EuroPython 2008: My little log

This is an undetailed log of goings-on and other inspiration at EuroPython 2008, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania (the southernmost of the Baltic countries).

Arriving in Vilnius, which has an airport the size of a thimble, we started into the city in a cab. Cab driver tried to upsell some prostitutes. We were more interested in his anecdotal mini-review of cities:

Moscow, very dark city, very bad people. Here? No problems. Nice little village. … My children can play in streets here.

We get to the small hotel Apia, in the old town. The desk clerk girl gives us a room key, and we climb the stairs, and find that the folks in the room have yet to check out. We are “early”. So, we stashed our bags in a small compartment behind the desk clerk desk (which incidentally only had room for a small bed), and walked the 10 minutes to the conference hotel.

The old town reminds me of a worn-down Visby. Local posters for events range from to Euro-regular to super-cool. A music event poster had remixed a medieval painting of three riders, adding a disco ball to one horse, a cauldron of mushrooms to its rider. One of the horsemen carried a boombox and a gold chain. Very classy execution.

The conference space at hotel Reval: pro. Everything was geared up, rooms were plentiful. The service was immaculate. When I needed to print a PDF document from my USB keyring, it was done for me faster than I could’ve done it myself.

The EuroPython time-slotting of talks: Merciless, in a good way. No speaker is allotted more time than planned. This bit one speaker: Mike P, who presented the interesting SnapLogic framework.

There is a BarCamp/Open Space track, which meant I got to sit in a “JavaScript for Pythonistas” session, talking about JavaScript. That had the upside of one Swedish guy asking the question: “Will you release that?” about some code Isak described. “We hope to do so” was the diplomatic answer. That session was started by Mr Jonathan Fine, who did a smart roundup of who was in the room, what they were interested in, and how we could partition the group smartly, so as to have good subgroups.

By coincidence, merely, we met people we’d met before, Maciej (aka “Fijal”), Jan K, and Grono-Krzysztof. Good clean networking fun. When I say “we”, I mean me and Isak, my colleague.

xFrac (name comes from: xUnit, and “frac” meaning “fraction” — something smaller than a unit) was a testing idea, introduced by Mr Jonathan Fine. It included the JSON subset XSON (which went something like):

['a',{b:'c'}, 'd'] -> <a b="c"><d/></a>

A way of expressing (X)HTML using a tighter format.

Tuesday: Psyco guy: “I just want to go back to PyPy.” He’s maintaining this pre-PyPy optimized C code that has to take care of all corner-cases of Python. (Easier than doing the same for Ruby, but that’s not saying much.) Lightning talks.

Hans Rosling (Trendalyzer, Gapminder Foundation) is a very good speaker: active, and explains things clearly. Not afraid of having opinions, either. He mentioned the SDMX data/metadata format, which seems like a super-complex notation.

Wednesday, final day of EuroPython. I got drafted to “time a speaker”, making sure no schedule over-runs got in the way of the schedule. My speakers were simple to time: tight talks, short questions period.

Thursday, sprint day 1. Me and Isak and Michael Moutakis (Swedish guy, answering the boring question What-do-you-do with “I’m a bureaucrat”.) set out making something “a terrain map of source code”. Terrain map, meaning that “a place should stay in roughly the same place on the map over time”. We wanted to build it using SVN metadata. One of the Launchpad men pointed me to the bzr-svn plugin to Bazaar 1.5. (I tried installing it, but foundered on the plugin.) Thanks!

Me and Isak would parse the SVN metadata, and Michael would use the PIL (Python image library) to create a bitmap image to visualize the data. A single empty line somewhere thwarted us.

Friday, sprint day 2. We continued our battle with the empty line, and grew more and more confused about the dump format. Isak nailed the empty line problem as we were landing in Copenhagen, later that night.

Got home. Beat. Great conference.

Published by olleolleolle

Olle is a programmer, enjoying sunny Malmö in Sweden.

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