PyLadies SF: Lightning Talks Meetup at Yelp


On Tuesday August 9, 2016, I attended my very first coding-related Meetup. It was organized by PyLadies of San Francisco in collaboration with Women Who Code SF. The theme of the meetup was lightning talks, so speakers had 5 minutes to do their presentation. It appealed greatly to my short attention span!

You can see the full list of speakers in the Meetup listing, but here were some standouts for me personally (although most were really interesting!):

  • Xun Tang from Yelp spoke about using Yelp’s public dataset to predict how likely a random (anonymized) user is to give a business a five star rating (link to slides). As someone who relies on Yelp for a lot of things, I’d love to dig into its dataset once I get my bearings.
  • Lena Gunn spoke about working remotely. She had a lot of great advice about successful collaboration and I will butcher it in my summation here, but, here goes:
    • Be direct.
    • Ask effective questions.
    • Own your own time.
    • Learn to facilitate meetings, even when they’re not yours.
  • Lisa Ballard spoke about the site she built out of a fascination for space, wherein she used Python to track where the space probes are:
  • Liz Lee talked about her non-profit to help people dealing with online harassment:
  • Rachel Thomas gave a great talk on deep learning, something that I knew 0% about prior to her talk (link to slides). My favorite quote from her talk: “An image is just a matrix of numbers.” Mindblown. Seriously. (Apparently TensorFlow is a good place to get started on learning about this.)
  • Melissa Skevington talked about how she took Gmail data of her family’s group emails and made this site: And from the data, she was able to prove that her parents loved her the most due to the response rate to her messages specifically (versus her sisters). Irrefutable. And easily, the funniest talk of the night.
  • Michelle Glauser, hostess with the mostest, recently started Techtonica to provide free tech training for underrepresented populations in the Bay Area. For free. If you’d like to volunteer, I know she can use the help!

Outside of learning a lot of random, cool things from these wonderful speakers, I also met some great women. So nice, so welcoming. It was an awesome experience overall and I’m really excited about future events!


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