PyCon India – 2016, Delhi

The delay in writing about PyCon was not just procrastination ,but also getting myself involved with too many things at the same time.

I am happy to have attended this memorable event and hope to spread some cheer with this report.

Beware, looooong post alert. Get your popcorn!

Scroll down to Day 1 if you want to skip my personal peeve stories.

Backstory – My way to PyLadies

For me the first meetup of PyLadies was about learning basics of Python, I had no idea about the global community that is motivated to make a safe environment for women contributors. Despite being a beginner in Python, I seemed to have suggestions aplenty and it seemed to me that I could get/attract more members for the next sessions. I gave a small communication guideline talk during the second meetup and it was pretty much a sealed deal that I was happy to be a part of this community. What was most inspiring for me was the fact that Anwesha was so motivated to pull the group together, despite no clear path ahead for the group. It was disappointing that there were very few who attended regularly, nevertheless the few who did became good friends and I guess at this point we all fire each others imagination.

Tickets and more

I found out about PyCon from dgplug. The goodman was out for work and I could not imagine leaving Ira without either of us. It was not possible to attend the conference, clearly. I knew of all that was happening behind the scenes – how PyLadies did not get a table, how Rupali had, as always, returned as our knight (dame, maybe?) in shining armor. Red Hat had magnanimously opened its booth for the community and welcomed all contributors to showcase their stuff. Wow!

Almost all of dgplug was attending the PyCon and there were questions about who is joining when almost all the time. One visit from Kushal and Anwesha was all it took for us to consider the experiment of leaving Ira with her grandparents for a night. Tickets were jhatapati booked and plans made for stay. Thanks to Kushal and Anwesha for letting me be the haddi in their kebab during conference days. Truth be told, my mind was constantly occupied with what would happen with Ira ever since my tickets were booked. The husband is talented which enables him to do some nice things like printing few python print t-shirts for PyLadies.

I and the husband had made an LED lit jellyfish costume for Ira which was actually an umbrella based on this tutorial. Me and Anwesha planned to use it as a photo prop at the booth. My original plan was to carry Cookie(who is an annoying battery operated toy) which was to be controlled by a raspberry-pi and a simple python program. However, I wasted a lot of time and it was not ready on time and Ira was appropriately mortified to see her toy all opened up and confiscated it from me. I designed the 2 posters for the PyLadies table.

I had my doubts about using the prop until the last day. I remember giving Anwesha a panic call-

me: Lets not take the umbrella, it will look like a gimmick and no one would be interested. What if we are not taken seriously?!? *panic* *panic*

Anwesha(calmly, uncharacteristically): Ok..dont worry. You get the prop. We will see what to do. By the way, can you prepare a lightning talk?

me: WHAT? WHEN? “ME”??Β  *more panic*

Err, at this point I think I should do two posts. This is taking too long πŸ™‚ Never mind.

Day 0

So on Day 0, I was still in Pune and I got the posters printed, it was raining incessantly. I PyLady-fied the umbrella by printing the geek lady and sticking it on the umbrella. I had an exchange of images with uber-talented Trishna who was supposed to print the badges.

Day 1

I was supposed to leave at 3:00AM in the morning, in preparing for the lightning talk and catching up with the good-man, I was awake till midnight. Ira, as if on cue, woke up sharp at 2:30AM and bawled to see me leave, making it unbearably difficult to leave. However, I had to go AND I was out with a huge suitcase – for my umbrella prop and posters. I reached the venue at 8:00AM.

The registration desk was well organized. The volunteers were extremely helpful. I spotted a few people who looked like professionals at breakfast, almost 75% of the crowd were students. This is my first PyCon, I have always attended business conferences from my proprietary bubble days πŸ™‚

I finished my breakfast and went to the booth. Pravin and Pooja joined me soon. Pooja is like the backbone of the group – quiet, calm and extremely resourceful. I was so glad they were there. We started with setting the booth. Trishna, Janki, Kushal and Anwesha joined us and the posters were up in no time. The Red Hat guys were busy with setting up their booth too. It was a very bustling, colorful booth. I had goofed with the controller for the LED which the cute-couple (Pravin & Pooja) quickly fixed and our umbrella was glowing πŸ™‚ The photo prop was a huge hit.

PSSI announced Dr.Ajith Kumar B.P, a scientist at Inter University Accelerator Centre, as the winner of “Kenneth Gonsalves Award 2016”. What inspiring work! What was most inspiring is the enthusiasm the achievers have in doing more, contributing more.

Keynote by Baishampayan Ghose was a very interesting start to the conference.

I was introduced to Devi, the veteran contributor and mom. It was lovely meeting her, personally for me because I aspire to be working like her. I also found out about anandology.com, which I am referring nowadays to practice some python exercises.

Vijay Bung had an interactive Request for Volunteers and suggestions session at the open spaces. Me and Pooja attended it. This was in continuation with the Python month as organized by PSSI. Some valuable suggestions were noted and we made way to lunch. Rupali ended up being alone at the booth managing Red Hat and PyLadies single-handedly for some time.

Rest of the day was spent mostly at the booth talking about the how, when, what and why of PyLadies, Pune chapter. It was heartening to see so many women contributors come up and share their stories, encouraging for us as a team to keep up what we are doing.

For those interested in starting their own PyLadies interest groups-

  • http://kit.pyladies.com/en/latest/prospective/checklist.html
  • http://kit.pyladies.com/en/latest/overview.html#how-to-use-this-kit

I attended Anwesha’s talk and the delightful keynote by Van L. I will never forget his 3 tips for any conference –

  1. Come to contribute,
  2. Meet someone new &
  3. Say thanks

We were all treated to a great dinner hosted for PyCon speakers and volunteers. Another great avenue to network and also good food. I was attempting (and failing) to keep up with my Keto diet. Of course with the desserts, the diet flew out of the window πŸ˜€

I went on to complete the lightning talk and submitted a proposal for the upcoming FudCon in Phnom Penh and crashed to a dreamless sleep.

 

Day 2

Kushal left early because I was taking too much time *giggles*. Me and Anwesha barely made it for breakfast thanks to our (not) wonderful driver #sarcasmalert who took ages to reach us. The previous day Anwesha had spoken to Paul and Van about organizing a session by PyLadies about how to grow the community. So we were all set to organize the same at the open spaces. Since this was my first conference, I made the blunder of presuming and not checking with the volunteers about availability of the open spaces; went by the literal meaning – the space ought to be “open” for anyone. The very enterprising Janki got into her element and got us one slot at 11AM by successfully negotiating with the speaker who had the slot. We are grateful to Udayan for the slot. I missed thanking him personally at the venue.

The session went very well, we actually ran out of time.

Rupali gave an unforgettable introduction – outlining how PyLadies, Pune started as a student initiative but didn’t quite grow as anticipated, pointing out how Red Hat had opened its booth for the community when all else had failed and giving a primer on how we can move forward. She introduced the speakers – Paul Everitt, Dmitry Filippov, Van Lindberg and Jeff Rush – who had insisted on the session being an informal, interactive one. It was a wonderful idea. Jeff bought his vast knowledge to the fore and gave the entire room a big box full of ideas. They were encouraging, full of stories, insightful, charming, approachable and everything that leaders usually are. Why MEN for a panel at a Py”Ladies” event you ask? Firstly, we are notΒ  opposed to men participating [As we create a space for growth, we may end up excluding ourselves: driving home the stereotype even further] and secondly, when we are learning the ropes it is better to take tips from the ace (unfortunately, we had planned the open spaces session at the last minute and couldn’t get women speakers. Better planning next time, promise)

Unfortunately, all slots for lightning talks were taken for day 2, in fact they had some talks spilling over from the previous day. So my lightning talk will make its way to the next meetup πŸ˜€ I personally loved the idea of a 5-minute platform to strut your stuff very helpful and interesting.

We also had a #dgplug stairway meeting. I was elated to be part of such a vibrant and promising group. We met again for a photo later towards the end of day.

Some more time was spent at the booth. I attended the IoT talk by Jaimon Jose and picked a few ideas. I was really tired at the end of day 2, on day 1 I was probably running on some reserve-energy store, read caffeine πŸ™‚

Farewell was expressed to everyone and I was out – back to my baby – with a promise in my head to do more and get better πŸ™‚

PJP dropped me to the airport, while I regaled him with a report on my life. Whether he wanted to know or not was never a question πŸ˜€ I also finished reading Scion of Ikshvaku since I had 4 hours to spend at the airport. Yayy!

Follow up – To do

My poster design has been suggested to be the official logo for PyLadiesPune. Yoohooo! Also we need to work extensively on the PyLadies website

We had noted contact details of the women who visited us at the PyLadies booth. The idea is to get in touch with them and have sessions with them via Hangouts for our future meetups to keep in touch with what is happening in various fields w.r.t Python – exchange of information forging a multi-culture community.

 

Python workshop at Pune Institute of Computer Technology

The month of September was destined to be busy with the goodman out for his share of conferences. Nevertheless, my family rallied and the grandparents took complete charge of the monster-in-making. I actually managed to find time to attend more workshops, meetups and conferences than usual πŸ™‚

So while casually chatting with Anwesha I found out about the second workshop at PICT(Pune Institute of Computer Technology) to be conducted by Kushal. I checked if I could join him for the workshop, primarily to learn and secondly to understand how a workshop is to be conducted.

The first workshop was Introduction to Python by Kushal and was a huge success with 40 girls attending it. This workshop was an extension, as requested by the students. Anwesha had introduced PyLadies, Pune chapter in the previous workshop and had met with a very enthusiastic response.

On our way, instead of discussing the talk, me and Kushal spoke about the world in general πŸ™‚ So the topic was as new to me as for the participants of the workshop. We had a small felicitation event with the very knowledgeable HOD and the professors extending a very warm welcome to us. The students were trying their best to ensure we had everything we needed.

So the workshop began and I found out (well belatedly!) that the topic was the argparse (command-line parsing module in the Python standard library) module.

Kushal’s love to teach was apparent in the way he conducted the workshop. It is a pity he cannot do this fulltime πŸ™‚ He seemed much more approachable than the sessions @dgplug. He was stern, nevertheless went through the workshop with a lot of patience. Almost the entire class of 50 was able to grasp the concept and work on the tasks. I would work on the problems myself, once done I would walk around helping the students if anyone needed any assistance – a teaching assistant, if I may say so. At the end of the workshop we had made a command line using positional, optional arguments. Both me and Kushal were delighted to see some students try a lot of new things on their own

We ended the session with some gyaan about work ethics, the open source way of life, contributing to open source projects, importance of hard work, even disclosed pay packages of some contributors (gasp!), how to get on IRC, PyLadies, PythonPune and so much more.

Some queries we face at every meetup, every workshop-

  • PyLadies is ONLY for ladies? We are focused on providing a support network for everyone, primarily ladies.
  • What is IRC? A great way to get in touch with open source developers around the globe. Go to http://webchat.freenode.net –> Create your account –> Download xchat –>Β In “Networks”, find and select “FreeNode” and join any or all of the following channels – #pyladies, #python, #dgplug
  • Do we need to need to know all about data structures and algorithms to become programmers? I will never forget the boys face who asked this and we told him he doesn’t need to πŸ™‚

Our return journey was a lot of talk about how talented the students were and we hoped that at least a couple of students would be inspired as we were at some point in our lives πŸ™‚

 

 

PyLadies: Getting together(again), Web API in Python3

The Reboot that happened for the Pune chapter started small. It is therefore, heartening to see new faces for our regular meetups as much as it is energizing to meet the regular ones. I try and drag my husband to the meetups whenever possible. Frankly, it doesn’t take much effort as he gets to meet his friend too.

Anwesha graciously introduced everyone to everyone πŸ™‚

This meetup was supposed to start with a small demo by me on real-life applications of Python. My current project is my daughters battery-operated toy. I am trying to make it, well, smarter by replacing its existing controller with a raspberry pi. However, my daughter was mortified when she saw her “Cookie” all opened up and took it away from me. So I need to come up with better tricks to lay my hands on her toy without her knowing it and changing it for the better (better for me, of course!) I ended up giving a description of what I am trying to do. Also, discussed a few other automation ideas I have and where to get the components from.

Next was going to be Trishna‘s workshop on “Using Web API in Python3”. I had already heard so much about her from everyone that I was really excited and looking forward to attend her workshop. She didn’t disappoint one bit. Not only had she come prepared with a great problem statement, she also brushed up on Python basics for us beginners. She introduced the requests module before we took a break for lunch.

The problem she wanted us to work on was to use the ZOMATO API and come up with a list of Chinese food joints around our location. Now who would not like that – food that too chinese food πŸ˜€ She coded along with us as we worked on the problem. It was a great workshop, where we understood each term that we typed. We were all set to explore the API on our own.

All in all, it was a great day πŸ™‚

Anwesha has put out a request for blogs from all participants and we need to come up with our next meetup date.

 

 

Pyladies Pune: Reboot

It takes expertise, patience AND luck to get people together for a cause and organising a technical event gets all these skills to the fore, as I observed today.

I attended the PyLadies Pune Chapter today. Today was an re-introductory session to infuse life into the group of women python-lovers in the city. The event is open to everyone.

The day started with an introduction from the very-cool-lawyer Anwesha. She introduced PyLadies to us newbies in an uncomplicated and clear manner.

The next session was by Kushal, who showed pictures from PyCon 2015 and told us backstories for each of his amazing clicks. Each story was amazing, tracing the journey of people associated with Python. It gave us a glimpse of the vibrant community in all its glory as also the depth and breadth of Python in the industry.

He left us with a mind-blowing keynote from PyCon 2016 by TwoBraids (K Lars Lohn).

I watched the video with bated breath. The presentation style, the way the speaker got his content together, the simplicity with which he explainedΒ  concepts and the entertainment value of the entire video was totally, well, paisa-vasool(it means “worth it”, for lack of an equivalent phrase in the English language)

Post-lunch session we learnt and practiced the basics of python. Very interesting for yours truly, sharpening her slightly rusted skill set.

Post the basics of Python session we had a very interactive planning session for the next event. Many ideas for next events were exchanged. The ones I remember are listed below-

  1. More workshops – advanced level workshops
  2. Hackathons
  3. Bug traiging – solve real world problems
  4. Lightning talks by all members about what-they-learnt-new

Overall the response to today’s event was good, the original PyLadies started with lesser members you know. It was heartening to see pythonistas, irrespective of gender, working towards reviving the group.

General feedback and lessons learnt can be summarised as follows –

  1. Advertise the event more so as to include more enthusiasts
  2. Plan the sessions more effectively

A fairly intellectual way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but definitely worth your while πŸ™‚