PyDev of the Week: Shauna Gordon-McKeon | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Shauna Gordon-McKeon | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Shauna Gordon-McKeon as our PyDev of the Week! Shauna runs her own consulting business, Galaxy Rise Consulting and is a Django enthusiast. She has also spoken at several Python conferences! If this interview isn’t enough for you, you can learn more about Shauna over on the Django Girls blog.

Let’s spend some time getting to know her!

Why did you start using Python?

Right out of college I was working in a neuroimaging lab. We used Matlab to present our stimuli and to do the bulk of data analysis, but there was a lot of data cleaning and other odds and ends that needed doing. There were two experienced programmers in our lab, one who favored Perl and one who favored Python. My desk was right next to the one who favored Python…

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

Other than Python, right now I’m most fluent with JavaScript. In the past I’ve also been immersed in PHP, Java, R, and as I mentioned Matlab, and there’s a couple other languages like Lisp and Ruby I’ve played around with a little. I’ve found that if I’m not actively working in a language I grow rusty pretty quickly, which is only a good thing if the language is Rust. 😉

What projects are you working on now?

My main project is Concord, which is a governance library I’ve been working on for a couple years. The goal is to enable developers to build sites which empower communities to democratically self-govern. I’ve learned a ton about Python and about software architecture and of course about governance from working on it…

What is your favorite thing about the Python community?

I appreciate how seriously it takes inclusivity and, even more simply, kindness. There are technical communities which are very unpleasant to be in. I feel for folks who need to be in those spaces for career reasons, or because it’s the only way to do the work they love. Life is too short to have to be constantly dealing with cruelty or bigotry…

Is there anything the Python community could do better?

…Something else I’d like to tackle is our relationship to industry. Many of us are employed in the tech industry, and many of the big tech firms sponsor PyCon and the PSF, but sometimes these companies are engaged in deeply unethical behavior. My hope is that as a community we can draw some lines in the sand and say, you know, if you make money from separating children from their families, you can’t have a table in our expo hall. If you illegally fire workers for organizing to improve their workplace, we don’t want your donation. That’s a discussion we need to have as a community, and I hope we have it.

Thanks for doing the interview, Shauna!

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PyDev of the Week: Frank Valcarcel | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Frank Valcarcel | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Frank Valcarcel (@fmdfrank) as our PyDev of the Week! He is the cofounder of Cuttlesoft. If you’d like to see what projects Frank is working on, head on over to Github.

Let’s take some time to learn more about Frank!

 Frank Valcarcel

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m a Florida native but I live in Denver, CO now after relocating my company’s HQ here about 4 years ago. We came from Tallahassee, FL where I went to school at Florida State University and started our company out of community accelerator called Domi Station.

I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I don’t get to enjoy hobbies too often, but when I have time I enjoy reading, biking, fishing, hiking, and photography.

I also have a penchant for travel but the pandemic has made returning to that an uncertainty.

Why did you start using Python?

I actually started with Python in one of Udacity’s very first online courses. I’d just completed my first programming course in college (a sophomore-level elective on game development with C++) and wanted to prepare further for my upcoming classes.

The Udacity course taught some CS basics and a lot of the quizzes were in Python. One of the course’s capstone projects was implementing a simplified version of Google’s initial PageRank algorithm and a web crawler. This was probably before beautifulsoup had been created so the assignment was definitely a challenge, but also a lot of fun.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I started with JavaScript in the old days of the internet browser, and have been developing for the web ever since. I was taught C/C++ in college but never touched them afterward. I’ve written some trivial programs in Go and Java, but the only languages I’d claim a real proficiency for are C#, Ruby, and PHP.

Ruby is probably my second favorite language next to Python. I really like how expressive Ruby is.

I’d like to learn Elixir someday…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Yes, two things.

  1. Please contribute to the PSF, if you can. Or consider becoming a sponsor. These donations support great initiatives all over the world and help support our global Python communities.
  2. Be kind, supportive, and most of all patient with maintainers. This is general advice but it feels important. Everybody has been affected by the pandemic in some way and life for most is probably full of new and unexpected challenges.

I encourage everyone to practice empathy, and if you want to learn more about the struggles that open source maintainers face, I have 2 recommendations for you:

  1. Read Nadia Eghbal’s book Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software
  2. Watch Brett Cannon’s talk on Setting Expectations for Open Source Participation

This bit hits close to home for me and feels like a conversation I’m constantly having with strangers over the internet. We shouldn’t need to advocate for civil discourse in open source.

Thanks for doing the interview, Frank!

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PyDev of the Week: Débora Azevedo | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Débora Azevedo | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Débora Azevedo (@pydebb) as our PyDev of the Week! Débora is active in the PyLadies and DjangoGirls groups as well as teaching Python at PyLadies workshops. Let’s spend some time getting to know her better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m an educator. I love teaching, and I’m working now as an English teacher in my state’s public network. But I have also taught Python in some PyLadies workshops. I’m doing my master’s degree in Innovation in Educational Technologies. For the past months, I’ve been working on developing educational software to assist deaf children in their literacy process from a bilingual perspective, considering that here in Brazil they learn Brazilian Sign Language and also written Portuguese. In my free time, I like to invest in the community (which has invested so much in me). From meetings online to translating blog posts and managing social media profiles, one thing worth pointing out about me is the involvement in the Python community here in Brazil, especially with PyLadies Brazil, which I contribute the most to. My most beloved hobbies are reading (love both Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), playing guitar and singing. I also write sporadically in my blog (in Portuguese).

Why did you start using Python?

Well, that’s a funny story. I started using Python when I was in my Computer Networking technical course. I remember that, back then, I chose to do this specific course because I thought there would be no programming involved. In this course, we had 3 programming classes, and all of them were taught in Python! We studied structured programming, object-oriented programming, and web development with Django. It was a milestone for me, especially with all the difficult background I had with programming. During high school, I went through a mix of not having a computer, writing Java code in my notebook, and wanting to break the school’s computer down whenever I saw something was not compiling. With Python, there were no traumas, no hard feelings. Python showed me I could actually build things, I was capable. It was extremely empowering.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

When I first started to learn to code in high school, we used a language called Portugol, which had their commands and reserved keywords in Portuguese, and then some Java. At the university, I got to learn some C and C++. Of course I’m not a master in any of these languages but my favorite is definitely Python…

Thanks for doing the interview, Débora!

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PyDev of the Week: Carlton Gibson | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Carlton Gibson | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Carlton Gibson (@carltongibson) as our PyDev of the Week. Carlton is a core developer of the Django REST Framework and maintainer of Django Filter, Crispy Forms and more. Carlton is the co-host of the Django Talk podcast. You can see what Carlton is currently working on over on Github.

Let’s spend some time getting to know Carlton better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m a father of four, so that’s my main hobby.

I practice Tai Chi. I like cooking. I read a lot. Music, languages, these kind of things.

My education, a long time ago now, I studied economics and philosophy, eventually doing a PhD in the philosophy of science.

Why did you start using Python?

I went to a conference back in the day called Future of Web Apps. I was using PHP at the time, and just getting into Objective-C for mobile app development, on what was then iPhoneOS.

Everyone was talking about the new thing “Django, Django, Django”, so it must have been around the 1.0. I got home, I Googled it. It said The Web Framework for Perfectionist with a Deadline. I’m like, “That’s me!”

So, it wasn’t just Django, it was Python. It was clean, powerful, expressive – from the language perspective, these are the things I still appreciate today. You need to script something up and it ends up being 150 lines. It’s what using a computer should be all about…

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favourite?

I try to at least experiment with the different languages as I come across them. There’s that whole line from The Pragmatic Programmer about learning a new language every year. But the big one is JavaScript, still. It’s the scripting language of the web. It’s essential.

The issue I have with is the tooling and framework churn. It’s all in the name of progress but, as a primarily backend focused developer, it’s too hard to keep up. As such I’m a big fan of Elm, which is a functional language that compiles down to JavaScript. It’s great for building richer applications, once you get into the territory of needed Vue or React or similar.

There’s a learning curve to the whole functional approach, and the first couple of hours with Elm are a bit, Whoa, but I highly recommend it. There’s a joy when you’re working on a component and it compiles, and then it works perfectly first time. You have to try that. Refactoring and the compiler error messages are divine…

Thanks for doing the interview, Carlton!

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PyDev of the Week – Abigail Mesrenyame Dogbe | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week – Abigail Mesrenyame Dogbe | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Abigail Mesrenyame Dogbe (@MesrenyameDogbe) as our PyDev of the Week! Abigail is active with the PyLadies organization in Africa and has also helped organize PyCon Africa. Abigail is also a fellow of the Python Software Foundation.

Let’s spend some time getting to know Abigail better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I worked with the Internal Audit Department at the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) after obtaining a BSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, Ghana. Growing up, I struggled with Mathematics and did lots of drawings, paintings, and singing during my hobbies. My hobbies became numerous as I matured so much that I no longer make drawings and paintings but I’ve found happiness in playing with African beads to make accessories and I still sing a lot, although mostly to smaller groups or to myself.

I have a great interest in sports such as volleyball, football and swimming as well. During my final year at the university, I was elected as the captain of the women’s volleyball team. We had lots of training sessions and won a few matches. I am actually impressed with how far the team has come after I completed school.

Also, I have a keen interest in Tech Community Building and I find joy in helping others grow in their career.

Why did you start using Python?

In 2017, a friend shared a registration link to the first Django Girls event in Accra. It involved teaching girls how to build websites using Python and Django. I took a chance at applying since I had never used or studied Python during my four-year stay in School learning Computer Science and Engineering. After the event, I learned how simple it was to use the language as compared with the other languages I had learned in school. The syntax was easier for me to understand and I have been particularly intrigued about the amazing Python Community. I have made friends from this community who have had a great influence and impact on my life.


What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

The programming languages I learned in University included Java, C++ and Visual Basic. For Web development, we did some html and css as well.  I self-taught myself C which I used in my final year project work, published here. This project is about a GSM Communication Based Smart-Prepaid Energy Meter Monitoring System.

I know that for every project or solution to an idea it is important to use a programming language suitable to achieving your goal. Last year, I explored automation with Python and have started exploring it more in Data Analysis and Visualization. So yes, I think Python is currently my favorite language…

Thanks for doing the interview, Abigail!

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PyDev of the Week: Vuyisile Ndlovu | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Vuyisile Ndlovu | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Vuyisile Ndlovu (@terrameijar) as our PyDev of the Week! Vuyisile is a contributor to Real Python and a Python blogger on his own website. He is also active in the Python community in Africa. You can find out more about Vuyisile on his website or by checking out his Github profile. Let’s take some time to get to know him better!

VuyisileNdlovu
This Week’s Subject: Vuyisile Ndlovu courtesy of Mike Driscoll

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I’m a developer from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. I have always been fascinated by computers so after I completed High School, I enrolled for an I.T Diploma program at a local community college that had programming as part of the curriculum. Unfortunately, my situation changed and I couldn’t graduate in the end. I switched to teaching myself computer science topics and programming through online courses and books.

When I’m not working on code, I like to work on woodworking projects in the backyard and taking my dogs for regular walks. Doing this allows me to take a break from tech, be creative in different ways and also get some exercise.

Why did you start using Python?

I was a core contributor to the Mozilla project for a few years and one of the teams I worked with used Python extensively for automating their work. I liked how simple and intuitive Python looked so I started learning it. Compared to C++, which is what I was used to, the Python syntax was easier for me to understand and I loved that it could be used for Web Development, which is an area I have an interest in. As I learned more about the language, I realised that it has an amazing community and since then I’ve made a lot of friends from being a part of the Python community and this is one of the reasons that reinforced my desire to keep using Python.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I don’t have a favorite language yet because I haven’t been programming for a long time and I know that different languages are suited for different things. I’m learning JavaScript and back in college, I took C++ and Visual Basic classes. I teach programming classes at a High School using VB.Net because I find that using Visual Basic makes building GUIs in a Windows environment easy and the language is relatively simple to teach to beginners.

The work projects I work on are web projects and I enjoy using Python and Django to build those out.

Thanks for doing the interview, Vuyisile!

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PyDev of the Week: David Fischer | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: David Fischer | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome David Fischer (@djfische) as our PyDev of the Week! David is an organizer of the San Diego Python user’s group. He also works for Read the Docs. You can see what David has been up to on his website or check out what he’s been up to on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know David better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I am one of the organizers of the San Diego Python meetup and I’ve been doing that since early 2012, but my hobbies nowadays mostly involve spending time with my 3 year old daughter. I also really enjoy games of all kinds from in-person board and card games to computer games and my daughter is just about the right age to start introducing this stuff.

I have a bachelor’s degree in applied math and despite the name that involved a lot of programming. Mostly I learned Java in college which outside of some Android development I’ve barely used since.

For work, I previously worked at Qualcomm, Amazon, and a beer-tech related startup (how San Diego!). I currently work on Read the Docs. I’ve had the opportunity to work on lots of different things from web apps, mobile apps, technical sales/marketing, scalability, security, and privacy. I don’t want to rule out working for big companies, but the small company life seems like a better fit for me.

Perhaps this comes out of some of my security and privacy work, but I try not to participate much on social media. I was surprised to be contacted to do this interview because I think of myself as having a pretty low profile in the Python community outside of San Diego. I’m happy to do it, though.

Why did you start using Python?

I first learned Python in a college class where we had a project in a new programming language every 3 weeks or so. We also learned JavaScript, a Lisp-like language called ML, and Prolog. My opinions on programming weren’t very well formed back then but I remember really liking Python relative to the others. I think I was using Python 2.3 or maybe a 2.4 beta version. The Python docs were much more brightly colored back then.

I didn’t do any Python after that for around 4-5 years but I came back to it when I needed to create something that ended up like a bad version of mitmproxy (although mitmproxy didn’t exist yet). I really enjoyed working on that project and in Python and this is probably the only time this has happened to me but I remember looking up from my work and it was after midnight. I hadn’t eaten dinner and everybody else at work had gone home hours ago. I was hooked and I’ve been doing mostly Python ever since.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

It’s been about a decade now, but I was a professional PHP developer for a few years. Sometimes, the language gets a bad reputation in the Python community but I always thought it was alright and it does have some areas the Python ecosystem could learn from. Today, I mostly work in Python with some JavaScript. Python is definitely my favorite.

Thanks for doing the interview, David!

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PyDev of the Week: Aymeric Augustin | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Aymeric Augustin | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Aymeric Augustin (@aymericaugustin) as our PyDev of the Week. Aymeric is a core developer of Django, a Python web framework. He is also an entrepreneur and speaker at several Django related conferences. You can catch up with Aymeric over on his website or check out his FOSS contributions on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know him better!

Aymeric Augustin

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

Do you know how to spot a Frenchman? That’s always the first thing they mention! Now that’s out of the way…

These days my hobbies center around being the dad of three wonderful girls 🙂 We’re doing a lot of physical activity together: swimming, cycling, gardening, playing music, etc.

I’m managing a software engineering department of about 200 people at CANAL+, a French audiovisual media group that operates TV services in several countries.

I was trained as a generalist engineer, eventually specializing in Computer Science and Information Technology, but I learnt most of what I do on the job.

Why did you start using Python?

In 2006, a friend told me about this great, simple language called Python. At first, I dismissed it: I said that PHP was simple enough for anything I wanted to do. This ranks quite high on the long list of stupid things I said 🙂

One year later, I was doing an internship at (now defunct) Zonbu, living the startup life in Palo Alto. That’s when I wrote my first Python application. It was a desktop GUI for encoding videos such that they’d play on iPods or on the just-released iPhone. I built it with PyGTK and glade. Under the hood, it ran mencoder and MP4box.

I dug out the source code from my archives for this interview. Not only did it use tabs for indentation and backslashes for line breaks, but it also sported an elegant logging system:

if __debug__:
    print("INFO: Initializing BackgroundEncoder")

Then, in 2009, in my first job, I wrote two non-trivial Python projects. I was working on an in-train entertainment portal. The first one centralized onboard communications between the web portal and the network infrastructure. The second one managed content synchronization depending on available network connectivity. I had discovered the concept of automated tests and I was very proud of my test coverage.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

My first language was Basic, first FutureBASIC in 1995 and later TI-BASIC. Then a friend introduced me to HTML and the World Wide Web in 1997. Together, we made a website for our high school.

My Computer Science courses were mostly in Caml — a great language for the mathematically oriented but little known outside French academia, Java, and C. I also had the opportunity to try other interesting languages such as Erlang, Factor, Haskell, and Scheme.

I still enjoy writing small bits of C, mostly for Python extensions. I haven’t used Java since 1.5 was the latest and greatest. I can’t claim I still know it. I tried C# .NET around the same time. I didn’t like it because the documentation always told me what I knew already and never what I wanted to know.

Outside courses, I wrote a lot of PHP. If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of the challenges of writing significant projects in PHP. However, I wouldn’t be here without PHP, so I’m grateful that it exists. Step by step, I went from static HTML to small dynamic bits, then to factoring out repeated sections, then to writing my own mini-framework, then to Python and Django. That was a good learning path.

Professionally, besides Python, I’ve been writing JavaScript and CSS. I taught myself modern full-stack development when I co-founded Otherwise — because being the CTO at a start-up means you’re the only developer at first. Earlier in my career, I also wrote some Ruby, but I was more comfortable with Django than with Rails.

Purely from a language perspective, I still like Caml a lot. I’m certainly romanticizing memories of when I learnt programming 🙂 Anyway, sometimes I feel like I’m a static typing fan lost in Python land!…

Thanks for doing the interview, Aymeric

 

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PyDev of the Week: Frank Wiles | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Frank Wiles | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Frank Wiles (@fwiles) as our PyDev of the Week! Frank is the President and Founder of Revolution Systems and President of the Django Software Foundation. If you’d like to know about Frank, you should take a moment to check out his website or his Github account. For now, let’s take some time to get to know him better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I grew up in a small town in Kansas, about 10,000 people, so computers became a hobby early in life. Other than that I really enjoy cooking and when I have time some photography, but these days it’s mostly just taking photos of the kiddos.

I attended Kansas University for awhile as a CS major and then switched to Business before ultimately dropping out during the dotcom boom.

Frank Wiles

Why did you start using Python?

I started using Python in 2008 and it quickly became my primary language. At the time I was sharing an office with Jacob Kaplan-Moss and our friend Rikki knew that and wanted me to write an article that was part interview of him about the recent creation of the Django Software Foundation and part quick intro to Django.

I said sure and then realized, crap now I have to learn Python and Django.

I quickly realized that Django was better than what I was currently using and that I found Python to be really great as well. In hindsight, I’m really glad I was gently nudged in this direction.

You can actually still find a slightly broken version of the article online.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I was primarily a Perl person for about a decade, even writing a book on it with a friend back in 2001 but I haven’t used it in at least 10 years.

I know enough C/C++ and Go to be dangerous. I’d like to do a larger project in Go at some point but have yet to find the time. I’m also half-heartedly teaching myself Rust, but haven’t done anything serious with it yet. But from what I’ve seen it has a place in my bag of tricks in the future.

Python is obviously my favorite and the tool I always reach for first…

 

Thanks for doing the interview, Frank!

 

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PyDev of the Week: William Vincent | The Mouse Vs. The Python

This week we welcome William Vincent (@wsv3000) as our PyDev of the Week! William is the author of 3 books on the Django web framework, including Django for Beginners. You can find out more about what William is up to on his website where he writes about Python, Django and more. Let’s take a few moments to get to know him better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

 

I have a “non-traditional” background in that I started my career as a book editor, transitioned into startups on the business side, and finally in my 30s learned how to code and now work as a software engineer and teacher. I basically locked myself in a room for two years and learned how to code, founded my first startup, and went through a lot of ups and downs along the way. 

 

Why did you start using Python?

 

I started programming in earnest back in 2012 while I was living in San Francisco and working at Quizlet. At the time, the choice was either Ruby on Rails or Python/Django among the other startups I knew. I chose Python because I needed to pick something and I liked the idea that Python could be broadly used beyond just web development, unlike Ruby.

 

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

 

I always find it interesting to experiment with other languages. Lisp in particular was mind-blowing. But day-to-day I mainly use JavaScript as my other language of choice. It has some warts but I really like using it and don’t find it off-putting at all. It’s become a lot more Pythonic with ES6 features.

 

 

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