Monday, December 07, 2009

Five Pycon 2010 Talks I Need to See

Following the example of Catherine Devlin and Carl Trachte, I thought I'd put together a list of the five Pycon talks I need to see in 2010. But I couldn't--I struggled to get below a dozen. So here are the top five I need to see, plus the ones I'll probably kick myself for not seeing because they're undoubtedly going to be scheduled in the same slots as the top five:

1. Import this, that, and the other thing: custom importers (Brett Cannon)
This is an easy choice, because I'm about to be implementing one of these for work. Would have been be nicer if Pycon 2010 had been scheduled for September 2009, but I'll take what I can get.

2. Understanding the Python GIL (David Beazley)
Another easy choice. After reading lots of code and debugging thread issues in our embedded Python interpreter at work, I think have a decent grasp of the GIL implementation. Given David's mindbending generators tutorial last year and his GIL presentation from ChiPy, I expect this talk to be rich in things I will be disturbed to have learned.

3. Powerful Pythonic Patterns (Alex Martelli)
Alex's talk last year, Abstractions as Leverage, was curiously satisfying. He didn't present any facts I hadn't already heard or read, but his presentation made some new connections for me (in a "My God, it's full of stars!" way).

4. Threading is Not a Model (Joe Gregorio)
In the last few years, I've begun to see pervasive threading as a placebo more than a solution. To paraphrase JWZ, some people, when confronted with a problem, think, "I know, I'll spin up a new thread." Now they have two problems. In reality, they've usually created an unknown number of problems, bounded only at the lower end by the number two. I'm really interested in seeing what Joe brings to the discussion beyond the usual "threads, select(), or fork()" question.

5. Turtles All The Way Down: Demystifying Deferreds, Decorators, and Declarations (Glyf Lefkowitz)
I have a long history of utter contempt for the practice of using syntactic sugar to "re-define the language in order to provide a more concise, natural style" for a given purpose. Glyf says he "will try to convince you that all of this wonderful magic isn't all that weird". Sounds like a challenge. If you're not continually questioning your own biases, you're heading for a mental rut, so I'm going to try to attend this with an open mind (and probably leave with a thoroughly-bitten tongue).

These are the ones I will move heaven, earth, and lunch plans to see. The others I really want to attend are:

  • How Are Large Applications Embedding Python? (Peter Shinners). Totally relevant for work, but probably more elementary than I'd want.
  • What Every Developer Should Know About Database Scalability (Jonathan Ellis). Totally irrelevant for my current work, but I've had to work in this area in the past, so it's somewhat interesting, and I'm curious about what's changed lately.
  • Optimizations and Micro-Optimizations in CPython (Larry Hastings). Pure geeky personal interest.
  • New *and* Improved: Coming changes to unittest, the standard library test framework (Michael Foord). I'm not quite a test-driven development zealot, but I'm about as close as you can get without applying for membership.
  • Python Metaprogramming (Nicolas Lara). More pure geeky goodness.
  • Eventlet: Asynchronous I/O with a Synchronous Interface (Donovan Preston). I can't quite decide whether this is applicable to work or not, and there's only one way to find out.
  • Seattle: A Python-based Platform for Easy Development and Deployment of Networked Systems and Applications (Ivan Beschastnikh). I was quite disappointed by last year's sandboxing talk (the description didn't really let on that it was all about PyPy), so I'm hoping I can pick up more from this one.
  • Tests and Testability (Ned Batchelder). Probably more elementary-level than I'd like, but might have some good discussion.
  • On the Subject of Source Code (Ian Bicking). Another blue-sky talk by Ian? Yes, please.
  • Python's Dusty Corners (Jack Diederich). I have a feeling this will be like Doug Hellman's PyModule of The Week: 80% of it is "yeah, yeah, I knew that," and 20% is "oh, wow, how did I not know that?"
I wasn't terribly impressed by the tutorial list (other than the compiled Python one), so I'll probably pass on them, but the talks look even better than last year. See you in Atlanta!