer: Sign-up for an hour slot at the registration desk: registration desk sign-up
  • Someone needs to say "Welcome! What is your name?", print a name tag, hand them their stuff.
  • Please consider signing up for an hour on the registration desk. It's a great way to meet people and answer basic questions. If this is your first PyCon, it's a good way to get into volunteering!

Swag Bag Handout

Volunteer: Sign-up for an hour slot at the swag/t-shirt desk: swag handout sign-up
  • Help distributing swag bags & t-shirts; especially during that busy first morning of the conference.

Tutorial Support

Volunteer: Sign-up for an hour slot helping with a tutorial: tutorial support / hosts sign-up
  • We're looking for one "Tutorial Host" for each tutorial to help welcome participants as they arrive: be sure they're in the right tutorial, give them any printed handouts, ask them if they need help setting up their laptop, etc.
  • This need is for approximately 20 minutes before tutorials start until about 20 minutes after they start (about 40 minutes). See guidelines at: tutorial hosts.

Miscellaneous Help

Volunteer: Sign-up for miscellaneous tasks: odd jobs sign-up
  • We need 7 Volunteers during each day of the main conference to Host Lunch.
  • We need 5 volunteers to help setup the Young Coders lab on Friday evening.
  • We need 5 volunteers to help teardown the Young Coders lab on Saturday last afternoon.
  • We may also need last minute help with other miscellaneous setup and teardown.

Stuff Swag Bags

Volunteer: Just show up! Thursday April 9th, 3pm - 6pm (or until we're done)
  • Come stuff 10 bags! Many hands make light work!
  • Help in quick sprints with lots of other people. For the big event, look for us at the end of tutorials on Thursday. Our goal is 5 bags/minute (can you guess how many things go in each bag? - close to 1/4 million items to bag!). Are you agile - in a crowd? We'll need about 100 volunteers for this sprint.

Thanks!

Signup for PyCon Dinners led by Jessica McKellar and Brandon Rhodes!

Monday, February 23, 2015
While the cost of PyCon includes breakfast and lunch as well as coffee and snacks, dinner is on your own, and for good reason. It's Montréal! Get out and enjoy the city, find some good food and drink, and hang out with new groups of people.

To make it even easier, this year we've organized another series of PyCon Dinners, one led by Jessica McKellar and one by Brandon Rhodes. These events are a great way to wrap up the first day of PyCon, taking place Friday April 10 at 6 PM, with a great three course meal with new and old friends. As 60% of attendees surveyed last year stated it was their first PyCon, these dinners are a great way to kick off the weekend and make new connections and setup plans for more dinners or other late night festivities.

Jessica is a director of the Python Software Foundation and has been instrumental in outreach efforts around the Python community, especially when it comes to PyCon. She's also a contributor to Twisted and has worked a lot with the OpenHatch project. She's a very experienced speaker with a ton of knowledge and information to share, and will make an excellent host for an excellent meal.

Brandon is a returning veteran of running a PyCon Dinner, having run last year's as a Python trivia game. He's also an experienced speaker of the Python conference circuit, and will be the chair of PyCons 2016 and 2017 when we head to Portland, Oregon after this year's work as co-chair.

Tickets are required for either dinner, with the meal price subsidized by the PSF for a cost of $45. Each prix fixe meal includes a delicious starter, main course, and dessert, with options available for dietary needs.

Check out the options on https://us.pycon.org/2015/events/dinners/ and sign up today? You can add a dinner ticket to your existing registration at https://us.pycon.org/2015/registration/.

If you don't have tickets to PyCon yet, hurry up because they are selling out very very soon.
 

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