May 23, 2017

PyCon 2017

I recently attended PyCon for the first time in several years and thought I’d write a bit about my favorite sessions, the videos of which are already online.

  • Ying Li and David Lawrence’s Introduction to Threat Modeling provides an excellent framework with which one can think about security at a conceptual level. It gave me the sort of confidence for security that I had for deployment after I read The Twelve-Factor App, filling in a bunch of mental holes that I was previously uncertain about. I highly recommend pairing this talk with Michal Zalewski’s excellent The Tangled Web, which provides a deep dive into the technical details and human foibles of web security.

  • Kavya Joshi’s The Memory Chronicles: A Tale of Two Pythons is a fascinating examination into the ways that two very different C implementations of Python manage memory. One of those implementations is CPython, the standard and “official” Python interpreter used almost everywhere. The other is called MicroPython–it’s a compact subset of Python intended for use on microcontrollers and other constrained environments, and uses some really interesting techniques to minimize its memory footprint.

  • Raymond Hettinger’s Modern Python Dictionaries – A confluence of a dozen great ideas is a well-spun tale of the evolution of the implementation of the Python dictionary. Hettinger is a compelling, entertaining speaker and this talk is no exception. It moves very quickly but that’s okay since his “slides”–actually a Sphinx document that he scrolls through as he gives his talk–are available online.

I was also excited to meet one of my programming heroes, Bruce Eckel, who ran an open session in which he scraped our minds for his book on concurrent Python, which he’s writing in the open on GitHub. Lots of interesting ideas were brought up and I’m looking forward to seeing this book evolve.

One of my favorite things about PyCon’s nearly-instantaneous publishing of talks is that it leads to very little “fear of missing out” (FOMO). This made it easy to follow my coworker Catherine Devlin’s advice and prioritize open spaces over talks, since we can experience the latter anytime.

© Atul Varma 2017