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Python Programming and Politics, Events

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  • Python Programming Language Ditches 'Master-Slave' Terms, Pissing Off Some

    A quiet debate has been brewing in the coding community for years that’s forced programmers to ask if using the terms “master” and “slave” are insensitive. Now, Python, one of the most popular high-level programming languages in the world, has ditched the terminology—and not everyone is happy about it.

    Master/Slave is generally used in hardware, architecture, and coding to refer to one device, database, or process controlling another. For more than a decade, there’s been some concern that the terms are offensive because of their relationship to the institution of slavery. Last week, a developer named Victo Stinner published four pull requests asking the Python community to consider changing the Master/Slave terms to something like Parent/Worker. “For diversity reasons, it would be nice to try to avoid ‘master’ and ‘slave’ terminology which can be associated to slavery,” he wrote to explain his thinking.

  • EuroPython 2018

    In July I took the train up to beautiful Edinburgh to attend the EuroPython 2018 conference. Despite using Python professionally for almost 8 years, this was my first experience of a Python conference. The schedule was packed, and it was challenging deciding what talks to attend, but I had a great time and enjoyed the strong community feeling of the event. We even went for a group run around Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat, which I hope is included in the schedule for future years.

    Now that the videos of the talks have all been published, I wanted to share my personal highlights, and list the talks I saw during and since the conference. I still haven’t caught up on everything I wanted to see, so I’ve also included my watch list.

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FOSS, standard essential patents and FRAND in the European Union

As part of the research project on “The Interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND licensing in Standardisation”, a workshop was organised by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CONNECT) to present and discuss the intermediate results to date. The workshop took place in Brussels on September 18, 2018. I presented a set of observations from the research on the case studies performed as part of the project that are outlined below. Other speakers where Catharina Maracke on the issue of legal compliance between Open Source and FRAND licenses, Bruce Perens on “Community Dynamics in Open Source”, and Andy Updegrove on “Dynamics in Standardisation”. You may ask what the relevance of this debate is for the wider Free and Open Source Software community. The obvious answer is that to distribute software “without restriction”, the user needs all the usage rights associated with the program. While most FOSS contributors assume that this is naturally the central motivation for anybody to contribute in the first place, there is a long history of attempts to maintain some sort of exclusive control over a piece of FOSS code, possibly using other rights than copyright. Read more

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