A recap of PyCon UK 2016

PyCon UK has traditionally taken place in Coventry, but this September it was held in Cardiff, in the beautiful City Hall. We shared the space with several weddings — including one between a ladybird and a fireman, part of the City of the Unexpected celebrations of Roald Dahl!

Inside the City Hall, the mood was a bit calmer but we were just as happy to be at the conference. The talks spanned a wide range between beginner and advanced topics, with a free open day on Thursday and a strong education track on Saturday afternoon, as well as talks such as Sarah Mount‘s Simulating a CPU with Python or: surprising programs you might have thought were better written in C. In her keynote, Folklore and fantasy in the information age, Gail Ollis discussed modern myths about software development processes with a lighthearted twist. This talk also contained the following moment:

I was at PyCon UK to give a talk on Python, locales and writing systems, or the many ways you can trip up when outputting non-Roman text, even now that Python 3 has improved Unicode handling. I was only a little nervous to see Bashar al-Abdulhadi in the audience, since I’d seen him speak about Arabising Django before and knew that he knows his stuff! Luckily, he liked it and tweeted some photos of my slides. You can watch my whole talk at this link.

One of the highlights of the conference, for me, was the maths track on Sunday. David MacIver gave a talk on integer linear programming that made me feel I could actually use it for practical applications, and then after lunch a series of students from the Cardiff University maths department presented on their research. I particularly enjoyed Nikoleta Evdokia Glynatsi‘s talk on spatial tournaments for the Iterated Prisoners Dilemma.

In short, PyCon UK was a great showcase of the diversity of uses that Python can be put to. Recordings for all the talks are online and can be found via the conference schedule. What’s more, by paying attention to details like live-captioning talks, having a (very fancy!) quiet room and using a Code of Conduct, the organisers made it easy for as many people as possible to learn and enjoy the conference. I’m proud to have spoken at PyCon UK and I hope to attend again next year.

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