I’m going to PyCon

Last night I registered for PyCon 2011 in Atlanta, GA. This is my first “real” technical convention, and I’ll be going as an individual. I’ve been to an internal symposium at my company, but they’re generally too cheap to send people to things like this. So, not only am I paying for the whole thing myself, but its also my Spring Break. I think its going to be worth it, though.

I love Python. I taught the language to myself because I wanted to learn a new language and was looking for a more flexible, powerful replacement for Perl. I was parsing floating-point data out of the output of various applications and analyzing it, and while Perl rocked for the parsing part I had to take the parsed output and feed it into either Excel/OpenOffice or Matlab for the analysis part. Python let me do everything at once, including the interactive prompt that previously made Matlab my tool of choice. Little did I know, at the time, that this original use just scratched the surface of what the language could do. Since then, I’ve written everything I can get away with in Python. I wrote my own interactive console for controlling our applications in our development lab. I wrote a small control program designed to work with the PBS job control system to run multiple small scripts in parallel on each core requested by the PBS job. I do all of the homework for my current Masters course in Python. I even write and use Python applications to support my play in EVE Online.

I haven’t been able to connect with any Pythonistas locally, though. At my company, the software engineers are mostly fluent in C only (some in C++), and the analysts only really know Fortran and Matlab. The software development landscape in the Metroplex is dominated by enterprise activities, owing to the density of corporate headquarters here, so its heaven for Java and .NET developers but rather barren for others. So, I’m really looking forward to this conference as a way to meet other practitioners, find out where the language is going (technically and professionally), and learn something from real people as opposed to books and webpages. Plus, it gives me a chance to scout out Atlanta some more, since it appears to be an interesting city with interesting opportunities.