Recap: Hollywood Hackathon at Border Stylo
June 24, 2011 | Tag: » Events
Last Saturday we held our first hackathon of the summer at the offices of Border Stylo in Hollywood, in partnership with the SoCal Python Interest Group (“SoCal Piggies”). We invited not only newcomers to Python programming, like those who attended the May Beginner’s Workshop, but also seasoned developers who came to hack away on their own projects -- and who happily volunteered themselves to be mentors to those aforementioned n00bs.
Roughly 60% of the day’s 55 in-person participants and 90% of the 30 remote participants were female, well beyond the PyLadies’ goal of having a 1:1 male-female ratio at Pythonista events.
A few days before the hackathon, Audrey put out the call for hackers to contribute to open source projects, offering these freshly printed PyLadies shirts as a reward for anyone who committed code to a FOSS project (Audrey's wearing the new one!):
Some of the PyLadies continued to work their way through Zed Shaw’s “Learn Python the Hard Way,” the book we used at the Beginner’s Workshop. @ardaniel was the first person to earn a PyLadies shirt, by committing to GitHub the exercises she’d done and notes she'd written up from LPTHW. A group of folks had driven down from NorCal to help the SoCal Piggies work on a new website using the Pyramid web framework. After traveling all that way, it’s no surprise that they opted for the comfy couches:
Even people who couldn’t attend the hackathon in person, citing lame excuses such as not being located in California, were nevertheless invited to join in the fun -- Audrey will be shipping free shirts to everyone who participated remotely and contributed to open-source, including one PyLady who committed code from across the Atlantic:
What time was it in Poland???
During the hackathon we threw the #pyladies IRC chatroom up on the big screen so people could follow online discussions no matter where they were sitting -- without straining their thumbs from alt-tabbing. (PS If you want to join us on IRC anytime, we are in #pyladies on freenode.net!)
The Future of Python
After 4 hours of intensive hacking, it was time to take a break! Audrey herded us outside for a group photo. As PyDanny notes, it's a glimpse of the Python community of the future:
Though the Hollywood sky was outside was warm and bright, we soon drifted back indoors to chow down on Crispy Crust pizza and wings while listening to the end-of-day lightning talks:
- Dirk gave a demo of his Opani platform, which leverages the cloud for social supercomputing.
- Michael introduced the Pyramid web framework and Jenkins CI.
- Sandy shared some amazing demos of Python-Xbox Kinect hacking
- Jacob gave a PEP8 talk on best practices
- Jeff admonished us to leave no Windows developers behind
- Katharine and Danny proffered some words of encouragement for developers of all skill levels.
After the lightning talks, it was time to clean up, load out, and head over to the Melgard Public House for some well-earned beer and socializing time! This part was originally supposed to be Python Ladies’ Night 4, but once we found that the PyDudes weren’t so bad to hang out with, we gladly invited them along. Fun was had by all!
Gabriel, who played the part of event host on behalf of Border Stylo, said that of all the events his company has held (which is a lot!), ours was by far the smoothest and most awesome. Hope this means you’ll have us back, Gabe!
We of course have to thank the Python Software Foundation for giving us two grants to support this hackathon. Thanks to them, we were able to purchase enough tables and chairs to keep 55 hackers coding happily away in the same room, which led to much mingling and mentoring. They also helped foot the bill for drinks, snacks and dinner, so that we could fortify our hardworking brains with glucose-heavy treats and sodas all day long. And let's not forget the wonderful T-shirts for open source contributors!
We really want to keep the momentum going for opening up the Python community to people of all stripes, and to provide a non-threatening environment where everyone feels welcome to work on their projects and learn to become a better developer without having to worry about whether they fit in or feeling stupid for trying.
To that end, we’ve got at least a few more hackathons and other cool outings in the works, so don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter so you'll be the first to know when and where and what the PyLadies will be doing next! Thanks to all who attended, whether virtually or in-person -- and sorry to those on the waitlist who couldn't: we hope you'll catch us earlier next time, or connect with us online!
By Esther Nam