Nik Kantar

Friday, August 4, 2023
7 min read

North Bay Python 2023: The Afterfeels

North Bay Python is back in business and I’ve got things to tell you about it.

I just returned from North Bay Python 2023 a few days ago, and it was so dang good to be back at my favorite conference, and also back in the meatspace of the Python community in general.

North Bay Python logo produced out of wood

If you haven’t yet heard, North Bay Python is an amazing regional conference in Petaluma, California. It’s organized by a wonderful team of awesome people and is consistently one of the most welcoming, inclusive, and empathetic spaces I’ve ever had the privilege of occupying. This was the first installment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was a stellar return. The inaugural event inspired me to make PyBeach 2020 happen, and this one may have had a similar effect…

slide welcoming the audience to North Bay Python 2023

The People

I generally tend to attend conference for the community, but that goes extra for North Bay Python. It’s not because the talks are disappointing—they’re most certainly not—but because the environment at the conference feels like one big, warm, comfy hug. In fact, the talks are part of that, as the presenters are also attendees, and quite likely to be accessible during a break or over a meal. From the organizing team to the other volunteers to the speakers to the attendees, the people of North Bay Python are just great.

The Cats

A novel addition this year, three cats were in attendance.

slide of Paulina, Poppy, and Pete Tiger’s photos, with Pearl and Penny mentioned below

Paulina, Poppy, and Pete Tiger were very present, specifically on stage and in the audience. Pearl and Penny passed on the event.

Paulina, Poppy, and Pete Tiger at various stages of the conference

The Talks

All 16 talks were well worth watching.

PEP talk by Mariatta (video) is an overview of PEPs (Python Enhancement Proposals), covering what they are (and aren’t!), the process they go through, and how we can all participate in this.

I Take Exception to Your Exceptions: Using Custom Errors to Get Your Point Across by Joe Kaufeld (video) is an exploration into creating custom exceptions and using them to effectively communicate issues to the end user/developer.

Teaching with Jupyter by Moshe Zadka (video) is a look at the many ways Jupyter can be used for teaching.

Have you tried... by Paloma Fautley (video) is about failure analysis by way of ocean exploration.

Make Your Engineering Team A Fabulous Place for Programmers with ADHD and Autism by Erin “August” Allard (video) talks about what some folks with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder might benefit from in their work environment.

Ship your Python code faster with PEX by Shalabh Chaturvedi (video) walks through using PEX to make Docker based deployments more incremental and possibly much less painful.

Back to the Future of Hypermedia in Python by Mario Munoz (video) is a pitch for a return to a slightly old school approach, eschewing heavy JavaScript frontends for a more server oriented stack.

Beyond Programming Paradigms (with Python examples) by Luciano Ramalho (video) suggests thinking about programming languages less in terms of rigid buckets (e.g., object-oriented, functional) and more in terms of features (e.g., functions as first-class objects).

Automate Your City Data with Python by Philip James (video) demonstrates how the power of Python, Datasette, and GitHub Actions can be used to analyze the work of your local city council.

Automated accessibility audits by Pamela Fox (video) teaches some ways of auditing your website for accessibility and automating that process.

Oh the (Methods) You Can (Make): By Dunder Seuss by Joshua D Cannon (video) is 25 minutes of hilarious Python object poetry covering all the magic methods available.

SVGs, Lasers, Reality, and You by Evan Kohilas (video) is a story about making things in the real world with a laser cutter, SVGs, and Python.

Observability For You and Me with OpenTelemetry by Sarah Hudspeth (video) is a trip into the world of understanding what our distributed systems do using OpenTelemetry.

Developing Labs for Teaching Kids Webdev by Matt Cengia (video) is a tale about teaching kids some basic web development and what’s required for doing so.

Two Kinds of Scripting: What Writing Plays Has Taught Me About Writing Python Programs by Marissa Skudlarek (video) compares writing software with writing plays, revealing many similarities.

Catching up on the weird world of LLMs by Simon Willison (video) is one of the more lucid surveys of the current crop of Large Language Models and the undeniable frenzy surrounding them.

The Venue

With the event having moved from the charming Mystic Theatre in Downtown Petaluma to the equally charming Reis River Ranch a few miles southeast, as well as shifting from early November or December to late July, the logistics of attending were quite different. No longer was sitting through the day an exercise in keeping warm inside an old, un(der?)heated building, but we had to deal with sunny California heat. The actual barn itself was quite manageable, but being outside meant either sticking to the shade or roasting rather quickly.

I discovered that I didn’t really benefit much from bringing a hat, but would’ve been far less comfortable if I hadn’t opted for shorts, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Constant hydration throughout the day was also quite helpful, particularly when I remembered to bring some extra electrolytes on the second day.

Also, the venue had cats.

The Town

Petaluma is a quaint little town. I’ve always stayed at Hotel Petaluma and plan on continuing that tradition in the future, as it makes the fun downtown extremely accessible.

mock old western town building fronts in Downtown Petaluma

northward view from the Footbridge on the Petaluma River

southward view from the Footbridge on the Petaluma River

The Trip

Much like in 2019, I chose to ride my motorcycle to the conference. The first time I rode there in one day and back over four, and this time I split each half into two days, which was a good choice. I took the 1/101 in both directions, enjoying lovely California scenery and having a somewhat engaging ride for the most part.

The only truly twisty bit I rode this time around was Skyline Boulevard, which I also took last time and surely will again. The road surface isn’t necessarily the best, but the views are mind blowing.

Yamaha FJ-09 parked on the side of Highway 35 in California

view from Highway 35 in California

view from Highway 35 in California

While not super twisty, good old Pacific Coast Highway rarely disappoints with the views either.

Yamaha FJ-09 parked on a road overlooking the Gaviota State Beach Pier and the Pacific Ocean

I ended up clocking a bit over 1,000 miles, 100 short of 2019. Not too shabby.

odometer reading 1009.2 miles for one of the trip options

The Future

I hope I’ll see you there next year. :)

Tags: conferences

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