Favourite talks at PyCon UK 2022

PyCon UK 2022 was held in Cardiff City Hall after a 3 year break due to covid. It was my first time attending PyCon UK or any Python conference. I'm told there were fewer talks than usual, but I still didn't see anywhere near all of them!

Here are a few that I particularly enjoyed, in the order they were given.

It's your callable: a tour of Python's callable function interface

Talk by Dom Weldon. Video on YouTube.

Dom gave an enjoyable summary of callable behaviour, with a focus on reading and modifying a callable's metadata.

Covers some subtleties of Python scope, e.g. when to use the nonlocal keyword, which will be useful to people coming to Python from other languages.

Breaking numbers in the name of security

Lightning talk by Steve Dower. Video on YouTube.

Steve explained the recently patched CVE-2020-10735, which affected code like int(user_input). It's worth noting that since the patch, int throws a ValueError when the input is too big.

This is the first short / lightning talk I've seen about a CVE. It's a great idea, and a short talk seem like a good format for it. Hopefully others will follow suit.

How to walk in a straight line

Lightning talk by Alastair Stanley. Video on YouTube.

My summary doesn't do the talk justice, but here it is: Alastair arrived in Cardiff early, used OpenStreetMap data to calculate the straightest walkable line across the city and then tried to walk it.

This was a really fun talk, not least because I had no idea there's a community of people who try to walk across cities and even countries (!) in the straightest line possible.

Alternative history retrocomputing

Talk by Peter Russell. Video on YouTube.

A talk about the Gigatron, "a TTL microcomputer that you build yourself". Most of this talk went over my head, but it left an impression. I impulse bought a Gigatron printed circuit board (PCB) at the end of the talk and since then have been buying the components.

Peter also showed off the Gigatron at the Python on Hardware Community Showcase session. Sadly I didn't get a chance to chat to him. If anyone reading this knows Peter, please let him know that he's inspired at least one more Gigatron build!

Pointers? In my Python? It's more likely than you think

Talk by Eli Holderness. Video on YouTube.

The start of the talk is a really clear explanation of why changing one list can modify another list and why tuples are sometimes unexpectedly mutable. It's become my go-to recommendation for anyone having trouble with copy behaviour in Python.

The second part of the talk digs deeper, into the details of reference counting, cyclic references and garbage collection.

Eli mentioned they're preparing a talk on scope, which I look forward to seeing.

My PyCon photos

Lightning talk by Adam Johnson. Video on YouTube.

Practically anything I say about this talk will spoil it, so I'll just say it's technology related and well worth 5 minutes of your time.

Useful things

These were a few of my favourite talks, but PyCon UK had many other talks and they're worth a watch. The lightning talks were especially varied, with something for practically everyone.

The conference organisers have helpfully grouped the days into YouTube playlists, so it's easy to look at the conference schedule and find a video.