PyCon US 2023

Finally, I have some time to put my thought together and report back everything that happens in PyCon US. It’s a huge conference and almost everyone I know is there. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the conference and time just passes very quickly. I always wish I could stay till the very end of the sprint and it will never end but in reality, we all need to go home and rest. Especially those who worked so hard to make it happen.

Tutorial Days

Due to the tight schedule of PyCon DE and PyCon US overlaps, I missed the first day of the tutorials. So the first thing that I do at the conference was to give my tutorial about Numba. I was told that there are 44 people registered and 40 people were attending. I am glad that compare to last year people are more engaging in my tutorial and there are really good interactions. There are good questions from the audience, and people come and talk to me at the end of the workshop. I have made a few good connections because of that.

In the afternoon, I go around and say hi to all the people that I have not seen for a while. It is so good to catch up with them. I also went to have coffee with my team, and after that, we all go back to the booth briefing by our colleagues.

In the evening we have the opening party at the expo hall and everyone got a chance to talk to everyone at the booth. We have a very good vibe at our booth and people are coming to talk to us and my colleague is giving a presentation. I also get a chance to talk to the folks at the community booth. Including my friends from APAC who are at the PyCon APAC booth. I also donated to the PyLadies and got a few t-shirts there.

Conference days - Friday

The conference days are streaming busy for me as I have to give a talk and also host the lightning talks. I have to also be in the reimbursement room to help folks who are reimbursing their travel grants and honorary.

Before anything started, we have the opening and Mariatta is the sweetest conference chair ever. She introduced all the keynote speakers with a personal touch and she makes sure everyone that helped out are appreciated. With her effort, she makes the conference fun for everyone - including a point-based system for being involved in the conference and contributing to open-source.

I love the first keynote by Ned. It explains in a developer’s language how to interact with a human. It is funny, inspirational and useful for all of us. When I am home I show it to my partner and he loves it as well. A bit more about Ned, he is also a very good teacher in teaching us how to juggle during the open spaces and the sprints.

Before I give my talk in the evening, I only managed to attend one talk in person, that was Zac’s talk. I know Zac is a very good teacher and he explains something very complicated - structured concurrency - in a way that I can understand. I am so glad that I will be able to spend some time working with him in the sprints later.

It is nerve-wracking to give a talk at PyCon US in a room with around 300 people also there will be many experts in the field present. The audience included Larry Hastings, someone who is an absolute expert on my talk topic. Another expert that is present was Mike Müller, who is a Python trainer. They all give me valuable feedback on how I can do better.

After my talk, I have to run for the lightning talk. Behind the scene, we have to mark down all the signups on the board and then Lorena and I will select the talks based on the title that they give us. This is how it work in the past few years in PyCon US, but it is very difficult to choose the talk just based on the titles. I have seen many different ways of doing the lighting talks, I think there needs to be a balance of not being too rigid but also a certain amount of fairness. Luckily Lorena is very experienced and we ended up with a variety of topics and some of the speakers are first-time attendees to the conference.

After the lightning talks, I got a chance to hang out with the folks in PyCon APAC, I got to try out my (not very good) Japanese skills with the folks from Japan. They are all very nice and they could be perceived as a bit shy due to the language barrier but I like talking to them when we have warmed up a bit. I am also glad to be meeting up with Sammy, the organiser from Hong Kong and Alysson from the Philippines. Iqbal had some suggestions for the APAC communities and I am glad that I am welcome into the discussion. We also went to the PyParty afterwards but I was not enjoying it too much as it was very crowded and noisy.

Conference days - Saturday

The lightning talk session at 8 am is very challenging - some speakers were missing and there were not a lot of people in the audience. Lucky for me that my jetlag tends to make me wake up very early so I have no problem being there early. Maybe we should do Yoga or jogging in the morning next year instead.

There are panel sessions from the steering council and the D&I committee. I am glad to see that there are more attendees to the DEI panel than last year and everyone at the panel talks about the time they spend just to come to PyCon US, I was touched. I do believe that the Python community should be all connected and we should support each other no matter where you are. We also need a diverse representation of members and leadership in the community. So if you are organising Python-related events or contributing to Python OSS, please self-certify as a managing or contributing member - I am sure you have already contributed more than 5 hours per month and you are qualified. You can also consider donating to become a supporting member . Both the memberships mentioned above have voting rights and you can help pick the future leaders in the community (or become one yourself).

I skip the morning keynote to help out in the reimbursement session. My job is to welcome people and check them in. It was quiet as most people are in the keynote session. But I got to speak to a few folks and I am glad that we got to support many people with diverse backgrounds to come.

During lunchtime, the room for reimbursement was transformed into the PSF lunch. I think it’s a good setting and Phyllis, one of the PSF staff, handles everything so well. There are many familiar faces there including all the PSF staff and the fundamental contributors to the PSF, including Guido himself.

I didn’t get to stay at lunch for long as we have the mentored sprints and I need to be there to help out, Tania lead organising it for a few years now and it was always a success. It’s an event that is designed for folks who are new to sprint and hopefully, they will learn what is a sprint so they can feel more comfortable joining the sprint - or if they missed the sprint this year they will think of staying for it next year. Of cause, Zac is there and he always got many people sitting at his table. Unfortunately, he said Hypothesis is running out of good beginner issues at the moment for people to work on, nevertheless, I have seen many people learning to use Hypothesis and contributing to the tutorial.

The day also ended with a lightning talk session, but the schedule is super tight as Lorena and I are both going to the PyLadies Auction, she is also one of the hosts at the Auction. The PyLadies Auction was super fun as always. This year I got to witness some creative (or crazy) items being Auction off - like Russell doing Tim Tam Slam, a random pen left on the projector, a vinyl recording that is made by the core devs and a PSF-owned MacBook Air with Python design laser edged on it. I have also donated something - two neckties that were given to me by Sammy, I donated them on his behalf. Afterwards, I connect with one of the kind people that win the auction of the tie and he said it was his first time joining PyCon US and the PyLadies Auction. I am so happy that he was having a good time.

Conference days - Sunday

Sunday kicks off with community announcements - there are so many events coming up in the Python community. Then we have regular lighting talks and then the keynote by Margaret Mitchell, who gave a very good perspective of why we need to talk about ethics in AI.

I was mostly helping out in the reimbursement room during the job fair, but while I ran around fetching coffee I managed to say hi to Peter our CEO, whom I had known as a phenomenal community member before I join Anaconda. Today we have PyLadies Lunch, as always it is good to be in the same room with a lot of amazing ladies, Selina from Japan give a speach about what she had achieve but she didn’t forget to promote for PyCon APAC. There are also ladies from Argintina, they gave a touching speach even though they have to use they phone to help translating. It’s a great experience. The whole afternoon I was very tired but at the same time, I was looking forward to Carol’s keynote. Therefore I didn’t go back to the hotel afraid I would have missed it, instead I was walking around the venue chatting with people.

Carol’s keynote was very heartwarming, she talked about her story, and how we are connecting and building a community. It gave me some insight into our work in the community. Following Carol’s keynote, we have Deb gave a talk about the updates from the PSF and the presentation of the awards. Right after, Guido talked about how to use AI to make Python faster the history of PyCon in the last 20 years. As he put it - Grandpa is telling stories when he was young. He talked about all the fun things when PyCon when it’s in its early stages. For one time he ordered the same sandwich for every day of the conference. Mariatta gave a very sweet closing, she cries to the Savage Garden music and made a credit video to thank everyone that has contributed to the conference.

After the closing, I hosted an open space session to talk about the new Cyber Relience Act in Europe. Deb, Jannis and Cheng join me and we talked about the newest development of it. Deb told us she is in touch with a lot of experts in Europe about the issue. This gives me confidence that the PSF is on the case but as a developer working in Europe we also need to be aware of the issue and voice out our opinion when needed.

Sprint days

Sprints are the last thing that happened at PyCon US but it’s one of my favourite times at the conference. I got a chance to work with Zac on Hypothesis. In the meantime, I can ask Jannis about conda and Russell about Beeware. I also get a chance to chat with Carol and Kattni. The best break from coding at the sprint was to go and have lunch and an ice-cream selfie with Mariatta, Geogi and Zac. (I think Zac had too much ice cream throughout the sprint as he was invited to go with various groups) Every time we hang out, we have a good idea for Mariatta for the conference next year, I think if we have more ice cream with Maritta the conference next year would have been planned already. Let’s look forward to it.

Before heading home, I got a chance to hang out with Jodie from Jet Brain, we have met multiple times in the past but this is the first time we have had a long chat together. It was really pleasant to get to know her.

In general, it was a very fulfilling trip. Going to PyCon US is always a heartwarming experience. Over the years many people are putting efforts to make sure everyone can have a good time at the conference and every one is appreciated no matter what contribution they had to the community and Python and open-source software. I have learnt so much and thank you for the community that provides me with the energy to keep moving forward and all my friends that - from you I found good companionship and support throughout my career. THANK YOU ❤️

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After having a career as a Data Scientist and Developer Advocate, Cheuk dedicated her work to the open-source community. She has co-founded Humble Data, a beginner Python workshop that has been happening around the world. She has served the EuroPython Society board for two years and is now a fellow and director of the Python Software Foundation.