North Bay Python 2018: My highlights

“That Python conference in a music venue with a marquee” — @chrisjrn

This year I attended North Bay Python, a Python conference held in beautiful sunny Petaluma (just north of San Francisco). The conference’s objective is to gather professionals, students, and enthusiasts in a weekend of exploring and developing new ideas in a diverse community of Pythonistas.

I would like to say that this conference is truly special and it stands out from other tech meetings for many different reasons.

To start, for those of you that have not been yet to Petaluma, the host city is a charming small town in northern California. At this time of the year, the weather is very amicable and all the trees are wearing their best autumn hues.

On Saturday, the first day of the conference, when I was trying to get to the venue, it was very easy for me to find Mystic’s Theather by just following the herd of humans wearing jeans, sneakers, dark plain t-shirts, and oversized backpacks with, presumably, laptops on the inside.

For people inside this industry, we might not be aware of our distinctive style because everyone around us looks the same, but tech fashion is a thing. In fact, I got asked by a Petalumian couple that if wearing a big backpack was a requirement of the event happening in the theater.

Petaluma is in Sonoma County, where this classic photograph was taken.

One thing that is not common for us, though, is to attend coding conferences in music venues. I myself was pretty hyped about coming to #npby to get a picture with the marquee, that from what I have gathered, it is now a well-known icon of North Bay Python.

I knew this was going to be a different conference when one of the keynote speakers had tweeted in the past that she wanted to be mononymous like many artists, and the organizers didn’t miss the opportunity to put her mononymous name on the marquee.

But what stood out to me the most about this conference is that, regardless of being a rather small event, the organizers thought about everything and everyone 👏 Here is a list of some of the things that made #npby enjoyable for all:

  • Code of Conduct to make everyone feel safe and welcomed.
  • Preferential seats for people with special needs.
  • Free childcare services and nursing room.
  • All gender bathrooms.
  • Scholarships to everyone who needed to attend.
  • Live captioning! (I know, right!?)

Even in the selection of the talks (which, by the way, we could enjoy them all because it was a single tracked event) we could infer that the organizers were striving for inclusion and diversity.

If I had to describe the content of the talks in this event in one word, it would be awareness. All within the context of Python, we learned how to make websites more accessible for different needs, software ethics (with a fun analog to Jurassic Park), the importance of naming projects and its impact on communities, how alphabets in other languages could make usernames a complicated task (try to catch the difference between “a” and “а”), and even raising awareness of Python users in Windows (spoiler alert: it’s half of the users!).

We also learned some core Python with talks that touched upon timing attacks, web scraping, recursion (the best talk about recursion I’ve ever seen, check it out), refactoring code by Facebook, mapping modules, memory management, code testing, among many others.

Creating a telenovela script with a neural network — Lorena Mesa

As the telenovela lover that I am, I have to highlight Lorena Mesa’s talk about creating a telenovela script with a neural network. In my opinion, Lorena’s talk truly embodies what diversity means. Without the need to tell a cliché story about struggles, she used “deep learning” to open a window for everyone to glance into the colorful world of telenovelas, something that is well rooted in our culture. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, she is a role model for Latinas wanting to incursion in the tech industry.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the Diversity and Inclusion sponsors and the organizers for selecting me for a nbpy2018 scholarship! I had an amazing time, learned a lot, and meet awesome people!

I strongly recommend attending to #nppy2019! Creating a more diverse and inclusive community one conference at the time 😊

About me: MS Student in Data Science at the University of San Francisco.
www.VivianaMarquez.com

Data Scientist in Miami, FL 🌴 | MSc in DS from the University of San Francisco — BSc in Mathematics from Konrad Lorenz University www.VivianaMarquez.com