Love Your Bugs (PyCon 2018 Must-See Talk Series)

Welcome to the 2018 edition of our annual PyCon Must-See Series, highlighting the talks our staff especially loved at PyCon. While there were many great talks, this is our team's shortlist.

My must-see talk this year was “Love your bugs” by Allison Kaptur. Fixing bugs can seem like a tedious process, but Allison demonstrates several techniques on how to adjust your frame of mind to make bug fixing and, more generally, problem-solving a useful process for you.

Allison loves bugs. She walks through several examples of complex bugs she encountered while working at Dropbox on their desktop client. As she dives into detail of the scenarios that led to the source of the bugs, you see that the investigation process, like solving a mystery, is part of the fun. Additionally, checking your assumptions and getting quick feedback while debugging is a great way to learn.

She talks about debugging requiring a growth mindset, based on research by Carol Dweck. Having a growth mindset, Allison says, frames intelligence as something that you can change or increase by exerting effort, while a fixed mindset is a fixed quantity and effort is not apart of the equation. At the Recurse Center, where she helped train developers, demonstrating a positive growth mindset was important to her process.

Her tips are to reframe praise and success (“that went really well since I worked hard”), reframe failure (develop lessons learned from failure), and celebrate successes. In the end, struggling through challenges and encountering bugs are expected, working hard and fixing bugs is part of the process, and learning during this process is a great way to grow.

Allison is a naturally good speaker and I highly recommend her PyCon 2018 talk.

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