Learning

Crossing The Streams - Talk Python with Michael Kennedy - Episode 67

Summary

The same week that we released our first episode of Podcast.__init__, Michael Kennedy was publishing the very first episode of Talk Python To Me. The years long drought of podcasts about Python has been quenched with a veritable flood of quality content as we have both continued to deliver the stories of the wonderful people who make our community such a wonderful place. This week we interviewed Michael about what inspired him to get started, his process and experience as Talk Python continues to evolve, and how that has led him to create online training courses alongside the podcast. He also interviewed us, so check out this weeks episode of Talk Python To Me for a mirror image of this show!

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • We are also sponsored by Sentry this week. Stop hoping your users will report bugs. Sentry’s real-time tracking gives you insight into production deployments and information to reproduce and fix crashes. Check them out at getsentry.com
  • Visit our site to subscribe to our show, sign up for our newsletter, read the show notes, and get in touch.
  • To help other people find the show you can leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, and tell your friends and co-workers
  • Join our community! Visit discourse.pythonpodcast.com for your opportunity to find out about upcoming guests, suggest questions, and propose show ideas.
  • Your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we’re interviewing Michael Kennedy about his work with Talk Python to Me, another podcast about Python and its community, and on-demand Python trainings. Michael has also offered to give away one of each of his Python courses to our listeners. If you would like the chance to win, then sign up for our newsletter at pythonpodcast.com, or our forum at discourse.pythonpodcast.com. If you want to double your chances, then sign up for both!

Interview with Michael Kennedy

  • Introductions
  • How did you get into programming?
  • How did you get introduced to Python? (Chris)
  • What is the craziest piece of software you’ve ever written? – Tobias
  • You’ve taken some pretty drastic steps around Python and your career lately. What inspired you to do that and how’s it going?(yes, quit my job, focus only on podcast and online courses).
  • You are basically self-taught as a developer, how did you get into this teaching / mentor role?
  • Why did you first get started with Talk Python to Me? – Tobias
  • Did you know when you started that it would turn into a full-time endeavor? – Tobias
  • For a while there weren’t any podcasts available that focused on Python and now we’re each producing one. What’s it like to run a successful podcast? – Tobias
  • What have been your most popular episodes? Tell us a bit about each – Tobias
  • In your excellent episode with Kate Heddleston you talked about how we tend to bash other programming languages. We’ve done a fair bit of Java bashing here. How can we help get ourselves and others in our community out of this bad habit? – Chris
  • How do you select the guests and topics for your show? – Tobias
  • What topics do you have planned for the next few episodes?
  • How do you prepare the questions for each episode? – Tobias
  • What is the most significant thing you’ve learned from the podcasting experience?
  • What do you wish you did differently and how are you looking to improve? – Tobias
  • I had a great time hanging out with you at PyCon this year. What was your impression of the conference?
  • What were your favorite sessions and do you have any shows scheduled to follow up on them? – Tobias
  • Your sites are 100% “hand-crafted” as they say. Can you give us a look inside? What are the moving parts in there?
  • So you stirred things up with Stitcher this week. What’s up with that?
  • Can you recommend some podcasts? What’s in your playlist?
  • Final call to action?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

VPython with Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood - Episode 49

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Summary

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to generate interactive 3D visualizations of physical systems in a declarative manner with Python? In this episode we spoke with Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood about the VPython project which does just that. They tell us about how the use VPython in their classrooms, how the project got started, and the work they have done to bring it into the browser.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • Join our community! Visit discourse.pythonpodcast.com for your opportunity to find out about upcoming guests, suggest questions, and propose show ideas.
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers and designers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood about their work on VPython

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • What is VPython and how did it get started? – Tobias
  • What problems inspired you to create VPython? – Chris
  • How do you design an API that allows for such powerful 3D visualization while still making it accessible to students who are focusing on learning new concepts in mathematics and physics so that they don’t get overwhelmed by the tool? – Tobias
  • I know many schools have embraced the open curriculum idea, have any of your physics courses using VPython been made available to the non matriculating public? – Chris
  • How does VPython perform its rendering? If you were to reimplement it would you do anything differently? – Tobias
  • One of the remarkable points about VPython is its ability to execute the simulations in a browser environment. Can you explain the technologies involved to make that work? – Tobias
  • Given the real-time rendering capabilities in VPython I’m sure that performance is a core concern for the project. What are some of the methods that are used to ensure an appropriate level of speed and does the cross-platform nature of the package pose any additional challenges? – Tobias
  • How does collision detection work in VPython, and does it handle more complex assemblies of component objects? – Chris
  • Can you talk a little bit about VPython’s design, and perhaps walk us through how a simple scene is rendered, say the results of the sphere() call? – Chris

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

PyData London with Ian Ozsvald and Emlyn Clay - Episode 48

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Summary

Ian Ozsvald and Emlyn Clay are co-chairs of the London chapter of the PyData organization. In this episode we talked to them about their experience managing the PyData conference and meetup, what the PyData organization does, and their thoughts on using Python for data analytics in their work.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • Join our community! Visit discourse.pythonpodcast.com for your opportunity to find out about upcoming guests, suggest questions, and propose show ideas.
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers and designers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Ian Ozsvald and Emlyn Clay about their work with PyData London, a group within the PyData organization. PyData London represents the largest Python group in London at ~2850 members, they hold regular monthly meetups for ~200 members at AHL near Bank and a yearly conference for around ~300 members. Last year, they and their sponsors raised over £26,000 to sponsor the development of core numerical libraries in Python.
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Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • What is the PyData organization, how does PyData London fit into it and what is your relationship with it? – Tobias
  • In what ways does a PyData conference differ from a PyCon? – Tobias
  • Does PyData do anything in particular to encourage users from disciplines that might not be aware of how much our community has to offer to choose the Python suite of data analysis tools? – Chris
  • You have both spent a good portion of your careers using Python for working with and analyzing data from various domains. How has that experience evolved over the past several years as newer tools have become available? – Tobias
  • For someone who is just getting started in the data analytics space, what advice can you give? – Tobias
  • How can conferences like PyData help strengthen the bonds and synergies between the Python software community and the sciences? – Chris
  • There are a number of different subtopics within the blanket categorization of data science. Is it difficult to balance the subject matter in PyData conferences and meetups to keep members of the audience from being alienated? – Tobias
  • Data science is a young field and we’ve yet to see lots of examples of the successful use of data. How are London-based companies using data with Python? – Ian
  • Is there a Python data science library you think needs a little love? – Emlyn

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

SymPy With Aaron Meurer - Episode 42

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Summary

Looking for an open source alternative to Mathematica or MatLab for solving algebraic equations? Look no further than the excellent SymPy project. It is a well built and easy to use Computer Algebra System (CAS) and in this episode we spoke with the current project maintainer Aaron Meurer about its capabilities and when you might want to use it.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • Join our community at discourse.pythonpodcast.com to follow up with the guests and help us make the show better!
  • nn
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit and double your signing bonus to $4,000.
  • We are recording today on January 18th, 2016 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Aaron Meurer about SymPy

Interview with Aaron Meurer

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • What is Sympy and what kinds of problems does it aim to solve? – Chris
  • How did the SymPy project get started? – Tobias
  • How did you get started with the SymPy project? – Chris
  • Are there any limits to the complexity of the equations SymPy can model and solve? – Chris
  • How does SymPy compare to similar projects in other languages? – Tobias
  • How does Sympy render results using such beautiful mathematical symbols when the inputs are simple ASCII? – Chris
  • What are some of the challenges in creating documentation for a project like SymPy that is accessible to non-experts while still having the necessary information for professionals in the fields of mathematics? – Tobias
  • Which fields of academia and business seem to be most heavily represented in the users of SymPy? – Tobias
  • What are some of the uses of Sympy in education outside of the obvious like students checking their homework? – Chris
  • How does SymPy integrate with the Jupyter Notebook? – Chris
  • Is SymPy generally used more as an interactive mathematics environment or as a library integrated within a larger application? – Tobias
  • What were the challenges moving SymPy from Python 2 to Python 3? – Chris
  • Are there features of Python 3 that simplify your work on SymPy or that make it possible to add new features that would have been too difficult previously? – Tobias
  • Were there any performance bottlenecks you needed to overcome in creating Sympy? – Chris
  • What are some of the interesting design or implementation challenges you’ve found when creating and maintaining SymPy? – Chris
  • Are there any new features or major updates to SymPy that are planned? – Tobias
  • How is the evolution of SymPy managed from a feature perspective? Have there been any occasions in recent memory where a pull request had to be rejected because it didn’t fit with the vision for the project? – Tobias
  • Which of the features of SymPy do you find yourself using most often? – Tobias

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Scott Sanderson on Algorithmic Trading - Episode 38

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Summary

Because of its easy learning curve and broad extensibility Python has found its way into the realm of algorithmic trading at Quantopian. In this episode we spoke with Scott Sanderson about what algorithmic trading is, how it differs from high frequency trading, and how they leverage Python for empowering everyone to try their hand at it.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • We are recording today on December 16th, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Scott Sanderson on Algorithmic Trading

Interview with Scott Sanderson

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • Can you explain what algorithmic trading is and how it differs from high frequency trading? – Tobias
  • What kinds of algorithms and libraries are commonly leveraged for algorithmic trading? – Tobias
  • Quantopian aims to make algorithmic trading accessible to everyone. What do people need to know in order to get started? Is it necessary to have a background in mathematics or data analysis? – Tobias
  • Does the Quantopian platform build in any safe guards to prevent user’s algorithms from spiraling out of control and creating or contributing to a market crash? – Chris
  • How is Python used within Quantopian and when do you leverage other languages? – Tobias
  • What Pypi packages does Quantopian leverage in its platform? – Chris
  • How do the financial returns compare between algorithmic vs human trading on the stock market? – Tobias
  • Can you speak about any trends you see in the trading algorithms people are creating for the Quantopian platform? – Chris

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Eric Holscher on Documentation and Read The Docs - Episode 36

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Summary

The first place we all go for learning about new libraries is the documentation. Lack of effective documentation can limit the adoption of an otherwise excellent project. In this episode we spoke with Eric Holscher, co-creator of Read The Docs, about why documentation is important and how we can all work to make it better.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $10 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • We are recording today on November 30th, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Eric Holscher about Documentation
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Interview with Eric Holscher

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • You are one of the people behind the Read The Docs project. What was your inspiration for creating that platform and why is documentation so important in software? – Tobias
  • What makes Read The Docs different from other static sources for documentation? – Chris
  • The Python community seems to have a stronger focus on well-documented projects than some other languages. Do you have any theories as to why that is the case? – Tobias
  • Can you outline the landscape of projects that leverage the documentation capabilities that are built in to the Python language? – Tobias
  • Can you estimate the overall user base for Read The Docs? – Chris
  • Do you have any advice around methods or approaches that can help developers create and maintain effective documentation? – Tobias
  • Can you list some projects that you have found to provide the best documentation and what was remarkable about them? – Tobias
  • Newcomers to open source are often encouraged to submit improvements to a projects documentation as a way to get started and become involved with the community. Do you have any general advice on how to find and understand undocumented features? – Tobias
  • Do you have any statistics on the languages represented among the projects that host their documentation with you? – Tobias
  • What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and overcome in maintaining such a large repository of documentation from so many projects? – Chris
  • How can our listeners contribute to the project? – Chris

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Stuart Mumford on SunPy - Episode 34

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Summary

What is Solar Physics? How does it differ from AstroPhysics? What does this all have to do with Python? In this episode we answer all of those questions when we interview Stuart Mumford about his work on SunPy. So put on your sunglasses and learn about how to use Python to decipher the secrets of our closest star.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $10 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • We are recording today on November 17th, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Stuart Mumford about SunPy
Linode Sponsor BannerUse the promo code podcastinit10 to get a $10 credit when you sign up!

Hired LogoOn Hired software engineers & designers can get 5+ interview requests in a week and each offer has salary and equity upfront. With full time and contract opportunities available, users can view the offers and accept or reject them before talking to any company. Work with over 2,500 companies from startups to large public companies hailing from 12 major tech hubs in North America and Europe. Hired is totally free for users and If you get a job you’ll get a $2,000 “thank you” bonus. If you use our special link to signup, then that bonus will double to $4,000 when you accept a job. If you’re not looking for a job but know someone who is, you can refer them to Hired and get a $1,337 bonus when they accept a job.

Interview with Stuart Mumford

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • Can you explain what the research and applications of solar physics are and how SunPy facilitates those activities? – Tobias
  • What was your inspiration for the SunPy project and what are you using it for in your research? – Tobias
  • Can you tell us what SunPy’s map and light curve classes are and how they might be used? – Chris
  • Are there any considerations that you need to be aware of when writing software libraries for practitioners of the hard sciences that would be different if the target audience were software engineers? – Tobias
  • Can SunPy consume data directly from telescopes and other observational apparatus? – Chris
  • I noticed on the project site that SunPy leverages AstroPy internally. Can you describe the relationship between the two projects and why someone might want to use SunPy in place of or in addition to AstroPy? – Tobias
  • Looking at the documentation I got the impression that there is a fair amount of visual representation of data for analysis. Can you describe some of the challenges that has posed? Is there integrated support for project Jupyter and are there other graphical environments that SunPy supports? – Tobias
  • What are some of the most interesting applications that SunPy has been used for? – Chris

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Maneesha Sane on Software and Data Carpentry - Episode 33

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Summary

The Software and Data Carpentry organizations have a mission of making it easier for scientists and data analysts in academia to replicate and review each others work. In order to achieve this goal they conduct training and workshops that teach modern best practices in software and data engineering, including version control and proper data management. In this episode we had the opportunity to speak with Maneesha Sane, the program coordinator for both organizations, so that we could learn more about how these projects are related and how they approach their mission.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • This episode is sponsored by Zato – Microservices, ESB, SOA, REST, API, and Cloud Integrations in Python. Visit zato.io to learn more about how to integrate smarter in the modern world.
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $10 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • We are recording today on November 10th, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Maneesha Sane about Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry

Interview with Maneesha Sane

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you explain what the Software and Data Carpentry organizations are and what their respective goals are?
  • What is the history of these organizations and how are they related?
  • What does a typical Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry workshop look like?
  • What is the background of your instructors?
  • Can you explain why Python was chosen as the language for your workshops and why it is such a good language to use for teaching proper software engineering practices to scientists?
  • In what ways do the lessons taught by both groups differ and what parts are common between the two organizations?
  • What are some of the most important tools and lessons that you teach to scientists in academia?
  • Do you tend to focus mostly on procedural development or do you also teach object oriented programming in Software Carpentry?
  • What is the target audience for Data Carpentry and what are some of the most important lessons and tools taught to them?
  • Do you teach any particular method of pre-coding design like flowcharting, pseudocode, or top down decomposition in software carpentry?
  • What scientific domains are most commonly represented among your workshop participants for Software Carpentry?
  • What are some specific things the Python community and the Python core team could do to make it easier to adopt for your students?
  • What are the most common concepts students have trouble with in software & data carpentry?
  • How can our audience help support the goals of these organizations?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Hylang Core Developers - Episode 23

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Summary

We got the chance to talk to some of the core developers of Hylang, which is a Lisp dialect that runs on the Python VM! We talked about how it got started, how it works and why you should try it. Of particular interest is our discussion about using Hylang to backport language features, or create entirely new ones due to the power of Lisp and the Python AST (Abstract Syntax Tree). If you need to level up your Lisp knowledge, they gave us a great list of references to help out.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at
  • We are recording today on August 27, 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Paul Tagliamonte, Tuukka Turto, and Morten Linderud

Interview with Hylang Developers

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Before we get too far along can you explain what Hy is?
  • What inspired you to create Hy?
  • What do you recommend as reference material for Python developers to gain familiarity with idiomatic Lisp?
  • What are some of the problem domains where implementation becomes easier or more elegant as a result of Hy’s LISP syntax?
  • Given the ability to create powerful macros in Lisp, could Hy be used as a way of prototyping or backporting new language features in Python?
  • What are some of the most challenging and interesting problems you encountered bringing an alternate syntax to the Python runtime?
  • While playing around with the Hy REPL I noticed that it does visual matching of parentheses when closing an expression. What other niceties have been included in the REPL?
  • What are your thoughts on adding autocompletion to the REPL as a way of encouraging discovery and exploration of the Hy language?
  • Which LISP variant is Hy most similar to, and why?
  • How does garbage collection work in Hy, and why?
  • How hard would it be to port existing LISP packages to Hy like MACSYMA or CLOS?
  • What kind of overhead in terms of runtime performance and memory usage does Hy impose? Has this been a challenge in Hy’s development?
  • What are some of the most innovative uses for Hy that you have seen or created?
  • What does the future hold for Hy?
  • I noticed that there are a large number of core contributors to Hylang and I’m curious how you determine what features to work on?

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Jessica McKellar - Episode 21

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Summary

We got the chance to talk to Jessica McKellar about her work in the Python community. She told us about her experience as a director for the PSF, working as the diversity outreach manager for PyCon, and being a champion for improving the on-boarding experience for new users of Python. We also discussed perceptions around the performance of Python and some of the work being done to improve concurrency, as well as her work with OpenHatch.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
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  • We are recording today on Aug, 12 2015 and your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Jessica McKellar

Interview with Jessica McKellar

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
    • Attended MIT, originally for Chemistry
    • Had friends pursuing CS degrees
    • Toolset and skills seemed worth investingating
    • Led to BA and MS
    • MIT was in transition from LISP to Python
  • Can you describe what your responsibilities are as a director of the PSF?
    • A lot of outreach and investment in the community
  • Do you think the PSF does a good job of making people aware of what it is, what it does for the community, and how they can help?
    • Struggled with this historically but has gotten better in recent years
    • Website re-design has helped
  • A large focus of your work in the community has been around improving the experience of users who are new to Python and programming in general and I noticed that you just received the Frank Willison Memorial Award for your contributions to outreach and education in the Python community. What is your motivation behind this particular focus?
    • Great deal of empathy for newcomers due to personal history
    • Knowing how to program changes how you think about the world
  • Has the situation for newcomers running Windows who wish to try Python gotten any better since your keynote at Kiwi PyCon?
    • Some vaguaries of setup have gotten better with recent versions (e.g. setting path variables)
    • Ruby has in-browser tutorial to get people hooked
  • Do “Batteries Included’ distributions like Anaconda help or is it the same problem of visibility you discussed in your talk?
    • Informatino flow / what are you default options question
    • We could be much more opinionated about this
  • You have presented a number of times about the future of Python and how we can all help to make sure that story is a happy one. How has the material for that talk changed over the past few years?
    • As a largely volunteer community, how to maximize the impact of the bandwidth that we have
    • Focus on the ‘top of the funnel’ to win over new users
    • Python has the steepest positive curve of any language
    • Community should invest in AP high school Python curriculum
  • What do you anticipate will be the talking points for this topic over the next few years?
    • We need to be smart about which areas we invest in to ensure success e.g. mobile, web, desktop.
  • If you could grade the Python community on how well they have listened to and acted on the calls to action in your talks over the past few years, what would you give them?
    • Rallying large groups of volunteers is a hard problem
    • We need to think about commercial partnerships in key areas
  • In your Kiwi PyCon talk you mentioned Kivy as an example of a great way to do mobile software development in Python. It feels to me like the Kivy team are still not getting the community involvement and buy in they should. How can we help make Kivy the mobile app development platform of choice for beginners?
    • This will be a tough battle because Python is not the default platform for mobile compared to Java for Android, Objective C, Swift
    • Users vote with their feet depending on what provides the most value to them
    • Opportunity for a virtuous cycle here
  • Game development as an entree to programming has been a recurring theme on our podcast. Has the Python game dev scene improved at all since 2013? And do you still see the same pitfalls holding people back (like app packaging), or have we moved on to different problems?
    • The problems are largely the same
    • Status quo still feels pretty broken
    • Creative experiments around this definitely make sense for the community
    • KivEnt could be a win here because Kivy apps are free standing binaries and require no dependencies.
  • What do you view as the biggest threats to the popularity of Python currently and what can we do to address them?
    • Other languages gaining popularity where Python has historically been strong (e.g. server-side development)
    • A lot of this may be a perception issue
    • May be largely a marketing problem
  • I understand that you were involved in the formation of the Open Hatch organization. Can you describe what Open Hatch does and how our listeners can get involved?
    • Non-profit dedicated to lowering barriers to entry for open source contribution
    • Host workshops in colleges, underserved communities, etc.

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