This page chronicles some bits of history from my Python career, the Python language, and the software field at large.
I wrote this page to let curious readers know what it was like to teach classes and write books about Python in its earliest days. These were exciting and unique times that spanned a hugely dynamic period in the software field, and some of the titanic changes that happened on my watch can be spotted in the wild here. Because my training and writing careers also played a major role in Python's adoption, readers are invited to consider this page part of Python's history too.
Formally, this page mostly covers the twenty-five-year period from 1993 through 2017, though some of its story lines have been updated more recently. It itemizes the Python classes I taught, Python books I wrote along the way, and articles and interviews I did over the years, with totals for each category in parenthesis. For both context and color, I've also liberally seasoned this page with anecdotes, observations, photos, and jokes (a.k.a. memoirs, but not the stuffy kind).
Three admin notes up front. First, this page's title is a clickable image that opens a photo gallery; enable yours if it's hiding. Second, the items below appear most-recent year first; read from the end if you prefer to move forward in time (on this page, at least). And last, this sort of page is unavoidably first person, so please click away now if you're not interested in writing that's laden with "I" and "my." Some might even deem this page spectacularly self-promotional (if not egregiously egocentric), but such is the nature of career retrospectives, and you might find parts of it interesting anyhow.
All told, I've been using and promoting Python since 1992 and version 0.9. Here's the TL;DR recap of what I've been up to since those arguably dark ages:
Technically, 10 of the 35+ years I've spent in the software field preceded my stumbling onto Python, and included two degrees in computer science, work in the compilers and Prolog realms, and a first substantial program in 1982 using Fortran on punch cards (it played tic-tac-toe against itself, and somehow always won). But such prehistory is officially outside the scope of this page.
More relevant here: today Python is generally counted as one of the top 5 most-used programming languages in the world; there are hundreds of Python books available on Amazon; and the local Barnes & Noble has an entire labeled section dedicated to the language. Among the best rewards of my career is the knowledge that my Python activities—whose beginnings predate the rise of Python, both Google and Amazon, and most of today's online experience—had something to do with that.
To help organize the details on this page, its year-table entries are colored by type:
|This||means out-of-town classes, mostly private|
|This||represents local private classes|
|This||denotes local public classes|
|This||signifies conferences attended|
|This||labels a few notes along the way|
|This||designates articles and interviews|
|This||is used for books (naturally)|
Terminology used here: Public classes were open to individual enrollments, and most were held locally. Private classes (sometimes called on-site classes) were arranged for clients with groups, and were held both locally and out-of-town. All my classes were private sessions as of October 2010, for reasons you'll read about ahead.
Where possible, this page's class tables list the names of clients that hosted classes, along with links to more info about each client. The links mostly lead to Wikipedia, which can be people-heavy and biased, but suffices for quick overviews and more links. Please note that these host lists do not constitute endorsements of any kind for either Python or my training services, and are included here for their historical value only. It is assumed that the passage of time makes naming hosts this way a moot point, but please contact me if your organization prefers anonymity, or a better link.
Also note the "(So Far)" in this page's title; to quote from Python's namesake: I'm not dead yet... Although this page by nature covers a specific period of time, the future remains to be written. While I don't mean to write it all here, and haven't made substantial changes to this page since early 2021, websites are much easier to revise than books. Watch the books status page, peruse the general blog page, or check back here if you're interested in breaking news.
For the present, it's on with the past.
This year hosted rising book sales, another book milestone, and the continuation of a books saga born in the Internet Pleistocene. Though hardly plausible, this year also marked 25 years since I discovered Python. It's somehow managed to fill a quarter century with activity (and books with spam).
As expected, the combined sales on my books reached 600,000 units this year, led by sales of Learning Python's 5th edition (see 2014). This total doesn't include an untold number of readers who fetched free but illicit ebooks off the web (courtesy of my publisher's lack of protections for authors); counts just one Safari reader per month (thanks to my publisher's want of reporting transparency); and will naturally increase further in years ahead (note from the future: unit sales crossed the 750k mark in 2020). Still, this is amazing sales in the tech-book domain, where 15k is often considered a success. Thanks to all who are part of the tally so far.
I didn't teach any classes this year, but a handful of requests came in anyhow despite last year's announcement. The most notable was from a prior client who eventually opted to hold classes taught by the students themselves—no subject-matter expert required. That particular class may fail, but it seems a new low point in the tech-education decline noted in 2012, and an alarming deprecation of knowledge in general. This sort of thing has cropped up in world history before, and always with catastrophic results, but you'll have to work out the consequences of the modern flavor for yourself (hint: one may rhyme with "boomsday").
My current publisher stopped selling individual books in both print and ebook format at its own website this year, to push subscriptions to its video-focused Safari online service. The print books and ebooks are still being produced and will be available at other retailers, so this probably has little or no impact on readers—few of whom bought directly from the publisher anyhow. Even so, it's a sad move for both authors (who may lose income in the shuffle) and loyal customers (who remember what the publisher once was), and is difficult not to interpret as another milepost on the road to content's demise. Read all the sordid details at the publisher review in 2015.
I regularly get emails from people around the world asking if I'm going to update my Python books again. The simplest answer is that as of late 2017, there are no plans for any book updates, and I don't expect any to come together in the future. My advice to readers is to master Python today with the latest editions, and browse its What's New documents later if and when you need them. Python will always change, but the fundamentals you'll learn in the books won't.
The fuller answer is that this is an ongoing tale, whose plot elements are introduced in earlier years here. In a nutshell, Python morphed into a subject too large and convoluted to be covered by comprehensive books; and my publisher morphed into a company seemingly focused on anything but producing them. Either one of these alone is enough to qualify as showstopper.
It happens, but it also doesn't matter. My books cover the first 25 years of the Python story, and the vast majority of the language used by millions of programmers in countless applications. That coverage will remain relevant to all learners of the language for decades to come. So please enjoy the books wherever and whenever you find them, and don't forego reading one because you think a new edition may pop up shortly. You never know what authors might next do, but you can benefit from what they've already done.
As for this author: I may not be covering the parade anymore, but I'm still having fun programming Python (mostly on a Mac these days, and sometimes on Android). Check out the free programs I post on this page for recent code that's meant to be both useful and educational. And please feel free to consider them a thank-you to all the many readers over all the many years.
|Long live the books|
|Ongoing||Programming Python, just for fun||Get free apps here|
This year saw both book milestones, and the expected and arguably overdue conclusion to the training story. On the former, Programming Python turned 20 years old this year, and sales of the Learning Python title reached the 300k units mark, not counting all the unpaid copies downloaded illegally on the web (information does not want to be free if it has a price tag).
Programming Python was first published in 1996, though its development (and lobbying) began a year or two earlier. Its content has spanned Pythons 1.X through 3.X, and was the genesis of my other two books—Learning Python and Python Pocket Reference. Together, these three related books' sales reached 550k units by April this year, and will continue to grow in years ahead. For a look back at this book's history, see the earlier years on this page, especially its birth in 1996. Over the years, it grew into a mature applications text; maybe now it will finally move out of my basement...
After 20 years, 260 live and in-person classes, and more adventures than I can recall, I finally ended my Python training business in full this year. See the formal announcement for details. You can also read about some of the factors behind this decision in 2012 and 2010 below.
In short, it's high time to accept that onsite Python classes taught by subject matter experts for forward-looking groups have gone the way of the Norwegian Blue. This probably says something about society at large, and almost certainly reflects Python's rise to ubiquity, but I'll pass on elaborating here. Instead, I'll close out the training thread on this page with thanks to all my clients for an amazing two decades, and hopes that the books which mirror my former classes prove as useful to learners of the future as they have to learners of the past.
As for training, though, it has ceased to be. For posterity's sake, I've posted a few photos from the training road, and the final version of the class workbook material. On my shift, the latter morphed from paper copies and floppy disks, to HTML, CDs, USB flashdrives, and the web. I don't know what comes next, but I'm sure we'll think of something. For now—roll the closing credits!
|End of onsite classes|
|May-2016||Interview, pythonlibrary.org||PyDev of the Week|
On-site classes were resumed this year after the preceding years' book projects, but at a much-reduced pace. Publisher issues also began to cloud the prospect of future book updates; though some issues would take years to roll out (and others are beyond this page's scope), this year's review discloses enough to introduce the story line, and its later updates spin off a few sequels.
Despite capping a three-year sales peak, this year also saw some uncertainty over future editions. My publisher (now known as O'Reilly Media) passed on updating a classic Python book over a trivial contract issue, and demoted both open source and books in general at their website. Once known for meaty technical books, this publisher seems to be morphing into a company focused on videos, webcasts, and conferences; with a business model based on pandering to a naive audience instead of educating it; and a web presence that has become a platform for promoting illegitimate content and personalities. This is not the publisher I signed up with.
Time will tell if legacies that established this company's brand are compatible with chasing the latest trends. Time will also tell if this publisher remains a net positive for my books. As it stands, though, its current image seems just as likely to turn away motivated readers as it is to attract them. Looking for solid technical material at this publisher's website today is like looking for Principia Mathematica in People Magazine.
Like all good melodramas, this one thickened over time. As later years' events began to amplify the prior section's themes, I started a partial recount here as info for book buyers, prospective authors, and sports fans of all sorts, but eventually moved it to a separate log for space and flow. You can now read the full story at the publisher follies page.
For readers in a hurry: my books' publisher started preferentially promoting video training and other publishers' products in 2016; dropped direct sales of books to focus on online subscriptions in 2017; sprouted book inventory outages and purged much of its historical web content by 2018; acquired another online training company and began selling customer access more aggressively by 2019; and ended its long-standing conferences business in 2020. The sum was bad news for customers, contributors, and brand.
To be fair, this publisher also served as a catalyst for helping readers around the world, and played an important role in both the rise of Python and the success of my texts. Moreover, its books are still produced, printed, and available at retailers, and this story is still prone to wild plot twists. Direct book sales, for example, seem to have reappeared at the publisher's website in time for 2021.
But at this writing, this company has transformed into one I wouldn't choose to work with today, and one that merits extra caution for both creators and consumers of content. Neither group's best interests may be served by a publisher obstinately focused on the unholy union of online media and information sales. Get the full scoop on this ongoing saga off page in the publisher follies.
|Jun 8-10||Seattle, WA||University of Washington|
|Aug 24-26||Merritt Island, FL||NASA Kennedy Space Center|
|Oct 27-29||Vancouver, Canada||T2 Systems|
|Ongoing||Article, this site||Python Changes 2014+|
These years were focused on two major book projects. A one-person training business is a massive undertaking, especially when travel is involved, and the book updates merited the complete and fulltime attention they finally received.
The 5th edition of Learning Python released in this period becomes the best-selling edition so far. It will hit 100k units sales early in its tenure; push the Learning Python title's lifetime sales well past the 300k units mark by mid-2016 (and cross 350k soon after); and easily outsell my other Python texts (people still want big, meaty tech books, despite what you may have heard). This edition also concludes with a warning about feature bloat and language flux in Python—a trend which continues unabated to this day (more on recent Python changes at this page).
With these years' publications, the total page count on the 14 Python books I've published over the last two decades reached 11,000. To put that number in perspective, 11,000 pages is equivalent to 22 500-page books, 31 350-page books, or 44 250-page books. To put the work in perspective, the latest Learning Python project was so intense that it killed a keyboard on a brand new Ultrabook. Yet another gadget that bravely gave its life to keep the world safe from bad programming language design (more on device tragedies in 2006 and 2005).
|Jun-2013||Learning Python, 5th Edition||Python 3.3 + 2.7||1600 pages|
|Jan-2014||Python Pocket Reference, 5th Edition||Python 3.4 + 2.7||260 pages|
|Oct-2014||Interview, Dice.com||Interview Qs for Python Newcomers|
|Jul-2013||Article, O'Reilly Radar||Python’s New-Style Inheritance Algorithm|
Unavailable for training the first part of this year (due to another cross-country relocation), and writing fulltime as of October (which eventually became a two-year training break). This year also brought more clarity on trends introduced in 2010, per the next section.
Somewhere along the way, the recession impacts training budgets; Python sheds its newness and becomes an expected-to-know skill in jobs, and an expected-to-learn subject in universities; and the world loses its mind and decides that complex technical skills like software development can be easily learned by watching a few hours of YouTube videos, copying code from unqualified GitHub sources, and following arbitrarily misinformed Stack Overflow advice.
While all three trends seem to have taken a toll on the in-person Python training field, the latter threatens a more disastrous impact on the software world at large. People may eventually realize that videos and webcasts are not training, cut-and-paste is not programming, and the knowledge of peers does not have the same innate value as that of subject-matter experts. But this may take time (and widespread software failure, unfortunately).
For my take on virtual training, see this note. For more on the cultural change underlying the drama, see the "democratization" of knowledge—a broader and strangely naive trend rooted in denigration of experts, which, if applied literally, seems destined to yield either economic decline or outright anarchy. In the software field, this trend's fruit sacrifices quality of craft in the name of a modern gold rush which is more marketing hyperbole than hiring reality. Knowledge requirements in engineering domains cannot be crowdsourced, despite what you may have heard.
Broader issues aside, a live in-person class is a tough sell to a crowd which has convinced itself that any skill can be had with a quick tour online, and for proof can point to a multitude of inane dreck available for free on the web. Trust me on this; nothing captures the impact of the Internet quite as well as watching students search for answers by wading through advertising-laden junk sites, instead of asking the real expert standing three feet behind them.
On the other hand, my books' sales in this same period are stronger than they have ever been, and will increase further in the years ahead. Perhaps there is hope for the Rebellion still.
|Unavailable first part of year|
|Aug 6-8||Burlington, MA||Oracle Corp|
|Sep 10-12||Phoenix, AZ||Charles Schwab Corp|
|Sep 24-26||Marysville, OH||Scotts Comp|
|Nov 27-29||Dallas, TX||Lockheed Martin Corp|
|Writing fulltime as of October|
|Sep-2012||Article, this site||Answer Me These Questions Three...|
On-site training resurges. I stopped training as of August this year to avoid being too busy; this wound up being a full year break.
Memories from the road this year—a snow day in Boxboro, subzero cold in Chicago, a tornado warning in Bloomington, homeless people in San Francisco, and a lost belt courtesy of an antagonistic TSA agent in Boston's Logan airport. Business travel is losing its luster.
This year also saw returns to government research centers whose bread and butter is sensitive information. At one, I ran a Python online-lottery program to give away free copies of my books. This was both fun to code and an excuse to pare down my inventory, but it had a major design flaw: entering the lottery required sending an email or filling out a web form, and security restrictions at the site made this impossible—that is, until students pulled out their smartphones to get online anyhow. Good thing they don't make bombs, eh?
|Jan 25-27||Boxboro MA||Cisco Systems|
|Feb 7-11||Chicago, IL||DRW Holdings LLC|
|Feb 15-17||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab|
|Mar 7-11||Chicago, IL||DRW Holdings|
|Mar 21-23||Baltimore, MD||Johns Hopkins Univ STScI|
|Apr 5-7||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|May 23-25||Bloomington, IL||Withheld on request: insurance|
|Jun 1-3||Houston, TX||NASA Johnson Space Center|
|Jun 27-28||San Francisco, CA||Dolby Labs Inc|
|Jun 29-30||San Francisco, CA||Dolby Labs|
|Jul 19-21||Burlington, MA||Oracle Corp|
|Aug 17-19||Chantilly, VA||Harris Corp|
|Unavailable rest of the year|
This year saw the end of public classes; the last three were held in Sarasota. In short, more and more public-class students were showing up with highly over-inflated expectations, and it became unethical to take money from individuals in this context—as the following section explains.
By this time, Python's original message of a better tool for developers had become a promise of easy accessibility to everyone. Sadly, one of the byproducts of this myth was an increasing number of students enrolling in public classes with no background in programming, but expectations of mastering every topic under the sun and launching a software career after just one 3-day class.
Disreputable marketing in the publishing and training fields was no doubt a big factor behind this shift, but a general cultural change which denigrated both the software field and traditional learning was also gaining momentum (more on this in 2012). Whatever the cause, profiting from the desperation of misled people is just plain wrong. After a decade, the public classes launched in 2001 wrapped up with this year's Florida sessions.
By contrast, private classes and comprehensive books are targeted at very different audiences—the former at groups with specific job-skill requirements, and the latter at individuals seeking in-depth coverage. Although some private classes' initial expectations were wildly inflated too, the tangible reality of the format made it possible to negotiate a realistic syllabus (or pass altogether). And while book readers come in all shapes and sizes, it's difficult to imagine any mistaking 1,600-page works for quick skims.
Still, the tech education field is sorely in need of realism. Programming can indeed be fun, in the same way that climbing a mountain is fun. The journey is arduous, and part of the reward. But software engineering is not, and never will be, a trivial skill to master. Promising otherwise is at best naive, and at worst fraud. Either way, the net result is to both disappoint newcomers and dilute the field.
|Dec-2010||Programming Python, 4th Edition||Python 3.X (3.2)||1630 pages|
|Jan 19-21||Sarasota, FL||public class|
|Feb 2-4||Albany, NY||BMPC-KAPL Lab|
|Apr 27-29||Sarasota, FL||public|
|May 25-27||Milpitas, CA||Intersil Comp|
|Jun 8-10||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|Jul 13-15||Sarasota, FL||public|
|End of public classes|
|Jul 19-21||Milford, MA||EMC Corp|
|Jul 27-28||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|Oct 19-21||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab|
Most of this year was still local classes only (and referring contacts to others), but the London class in December signaled a restart of travel-based classes which continued into later years. Book update projects were also underway much of the year—necessitated by the need to cover the newly released Python 3.X. Much of the work on books this year was done during a cross-country move, and some of it on a cramped netbook.
The Programming Python update is pushed out to next year. It will be held in limbo for months by the publisher, and have to grapple with half-finished 3.X libraries that are still being brought in line with 3.X language changes, and are sufficiently incompatible to make 2.X-to-3.X migration a lot more complicated than running code through a syntax converter. In the end, many standard libraries won't correctly handle 3.X's Unicode model until years after 3.X's release—further slowing its adoption. Moral lesson: if you're going to mandate change, you should at least have the common sense to practice what you preach.
On the upside, Python 3.X will eventually become fully usable for applications work, if programmers are careful to stick with its large subset that applies to all 3.X versions (see the programs posted here programs for prime examples). Unfortunately, the siren call of latest-and-greatest inevitably lures many a coder to the rocks of incompatibility. There's more on the Python changes story here, and coverage of 3.X's near stillbirth last year.
|Sep-2009||Learning Python, 4th Edition||Python 3.0 + 2.6||1210 pages|
|Sep-2009||Python Pocket Reference, 4th Edition||Python 3.1 + 2.6||210 pages|
|Jan 27-30||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Apr 21-23||Longmont, CO||Seagate Tech|
|Apr 28-30||Broomfield, CO||Sun Microsystems Inc|
|May 4-6||Fort Collins, CO||Hewlett-Packard Comp|
|Oct 20-22||Sarasota, FL||public class|
|Dec 5-11||London, England||Getco LLC|
This year was local classes only, a continuation of 2007's mid-year change, and a policy that also lasted for most of the next year. Even so, a single longstanding client sufficed to fill some of the time—and give my second OQO a workout when a laptop failed to project.
The deliberately backward-incompatible Python 3.0 is released late this year—by most accounts an atrocious misstep, which is no longer mentioned in 3.X circles. The Python 3.X line will eventually become more robust and efficient, but remain a constantly morphing sandbox of ideas which will struggle to attract users, and will even alienate some former Python fans. By contrast, the Python 2.X line will soon be frozen at version 2.7 and hence immune to 3.X's thrashing; despite 3.X's emergence, 2.X will continue to see widespread use (and probably always will).
By 2020, Python 3.X will be used widely enough to embolden its developers to drop support for 2.X at python.org. But it will take a full 12 years to get there, and even then 2.X will still be used by countless programmers (see ActiveState's data and blog), and supported or required by numerous systems (including IronPython, AWS, Chromium, Jython, and LLVM). Python 3.X may be the future, but its dozen-year ascent hardly qualifies as a coup, and it may never eclipse 2.X in full.
The enduring popularity of 2.X won't, however, stop python.org developers from inserting a rude denigration banner at the top of every page in 2.X users' docs. For an open-source community that prides itself on being inclusive, that seems awfully exclusive.
|Jan 15-16||Longmont, CO||Seagate Tech|
|Jan 23-25||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Jan 29-31||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Mar 25-26||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Apr 22,23,25||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|May 12-13||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|May 14-16||Longmont, CO||public|
|June 17-19||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Oct 15-17||Longmont, CO||public|
|mid-2008||Interview, Quantum Books||Learning Python topics|
This year was a turning point for training: for happy personal reasons, I stopped doing out-of-town classes at mid-year, and did only local classes (public and private) from then until December 2009—a business travel break spanning two and a half years. This was still a high-demand year and I passed along a lot of business to others, but personal lives sometimes matter more than careers.
This year also saw the release of the 3rd edition of Learning Python: a heavy revision that incorporated new training experiences, and dropped the material of the prior edition's coauthor (who elected not to work on the update). The new edition was also temporary host to both arguably annoying "Brain Builder" section labels and definitely distracting code section pointers added by the publisher over my objections. It enjoyed strong sales until Python 3.0 forced an update ahead of schedule.
⇨ Good ⇨ thing, ⇨ that!
|Oct-2007||Learning Python, 3rd Edition||Python 2.5||750 pages|
|Jan 16-18||Missoula, MT||US Forest Service FSL|
|Jan 23-25||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Jan 30-Feb 1||Boston, MA||iRobot Corp|
|Feb 7-9||Dallas, TX||Cisco Systems|
|Feb 21-23||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm Inc (via TTR)|
|Mar 6-8||Chicago, IL||Citadel LLC|
|Mar 20-22||Chicago, IL||Citadel|
|Mar 28-30||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm|
|Apr 9-11||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|Apr 23-25||Santa Clara, CA||VMware Inc|
|Apr 30-May 2||Norman, OK||University of Oklahoma|
|May 16-18||Boise, ID||Micron Tech|
|May 22-24||Boulder, CO||Valleylab Comp (acq)|
|Jun 11-13||Longmont, CO||public|
|Jun 25-27||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|Offered local classes only from here till December 2009|
|Oct 10-12||Longmont, CO||Seagate Tech|
|Oct 17-19||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Oct 23-25||Longmont, CO||public|
|Oct 31-Nov 2||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Nov 28-30||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Nov-2017||Interview, Dr. Dobb's||Learning Python Today and Tomorrow|
The peak year for training, though 2007 would have probably been similar if I hadn't taken a break from travel. I likely spent more time in hotels this year than at home. In fact, the pace was so busy that I had to pencil myself in as unavailable for classes in September to get a break (and meet someone who would change my life profoundly next year). A large book was also somehow written this year; much of the work was late-night hotel vigils.
Among training notables: classes amongst the Chicago skyscrapers; a New York class near the now heavily armed Wall Street; lost luggage in Edmonton which made for an interesting wardrobe; an OQO Windows-based handheld computer doused badly in London by an errant pint of Guinness; and a class on the Google campus. The Google class almost didn't happen, because I refused to allow background checks that were more invasive than those of the NSA. (That's how I know they're different.)
|Aug-2006||Programming Python, 3rd Edition||Python 2.X (2.5)||1600 pages|
|Jan 25-27||Longmont, CO||Seagate Tech|
|Jan 30-Feb 2||Chicago, IL||Getco LLC|
|Feb 8-10||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Feb 13-16||Chicago, IL||Getco|
|Feb 20-22||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Feb 27-Mar 1||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|Mar 7-9||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|Mar 21-23||Edmonton, Canada||Environment Canada (ECCC)|
|Mar 27-30||Chicago, IL||Getco|
|Apr 4-6||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Apr 10-12||Bloomington, IL||Withheld on request: insurance|
|Apr 26-28||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|May 1-5||New York, NY||Opsware Inc|
|May 8-12||Atlanta, GA||public: Big Nerd Ranch|
|May 15-17||Montrose, CO||Westslope IT|
|May 22-24||Mountain View, CA||Google Inc|
|May 31-Jun 2||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm Inc (via TTR)|
|Jun 7-9||Longmont, CO||public|
|Jun 10-11||Longmont, CO||SPSS Inc|
|Jun 12-14||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|Jun 19-23||New York, NY||JPMorgan Chase|
|Jun 27-29||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Jul 10-13||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|Jul 19-21||Cupertino, CA||Hewlett-Packard Comp|
|Jul 25-27||Boston, MA||Iron Mountain Digital|
|Jul 31-Aug 4||London, England||JPMorgan Chase|
|Aug 14-16||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm|
|Aug 17-18||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm|
|Aug 21-23||Boston, MA||Bose Corp|
|Aug 24-25||Boston, MA||Bose|
|Aug 28-31||Columbia, MD||Windermere Tek|
|Sep 6-8||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm|
|Sep 12||Boulder, CO||tutorial: host unknown|
|Sep 13-15||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Unavailable for classes Sep 17-29|
|Oct 10-12||Washington, DC||Mantech Corp|
|Oct 17-18||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Oct 23-25||San Diego, CA||Qualcomm|
|Oct 30-Nov 1||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Nov 6-10||Estes Park, CO||public: Seminar|
|Nov 13-17||Atlanta, GA||public: Big Nerd Ranch|
|Nov 29-Dec 1||Boise, ID||Micron Tech|
|Dec 4-6||Portsmouth, NH||Liberty Mutual Grp|
|Dec 13-15||Boston, MA||iRobot Corp|
|Sep-2006||Interview, Tech Talk Radio||Discussion thread|
The second-biggest year for training. Tech, Python, and programming in general were surging. This is also the last year that I attended conferences; after doing 12, they grew repetitive and stale for me, unwanted attention was becoming a burden, and I already had a heavy-duty travel schedule for training.
This year also saw a return to Puerto Rico (and the best shrimp on the planet); a disabled laptop (thanks to an unfortunate Diet Coke incident in Berkeley); and a hands-on look at a NASA virtual reality cave (before VR was cool). A second hurricane off the coast near St Augustine added color to the Palatka class, and a Colorado blizzard delayed arrival to West Palm Beach.
The Big Nerd Ranch public classes in this year and the next were held at a retreat in the Georgia woods, where students and instructor would stay and eat, and share a week-long learning experience while largely cut off from the outside world. Yes; cue the banjo.
|Feb-2005||Python Pocket Reference, 3rd Edition||Python 2.4||160 pages|
|Jan 12-14||Annapolis, MD||ARINC Inc|
|Jan 26-28||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Jan 31-Feb 2||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|Feb 16-18||Sarasota, FL||ManTech (MRSL)|
|Feb 21-25||Atlanta, GA||public: Big Nerd Ranch|
|Apr 11-15||West Palm Beach, FL||South Florida Water Mgmt Dist|
|Apr 19-21||Chicago, IL||Dana Inc|
|May 4-6||Pasadena, CA||NASA Jet Propulsion Lab|
|May 11-13||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Skytec Inc|
|May 17-19||Philadelphia, PA||University of Pennsylvania|
|Jun 1-3||Denver, CO||Firstlogic LLC|
|Jun 8-10||Longmont, CO||public|
|Jul 18-20||Boston, MA||Sefas Innovation Inc|
|Jul 20-22||Boston, MA||Sefas Innovation|
|Jul 26-28||Dallas, TX||Lockheed Martin Corp|
|Aug 2-4||Fairfax, VA||Technology Mgmt Assoc|
|Aug 10-12||Berkeley, CA||Lawrence Berkeley Natl Lab|
|Aug 16-18||Dallas, TX||Lockheed Martin|
|Aug 22-24||Boise, ID||Micron Tech|
|Aug 30-Sep 1||Cleveland, OH||NASA Glenn Research Center|
|Sep 6-8||Palatka, FL||
Florida River Mgmt
||Sep 13-15 ||Ft Meade, MD ||
National Security Agency
||Sep 19 ||Boulder, CO ||tutorial: host unknown
||Oct 5-7 ||Longmont, CO ||public
||Oct 17-21 ||Atlanta, GA ||public: Big Nerd Ranch
||Oct 24-27 ||State College, PA ||
Penn State University
||Oct 31-Nov 4 ||La Crosse, WI ||Firstlogic (AM class 1 of 2)
||Oct 31-Nov 4 ||La Crosse, WI ||Firstlogic (PM class 2 of 2)
||Nov 8-10 ||Santa Clara, CA ||
||Nov 15-17 ||Santa Clara, CA ||VMware
||Nov 28-29 ||Santa Clara, CA ||
||Nov 30-Dec 2 ||Santa Clara, CA ||
||Dec 7-9 ||Longmont, CO ||
||Dec 13-15 ||Briarcliff, NY ||
|Mar 23-25||Washington, DC||PyCon 3 (last)|
The dot-com effect ebbs, and a recovery seems to be afoot. Conferences were already starting to get old for me by this point; I stepped out of the DC PyCon to watch a US presidential campaign rally down the street.
This year's training included a beach stay in Florida, a 1-person class in Fresno, the remnants of a hurricane in Newport News, and an NSA class which banned student CDs I brought along (training takes on a different tone when the client has automatic weapons). I was also asked to provide a final exam for students at Circuit City's HQ; so I wrote up an easy exam filled with jokes; which most of the students failed...
|Jan 13-15||Reynosa, Mexico||Jabil Global Svcs (now?)|
|Jan 26-28||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Feb 18-19||Los Alamos, NM||Los Alamos Natl Lab|
|Mar 3-5||Richmond, VA||
Circuit City Corp
||Apr 5-7 ||Redlands, CA ||
||Apr 19-21 ||Houston, TX ||
Texas Instruments Inc
||May 3-5 ||Redlands, CA ||ESRI
||Jun 1-4 ||San Diego, CA ||
||Jun 7-8 ||Sunnyvale, CA ||
||Jun 9-11 ||Longmont, CO ||public
||Jul 6-8 ||Ft Meade, MD ||
National Security Agency
||Jul 20-22 ||Fort Walton Beach, FL ||
Eglin Air Force Base
||Aug 10-11 ||Los Alamos, NM ||Los Alamos Natl Lab
||Aug 30-Sep 3 ||Newport News, VA ||
City of Newport News
||Sep 13-15 ||Fresno, CA ||
Fresno County Edu Office
||Sep 20-22 ||Pasadena, CA ||
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
||Oct 6-8 ||Longmont, CO ||public
||Nov 15-18 ||Denver, CO ||
Land Title Guarantee Co
||Dec 7-9 ||Los Alamos, NM ||Los Alamos Natl Lab
|Mar 23-25||Washington, DC||PyCon 2|
|Feb-2004||Article, ONLamp.com||When Pythons Attack|
This was a low-point for training demand, and seems to be the year when the full impact of the dot-com crash's downturn hit. I cancelled only one public class due to low demand, and it was in March of this year. My publisher nearly folded in this timeframe as well. That would never happen to this field again, right?
Despite the decline, this year had its share of memorable training moments, including a return to Dublin, the Big Dig in Boston, and tours of both a control room at Disney World and a movie studio lot in Culver City. In the books department, Learning Python, 2nd Edition is released with new material from recent classes and Python changes; this wound up being a one-person job, but retained the prior edition's coauthor material.
|Dec-2003||Learning Python, 2nd Edition||Python 2.3||620 pages|
|Feb 25-27||Columbus, OH||Applied Innovation (acq?)|
|Mar 4-6||Columbus, OH||Applied Innovation|
|Mar 10-12||Boston, MA||Harvard Mgmt Comp|
|Apr 14-16||Charlotte, NC||Family Dollar Inc|
|Apr 29-May 1||Dublin, Ireland||RenaissanceRe Ltd|
|May 12-14||Chelmsford, MA||Mercury Computer Systems|
|Jun 10-11||Culver City, CA||
Sony Pictures Imageworks
||Jun 24-27 ||Orlando, FL ||
Walt Disney World
||Jul 8-9 ||Los Alamos, NM ||
Los Alamos Natl Lab
||Jul 22-24 ||Lawrenceville, NJ ||
||Aug 5-6 ||Los Alamos, NM ||Los Alamos Natl Lab
||Oct 7-9 ||Longmont, CO ||
||Oct 29-31 ||Atlanta, GA ||
||Dec 9-11 ||Chicago, IL ||
UBS Group AG
An early high-point for training, and an apparent vindication of the career move. The dot-com burst had happened, but it hadn't hit training demand yet (though see next year). This year was also my fourth and last OSCON, an event that will be held until it falls victim to publisher morph and pandemic in a distant epoch.
This year's training trips to Barcelona and Mexico City were rewards in themselves. The former included an entire weekend to explore, with a day spent on Las Ramblas and the Mediterranean (photos here and here). The latter saw squash games, amazing food, and a tense moment when a plainclothes police officer jumped into my taxi as a random kidnapping deterrent. Spoiler alert: I'll return to UW in Seattle 13 years later, when nobody will recall the class held there this year.
|Jan 16-18||Longmont, CO||Seagate Tech|
|Jan 29-Feb 1||Minneapolis, MN||Jasc Software Inc|
|Feb 13-15||Longmont, CO||public class|
|Feb 20-22||Colorado Springs, CO||Intelliden Inc|
|Feb 25-28||Annapolis, MD||ARINC Inc|
|Mar 7-8||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab|
|Mar 12-15||Mexico City, Mexico||Aldea Systems (link?)|
|Mar 25-27||Plymouth, MI||HKS automotive (link?)|
|Apr 1-3||Boise, ID||Hewlett-Packard Comp|
|Apr 9-11||Barcelona, Spain||Hewlett-Packard Spain|
|Apr 15-17||Ann Arbor, MI||Mechanical Dynamics (acq?)|
|Apr 22-24||Minneapolis, MN||Seagate|
|Apr 29-30||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Lab|
|May 7-9||Oklahoma City, OK||Seagate|
|May 22-24||Barcelona, Spain||Hewlett-Packard|
|May 27-29||Barcelona, Spain||Hewlett-Packard|
|Jun 3-4||Longmont, CO||Seagate|
|Jun 10-11||San Jose, CA||Schlumberger Tech|
|Jun 17-19||Minneapolis, MN||Seagate|
|Jun 20-21||Minneapolis, MN||Seagate|
|Jun 25-27||St Petersburg, FL||Catalina Marketing|
|Jul 10-11||Minneapolis, MN||Seagate|
|Jul 15-17||Minneapolis, MN||Seagate|
|Jul 22||San Diego, CA||Tutorial at OSCON 4|
|Sep 24-26||Portland, OR||IBM Corp (via OGI)|
|Oct 15-17||Tacoma, WA||Sagem Morpho (link?)|
|Oct 21-23||Seattle, WA||University of Washington|
|Oct 28-30||Longmont, CO||public|
|Nov 19-21||Oklahoma City, OK||Seagate|
|Feb 5-6||Alexandria, VA||IPC 10 (report)|
|Jul 22-26||San Diego, CA||OSCON 4|
|Feb-2002||Article, ONLamp.com||The IPC10 Python Gathering|
Growing training demand, and the first of many book updates to come.
Early public classes in this year and 2000 were hosted by a Perl training company based in Boulder, Colorado (TCPC); I eventually started holding these in Colorado myself this year. Also this year: both an OSCON (held by my publisher) and an IPC (held by Pythonfolk), though conference details this far back start to become a bit murky, due to thinning Web records (and memory); t-shirts seem the best definitive proof remaining for some. Older conferences may still be spotted here, here, and here.
This year's 2nd edition of Programming Python was a very different book than its predecessor. Given the presence of Learning Python's language tutorial and the Python Pocket Reference's quick-reference, the new Programming Python edition is able to morph from a general and broad text to a focused and more-advanced applications tutorial. This scope remains with the book in all its later editions. It probably should have been rebranded as "Applying Python" or some such at this point, but the publisher had already established the title model.
|Mar-2001||Programming Python, 2nd Edition||Python 2.0||1300 pages|
|Nov-2001||Python Pocket Reference, 2nd Edition||Python 2.2||130 pages|
|Feb 5-7||Richmond, VA||
Circuit City Corp
||Feb 13 ||Longmont, CO ||
||Feb 21-23 ||Denver, CO ||
||Feb 26-27 ||Vancouver, Canada ||
||Mar 12-14 ||Richmond, VA ||Circuit City
||Mar 20-22? ||Boulder, CO ||
||Mar 28-30 ||Englewood, CO ||
||Apr 18-21 ||Oakhurst, CA ||
Sierra Telephone Inc
||May 1-3 ||Portland, OR ||
Harland Financial Solutions (acq)
||May 14-15 ||Livermore, CA ||
Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab
||May 23-25? ||Boulder, CO ||public: TCPC
||May 30-01 ||Englewood, CO ||CSG
||Jun 6-8 ||Rochester, NY ||
Nexpress Solutions (acq)
||Jun 11-13 ||Corning, NY ||
Corning Inc, CCFL
||Jun 25-27 ||Longmont, CO ||
public: first in Longmont
||Jul 23 ||San Diego, CA ||Tutorial at
||Jul 30-31 ||Dublin, Ireland ||
||Sep 24-28 ||Seattle, WA ||
||Oct 22-24 ||Longmont, CO ||public
||Nov 12-14 ||Longmont, CO ||Seagate
||Dec 3-5 ||Oklahoma City, OK ||Seagate
||Dec 17-19 ||Pasadena, CA ||
NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
|Mar 5-7||Long Beach, CA||IPC 9 (more)|
|Jul 26-27||San Diego, CA||OSCON 3|
|May-2001||Interview, ONLamp.com||Programming Python topics|
The first fulltime training year, and demand was high enough to justify the risk.
The UK trip to Newmarket near Cambridge this year was the first overseas class (photos here and here). It would be followed by later international classes in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, with 7 training trips to the latter. Poignant memory: the New York class was held across from the World Trade Center. Geek memory: the Chicago class was for the owner of Palm, the maker of a line of PDAs I used almost constantly until the Linux-based Zaurus justified migration (see also my later defections to Windows and Android).
I also recall teaching a one-day Python overview in New Jersey this year which included the usual good-natured jokes about managers, only to be told later that the entire audience consisted of managers evaluating the language. Hence the silence.
Python 2.0 is released this year, with full backward compatibility and minor extensions; by 2008, 3.0 will differ widely on both counts. Some of the changes that will eventually be mandated in 3.X, such as new-style classes, will premier along the way as options in the 2.X line, adding to the confusion of users trying to discern between the two.
Despite the schism, the 2.X line will go on to preside over Python's primary ascendance; enjoy a de-facto standard with its freeze at version 2.7; and remain a popular production-grade tool long after 3.X appears. Data point: the popular shared-hosting accounts on the provider that formerly hosted the website you're viewing will still be Python 2.X-only in 2017, with a "python" that defaults to 2.4.
|Jan 02-09||Newmarket, England||TCSI Corp (acq)|
|Jan 11-12||Alameda, CA||TCSI|
|Jan 13-14||Alameda, CA||TCSI|
|Jan 19-21||New York City, NY||Starmedia Networks|
|Feb 15-17||Boulder, CO||public: TCPC|
|Mar 09-10||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab|
|Mar 22-24||Chicago, IL||3Com Corp|
|Apr 10-11||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Lab|
|May 16-18||Boulder, CO||Aspect Development Comp|
|May 20||Edison, NJ||Outsource Labs|
|May 24-26||Boulder, CO||public: TCPC|
|Jun 19-21||Hillsboro, OR||Intel Corp|
|Jul 17-18||Milpitas, CA||KLA-Tencor Corp|
|Jul 20-21||Milpitas, CA||KLA-Tencor|
|Jul 26-28||Hillsboro, OR||Intel|
|Aug 07-08||Milpitas, CA||KLA-Tencor|
|Aug 14-16||Spokane, WA||Agilent Tech (HP)|
|Sep 12||Boulder, CO||Python ACM tutorial|
|Nov 8-10||Boulder, CO||public: TCPC|
|Dec 5-7||Fort Belvoir, VA||Fort Belvoir, E-OIR|
|Jul 19||Monterey, CA||OSCON 2|
Mostly teaching classes on vacation time while working as a C++ consultant. I finally quit my "day job" in October to take a completely unjustified chance on doing training and writing fulltime; and never went back.
The first Learning Python is released this year—a title that my late first editor wanted as a simpler introduction for "everyone else," and which wound up being the best seller of the bunch. This book's genesis was the tutorial appendix in the first Programming Python, which will now be free to narrow its scope. From here on, Learning covers language fundamentals that span all domains, and Programming shows what you can do with the language after you've learned it. Here's O'Reilly's original page for the new book way back in 1999; shopping carts are by now all the rage.
|Apr-1999||Learning Python, 1st Edition||Python 1.5||385 pages|
|Jan ?-?||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Mar 17-19||Washington, DC||NASA Headquarters|
|Mar 29-31||Austin, TX||Cisco Systems|
|Jun 10||Boulder, CO||Python talk at BLUG|
|Sep 27-29||Austin, TX||Origin Systems|
|Independent training and writing fulltime as of October|
|Dec 07-08||Alameda, CA||TCSI Corp (acq)|
|Aug 23-24||Monterey, CA||OSCON 1 (T-shirt, swag)|
|Jan-1999||Article, USENIX ;login:||Using Python|
A few classes for forward-looking organizations and assorted writing projects, while still working fulltime as a software developer (yes, people multitasked before smartphones). Training was still a very minor sidelight activity at this point, though Puerto Rico was an undisputed highlight of the year.
For the Handbook below, I contributed a 120-page chapter, which was mostly an abbreviated version of Programming Python material (considerable work, but it doesn't quite count as a book in my book). The first Python Pocket Reference published this year was an expanded version of an appendix in the first Programming Python; by its 5th edition in 2014, it would become a more complete 260-page reference book (and require a substantially larger pocket).
|Oct-1998||Python Pocket Reference, 1st Edition||Python 1.5||80 pages|
|Feb 16-18||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Sep 01-06||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Softronex Corp|
|Oct 24-27||Atlanta, GA||Security First Tech|
|Nov 10-15||Houston, TX||IPC 7|
|Jul-1998||Handbook of Programming Languages||Python 1.4||120 pages|
The first year of formal training—an activity I never planned to do, but which wound up fully consuming my career. People in San Jose and Livermore called to ask if I'd do a class, and I took some vacation time to accommodate them. Books probably led to the training, but in the end, the two activities wound up providing crucial input to each other. There's really no better way to hone a book's presentation than by running it past multiple critical audiences.
From this point forward, training was an unexpected, "make it up as you go along" activity. The first class in San Jose required rebooting a room full of SGI workstations due to an infinite loop bug in Python 1.5's print, and the second in Livermore was delayed by a snowstorm in Colorado. Not exactly a stellar kickoff, but onsite training requires extreme flexibility. Early classes included paper copies of the class workbook, used overhead-projector transparencies, and provided student materials on floppy disk; that's how long ago this was.
|Mar 13||Boulder, CO||Python talk at FRUUG|
|Jul 16-18||San Jose, CA||Badger Tech (first multiday class)|
|Oct 14||San Jose, CA||Tutorial at IPC 6|
|Oct 27-29||Livermore, CA||Lawrence Livermore Natl Lab|
|Nov 03-05||Chicago, IL||Fermi Lab|
|Oct 14-17||San Jose, CA||IPC 6 (more)|
|Mar-1997||Talk, various groups||And now, for something...|
|Jan-1997||Interview, CompuServe||Programming Python topics|
The first Programming Python is published: a book which arguably established Python's legitimacy, and eventually spawned both Learning Python and Python Pocket Reference—a 3-title set that would go on to sell 750k units by 2020 (not counting Safari readers, some underreported translation sales, and illegal copies fetched off the web). In 1996, I thought we'd be lucky to sell 5,000 books. Courtesy of the Wayback Machine: O'Reilly's original page for this book in 1996; neither Amazon nor online ordering was quite there yet (though Google was busy coding their first web crawler in Python, and ILM was beginning to use the source).
My publisher initially rejected the book idea—they were focused on Perl at the time, and Python was just one of a set of obscure tools—but relented after months of lobbying on my part. The fruits of that perseverance (a.k.a. stubbornness) seem clear: today, Python is a large and profitable domain for most technical publishers, and is generally counted among the most-widely used programming languages in the world. I also gave previews of the book at two early Python conferences listed below, the second of which spawned what proved to be incredibly shortsighted remarks about a book being unnecessary. Such is life in the ego-based world of open source.
This book's conclusion argued for Python's role in simplifying the work of professional developers, and was retained by all its editions. Two decades later, that argument still holds true: Python remains an enabling technology in the hands of skilled programmers. As discussed in 2010, though, this original premise seems to have been perverted over the years into a promise of instant accessibility for all. That was never the point. Python can be loads of fun, and I'm glad my books inspire newcomers, but mastery in this field takes more time and focus than commonly told. I hope this page has underscored the importance of honesty on that front.
For true historians out there, it's also worth noting that Programming Python was indeed the first Python book started, but not the first sold. Another book beat it to market by a few months—and seemed rushed out specifically to do so, with a primary author who had just served as a technical reviewer for Programming Python. In the end, the other book's content overlap was minor, but it also never proved to be commercially significant and soon went out of print. By contrast, Programming Python has had a 24-year shelf life. And counting.
|Oct-1996||Programming Python, 1st Edition||Python 1.3||900 pages|
|May-1995||Menlo Park, CA||Book update at IPC 2|
|Jun-1996||Livermore, CA||Book update at IPC 4|
|May-1995||Paper for IPC 2 conference||Book Preview (PP1E)|
|May-1995||Paper for IPC 2 conference||KEL: C++/Python Integration|
And before all this, there were monsters that roamed the earth, of course, and answered to names such as Perl, Tcl, and C++, but that story is beyond this page's scope. For more on my Python work, see my formal bio; this page's training photos; the fossils on display here and here; the more-wordful opinion piece from my 20-year milestone; my books' index pages here, here, and here; and the 1993 post from the halcyon days of Python 0.X that got me into all this trouble.