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Pythonista & Techno-Geek
RuPy 2009, Poznan, Poland
by David Goodger
December 6, 2009
The story of my visit to Poznan, Poland, for the RuPy 2009 conference. Also, a link to my talk slides/script.


I had the honour of being invited to give a keynote talk at the recent RuPy 2009 conference in Poznan, Poland (November 7 & 8). RuPy covers both Ruby and Python, among other languages and technologies. RuPy is billed as the "Strongly Dynamic Conference"; "dynamic" is the common theme.

When I was invited, back in August, I asked what they would like me to speak about. I offered to speak about Docutils or my Polyform Puzzler project, about general or specific Python topics, or some kind of "community-oriented talk", maybe about PyCon and/or the Python Software Foundation. Jakub Nowak, the RuPy organizer who invited me, suggested that they create an opinion poll, and see what the attendees wanted to hear. I agreed, and "community-oriented talk" won.


Fast forward a few months, and it was time to go. This was only my second time in Europe, and my first opportunity to visit Poland (and Germany, but that was only transiting through the Frankfurt airport).

I arrived on Thursday (Nov. 5) around noon. I was disappointed that I didn't get a stamp in my passport to prove that I had visited Poland. But now that Poland is part of the European Union, it seems that flights coming from other EU countries don't need to pass through border controls. That's great for efficiency.

After checking into my hotel I took a walk toward the center of town, the old market square a few kilometers away. It reminded me of when I first arrived in Japan, and found myself completely illiterate — a humbling feeling. But the Polish language has enough in common with English and French — a Latin-based alphabet (but with some different pronunciations and additions that look like accented letters but aren't) and many loan words with Latin or Greek roots — that I was able to puzzle out many signs and words. But certainly not all.

It's been said that while North America has geography, Europe has history. Poznan has lots of history. Walking around the city, many of the buildings are really old, and the history is palpable. Even the oldest parts of Canada have nothing on this place.

Unfortunately, I caught a virus either on the way to Poland or in Poznan itself. Not feeling too well, I returned to the hotel early.

On Friday morning, Jakub Nowak, one of the main conference organizers, met me at my hotel along with Kristian Rother and his girlfriend Lena, and they showed me around a bit. On the way to visiting the Poznan Cathedral I saw some beautiful parts of Poznan, rode a couple of trams, and had a good time. Kristian and Lena had to leave before lunch. Jakub and I had some lunch in a food court of a very new and upscale downtown shopping mall. It was the only place he could think of where I could get Polish food — the kind everybody normally eats at home (e.g., good sasuage).

After helping me check in to my second hotel (there wasn't room there for my first night), Jakub had to go, to prepare for the conference beginning the next day. I spent the afternoon and evening finishing up my talk slides and script.

The Conference

The philosophy of RuPy is to put together Python & Ruby experts with young programmers and to support a good communication channel for East-West exchange of prospective ideas.

Following their mission, the RuPy organizers invited a lot of speakers from foreign lands. There were speakers from the US, Britain, France, Spain, and the Ukraine. I think I was the only Canadian.

On both days of the conference, a bus met the speakers at our hotel. Adam Parchimowicz, a conference organizer, made sure we were all there on the Saturday morning.

On the way into town from the airport, I had seen lots of nice looking houses. But near the conference venue (Adam Mickiewicz University Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, north of town) there were what looked like remnants of the Soviet era: monolithic concrete apartment blocks with their addresses painted in huge letters on the side. Depressing. I wouldn't want to live in a building with a huge "12" on the side.

The university campus was beautiful, modern buildings surrounded by birch forest, lots of open spaces. The conference building was well appointed, lunch was good, and wifi worked pretty well. There was a good selection of talks.

Both evenings, after the conference, many of the speakers and attendees got together for socializing — a "G33k party" on Saturday night and informally on Sunday. Being ill, I couldn't go — not that I'm much of a party-goer anyway. I prefer one-on-one conversations in a quiet atmosphere.

My Talk

I put together everything I knew and could think of on the theme of community. The slides/script are here.

The talk went well, as did the entire conference. Kudos to the organizers for a job well done!

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About the Blogger

David Goodger has been using Python since 1998, and began working on reStructuredText and Docutils in 2000. A proud Canadian, he lived in Japan for 7 years, where a stint at a document processing company in Tokyo began his love/hate relationship with structured markup. David is a Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) Editor and a member of the Python Software Foundation. He currently lives outside of Montreal, Quebec, with his Japanese wife and their two children.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2009 David Goodger. All rights reserved.

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