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The 'Advent of Code 2020' Event Begins
"Need a vacation from 2020? Why not go on an adventure and learn programming at the same time?" asks developer Eric Wastl on Twitter, announcing this year's edition of the Advent of Code. From the site: Advent of Code is an Advent calendar of small programming puzzles for a variety of skill sets and skill levels that can be solved in any programming language you like. People use them as a speed contest, interview prep, company training, university coursework, practice problems, or to challenge each other. You don't need a computer science background to participate - just a little programming knowledge and some problem solving skills will get you pretty far. Nor do you need a fancy computer; every problem has a solution that completes in at most 15 seconds on ten-year-old hardware.

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Greg Kroah-Hartman: 'Don't Make Users Mad'
From a recent report: Greg Kroah-Hartman, the Linux Foundation fellow currently responsible for stable Linux kernel releases, shared the lessons he's learned as a kernel developer that are applicable to other developers at this year's Linux App Summit. He started by showing how he could succinctly distill the essence of the talk into a single five-word slide: "Don't make your users mad...." Kroah-Hartman explains that one of Linus Torvalds' most deeply-held convictions: don't break userspace. "Other operating systems have this rule as well — it's a very solid rule — because we always want you to upgrade. And we want you to upgrade without worrying about it. We don't want you to feel scared. If you see a new release, and we say, 'Hey, this fixes a bunch of problems,' we don't want you to feel worried about taking that. That's really really important — especially with security...." If you do make a change, make sure there truly is a compelling reason. "You have to provide enough reason and enough goodness to force somebody to take the time to learn to do something else. That's very rare." His example of this was systemd, which unified a variety of service configurations and initialization processes. "They did it right. They provided all the functionality, they solved a real problem that was there. They unified all these existing tools and problems in such a way that it was just so much better to use, and it provided enough impetus that everybody was willing to do the work to modify their own stuff and move to the new model. It worked. People still complain about it, but it worked. Everybody switched... It works well. It solves a real problem. "That was an example of how you can provide a compelling reason to move on — and make the change."

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Python's Steering Council Assesses the After-Guido Era
47 of Python's core developers participated in this year's Core Development Sprint, according to this report — "but what's more important is the very real and necessary community building that seemed to have taken place..." It's an especially critical time for Python, which switched to a steering council model in February of 2019, after Guido van Rossum had stepped down as the language's "benevolent dictator for life...." [During the Python Steering Council and Core Developer Q&A] core developer Ned Deily asked a question which had probably been on everyone's minds: how is the steering council experience working, now that van Rossum is no longer serving as the language's benevolent overseer? And core developer/councilmember Carol Willing was the first to respond. "I've been involved in a lot of governance organizations, and I would say the Steering Council has been towards the top in terms of sticking to the agenda and being thoughtful and collaborative in how things are working." They meet every week for an hour — with a pre-set agenda — and "in general, I think it's working quite well. If there's anything I take away from it, it's I'm amazed that Guido was able to do this function as a single person for as long as he had been. Because it's a lot of work, even amongst five people...." Core developer/councilmember Barry Warsaw agreed. "A couple of us have been on the Steering Council since its inception. And there was a lot of things that the governance PEPs didn't really cover. So we really had to figure out the process for a number of things. I couldn't be more happy to work with both the first year of Steering Council members, and this year of Steering Council members. I think everybody is doing this for the right reasons — because we love Python, and we love the Python community..." Deily agreed with their assessments. "My impression is things are going really well, better than might be expected. I was very proud how we as a community met the challenge of coming up with a governance, kind of from scratch. And I think — I don't know for sure all of Guido's motivation for doing it, but I think in a lot of ways he did it the right way, just kind of forced the community to come up with things. And I think all in all that worked out really well...." About 48 minutes in, there was a question from van Rossum himself about the issue tracker at (affectionately known as "BPO"). "So I'm desperately curious about the status of the BPO to GitHub migration." He paused, then asked delicately, "Uh, how much is the Steering Council willing to share of what they know, and how much do you actually know?" Cannon responded, talking about the group hired to run it, and thanking the groups whose donations had funded it. And then Deily suggested van Rossum volunteer for the working group, "because it's going to affect all of us." van Rossum asked if it would be appropriate if he volunteered, everyone agreed, and he responded, "Okay, I'm game."

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