PyCon, by the Zines

I spent last week at PyCon NA (in Portland this year — how convenient!). I made a zine to hand out explaining the Python community in Portland, along with suggesting some events for out-of-towners.

Here’s a PDF you can download if you want to check it out.

Even better, I wasn’t the only zine maker at PyCon!

Jessica Garson organized a zine open space where I met a few other media makers. Jessica also gave a lightning talk about teaching with zines (her slides are here).

Roxanne Johnson presented during the poster session (Data People: Learn Python) and brought a zine she made called “Build Your Skills in Data Analysis.”

Audrey Eschright was working on The Recompiler while at PyCon and announced the next call for contributors, covering hardware.

Good Things from Other People — April 22

Probably the Best Video Synth App of All Time

Jason Grlicky has been working on Lumen for years, creating a software video synthesizers with an enjoyable number of buttons and knobs. I’ve seen a couple of pieces created using Lumen already and there’s a level of artistry that I never expected — and you can use it to make .gif-worthy animations.

Portland’s Slice of the Action

Mattermark did a nice little piece of analysis on the money raised by startups in different cities. The really short version? Most major startup hubs are losing momentum, financially speaking — NYC’s volume of investments dropped 81.68 percent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016. But there are still plenty of cities where the volume of investments rose dramatically, including here in Portland: Up 674.55 percent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.

The Best Rebuttal to Alex St. John

This essay from Amilia St. John is well worth the time you’ll spend reading it. It’s a clear rebuttal of the arguments her father, Alex St. John has made online. Amilia has also taken the time to cite her sources and provide context, while also still maintaining a sense of humor. And Amilia’s explanation of what would really happen if her father’s opinions were correct has a certain delightful twist to it: “Given my allegedly inflexible millennial tendencies and gender inherited victim complex, I have no doubt I will eventually give up on tech and be forced to move into his home (I hope he has space) where I intend to start my dream blog about the college tuition bubble and how baby boomers ruined our economy.”

Following Up from Last Week

The full version of The Recompiler’s third issue is now live online. Read all of it. And when you realize that it’s all amazing, subscribe to the print edition.

Good Things from Other People

Since I haven’t been so great about writing up my own escapades of late, I figured I’d start writing about some of the great things other people are doing so that I can get back in the blogging habit. So here are five things you should take a look at. There’s no particular order beyond not being able to get these ideas out of my head.

Scaling Up a Business

I’m lucky enough to hang out with entrepreneurs pretty much constantly. Two of my friends are in the process of scaling up their businesses, in two very different ways.

Audrey Eschright, the publisher of The Recompiler, is running an experiment: she’s asking for funding to support offering a free online edition of the third issue of the magazine. She’s broken down exactly why — the magazine’s sustainability requires additional revenue. At the time I’m writing this, by the way, Audrey’s just $450 shy of her goal. I not only subscribe to the print edition of The Recompiler, but I also write for it occasionally, so I’m looking forward to the online release of Issue 3.

Kronda Adair is taking a different approach — which makes sense given that she founded a very different type of company. Earlier this month, Kronda wrote a post cataloging the list of changes she’s making at Karvel Digital, including exactly what sort of web design and marketing services she’s offering clients. Given that websites really aren’t ‘set it and forget it’ tools, Kronda is adapting her business to provide the support that keeps her clients getting value out of their website long after the web design process is over. What I find really fascinating, though, is that Kronda is creating a program for people who will never hire her directly. She’s creating Websites that Work, a course that guides individuals and organizations through creating successful websites on their own. The course is geared towards small businesses that can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a website. Kronda is funding the course through an IndieGoGo campaign ending in 8 days.

A ‘Now’ Page

I spend a lot of time staring at other people’s websites, whether I’m looking for an interviewee, a speaker, or someone to rope into whatever escapade I’ve come up with lately. Mike Vardy wrote up a trend that I would like all of us to adopt: the ‘now’ page. Sort of like a more specific ‘about’ page, the ‘now’ page is just a quick run down of what you’re actually working on these days. I’ve started writing up my own ‘now’ page.

Spreadsheets, But Better!

I get excited about spreadsheets in a way that probably concerns normal folks. (This XKCD comic hits a little close to home.) On the plus side, the folks over at Airtable also seem to get emotional about good spreadsheets, and they’ve created a spreadsheet tool so fantastic that I’ve been bringing it up in every spreadsheet-related conversation I can. It’s got a lovely user-experience and is easy to work with, and in perhaps the smartest move since selling pre-sliced bread, Airtable makes all your spreadsheets available via APIs. I have a referral link you’re welcome to use (I get credit to support my insane spreadsheet habits!). You can get most of the functionality you’ll want out of Airtable on a free account, by the way.