Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The PSF's Growing Success

In honor of the 2016-2017 board of director's first board meeting today, I wanted to share the PSF's growing success with the public!

For as long as I have been with the PSF, our goal has been to encourage people all around the world to learn and use Python. We have done this by funding conferences, workshops, and dev work. Due to the success of our community, each year more and more people have become aware of the PSF and our mission.  The success is hard to measure. More in-depth research can be done on how the PSF's mission has bettered the world, but for now, let us start with a simple, tangible, measurement: money.

Turning gut feelings into metrics
Besides our treasurer, Kurt Kaiser, most of us have not paid much attention to these metrics. Even though members of the PSF have received yearly reports from Kurt, sometimes that snapshot does not have the progression across several years. I have been helping with grant management since 2012 and recently it felt like the board mailing list was receiving much more traffic than when I first joined the board as Secretary. In April I decided to scrape https://www.python.org/psf/records/board/resolutions/ to the best of my ability. Luckily, Kurt was able to help me extract that data from the PSF’s accounting system. Below is a graph depicting the data from those reports. The reporting only goes back to 2010 as prior to that our accounting was done elsewhere and the transitioned info is not as detailed as the accounting we keep now.

If you would like to see a higher resolution copy, click here:

I did a comparison of grants disbursed from the 2014-2015 term to the 2015-2016 term and noticed that our disbursements increased by approximately $65,000. When I compared the 2013-2014 term to the 2014-2015, I saw that the grant disbursement also increased by approximately $65,000! As I mentioned above, this was surprising to me because I was under the impression that we only recently started receiving many more requests. Therefore, I also plotted the average grant size; which shows a spike in 2013-2014 and has since returned back to its former level. In conclusion: we gave out more money between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, but that money primarily went to larger grants. The total amount we disburse continues to increase, but that money is spread across more grants, explaining the visibly increased volume of requests.

A growing trend?
Personally, I feel this is a huge milestone for the PSF and our community. If we continue in this pattern, the 2016-2017 term might give out over $300,000 USD to fund python education all around the world! I am astonished by this comparison, especially since when I started the disbursements totaled a little over $40,000. If it is an indication, we will have to continue expanding our staff as well as look into software that can help us better manage these tasks!

For now though, let's keep up the great work!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

PyCon 2016: A look back, my take away, and thank you!

Portland, Oregon
photo credit: A. Jesse Jiryu Davis

A quick look back at PyCon 2016

I am writing this during my flight home to Chicago as I reminisce about PyCon, which officially ended yesterday in Portland, Oregon. This was yet another successful conference! We had over 3200 pythonistas check in! The 2016 tutorials and talks sold out in March, which is much sooner than previous conferences. Both committees did a great job reviewing and providing guidance to those that needed it. Personally I only found time to watch Lars' talk, but thanks to our efficient AV crew, I will watch the rest in the comfort of my home over the next few weeks. Hearing the positive feedback from our sponsors, even when logistical issues popped up, tells me the companies that helped make PyCon happen, are just as dedicated to our community as we are. I appreciate their support and understanding. 

PyCon 2016 was my ninth PyCon. I have enjoyed organizing each one of those nine conferences. Over the last nine years I have seen the Python community grow and become a respected community. PyCon is, for many, the central time of the year and I know it is for me and the PSF. Through our learning experiences at PyCon, we are able to help the Python community all around the world. We are able to offer others insight on conference childcare, our financial aid system, and volunteer involvement amongst other things. We also learn from others within our community and welcome guidance for how processes could be more effective and less overwhelming. On a larger scale, PyCon's revenue helps us (the PSF) fund hundreds of other PyCons and teaching workshops around the world per year. But those are not the only ways that PyCon impacts our community.

My main take away

I have noticed that it is easier for us to improve and grow as a community when we meet in person from time to time. Over the years I have learned through my own experiences that emailing about community relations is not always easy nor productive. When I come to PyCon and see the many interactions, I understand the reasons why conferences are so vital to any community. When we are face to face, we are able to put our differences and opinions aside. It is easier for us to put ourselves into someone else's shoes. When we find common ground, we become a stronger community. Watching Twitter the last few days has been my evidence for this happening at PyCon. I have seen so many moving "good-byes" and appreciations for our community. I have seen attendees publicly thanking our community for its openness and acceptance. Witnessing this energizes me and inspires me to further support the community through my PSF and PyCon work. Thank you PyCon 2016 for motivating me and making me a stronger individual in so many ways. Let us keep this inspirational motivation going all year round!

My long list of thank yous
  • Betsy Waliszewski (psf event coordinator): Welcome to the PSF & PyCon community! Thank you for all of the time and energy you put into the pre-planning and onsite work. Having you at PyCon 2016 was a tremendous help that I have never had before. I look forward to developing your role as event coordinator!
  • Kurt Kaiser (psf treasurer): Thank you for all of the work you do for PyCon, especially for financial aid. The work you do impacts hundreds of PyCon goers every year.
  • Brandon Rhodes (conference chair): Thank you for being such a wonderful person. It was a pleasure working with you and seeing the way you work. Working with you has taught me much more than you know.
  • Ruben Orduz, Carol Willing, Allen Downey (tutorial chairs): Thank you for all of your work reviewing tutorial proposals and helping those that needed guidance.
  • Ned Jackson Lovely, Karen Rustad Tölva (program chairs), and the program committee: Thank you for all of your work reviewing hundreds of talks. Thank you for coming together as a community when needed. I admire your strength and ability to work through certain situations.
  • Ashwini Oruganti and LVH (financial aid chairs): Thank you for continuing to improve our financial aid process. I know this task needed a lot of time, but we will continue to work to make it better for the volunteers as well as the recipients. 
  • Barry Warsaw and Larry Hastings (language summit chairs): Thank you for working to put together a great language summit. I look forward to seeing the evolvement of the summit and the python language.
  • Chalmer Lowe, Jessica Ingrassellino, Ria Baldevia (education summit chairs): Thank you for continuing to grow the education summit. This year, the event was a huge success and I look forward to what it will bring to PyCon 2017!
  • Rami Chowdhury and Yarko Tymciurak (volunteer chairs): Thank you for helping organize our volunteer efforts. Our volunteers make our conference significant and special. I am sure they all appreciate you two also :)
  • Felix Crux (mobile guide chair): Thank you for helping with the mobile guide. Your attention to detail helped us put together an awesome guide that many attendees took advantage of.
  • Anna Ossowski, Kinga Kięczkowska and Hobson Lane (open space chairs): Thank you for putting so much effort into improving Open Spaces. I look forward to seeing what you will bring to 2017!
  • David Wolever and Julia Duimovich (session staff chairs): The work you two put forth onsite is immeasurable. Without you both, the talks would not happen like clock work! The session chairs give our speakers the attention they deserve. Thank you all who volunteered to be a session chair and/or runner!
  • Brian Costlow (CART coordinator): Thank you for taking on this task this year. Your thorough feedback will definitely help us make the process better going forward!
  • Hannes Hapke and Gustavo Pinto (poster session chairs): I enjoyed seeing the posters get so much attention this year. Thank you for making that event run so smoothly!
  • Lynn Root and Thursday Bram (lightning talk chairs): Thank you for putting together the lightning talks daily and moderating the 5 minute talks. 
  • Don Sheu and Yannick Gingras (startup row chairs): Thank you for working so hard to give startups a chance to market their work and to meet awesome pythonistas!
  • Mathieu Leduc-Hamel and Nick Lang (5k coordinators): Mathieu - thank you for helping us pre-plan the 5k. Also, your dedication to wake up that early and get everyone organized is appreciated! Nick - thank you for helping us onsite and giving us pointers on how we can improve the process!
  • Doug Napoleone, Jackie Kazil and Lynn Root (pyladies auction chairs): Thank you for making the PyLadies Auction such a fun event and raising so much money for a great cause.
  • Luke and Meagan Sneeringer (young coder setup and other volunteer tasks): Thank you for all of your support onsite. Having you both there makes us a stronger team. I really appreciate you both being up so early every day to help registration!
  • Kushal Das and Naomi Ceder (sprint chairs): Thank you for the help you both provided to get the sprinters informed and organized. Your work at the Sprints impacts so many in our community!
  • Barbara Shaurette and Andrew Dupont (young coder teachers): Thank you for staying strong and teaching the Young Coders classes this year. Your dedication is appreciated by me and the children! 
  • Noah Kantrowitz (general volunteer): Thank you for just being there to help us with random tasks that needed attention. Having someone there with institutional knowledge that can jump in to help with anything is very useful.  
  • Jon Henner (accessibility chair): It was unfortunate that you could not join us onsite, but we look forward to seeing you at 2017! Thank you for working with us to make PyCon more accessible. I am grateful for your guidance and I look forward to seeing the impact you will have on PyCon 2017.
  • Jessica McKellar (diversity chair): Thank you for helping PyCon increase its diversity year after year! I look forward to seeing what 2017 will bring!
  • Paul Hildebrandt (swag coordinator): Not only do you bring awesome gifts for our speakers year after year, but you also dedicate so much time to get swag organized and distributed. We are all thankful for you!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Unconference Day at CubaConf

Note: This is the third post on my trip in April to Havana, Cuba to attend the International Open Software Convention, CubaConf.
The second day of CubaConf, structured as an unconference, was equally as lively as the first. In an unconference, the audience actively participates by proposing topics and then voting on which ones will be presented. This was especially effective as a way of conforming to the conference’s purpose to explore ways in which open software can be most effectively used in poorer nations, like Cuba, and how it can contribute to development. I was impressed by the number of audience members who came prepared to give a talk and who lined up at the front of the room to pitch their ideas. The suggestions were recorded on a white board, and at the end of the session we voted for the agenda.
Proposed unconference topics
Before moving on to the unconference talks, we heard an already scheduled keynote. Etiene Dalcol, a Brazilian software engineer, told us of her experiences and observations within the tech scene in Brazil. 
Early on in her career, Dalcol created a web framework, Sailor, in ten days. She said that although it was lousy, people began to contribute and to request more features, indicating their thirst for local grown tech. Sailor is now quite improved and popular, and will be participating for its second time in Google’s Summer of Code.
Dalcol then talked about her experiences working on the programming language, Lua. She used the history of Lua to illustrate what she sees as a hindrance to tech development in Latin America. Lua, created in 1993 in Brazil, was never marketed in Brazil. In fact, it wasn’t until 2015 that the first Portuguese language book on Lua was published. According to Dalcol, this type of suppression of local efforts contributes to a belief, prevalent even among Brazilian engineers, that Silicon Valley tech is superior. 
Etiene Dalcol
To combat this situation, her advice for Latin American developers is to stay true to their own unique perspectives and needs; to develop software that will solve local problems and to offer products that reflect their own cultures–to do what can’t be done anywhere else. In fact, according to Dalcol, this approach will produce software that will in turn be of benefit to other cultures. She cited advice she had found useful as a musician--don't play Chopin to Europeans; rather offer them what you know but they don't.
Dalcol also spoke of her experiences as a woman in tech, a theme that was addressed head-on later in the conference in its final keynote on women in open source (more on this later). 
Dalcol’s advice was clearly reflected in many of the afternoon’s unconference talks. We heard from participants about projects that were actively benefiting their communities. 
One such talk, by a developer from Costa Rica, was about the use of Open Street Map. OSM allows collaborators to create interactive maps geared to specific purposes. Examples included Ecuador’s rapid mapping of areas of damage caused by the devastating earthquake that had just happened April 26. By the following Sunday,  just five days after the quake, nine cities had been completely mapped, providing crucial information for emergency responders, survivors, and reconstruction workers.
Other OSM projects discussed included a public transport map in Nicaragua and a map of  humanitarian services in Costa Rica. There have even been open street mapping parties in Indonesia to develop useful maps. The speaker invited participants to join his open source mapping workshop to be held the next day.
Open Street Mappers
Another day two talk, by Tony Wasserman on evaluating technology for business needs was well-received by many who had entrepreneurial intent and appreciated a run-down of the factors that lead businesses to adopt some software products over others.
At day’s end, we gathered in the main room for Lightning Talks and announcements. It was clear that the day had generated a great deal of excitement that would carry over to the next day’s sprints and to projects that would continue beyond the conference.

I would love to hear from readers. Please send feedback, comments, or blog ideas to me at msushi@gnosis.cx.