Kiwi PyCon 2015 Wrap Up

Posted by Katie McLaughlin on September 10, 2015

The problem with being friends with the organisers of conferences, and being of a highly encourageable nature like I am, is that I often get roped into things.

For Kiwi PyCon, I did a full talk, a lightning talk, and MC’d an entire track on Day 2. It was a hectic weekend, but I’d definitely do it again.

The community around Python is amazing, and I was stoked to be accepted to present at Kiwi PyCon. It’s always a pleasure to go to New Zealand, especially because it means I get to see my kiwi friends again. Although, there appeared to be a surprising large number of Aussies in the lineup, there were many local first time speakers who did a stellar job. Having these kind of conferences as a stepping stone for people to try their hand at public speaking is an awesome^H^H^H^H^H^H^H splendid thing to have.

Talks of Note


How to think like a non-programmer - Katie Bell

The Saturday keynote was a timely reminder that in order for us to introduce the next generation to programming, we need to acknowledge that a lot of what we take for granted is not going to be the default mindset of new coders - the discussions about different text editors and different IDEs doesn’t mesh well when they are still trying to work out what the concept of a condition is.

“Coding is the new literacy? No, it’s the new biology. You can learn about plants without becoming a botanist”

“Learning programming via toys is nice, but this needs to be brought back to tangible concepts for older kids”

One outstanding audience suggestion was to use the ‘atom model’ to teach kids about programming - in the earlier years of high school, we’re taught the classical concept of an atom with electrons orbiting the center. The next year, that concept is explicitly thrown away, only to be replaced with somewhat more accurate representations such as probability clouds. If we continue this learning into university, then the rudimentary modelling concepts are again thrown away and we’re told “This is actually how things are, forget everything else you’ve learnt”

This model could be used for teaching children the concepts of programming - building layers and sometimes replacing concepts with more well formed versions in order to create a richer understanding of the problem place, without just throwing vim at them and saying “Have at it”.


Connascence in Python - Thomi Richards

Connascence is the taxonomy of coupling. Strength is static, locality and degree are code base independent. Check out http://connascence.io/ for more concepts


A practical guide to web security - Jeremy Stott

Another one for video, if only for his amazing slides.


Python in Classrooms - Martin Henschke, Eloise “Ducky” Macdonald-Meyer

“There is a culture of devaluing education, and that makes me sad.” - @ducky_tape


Why Python is awesome – and some other languages are cool too - Lee Symes

Video

This was Lee’s first talk ever, and she was absolutely brilliant. Seeing the issues with legacy systems through her eyes is one thing, but Lee actually presented reasonable alternatives to the issues that roadblock a lot of new developers. Also, her comparison of packaging systems in Python to say the npm was incredibly brave. I literally don’t think I’d have the courage to say such things, but she did :)


Effective Learning - Allison Kaptur

This was yet another brilliant keynote for the conference. The conceptualisation of the fixed and growth based mindsets, and how they can be used to accurately describe how we seem to assume that great developers are born and not made was an excellent reminder about how we can all be splendid in our own ways.

“Why can’t we identify that we could improve ourselves to the point of being as good as those who we idolise?”


Videos are being uploaded to the NZ PUG account

My entire tweet stream from Kiwi PyCon