Saturday, April 30, 2016

We Want You to Run for the 2016 Board of Directors

You don't have to be an expert, or a Python celebrity. If you care about Python and you want to nurture our community and guide our future, we invite you to join the Board.

Nominations are open for the Python Software Foundation's Board of Directors now through the end of May 15. Nominate yourself if you are able and inspired to help the PSF fulfill its mission:

"The mission of the Python Software Foundation is to promote, protect, and advance the Python programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of a diverse and international community of Python programmers."

If you know someone who would be an excellent director, ask if they would like you nominate them!

What is the job? Directors do the business of the PSF, including:
  • Appoint PSF officers.
  • Manage the budget, allocate funds, and award grants.
  • Raise money and recruit sponsors.
  • Manage public relations, education, and outreach.
  • Perform the PSF's legal duties as a non-profit corporation.
  • Administer the PSF membership program and serve its members.
  • Protect Python’s intellectual property rights and licenses: logos, trademarks, and open source licenses.

Read "Expectations of Directors" for details.

There are 11 directors, elected annually for a term of one year. Directors are unpaid volunteers. Candidates from anywhere in the world are welcome; members of the Board do not need to be residents or citizens of the United States.

The deadline for nominations is the end of May 15, Anywhere on Earth ("AoE"). As long as it is May 15 somewhere, nominations are open. A simple algorithm is this: make your nominations by 11:59pm on your local clock and you are certain to meet the deadline. Ballots to vote for the board members will be sent May 20, and the election closes May 30.

If you're moved to nominate yourself or someone else, here are the instructions:

How to nominate candidates in the 2016 PSF Board Election.

While you're on that page, check if your membership makes you eligible to actually vote in the election.

For more info, see the PSF home page and the PSF membership FAQ.

Monday, April 18, 2016

PyCamp Argentina

Stream amid green hills and blue sky

You settle into a deck chair in the sun. All around you are the hills, streams, and spectacular greenery of Cordoba Province, Argentina. You could take a nap, or a hike. But best of all, you can write code with friends. "There's a particular energy you can't find elsewhere. It comes from everybody working together, playing together, discussing ideas," says Facundo Batista. "You can devote your time to your community, because everything is taken care of. You spend all day programming, then take 40 steps to your bed."

PyCamp is Argentina's annual outdoor code sprint. This year, Facundo Batista organized PyCamp in the small town of La Serranita. For four days, 24 coders hacked on a dozen open source projects, with the help of a $600 grant from the Python Software Foundation.

"It's especially fruitful for newbies," says Batista. "You can be a 22-year-old with a couple years of college, and you are working on an open-source project side-by-side with someone with 25 years experience at big companies. The amount you can learn, it's awesome!"

Three young people sitting and talking on an outdoor wooden deck.

The idea for PyCamp arose from Argentina's Python community, beginning in 2008. The camp isn't really outdoors: there is a roof, walls, beds, bathrooms, even electricity and WiFi. But despite these amenities, the location is always abundantly green and rural.

Batista used the PSF grant to bring several new coders, improving the group's diversity. One first-time participant, Ariel Ramos, says, "Thanks for the grant, I liked the experience a lot, and it was very useful to be there. I liked the openness to the newbies and the special attention to ensure they enjoyed the event and learned." Another participant, Pedro Nieto, says PyCamp "allowed me to participate in several interesting projects that normally I wouldn't have even known about. It gave me more confidence to program, and encouraged me to participate in the free software community."

White daisy with a pink center, photographed against a white wall

PyCamp participants each arrive with one or two ideas, and the sprint begins with pitches to recruit contributors. "You end up working on 5 or 6 different projects," says Batista. "No attachments." At the end of the sprint, the teams present their work in a series of lightning talks.

Batista's favorite project this year was a tower defense game, built from scratch. Half the participating programmers wrote the game's core, and coded its UI using pyglet, the Python OpenGL library. The other half invented an AI to play the game. With their responsibilities neatly divided, the teams were very productive: they completed a working game in four days. Inexperienced members were mixed in with experts on each team to accelerate their learning. "I actually knew only a little Python," says Agustín Curto. "I was just starting with the language, and it helped because I learned a lot by asking."

Tower defense game
By sponsoring new PyCamp coders, the PSF wasn't merely generous: it also made an investment in the future of the Python community in Argentina. José Luis Zanotti says, "It was such an incredible, fun, and educational experience that I decided to commit myself to be an active member of the community, working in their projects, and overall promoting the usage of Python in my geographic area."

Photos by Facundo Batista; full gallery on Flickr.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The PSF has hired an IT Manager!

We are pleased to announce that the PSF has hired a part-time Infrastructure Manager. Please join us in welcoming Mark Mangoba!

Mark has a background in IT management and has experience with non-profits. Mark is excited to be part of the team and is ready to lead new PSF infrastructure projects and better support the community volunteers leading existing ones. In his own words, "I look forward to working with our infrastructure team of volunteers to optimize, streamline processes, and to bring enterprise level tech support to the services we provide to the Python community". 

In the coming months, Mark will work on documentation for our infrastructure setup and improvements to the PSF voting process. Later this year, he will work on improvements. It takes a while for any new employee to learn the ropes, but Mark has not wasted any time. He has jumped right in, getting to know our volunteers and working with the PSF. Mark expressed that "its been an amazing experience so far working with the PSF and I am glad to be a part of it!". 

The PSF has visited the idea of improving usability and our voting system before. We have made incremental improvements, but we didn't have the resources to fully examine all of the existing issues, let alone complete all of them. With Mark on the team, we'll be better equipped to face our current and future challenges.

With our growing team, I'm confident that the PSF will continue to make a positive impact on the Python community in 2016 and beyond. I look forward to working with Mark and seeing all of the wonderful goals he'll help us achieve. 

Welcome to the PSF, Mark!

Monday, April 04, 2016

"I Found My Secret Calling As An Auctioneer": Community Service Award Recipient Jacqueline Kazil

When a pair of cufflinks in the shape of the Python logo sold for $900, Jacqueline Kazil thought, "We're on to something." The cufflinks were the most coveted item of the PyLadies Auction at PyCon in 2014. So the next year Kazil made a pair of Python socks—"2015 was the year of the sock, in fashion"—and a Python tie. The socks sold for $550. The tie sold for $600 to Jacob Kaplan-Moss, the Django contributor. He tweeted:
Kazil had begun volunteering with the auction in 2013, "at the last minute." By 2015 she stepped up to help collect items and auction them. Her fellow auction coordinator, Lynn Root, says, "She came in and just like, did shit. She was completely on the ball and accomplished what needed to be done."

The thousands of dollars PyLadies raises from the annual auction is spent on scholarships to send women to PyCon. "It lowers the barrier for women to attend," says Kazil. "Not everybody has a company supporting them. I remember when I was working for the government there wasn't that money allocated for sending folks to conferences."

Jackie Kazil is a 2016 recipient of the Python Software Foundation Community Service Award. The Foundation recognizes her contribution to the PyCon PyLadies Auction, and her diligent volunteer effort as chair of the PSF Grants Work Group.

Jackie Kazil

The Grants Work Group ensures that small grant applications are processed promptly in the periods between PSF Board meetings. "We make sure that grants keep flowing," Kazil says. The group also provides diverse perspectives of applications. "Our members are from around the world, and that ensures we have input about cultural factors, costs that we wouldn't think of if we didn't have this global view."

According to Lynn Root, "Jackie is a very genuine and true person who really acts on her passions." Acting on her passions has paid off in a prestigious career: She is president of the board of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Foundation, wrote the Mesa agent-based modeling framework, is a Technical Fellow at Capital One, and recently co-authored with Katharine Jarmul the O'Reilly book Data Wrangling with Python. Kazil says, "Each feeds a different part of what I think is important. The book was created for data people or statisticians who want to learn how to code. The two authors and two editors and two target-audience reviewers were women which I think is kind of cool."

With her Mesa project, Kazil aims to consolidate agent-based modeling techniques in a reusable Python framework. "It's a type of modeling where you have so many independent variables in the system that it would take until the end of time to solve." Mesa also enables researchers to publish browser-based visualizations of their results. "It makes the models reproducible. For example economists and sociologists come from different schools of thought, but if they can 'pip install' something they can work with the same baseline model. Once that baseline is created and accepted, they have the same starting point."

In January Kazil joined Capital One as a member of the Technical Fellows program, where she mentors, teaches, and cultivates the company's engineering culture. She works with Jim Jagielski, co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation and a Distinguished Engineer in the Tech Fellows program, helping to open-source projects from the company. “There's increased focus on open source in the private sector," she says. "You might think, why would I want to go to a bank? But there's a lot of awesome things to work on here."

Despite her accomplishments as a software engineer, Kazil's enthusiasm for the PyLadies auction is undiminished. "I love love love the event. There was a joke going around about how I had found my secret calling. I should be an auctioneer."