Live from PyCon UK 2007 – Part 2

Another quick post from PyCon UK 2007 which I’ll fully reference up later.

[References added 18th September]

Day 1 Part 2

Dealing with Tabular Data

Alex Wilmer gave this half hour beginners’ talk on using python to deal with data in tabular formats, by which he meant everything from CSV text files through HTML to SQL RDBMs. This is a subject close to my heart as I often find myself using ksh, awk and maybe a bit of perl to convert various systems logs to other formats.

In a simple and clear way Alex showed the key tools in python that can be used to work with different types of data. In the half an hour he had he covered a lot of ground really well but as this is something I’m particularly interested in I wish he’d had an hour slot.

Intro to PyQT GUI Programming

This was a two hour tutorial slot given by Marc Summerfield that showed the use of the Python bindings for the QT GUI programming libraries. Most of the people in there had started with the Python for Beginners tutorial from beforehand and carried on into this tutorial. There was a range of programming abilities and familiarity with event driven GUI concepts so Marc had a lot of concepts to explain.

He was able to demonstrate how PyQT enables great GUI development and even how you can extend it to completely new widgets written from scratch but unfortunately in the two hour slot there wasn’t much time to let people actually try the examples on their laptops.

Keynote Speech on OpenID

Simon Willison gave the keynote speech at the closing plenary session of the 1st day. Simon is best known for being the co-creator of the Django web framework but his topic for the keynote was to proselytize the use of OpenID.

OpenID can perhaps best simply be described as single sign-on for the Web. Given the plethora of sites that people have accounts on the task of managing them has started to become a barrier to people using some services. This is because they feel it is just not worth the effort of filling out all the details to sign up and having to either remember a new username and password or compromise their security by using the same username and password on multiple sites. ( Well we all do it don’t we?).

OpenID is a way for a web site to use a url as a username and for that to provide a link to an ID server that can allow you to verify that it is indeed you signing on. This could be as “simple” as you using an OpenID from say live journal so that once you sign in once to live journal other sites can check that to see you are logged in and therefore you allow them to log you on to the other site. Or it could involve an SMS message being sent or the use of a secure ID key fob.

I haven’t explained the foregoing very well at all and Simon Willison was much more articulate at expressing it and much more entertaining. This is one of those areas where the “open” movement are providing a solution to a problme that I’d never even thought there could be a solution to without recourse to some single overarching (and evil) corporation.

As a keynote it really did hit the right note. (Weak pun intended)

……..and so to Dinner.

The conference dinner was hosted at the Novotel and was extremely good. The food was delicious and the service to nigh on 200 of us was excellent. We were entertained by an after dinner speech from Jono Bacon about his experiences of Python for the the Jokosher audio editing project. He claimed it was his first ever after dinner speech and that included being as a member of an audience never mind as the speaker.

It was an excellent speech and had all the key ingredients for after dinner, it was witty, lively, the right length, rooted in the subject at hand and pitched just right for the audience.

Well it is nearly lunch time on day two now so I’m off to the refectory………


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