[Chicago] Brian Ray PSF Nomination

Brian Ray brianhray at gmail.com
Sat Jul 4 21:32:08 CEST 2015

I do in fact have a couple really good John Hunter stories. RIP.

So, some may recall in early ChiPy years I hosted most of the first
meetings at my office on Michigan Ave. We had no real projector in the very
fancy (at the time) conference room overlooking the mag mile. Being
amateurish organizer, I thought we could just hook up to the flat screen.

John and I had met several times where he taught me a thing or two about
how he used Python doing some charts. He loved opensource yet he was a
scientist at the time. Michael Tobis and John Hunter worked together at U
of C. All three of us, along with Aaron lav, Ian Bicking, (I think maybe
Luke Opperman), Chris McAvoy (who actually arranged the meeting) all met at
Goose Island and that is where ChiPy was officially born. They spoke of
getting David Beazley to join, but I think he tough class that night. Ian
Bicking also hosted some meetings at Imaginary Landscape. In reality, we
would joke that each meeting was JIT compiled and were a very disorganized
group. I assumed a more formal "organizer" roll once I realized out of the
fear that the group would die without this, I was the finding locations for
the group to meet.

Truth is I did not use python for much more than generating Postscript to
run big digital printers at the time. Nonetheless, John did take the time
to spend some 1-1 time with me after a very unfortunate first presentation
at ChiPy... I liked things like making PDF files with Python vs Web Pages.
I just found myself surrounded by some really kinds, really open minded,
very smart, Python developers. John Hunter really opened my eyes up to the
power of converting an idea into action.

Back to the meeting ...The AV went horribly wrong. Rob Kapteyn may recall.
And it was one of the very first presentations that actually had something
real to show on the screen. I was actually blown away with his
presentation. We all crowded around his laptop in the team break room at my
office. It was the first time I had seen matplotlib do anything more than
the many examples John had on the website. I demonstrated on one his
friends (Fernado's) pet project what eventually became the ipython shell.
The graphs did not just display, they actually were animated as well. He
explained how he has several different rendering backends on matplotlib. As
more of an engineer (which I am still today), I was fascinated how well
Python allowed the different back ends to be glued together.

We all learned. That is what ChiPy is all about. We also learned a bit
about eachother. I think John was actually a very private man in a lot of
ways. He just sort of became famous in our community from doing really
great work. I really only want to be famous for the same things. Others
have noticed in last couple years there are some people who have a
fundamental misunderstanding why ChiPy is the best user group ever** (I was
warned by a fellow member that there were some people angry with the
group's direction and where specifically trying to do what they can to kill
the group. They would try things like start new groups Python related in
Chicago. Forge relationships with our existing sponsors. Speak illy about
the group in the name of lack of diversity. Try to introduce the concept of
private vs free and paying vendors). It has nothing to do with acting like
we are the cool, most diverse, most hipster, blah blah blah ... dev culture
hub. We probably are not even cool. Instead, I just want to be a group of
people like John Hunter who just did what they loved, shared with others
passion, and did really great stuff.

RIP John Hunter and I am sorry for not having a really great projector at
what was, at the time, the best meeting ever.
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