Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So, your loved one went to PyCon

So, your loved one went to PyCon, and while they were away, you watched their Twitter erupt with some strange moon language that leaves you wondering what the hell they were doing in Chicago, anyway. What follows is a short primer (to be updated as I get more suggestions) of what we tend to talk about on Twitter when shouting randomly at each other.

GVR/Guido: Guido Van Rossum. The founder of Python, he's something of a rock star when it comes to PyCon. Hence, many fangirl/boy Twits along the lines of "OMG keep it cool, Guido is sitting at the table next to me" or "GVR cited in Ballroom G! Go mob him now!" It is, honestly, a little surprising that he manages to get out of Pycon without having ladies' underwear tossed at him. Perhaps we simply need more women at these conferences.

BOF/Open Spaces: Birds of a feather. A strange and addicting phenomenon where one can post an index card on a large white posterboard with a topic in mind, and people magically show up at the proposed hour. At the beginning of the conference, BOF topics are usually closely related to the topic at hand (Python and development), but by the end, the constant diet of beer and caffeine leads to topics such as "Shut your damn face about Git" and "PONIES FOR ALL"

Ponies: An in-joke that has lead to the manifestation of an actual stuffed, pink pony being brought to the conference. The joke started with Plone, where developers were told that they could not have a pony. Django followed up by saying that yes, users COULD have a pony, and, in fact, it was pink.

Plone/Django/Pinax: A variety of popular frameworks (or, in the case of Pinax, and add-on to a framework). Wars in the Middle East have been laid to rest with less to-do than the wars between framework lovers. If your loved one seems to Twitter obsessively about Django, do yourself a favor and don't bring up Plone, or vice versa. Your status as significant other will not save you from being a casualty in the conflict.

Lightning talk: Normally, one goes to conferences to see talks that range from 45-90 minutes. These talks can be rather difficult to put together. One has to submit a proposal, create slides, test your timing, find the timing is short, insert some lolcats, test the timing again, remember to actually register for the conference. Also good to have, though optional, is having something to actually talk about. Lightning talks appeal to the lazier conference goers (which is, in fact, 90% of us). All you have to do is put your name on a sheet, and you have a five minute slot to talk about whatever you want. Features of the lightning talk: live demos that go horribly wrong, speaking so fast the listeners are often confused as to what language the talk was in, computers that implode, and, of course, stealing the VGA connector so no one else can give their lightning talk.

DVCS: Distributed Version Control System. Another thing developers use, and another thing where every group has their own darling they would like the world to implement. Their methods of convincing the rest of the world usually include rational debate, heated discussion, impugning the virtue of one's mother, and implying that the other side of the debate is actually populated by ColdFusion developers who are trying to undermine the Python community.

Sprints: Perhaps your loved one hasn't returned yet, but is at this strange thing called a sprint. A sprint is named in a peculiar fashion, as no-one moves a terrible amount during them. In general, a group of developers will lock themselves in a room and bang away at a set of code for several days. If you note strange track marks on your loved one's arm when he/she returns, it's just from the mainlined Mt. Dew. It should go away in a few days.

OH: Overheard. A penchant for non sequitur is high at conferences, with so many people crammed so close together. Sometimes, the speaker is told that the quote is going up. The truly epic, however, are only discovered later by the speaker's spouse. "But dear, you know I would never steal another man's underwear! Or violate a horse! Especially a small one!"

BDFL: Benevolent Dictator for Life. As much as we love democracy, sometimes, we simply can't be bothered. So occasionally, a person will stand up and declare him/herself BDFL of a bunch of code. If he/she is not torn asunder by an avalanche of vitriolic blog posts, indignant twitters, and Facebook groups titled "I shagged the BDFL's mother", then the coup is successful. An alternate title is TDFN: Tyrannical Dictator for Now. We're too lazy for democracy, but we don't mind organizing for the occasional brute force take down.

Hopefully, this short list will help you decipher some of the past few days of your loved one's life, and the next few weeks you'll have to cope with them gushing about it. In a few weeks, they should be out of the habit of nightly stuffed pizza, and wondering in the morning where the fresh muffins and juice are.