PyDev of the Week: Leodanis Pozo Ramos | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Leodanis Pozo Ramos | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Leodanis Pozo Ramos (@lpozo78) as our PyDev of the Week! Leodanis is a contributor and author for Real Python. You can see some of his projects over on Github or see what he’s up to on his own website.

Let’s spend a few moments getting to know Leodanis better!

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

I’m an Industrial Engineer based in Holguín, Cuba. I also have a Master’s Degree in Quality Assurance. When I graduated from university, I started working in the oil and energy industry. I worked as a Machinery Lubrication Engineer for about 10 years.

In 2014, I decided to change my career and become a programmer. Then I started to learn Python, which is my first programming language…

Why did you start using Python?

I’ve been in love with computers since I used the first one when I started university. It was 1999 and I was 21 years old when I first used a computer. So, you can imagine that my career as a developer is quite different from a traditional programming career in the US or in any other developed country.

In the university, I used Delphi, which was based on the Object Pascal programming language, to build some applications for my programming class. I tried to learn C/C++ by that time, but since I wasn’t studying CS, I haven’t enough time to learn to program with those languages…

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

Basically, I consider that I just know the basics of Python. Learning a programming language in-depth can take a lot of time and if you’re learning the fundamentals of programming at the same time… then you have a lot of work on your plate. So, I can say that Python is my favorite but also my only programming language.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Yes, I’d like to say some words mainly to self-taught developers and to people that come from a different career or background.

As I said before, I am a self-taught Python developer. I’m 42 years old right now and I started learning Python six years ago. I saw the first computer when I was 21 and got connected to the Internet when I was 35. The moral behind all this is that, if you really love programming, then I’m sure you’ll find out a way to continue learning.

Thanks for doing the interview, Leodanis!

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PyDev of the Week: Claudia Regio | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Claudia Regio | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Claudia Regio (@ClaudiaRegio) as our PyDev of the Week! Claudia is a project manager for Python Data Science with a focus on Python Notebooks in Visual Studio Code at Microsoft. She also blogs on Microsoft’s dev blog.

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

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

I am originally from Italy and moved to the Greater Seattle Area when I was 4 years old. Growing up I lived and breathed squash, and had it not been for COVID I still would be! I have been and always will be a huge math nerd and have been tutoring in math for over 10 years now. I attended the University of Washington where I majored in Applied Physics and received two minors in Comprehensive Mathematics and Applied Mathematics while a member of both the Delta Zeta Sorority and the UW Men’s Squash Team.

After graduating I pursued a Data Science Certificate from the University of Washington to enhance my data analysis + data science skills while working at T-Mobile as a Systems Network Architecture Engineer.

Two years after working in that role, I transitioned to Program Manager at Microsoft for the Python Extension in VS Code, focusing on the development of the Data Science & AI components and features.

Why did you start using Python?

The courses in my data science certificate got me started on Python back in 2017.

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

I learned Java during my time in college and while I enjoyed Java being a strongly typed language, no language beats Python when it comes to data science…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I would like to thank the incredible team I get to work with (David Kutugata, Don Jayamanne, Ian Huff, Jim Griesmer, Joyce Er, Rich Chiodo, Rong Lu) who make this tool come to life and a thank you to all the customers who engage with us and are helping us build the best tool for data scientists!

If anyone would like to provide any additional feedback, feature requests, or help contribute back to the product you can do so here!

Thanks for doing the interview, Claudia!

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PyDev of the Week: Ken Youens-Clark | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Ken Youens-Clark | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Ken Youens-Clark (@kycl4rk) as our PyDev of the Week! He is the author of Tiny Python Projects from Manning. He has done video lectures for each of his chapters on YouTube.

Ken Youens-Clark

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

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

I grew up playing the drums and initially was a music major in college for a couple of years. I changed my major in college several times, finally ending up with a BA in English literature and a minor in music. After college, I started playing the electric and upright basses in bands, and over the last few years, I’ve mostly enjoyed playing the piano, fiddle, drums, and sometimes the bodhran. I love cooking, especially baking for my family, and my wife and I love watching “The Great British Baking Show” and reading cookbooks for inspiration.

I never studied computer science and learned programming on the job. I had a TRS-80 as a kid, but I probably never wrote more than a hundred lines of BASIC on it. The first language I got paid to write was Visual Basic on Windows 3.1. I worked as a desktop Windows programmer in the late 90s before becoming enamored of this “internet” thing when I switched to working in Unix and Perl. That lead me into a web developer position in a genomics lab which turned into a career in bioinformatics.

I start my MS at the University of Arizona (UA) in 2015, 20 years after completing my undergraduate degree, and finished in 2019.

Why did you start using Python?

While working in the lab of Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz at UA, I was fortunate to help her teach beginning programming skills to biologists and engineers. Starting in 2015, we used Perl since that was our favorite language and it was so widely used in bioinformatics.

After a couple of years it was clear that Python would be a better choice. Python’s syntax is simple, it had eclipsed Perl in scientific computing, and there were more jobs waiting for trained Python programmers.

Around 2017, I proceeded to convert all my training materials to Python and switched to coding in Python full-time so as to become proficient. The change really benefited me in my machine learning adventures, and I’ve found it’s my go-to language for most of my day-to-day development from command-line programs to web backends.

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

My first languages were Visual Basic and Delphi which I’ve completely forgotten. I can still hack Perl, and I write bash fairly well and often. I use Elm, a purely functional language which is a subset of Haskell, for dynamic web front-ends, and I also really enjoy working in Rust which I would have to say is probably my favorite right now…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I always enjoyed the camaraderie of the Perl community, and I’ve found Python to be equally welcoming and supportive. In Perl I relied heavily on CPAN and managed to contribute a few modules of my own, and I’ve found that Python’s pypi is an equally terrific resource.

I enjoy so much about Python, but I also recognize that the language will allow you to make serious errors so I really stress the need to use type annotations with “mypy” and lots and lots of tests. This has been a central focus to my classroom teaching and both my books.

Thanks for doing the interview, Ken!

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PyDev of the Week: Froilán Irizarry Rivera | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Froilán Irizarry Rivera | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Froilán Irizarry Rivera (@froidotdev) as our PyDev of the Week! Froilán does code live streaming on Twitch. Froilán helped found Fullstack Knights which is a monthly meetup and more. You can also see what he is up to over on Github.

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

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

I’m from Puerto Rico, where I went to school and started my career. I’m now living in Washington DC and working at GitHub. I moved to Washinton DC to join the United States Digital Service and I then moved on to Code.gov. So what started as “we’ll just be here for two years” has turned into four.

I’ve also been working in civic tech and community building for a couple of years with Code for Puerto Rico (which I’m currently leading), Code for DC, and Fullstack Nights back home.

Outside of what can be considered work I really like to read and write. There’s also something about walking the city and I really enjoy, especially if I can buy a coffee and sit near some water and just think. Video games and almost any animation are also big deals for me.

Why did I start using Python?

My wife is a Python developer and introduced me to the language. At one point I decided to go on my own and I was tired of Java, so I founded a small Python dev shop in PR called Killer Rabbit Labs (yes that killer rabbit ????). Once I started with Python it’s been hard to stop!

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

JavaScript/TypeScript and Go are my other languages.

I’m still learning Go and don’t use it enough but have enjoyed using it.

JavaScript started as a necessity but over time I’ve really come to enjoy it. Especially with the language additions from ES6 forward. Lately, I’ve been enjoying having types in my code so I’ve moved into using TypeScript pretty heavily instead of plain JS…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to say thank you for the opportunity and the books, they’re great. I guess I’ll finish this up by saying to everybody take care, be safe, and have a great socially distant holidays.

Thanks for doing the interview, Froilán!

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PyDev of the Week: Amanda Sopkin | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Amanda Sopkin | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Amanda Sopkin (@amandasopkin) as our PyDev of the Week! She enjoys writing, teaching and the hackathon community. Amanda has given several talks at various Python conferences as well. You can check out what she has been up to over on her website.

Let’s take a few moments to learn more about Amanda!

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

I grew up in Denver, Colorado and moved to San Francisco for work. I got my degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In my spare time I attend hackathons as a coach for Major League Hacking to help students have a great experience at the events they attend. I enjoy writing, speaking, and obsessively reading about sharks.

Why did you start using Python?

Python was one of my first programming languages when I started coding about 10 years ago. I was particularly drawn to the welcoming community. Every time I attend a Python event I’m impressed by the friendly culture!

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

Python is by far my favorite and I’m not just saying that because this is for a Python blog! When I forget the syntax for something in Python, it’s almost always one of the first things I guess…

Thanks for doing the interview, Amanda!

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PyDev of the Week: Martijn Faassen | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Martijn Faassen | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Martijn Faassen (@faassen) as our PyDev of the Week! Martijn is the creator of the popular lxml package and the Morepath web framework, among others. You can see what else he is up to over on Github or check out his blog.

Let’s take a few moments to get to know Martijn better!

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

I’m from the Netherlands, married, and the father of an 8-year-old son.

I have a garden plot near my house where I grow fruit, vegetables and flowers, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of that. It also gets me moving and away from the computer. I listen to podcasts as I garden. With a garden, you either get very little harvest or a lot all at once. When you get a big harvest the challenge becomes to process it, so I make fruit cordials and jam, and my wife makes sambal (a southeast Asian chili sauce). I like the magic of fermentation too, so I’ve made pickles and alcohol as well as fizzy drinks. I also make yoghurt for fun!

I have a wide range of interests beyond that: I enjoy history, science, and critical thinking. I like to read, both non-fiction as well as fiction. Fiction I enjoy include science fiction and mysteries.

Currently, I’m playing with an e-paper display and writing a Rust driver for it. I also like to dabble with artificial life simulations.

Why did you start using Python?

In 1998 I was working on an artificial life simulation in C++. I was interested in using a scripting language so I could do some automated checks of the source code. On my Linux computer I had Perl available, so I tried that for a little bit. I could see the appeal but much of it was difficult to get into my head. I’d heard of Python as an alternative scripting language. One night I printed out the Python tutorial and I read it before I slept. It made sense to me: “it fits your brain” as was the slogan of the 2001 Python conference. The next day I could write Python. Not very idiomatic Python, but that came fairly quickly afterward. Because it was so much easier than C++ I wanted to use it for everything. I had done some programming temp work already at that time, and the next temp job I got (at the local university) I asked whether I could use Python. “Is it readable?” they asked, and I said yes, and there I was, having a job writing Python in 1998, which was really a rarity at the time. I remember reading the Python mailing list where people wistfully dreamed about a job where they could write Python. Soon after I got involved in web development with Python using Zope, in which I was very involved for many years. For my very personal history of Zope see https://blog.startifact.com/posts/my-exit-from-zope.html

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

I consider myself a web developer and since the frontend has become more prominent in the last decade, JavaScript and TypeScript are also languages I use a lot. I like going all around the stack. Many concepts and programming techniques are as useful in backend code as they are in a frontend codebase…

Thanks for doing the interview, Martijn!

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PyDev of the Week: Benoît Bovy | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Benoît Bovy | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Benoît Bovy (@benbovy) as our PyDev of the Week! Benoît is a contributor to Xarray-related libraries like Xpublish and Xoak. You can see what else he is working on over on Github.

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

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

I’m an independent software developer living in Belgium. I studied geography & geomatics, then with the help of computational models I spent a few years and a PhD trying to better understand how the shape of the Earth surface evolves over geological time scales. I’ve always been passionate about natural (Earth) science and programming, so it felt pretty obvious to me that I was going to follow this path. However, I’ve never really felt in my element as a researcher in academia. Those last eight years have thus been a slow transition from doing research to building software. It was also during that time that I started contributing to open-source software, mostly within the Python scientific ecosystem. I guess that I can call myself a “research software engineer” now. It’s very exciting to see this new community growing rapidly. I’m still working with research institutes and universities (as a freelance), but not only. Besides computers, science and landscapes, I’m also passionate about music. I’m playing in a band called Roscoe. We played a good number of gigs in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Canada… and we are now recording our 3rd album. I’m very excited about that!

Why did you start using Python?

I remember well the first script that I wrote in Python, it was almost 15 years ago! I wanted to automate some complex workflows run in a GIS software (Idrisi), which was possible through a few programming languages using Microsoft’s COM technology. Among the examples shown in the documentation, I picked the one written in Python because it looked the easiest to me. At that time Python wasn’t very widespread, and Numpy was just at its beginning. My thesis advisor didn’t take me very seriously when I showed him my script. Looking at how Python and its broader ecosystem have evolved since then, I’m glad that I picked that Python example in the first place.

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

I discovered the joy of programming using BASIC when I was still a spotty teenager. That was fun! During my graduate-level studies, I took some programming courses introducing Pascal, Java and C, but I didn’t really spend much more time digging those languages. I developed some websites using languages like PHP and Javascript, but somehow the Javascript ecosystem still scares me.

I’ve also spent quite some time reading Fortran code for my work. I actually find modern Fortran very nice for scientific computing and pleasant to read, although it still suffers from the absence of a consistent ecosystem/community around it (some people seem to work hard to fix that: https:// fortran-lang.org/). Recently I started using C++ for more serious work, and although it may be painful, I’m enjoying it! I was motivated by the Xtensor library, which is great for people that are already familiar with Numpy. Julia is probably next on my list…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for this interview, Mike! I enjoyed answering your questions!

Thanks for doing the interview, Benoît!

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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: Mridu Bhatnagar | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Mridu Bhatnagar | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Mridu Bhatnagar (@Mridu__) as our PyDev of the Week! Mridu enjoys giving tech talks. She recently started a Youtube channel and a blog on Python and other tech topics.

Let’s take a few moments to get to know Mridu better!

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

Hi, I am Mridu. I am a backend developer by profession. Computer Science and Engineering graduate by degree. I am in the formative years of my career. I love building stuff, converting ideas into working applications, and automating tasks wherever I can.

Other areas of my interest include outdoors – sports, travel, adventure. I have done trekking, hiking, wall-climbing, long-distance cycling, kayaking, and now that I have started I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to do those again and also explore the ones that I haven’t tried so far to face the fears and live the life experiences to the fullest.

I am more of a go alone and meet people kind of person. This gives an opportunity to meet new folks at a variety of meetups(not just tech meetups) from different walks of life, different age groups, an opportunity to indulge in intriguing conversations, and a bunch of new things to learn and get inspired from.

Why did you start using Python?

I was in the third year of my under-graduation and we were offered Python as one of the elective courses. This was the turning point in life. We were given lots of interesting problems to solve as a part of our lab work, projects. The problems were related to building interesting applications from building small word games, hangman, multi-player tic-tac-toe, tinkering with boards raspberry pi, beaglebone, using OpenCV to identify number-plate of a car, something around QR codes, etc.

We were graded on a single project. I was so excited about the ideas that on-side I started building more projects. Gradually, my interest in programming started to develop.

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

Professionally I have been programming with Python, using SQL for working with databases. For building some of my side-projects I have used HTML, CSS, JS. Every programming language works best for certain use-cases and has its own limitations too. However, based on the variety of side-projects I can build using the language and community around the language, Python is favorite…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I learned this the hard way, after hesitating to reach out to anyone in the initial years of engineering. Find your teacher/mentor. Reach out, ask, seek help if you need to. Avoid getting into the trap of analysis-paralysis. Go ahead, start.

I am forever grateful to the teacher/mentor who introduced me to programming and believed that you can do it. By giving talks within my native country and outside, if I am able to give back to the community in a small way it has honestly been a collective effort.

Thanks for doing the interview, Mridu!

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PyDev of the Week: Reuven Lerner | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Reuven Lerner | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Reuven Lerner (@reuvenmlerner) as our PyDev of the Week. Reuven is a trainer who teaches Python and data science all over the world. You can find out more on his website. Reuven also has a newsletter on becoming a better developer that you might enjoy.

Reuven also has the following resources freely available:

Let’s take some time getting to know Reuven better!

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

I grew up in the Northeastern United States, and studied computer science at MIT, graduating in 1992. After working for Hewlett Packard and Time Warner, I moved to Israel in December 1995, opening my own consulting company. I had neither consulted nor run a business at that point, but I was single and optimistic, so I gave it a shot.

I’ve been in business for myself since then, pausing along the way to get a PhD in learning sciences from Northwestern University. My dissertation involved the creation of the Modeling Commons, which allows people to collaborate in the creation of agent-based models.

For years, I did a little bit of everything: I wrote software, did system administration, tuned databases, consulted with companies, and did training. About a decade ago, I realized that training was more fun and more lucrative than development — and that it was a good business practice to specialize in one thing. I’ve been a full-time Python trainer since then. Most days, I teach between 4-10 hours for companies around the world, teaching everything from “Python for non-programmers” all the way up to advanced Python workshops.

I’m married, with three children (20, 18, and 15), and live in Modi’in, a small city halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

As for hobbies, my big obsession over the last few years has been studying Chinese. I find it fun and interesting, and also practical, given that I normally travel to China a few times each year to do corporate training there. (That has obviously been put on hold, thanks to the pandemic.)

Aside from Chinese, I read a lot, especially about current events. I also enjoy doing crosswords, and am steadily getting better at them. Everyone in my family, including me, also enjoys cooking, although I don’t often have a chance to do it as much as I’d like. And as of the start of the pandemic, I’ve been taking very long, very early walks — about 15 km/day, starting at 4 a.m. I have found it a nice, refreshing way to get out in this time of staying
at home.

Why did you start using Python?

I was introduced to Python back in early 1993, when the Web was young and we were looking for languages with which we could write server-side scripts, aka “Web applications.” (I actually objected to having the term “application developer” on my business card, because I thought it was laughable that you could call what we wrote “applications.” Whoops.)

At the time, I did some Perl and some Python. At the time, Perl was more popular and had a much larger library of third-party modules. So while I knew Python and recommended it to anyone I knew who wanted to start programming, I personally used Perl for a while, continuing to use Python here and there, but not doing much with it.

I saw that Perl wasn’t doing well as a language or community, and tried to figure out in which direction I could move. I tried Python, but the Web application frameworks at the time were too weak or too weird. (I even did a big project using Zope, with its object database.) That’s when Ruby on Rails was released; because Ruby is basically Perl with Smalltalk objects, I was delighted to use the language.

But I couldn’t escape noticing that Ruby was largely trapped in the Web world, whereas Python was growing in scope and mindshare. The number of third-party packages on PyPI was growing rapidly, and when I decided to exclusively do training (rather than doing it alongside development and consulting), I found that there was far more demand for Python than for anything else.

I’ve been deeply steeped in the Python world ever since, and I couldn’t be happier.

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

I learned Lisp back in college, and I still use Emacs for editing — so I continue to have affection for Lisp as a language, and often refer to the concepts, I learned in it when working with Python.

As I wrote above, I loved working with Ruby. Everything is an object in Python, but that’s even more the case in Ruby. I loved the freedom and creativity of the Ruby world, but the object model is hard for people to grasp — and in Ruby, if you don’t eat objects for breakfast, you’ll have a hard time with it.

My research group in graduate school developed NetLogo, an agent-based modeling language. That’s a completely different way of writing code and expressing ideas, one which more developers should try.

I’m not sure if any of these would count as my favorite; I’ve now been using Python for long enough that I find that I can most easily express myself using its idioms.

I keep hoping to find time to learn Rust, because the idea of a systems language that doesn’t require me to use pointers seems really attractive, and I’ve heard such great things about it. But I keep struggling to find time to learn it…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’m generally impressed with the Python community, in that it’s welcoming to newcomers and patient with their questions. There are so many people learning Python, and for them it’s not a passion or the latest language on a long list — it’s something they have to do for work, and they’re a bit confused by the terminology, the ecosystem, and even the syntax. I love working with newcomers to the language, and I encourage everyone to do what they can to help the huge influx of programming immigrants (for lack of a better term), to help this all make sense to them.

Thanks for doing the interview, Reuven!

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PyDev of the Week: Max Humber | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Max Humber | The Mouse vs The Python
This week we welcome Max Humber (@maxhumber) as our PyDev of the Week! Max is the creator of gazpacho, a  “simple, fast, and modern web scraping library” written in Python. Max is also an instructor at O’Reilly media. You can see what other projects Max is working on over on Github.
 
Let’s take a few moments to get to know Max better!
 
 
Can you tell us a little about yourself:
 
I’m hunkered down in Toronto teaching for O’Reilly and General Assembly. Throwing all of my free time at leveling up my cooking. And looking forward to when I can go see live music, boulder at my gym, and take a pottery class again…
 
 
Why did you start using Python?
 
I’m pretty sure I started using Python because of lifelines by Cameron Davidson-Pilon. I needed to do some survival analysis some years ago, and got hooked into the language because of that package.
 
 
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
 
I started programming in R. Although I don’t really use the language anymore, I sometimes miss dplyr. These days, I’m spending more and more time with Swift. It’s a great language with some great ideas, like, protocol-oriented programming. And I like Lua exactly because of its limitations. Honestly, I’m convinced that Lua is more popular than Python in some other timeline. But in this timeline Python is my favourite!…
 
 
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
 
Yes! thesaurus.com is an underrated programming tool. Especially if you’re like me and you feel like this every damn day.
 
And, thanks for inviting me to participate in this interview series, Mike! Really appreciate all of the work that you do.
 
 
Thanks for doing the interview, Max!

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PyDev of the Week: Mary Chester-Kadwell | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Mary Chester-Kadwell | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Mary Chester-Kadwell (@marycktech) as our PyDev of the Week! Mary is a software engineer at Cambridge University Library. You can see some of what she’s up to over on Github.

I think you’ll find her journey into Python really interesting. So without further ado, let’s find out more about Mary!

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

I’m a software engineer at Cambridge University Library in the UK. At work, I split my time between developing software, advising academics and teaching coding with Python. Some of the software I develop is about providing services to library users, but some of it is designed for research projects. I work a lot with students and staff in arts, humanities, social sciences, libraries and museums. I get to dip my toe in all sorts of interesting areas like machine learning, natural language processing, handwriting recognition, and computer vision…

Why did you start using Python?

After a few years in the workplace I was looking for a new direction. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could do programming as almost all the people I knew who were programmers were men. I had tried my hand at coding before at various points over the years for small things, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere. Books and documentation were so dry and they assumed too much about what you already knew. Now in 2020 we are swimming in excellent courses and resources — how lucky we are!

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

I think of myself as an enthusiastic polyglot. I’ve (almost) never met a language I didn’t like. I have to limit myself learning new ones because they’re a bit like popcorn — yummy and moreish! Recently, I’ve worked a lot in Java and JavaScript, and a little in various others, because my team supports a variety of codebases. The past couple of years, in particular, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Python much more deeply, and it’s currently my favourite…

Thanks for doing the interview, Mary!

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PyDev of the Week: Kevin Thomas | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Kevin Thomas | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Kevin Thomas (@mytechnotalent) as our PyDev of the Week. Kevin is the author of Python for Kids, which is “a comprehensive and FREE Online Python Development course FOR KIDS utilizing an official BBC micro:bit Development Board”.

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

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

My background is non-technical and I am originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and began programming as a kid. I ran a Commodore 64 Bulletin Board where people would dial-in through the phone. Originally I programmed in the C language and Assembly Language for the x86 platform. Today I am a Senior Software Engineer in Test and program Automation Frameworks in Python.

Why did you start using Python?

I started using Python a few years ago while learning Automation and today I am a Senior Software Engineer in Test and program Automation Frameworks in Python.

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

C, ARM Assembly, x64 Assembly, x86 Assembly and Python. Python is my choice as it can do the tasks literally 1/10 of the time..

Thanks for doing the interview, Kevin!

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PyDev of the Week: William Horton | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: William Horton | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome William Horton (@hortonhearsafoo) as our PyDev of the Week! William is a Backend Engineer at Compass and has spoken at several local Python conferences. He is a contributor to PyTorch and fastai.

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

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

A little about myself: people might be surprised about my educational background–I didn’t study computer science. I have a bachelors in the social sciences. So by the time I finished undergrad, the most programming I had done was probably doing regressions in Stata to finish my thesis. I decided against grad school, and instead signed up for a coding bootcamp (App Academy) in NYC. The day I’m writing this, September 28, is actually 5 years to the day that I started at App Academy.

Since then I’ve worked at a few different startups in NYC, across various industries: first investment banking, then online pharmacy, and now real estate. I’m currently a senior engineer on the AI Services team at Compass, working on machine learning solutions for our real estate agents and consumers.

I like to spend my free time on a few different hobbies. I’m a competitive powerlifter, so I like to get into the gym a few times a week (although with the pandemic in NYC I didn’t lift for six months or so). I’ve actually found powerlifting to be a pretty common hobby among software engineers. Every time someone new joined my gym, it seemed like they came from a different startup. I love to play basketball. And I’m passionate about music: I’ve been a singer almost my whole life, and most recently was performing with an a cappella group in NYC. And in the last year I’ve picked up the guitar, after not touching it since I was a teenager, and that has been very fulfilling.

Why did you start using Python?

I definitely didn’t start out down the road to Python development–my coding bootcamp was focused on Ruby and Rails, and they also taught us JavaScript and React. I got my first job mostly because I knew React, and at the time it was pretty new. But the company I joined also had a fairly large data processing component written in Python, and there were only a few engineers, so eventually I was pitching in on that part as well. By the time I was looking for my second job, I knew I wanted to do more Python, so I found a full-stack role that was a React frontend and a Python backend (in Flask).

But I think the real turning point for me was when I discovered the fast.ai course in the fall of 2017. I had taken a few machine learning courses online, including the Andrew Ng Coursera course, and it was a topic that I found interesting. But the fast.ai course just really sucked me in–the way that Jeremy Howard presented the material just gripped me in a certain way, and made me want to find out more. I loved his pitch: if you know some Python, and you have high school level math, you can get hands-on with machine learning, and start to grow your skills.

So by the time I was looking for a job in 2018, I knew I wanted to do something closer to data and machine learning. I joined Compass for a backend data role, on a growing team that was handling all of the real estate listing data we had coming in from different sources. That gave me the chance to learn some important tools: I set up the first Airflow instance at Compass, and worked on our PySpark code. And then when the machine learning team started up, I was able to contribute to the first project, and eventually join the team full-time.

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

I know Ruby from my coding bootcamp, JavaScript from my previous two jobs, and I’ve done a small amount of programming in Go as well. Out of those I’d probably say JavaScript is my favorite…

Do you have any tips for people who would like to give technical talks?

The first thing I’d say is: put yourself out there. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so it’s really hard for me to actually hit the submit button on a CFP (even now, when I’ve had talks accepted). But at the end of the day, some reviewers are going to like your proposal, and some aren’t, so if you want to give the talk, you just have to play the numbers game, submit to a few places, and hope for the best.

The other thing I’d stress is that you don’t have to be the world’s expert on something to give a talk about it. It can be intimidating starting out when you see speakers who are the authors of libraries, or who have ten years more experience than you, or who work at a big-name company. But I would tell people starting out: all you have to do is create a 25-minute experience where people enjoy the presentation and learn something from it that they didn’t know before. A lot of people coming to conferences, especially the regional Python conferences, are early on in their learning process, so there’s a lot of value in just presenting your own take on some intro-level material.

Thanks for doing the interview, William!

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PyDev of the Week: Sunita Dwivedi | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Sunita Dwivedi | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Sunita Dwivedi as our PyDev of the Week! Sunita works for the DISH Network. She is active with PyDEN, the Denver, CO Python users group as well as PyColorado.

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

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

I live by the phrase “A life not tried enough is not lived enough”. I don’t know who said it, may be I dreamt it. Just Kidding.

I love working in IT, Rock climbing is my favorite hobby and before COVID-19 I would host regular dinner parties and cook Indian food. I an active member in the tech community and Dev manager at Dish Networks

Why did you start using Python?

My interest in data analytics and data science lead me to Python. Being a high level language it was easy to learn python. Python requires proper indentation as part of the syntax — if you don’t use indentation correctly, your program won’t work. This makes it readable from the get go

Also Python has a large standard library plus thousands of open-source 3rd party libraries, which meant that I could develop code more with less effort, since many of the tools they needed, are ready to be plugged in and used.

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

I know c, c++, java and scala.

It is such a hard choice to pick a language. I feel each of the languages has its special powers.

Python is for the ease of use.

Scala is my favorite for compute heavy problems.

C is the first language I learned, it’s like first love, I am biased towards it.

Java is just is an all-rounder. You level of control one gets when coding is phenomenal…

This blogger is personally not a fan of Java, but many people are, including this week’s profiled developer. #justsayin

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Whenever in doubt, reach out to someone who will support you as well as be a mirror of truth. We all have our moments when we need that little nudge and make sure you surround yourself with people who will do it for you

Thanks for doing the interview, Sunita!

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PyDev of the Week: Sean Tibor | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Sean Tibor | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Sean Tibor (@smtibor) as our PyDev of the Week! Sean is the co-host of the Teaching Python podcast. He has been a guest on other podcasts, such as Test & Code and is the founder of Red Reef Digital.

Let’s spend a few moments getting to know Sean better!

Sean Tibor

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

It’s funny: I never expected to be a teacher. I went to college and grad school for Information Systems and learned to code in C++, Java, PHP, and VB.NET, then spent nearly 20 years working in IT and Marketing.

A few years ago, a dear family friend asked me to consider a career change into teaching since she thought I would have an aptitude for it. This is now my third year teaching middle school computer science in Florida at a private PK-12 school. Every 11-14 year old student in my school takes 9 weeks of computer science for each year of grade 6, 7, 8.

There are few things that I find professionally more satisfying than seeing a kid discover potential within themselves. Teaching has become more about the journey that each student goes through in learning to code than the specific lessons they learn.

It’s also really fun that my hobbies of coding hardware, making and designing electronics, and 3d printing have become part of my profession. I get to bring all of these skills and knowledge to my teaching craft, so it feels like I get to play all day with the things I love.

Why did you start using Python?

When I started teaching, the school I joined had just undergone a huge revision to their Computer Science curriculum. As part of that, they chose to make Python the language that all middle school students would learn.

So over the course of the summer, I started learning as much Python as I could absorb, using everything from books like Automate the Boring Stuff to CircuitPython and MicroPython hardware to Pybites code challenges. It took several months, but I was able to start teaching right from the first day of school.

In addition to teaching Python, it’s also been very useful for integration and automation projects around the school to make things run a bit smoother. I’m also using it to work on a few side projects in the marketing automation space, so it’s enhanced other parts of my professional life.

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

I’m a strong believer in Python as a useful and efficient language for getting things done so that’s my go-to language. Over the years, I’ve dabbled in a lot of different languages like VB.NET, Java, PHP, Objective-C, C++, and Arduino. Most of that has been replaced with Python for my projects and then I add in some HTML, CSS, JS, and SQL as needed to make it all come together…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Learning Python in order to teach it to others has been quite a bit different than the other times I’ve learned a new language. Every time a student asks me how something works, I think I’ve got the right answer, but then they ask me a followup question that makes me excited to go learn more. Teaching another person is absolutely the best way to keep yourself challenged and motivated to learn more.

Thanks for doing the interview, Sean!

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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: William Cox | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: William Cox | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome William Cox as our PyDev of the Week. William is a data scientist who has spoken at a few Python conferences. He maintains a blog where you can catch up on what’s new with him.

Let’s spend a few moments getting to know William better!

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

I’ve always loved building things. I spent most of highschool building robots and running a blog about robots. I got a degree in electrical engineering thanks to this, and then went on to get a PhD in signal processing and digital communications. Outside of work I enjoy wood and metal working and being outdoors. Mostly though, I’m a full-time parent.

Why did you start using Python?

I first used Python in graduate school when I needed to automate reading from a serial input device connected up to one of our sensors. I’d been programming for a long time at that point and Python was a pretty easy jump from Perl. My computer science friends were telling me Python was great so I saw it as an opportunity to branch out again.

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

When I was 12 my dad dropped “Teach Yourself Perl in 21 Days” on my desk and said, “you should learn this.” It took me much longer than 21 days, but I’m glad he did that. I dabbled in several languages (PHP, Java, C) but spent many years in graduate school honing my MATLAB skills, due to its powerful plotting and data analysis capabilities. My first job was at a military contractor and they all used MATLAB. This was the early 10’s and Python was really taking off as the language of scientific computing so I was able to convince my boss that it was something I should be learning – he was especially attracted to how much money they could save over their massive MATLAB bills. I got my 2nd job with my impressive iPython Notebook skills! It was, however, till I started my 2nd job that I finally started learning what it means to write software with a team. It’s a lot different than dabbling on your own…

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Be kind to your coworkers! Careers are long.

Thanks for doing the interview, William

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PyDev of the Week: Jim Anderson | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Jim Anderson | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Jim Anderson (@jimande75053775) as our PyDev of the Week! Jim is a contributing writer for Real Python. You can see some of the things that Jim works on in his spare time over on Github.

Let’s take a few moments to get to know Jim better!

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

I love to snowboard in the winter and I’m an avid bike commuter, though I’ll admit that sounds more impressive than it is – I only live 3 miles from work! I’ve got two grade-school aged daughters and a lovely wife, all of whom ski and give me grief for snowboarding.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to program for a living since I was a kid, mainly on low-level and embedded software, with a couple of brief turns doing enterprise-level band-end code.

Jm Anderson

Why did you start using Python?

I came to Python from Perl. I had used perl for a few large projects and, while I found the language fun for small things, it tended to get cumbersome for me as the project grew. A co-worked turned me on to Python for a few small tools, and the next thing I knew I was writing a build system in it!

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

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I currently work in C++ mainly, with some C, Lua, Bash, Python, and a little Perl thrown in. In the past, I’ve also done some assembly, Fortran, Pascal, Java, Ruby, and maybe a few more, but I couldn’t do much more than recognize them at this point.

Clearly right now I’m fairly invested in Python, so I’m going to list that as my favorite. I do remember the joy I got from learning Basic as a kid and the first few Perl scripts when you realized how powerful it was…

Thanks for doing the interview, Jim!

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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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