Saturday, 18 August 2012

PyConAU 2012 - Day 1

The easy first day of the conference, at least from my perspective =) is over. It was really great to see a good range of content, and in particular science content, that obviously appeal to a broad audience.

Mark Ramm (now from Canonical) was the keynote speaker for the first session of the morning. I've had the chance to listen to Mark previously, but this talk was particularly good. His main message was "don't waste your life", and to do that by focusing on things where you can really make a difference. For him, that meant trying to find a way to prevent project failures by minimising technical and marketing risk. His suggestion was to focus the work you do by testing and measuring, rather than guessing or blindly asking people questions (market research). The questions and discussion that followed the talk on how to design good experiments were also excellent.

The first session of the morning for me was given by Tennessee Leeuwenburg, one of the regular team from Melbourne Python Users Group (MPUG), on "Visualising Architecture". The talk focused on giving developers practical ways of learning and writing libraries and to understand and improve existing projects. This included using tricks like associating components with locations in the project file system and making good use of visualisations to communicate and justify the decisions you want to make.

After lunch I went to Ed Schofield's talk on "What's new in Python for Science and Engineering", which was one of the talks that I was most looking forward too. Ed covered a huge number of topics, but there were a few really new things I need to look into in the near future. This included:

  • New (for me) libraries for CUDA and parallelisation Theano and copperhead
  • The talks for SciPy2012 are now online.
  • The ipython web notebook now has resizable figures!
  • There were also a few new interesting Cython things to look at in the future 

The final talk of the day that I went to "An Unexpected Day" given by Aaron Iles was amazing. I respect the huge amount of work that must have gone into the preparation for the talk, which ended up being presented as one part drama and two parts programming presentation. The talk focused on how to make best use of python and ctypes, when they were the only available option for solving a problem. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that the talk didn't get recorded.

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