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PyCon 2018: Conference Day 1 (May 11)

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PyCon 2018: Conference Day 1 (May 11)

This overview of PyCon 2018's opening day tackles common talking points and shows off a few of the conference talks in video form!

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PyCon 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio, kicked off their first conference day with an introduction from one of Cleveland's natives, Ernest W. Durbin III. Then, we moved onto the keynote of the morning, which was given by Dan Callahan from Mozilla. He talked about tooling and how Python currently doesn't have a big presence on the web. It was actually quite interesting and also a bit disappointing as there wasn't really a true solution given. However, his talk was quite good and insightful.

My first conference talk was Augmenting Human Decision Making with Data Science by Kelsey Pedersen. Kelsey is a good speaker, but the topic didn't really pull me in. There was no code examples whatsoever and was just kind of a presentation on how the company that Kelsey works for uses data science. You can watch it here, if you like:

The next talk I made it to was Lisa Roach's Demystifying the Patch Function. This was a very interesting talk about Python's mock library, specifically regarding mock's patch functionality. She covered a lot of ground and then admitted that there was a lot more you could learn about patch that she just didn't have time to talk about. Michael Foord (the original author of mock) was also there, and he helped explain a couple of idiosyncrasies about patch after the talk was over.

In the afternoon, I went to a couple of open spaces. The first one was about Python's GUI frameworks, where we discussed PyQt and Qt for Python, wxPython, Tkinter, and Kivy. We also talked a little about Gooey and Sofi. The main goal of this open space was to answer questions about the various GUI toolkits and learn what was out there. I already knew about most of them, but I did learn a few things here and there about Qt for Python.

The second open space I attended was for Python book writers. Bruce Eckel and Andrew Pinkman were there, as well as a few other authors. I didn't catch all of their names, unfortunately. Regardless, it was interesting to hear the different perspectives and experiences that these authors have had with publishers and book writing in general.

I attempted to go to Stephanie Kim's Exploring Deep Learning Framework PyTorch talk, but I have pretty limited experience with the data science world, so this was a bit over my head. However, the speaker seemed to know her stuff, and I thought it sounded like it would be useful to look up later once I have familiarized myself with this topic.

The last talk I attended was Brian Okken's Visual Testing with PyCharm and pytest. I didn't stay for the entire talk because I needed to be somewhere else, but that also seemed like a good one.

Looking over the schedule for the first day, the primary trends I saw were a lot of talks about testing and data science. I personally find it interesting to note what the current talk trends are. I really wanted to see a talk entitled Using Python to build an AI to play and win SNES StreetFighter II, however, it conflicted with the aforementioned open spaces — and since I knew it would be recorded, I went to the open space.

It's funny. When I first started going to PyCon, I thought open spaces were a weird concept and they seemed like a waste of time. Now I like them as much or more than the conference talks. Then again, I also enjoy the volunteering aspect of PyCon quite a bit too. I am looking forward to day two!

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