Today I’m joined by Dustin Ingram, a developer advocate at Google focused on supporting the Python community on Google Cloud. He is also a director of the Python Software Foundation (PSF) and a maintainer of PyPI. In this interview, we discuss how Google’s use of Python might differ from your own, what it takes to maintain PyPI, his goals as a PSF director, his love of PyCons, and more.
Ricky: Thanks for joining me, Dustin. I’d like to start with my usual questions: how did you get into programming, and when did you start using Python?
Dustin: Thanks for having me!
I like to say that my first programming experience was when someone decided it was allowed—if not encouraged—for me to carry around a TI-83 calculator throughout high school. I spent far less time in geometry class learning geometry and far more time writing text-based games in BASIC and, later, programs that would do my physics homework for me.
I even released my first open source program: a little animation that made your calculator screen look like the flowing, garbled characters in The Matrix (which I was obsessed with) and published it to Texas Instruments’ third-party software repository.
But my first actual exposure to programming was probably when I was first introduced to Logo, the graphical programming language with the turtle as a cursor. I think it was elementary school, and the task was to try and reproduce some simple shapes, but I distinctly remember being blown away by the endless possibilities. I wasn’t confined to a predetermined path like a lot of the point-and-click computer games I had played before—I could make that turtle do anything.
My dad is a tool designer, and when I was in high school, he ran a machine shop. The shop had a lot of the classic metalworking tools: lathes and milling machines that were operated mostly by hand. But they also had some newer computer numerical control (CNC) machines that were programmed with a language called G-code.
If you’ve never seen G-code before, the best I can describe it is as a mashup of BASIC and Logo, but instead of a cute little turtle moving around, you have a drill bit spinning at several thousand rotations per minute attached to a half-ton machine. All the oldheads who were used to operating the classic, manual machines couldn’t quite wrap their head around this new technology, but it made total sense to me!
Later in high school, I took some computer science classes that taught me some Java and convinced me that the field was worth pursuing. I went to college for computer science and encountered Scheme and other Lisps, some C and C++, but mostly more Java.
Around that time, I started working at a research lab for the university, and while that was all Java too, some of the older, wiser grad students there were really into this new language called Python and were basically trying to sneak it into as many of their projects as they could. Once I was exposed to it, I was hooked too and started trying to write as much of it as I could.
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