Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our 2016 PSF Board of Directors

The PSF's annual election completed yesterday. Please welcome the new PSF Board of Directors for the 2016/17 term!

  • Annapoornima Koppad 
  • Carol Willing
  • Carrie Ann Philbin
  • Diana Clarke 
  • Jackie Kazil
  • Kushal Das
  • Lorena Mesa 
  • Naomi Ceder
  • Trey Hunner
  • Van Lindberg
  • Younggun Kim

These eleven directors represent a range of continents, genders, ethnicities, and technical specialties. Their biographies, and their plans and hopes for the PSF, are in their candidates' statements on the wiki.

Our heartfelt thanks to the outgoing board members Nick Coghlan, Lynn Root, Alex Gaynor, Marc-Andre Lemburg, Anna Ossowski, and Ashwini Oruganti.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reminder: Vote for the 2016 Board of Directors

Description: black-and-white photo of three women in early 20th Century clothes, at a wooden ballot box. The woman in the center folds her ballot to place in the box.

If you're a voting member of the Python Software Foundation, then on May 20 you were emailed a ballot to vote for this year's Board of Directors. The voting booths close at the end of May 30, Anywhere on Earth, so please get your votes in!

Who is a voting member? Details of membership levels and voter registration, along with the list of candidates for this year's board, are on the PSF wiki:

Image: Women voting in New York City, 1917. Library of Congress file no. 00037.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Brett Cannon wins Frank Willison Award

This morning at OSCON, O'Reilly Media gave Brett Cannon the Frank Willison Memorial Award. The award recognizes Cannon's contributions to CPython as a core developer and project manager for over a decade.

Beginning in 2002, the Frank Willison Memorial Award for Contributions to the Python Community is given annually to an outstanding contributor to the Python community. The award was established in memory of Frank Willison, a Python enthusiast and O'Reilly editor-in-chief, who died in July 2001. Tim O'Reilly wrote In Memory of Frank Willison, which includes a collection of quotes from Frank's insightful and witty writing. O'Reilly Media maintains an online archive of Frank Willison's column, "Frankly Speaking".

O'Reilly Media presents the Frank Willison Memorial Award annually at OSCON, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention. The recipient is chosen in consultation with Guido van Rossum and delegates of the Python Software Foundation.
Contributions can encompass so much more than code. A successful software community requires time, dedication, communication, and education as well as elegant code. With the Frank Willison Memorial Award, we hoped to acknowledge all of those things.
  — Tim O'Reilly 
In the open source community, project management is an often underrated skill: given a problem to be solved, and a proposed solution for solving it, define the concrete steps necessary to get a group of volunteers from the point of saying "We should do something about this" to "We have solved that problem".

Brett Cannon has repeatedly volunteered to handle project management responsibilities that have significantly improved the CPython core development infrastructure, from migration to a dedicated bugs.python.org infrastructure, to the initial switch to a distributed version control system, to the current adoption of a more automated development workflow.

Brett Cannon
Since he began as a core developer in 2003, Brett has dedicated significant time to ensuring that the design, implementation, and development of essential parts of the CPython reference interpreter are accessible to new contributors. He wrote the first versions of the Python Developer's Guide and the design documentation for the CPython compiler. He converted the bulk of the import system's implementation from C to Python, created the "devinabox" project to make it easier for new contributors to get started at development sprints, wrote the "Python-dev Summaries" articles from 2002 to 2005, and moderated the python-ideas mailing list since it began in December 2006.

Brett has served on the PSF Board of Directors from 2006-2010, and again from 2013-2014, and was PSF Vice President in 2006-2007, and Executive Vice President from 2007-2010. He is also a gracious ambassador for the Python development community. His thoughtful manner, genuine kindness, and sense of humor have inspired many at PyCons over the years. Whether helping a new contributor understand a code snippet at a sprint or encouraging a new speaker with his confidence in them, Brett shares his positive character with us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CubaConf, Day 1

This is the second in a series of posts on my trip in April to Havana, Cuba to attend CubaConf, an International Conference on Free Software. 
Day one of CubaConf started out with a bit of confusion. A last minute change of venue was necessary due to some bureaucratic red tape surrounding the government controlled Palacio del Segundo Cabo. Luckily, a short walk across the Plaza de Armas, the Colegia San Geronimo was available and happy to step in to provide meeting rooms for the approximately 180 speakers and attendees. And in spite of the spotty internet service that plagues the island, difficulties in communicating the change did not prevent the conference from starting smoothly and nearly on schedule. The organizers, including Pablo Mestre, a member of the PSF-Cuba workgroup, deserve much credit for their smooth handling of the situation.

Preliminary announcements and welcoming remarks revealed that speakers and attendees came from 17 different countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, United States, and Venezuela. Sponsors, including the PSF, were mentioned and thanked. 
The keynote by Hamlet López García, a social psychologist from the Cuban Institute of Cultural Research at Juan Marinello, explored the relationship between free software and Cuba’s politics and culture. 
Hamlet López García
López' main thesis, (citing Richard Stallman), was that technologies develop as social processes and are shaped by cultural values. In this way, the general principles of the Cuban revolution can be seen to be in harmony with those of free software. The further adoption and use of free software, according to López, is leading to more democratic access to knowledge and opportunity, not just in Cuba, but globally. This opening talk was enthusiastically received and set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

Once the conference broke into three tracks, I attended a talk by Jacob Appelbaum on the TOR network and the importance of anonymity. Appelbaum explained the ways in which the TOR network was designed to ensure four types of freedom: it's decentralized, encrypted, distributed, and unlike other internet networks, meta-data free (i.e., it does not collect or aggregate meta-data).

Additional talks occurring on day one shared speakers' experiences using open source for projects such as collaborative mapping and creating an online payment system, as well as more theoretical topics such as web development and encryption. Former PSF Director, David Mertz, gave a talk on teaching Python to Data Scientists, a topic that he will reprise in Portland at PyCon's education summit at the end of this month. Talks were given in either English or Spanish, with simultaneous translation provided by one of several bilingual volunteers. 
Another talk worth singling out was a provocative talk by  Heather Marsh on the illusory nature of the power that users assume to derive from the internet. According to Marsh, such internet features as "thought bubbles" and "noise" pose obstacles to collaboration and to challenging the "Ponzi schemes of power." These ideas are more fully presented in Marsh's book, Binding Chaos.
At the end of the day, a tired, but excited crowd posed for a group photo before walking down the block to the conference dinner of Cuban food, mojitos, and beer.  (And by the way, beer costs about $1 per can/bottle--I almost didn't come home.)
CubaConf end of Day 1
Outside the Colegia San Geronimo
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Python and Open Source Alive and Well in Havana, Cuba

I recently had the amazing opportunity to travel to Havana, Cuba to attend several free software events. My partner, David Mertz, was invited to talk at a meet-up of open-software developers and to present at the International Conference of Free Software sponsored by the Grupo de Usarios de Technologias Libres.
On my first day in Cuba, I attended the tenth Encuentro Social de Desarrolladores. This group, a regular meet-up of open-software developers, just last month held the first "PyDay Havana." At the meeting I attended, approximately 70 people gathered at a local Havana restaurant, La Casa de Potin. I was told that more people were interested in attending, but the space was limited so advance registration was cut off at 70. Several members of the enthusiastic crowd sported PyCon T-shirts--many from PyCon Montreal, perhaps as one could expect, but one from as far back as PyCon Chicago in 2009 (elegance begets simplicity). Clearly, this group has been using Python for quite awhile.
I met some wonderful people there: not only Olemis Lang and Medardo Antonio Rodriguez, members of the PSF’s Python-Cuba Work Group with whom I had been in touch previously, but also entrepreneurs and developers who regularly use free software. Justin, a graduate student in Astronomy at Yale, is spending several months in Cuba on a research project using Python. 
Another new connection I made is Abel Meneses Abad, a Computer Science professor at Central University of Las Villas in Santa Clara, Cuba. He told me about his use of Python with his students in Linguistics and his desire to share his experiences and get input from the larger Python community. We should be hearing more from him in the future.
The agenda for the meet-up included talks by Olemis Lang on Brython (and how to sign up for a Brython sprint to be held at the next week’s CubaConf) and by David Mertz on functional programming in Python. 
David Mertz talks about functional programming in Python

Medardo and Stripe Atlas reps address the meet-up
But the talk that garnered the most discussion was a presentation given by Medardo Rodriguez from Merchise Start-Ups on how to start an online business. He was joined by representatives from the San Francisco-based company Stripe, which provides payment processing and business services for start-ups. Their newly launched service, Stripe Atlas, helps foreign online businesses incorporate in Delaware, MD, enabling them to take advantage of the well-developed business infrastructure in the U.S.

The overall mood of the meet-up was incredibly optimistic–surely a foreshadowing of the positive changes about to take place for Cuban software developers as more intercourse develops with the rest of the world and especially with the U.S. This is a community poised to grow, and I am beyond thrilled that the PSF will be a part of this.
I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Reminder: Run for the 2016 PSF Board of Directors

As we announced last week, the Python Software Foundation is seeking candidates for this year's directors. Nominations are open now until the end of May 15 Anywhere on Earth.

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

The list of nominees is on the PSF wiki:

Candidates in the 2016 PSF Board Election.

If have a passion for the Python language and community, add yourself to the list! If someone you know would make a great member of the board, ask if they'd like you to nominate them.