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Going to PyCon 2014? See Hearsay Social engineer talks and join us for a beer

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.37.22Over the next week, developers and technologists will converge on Montreal for PyCon 2014, the largest annual gathering dedicated to the Python programming community. Once again, the Hearsay Social team is proud to be a major part of the event.
This weekend, see presentations from two Hearsay Social software engineers giving talks, and also drop by our beer bash on Saturday evening. Details here:

Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python

WHO: Scott Lobdell, Hearsay Social software engineer (Be sure to read our special interview with Scott here.)
WHAT: This talk documents the journey of a less than conventional robotics application in which python is used as the logical controller of an autonomous 20 foot blimp. The blimp’s autopilot features, prolonged air time, large size, and smooth motion make it the ideal platform for aerial photography. Giving the blimp an onboard controller reduces the overall costs and requirements of the operation. (More details here.)
WHEN: Saturday, 5:10 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.


Localization Revisited


WHO: Ruchi Varshney, Hearsay Social software engineer

WHAT: Is your web app ready for a global audience? Internationalizing your codebase with gettext ( might just be the simpler part of the puzzle. It’s hard to maintain translations in a fast paced deployment environment without constant manual intervention. This talk covers tools and strategies you can adopt to automate your localization process and ensure high translation coverage. (More details here.)

WHEN: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.


Hearsay Social’s PyCon Beer Bash

On Saturday evening at 7:00 PM, join Hearsay Social’s engineering team and other PyCon attendees for food and drinks at the Reporter Room (The Westin Montreal). Come discuss your favorite sessions from the conference and share any interesting ideas you’ve learned. Anyone attending PyCon is welcome and drinks and food are on us, so we look forward to seeing you there!

Superhero Spotlight, PyCon Edition: Scott Lobdell

Welcome to Hearsay Social’s “Superhero Spotlight” series, in which we highlight one employee at the company that drives our engineering, customer success, marketing, sales, and operations. These are the faces of Hearsay Social!

superhero scott

For this “PyCon Edition” of the Superhero Spotlight we spoke with Hearsay Social software engineer Scott Lobdell, who is presenting at PyCon 2014 Montréal, a Python community conference, on one the coolest programming projects we’ve ever seen: Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python.

Be sure to check out his session and join Hearsay Social for other activities at PyCon!

Title: Software Engineer

Time at Hearsay Social: Nearly 1 year

What did you do before coming to Hearsay Social?

I was in the Army for 5 years, so this is actually my first civilian job. Before coming here, I was a signal officer in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan once.

That’s a big shift. What attracted you to Hearsay Social?

When I went to apply for a job, I wanted to be a software engineer, so I did a shotgun blast of applying to companies. But on paper I looked like a risky hire, so most technical recruiters wouldn’t even look at me. But Hearsay Social actually took the time to interview me. Once they made an offer, I accepted.

What were the reasons you looked risky on paper?

I didn’t have any experience. I’d never been a software engineer before. I respected Hearsay Social a lot because they actually took a second to test me, essentially.

Were you programming before you went to the Army?

I was a computer science major in college at West Point, and I programmed on the side–just for fun–my entire time in the Army. Although I didn’t actually program in the Army, I was in the most technical branch of the army. Programming is what I’m passionate about.

ScottQuote4So what does your typical day look like at Hearsay Social?

When I come in the morning depends on how late I stayed the night prior. I work on something that I want to finish or something I think is cool, so I’ve stayed as late as midnight. Typical day for me is mostly programming, problem solving, working on a project–given the amount of things that there are to do, it’s always been a project of my choosing. Very rarely am I specifically told what I need to do.

What do you love the most about working here?

There are a ton of perks. Probably the best thing is that this is the smartest group of people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve made more friends here in two weeks than in the past five years. I get paid to do something that I love. I really enjoy programming, which is why I work long hours. Another unique thing is the sports we play on the side, like volleyball and a little flag football.


Is there any specific accomplishment you’re proud of from the past year?

My proudest one so far is the “suggested time to post.” [Ed. note: “Suggested time to post” is a unique feature in Hearsay Social that recommends to you the most ideal time of day to schedule your post.] It’s neat because it’s fairly subtle: all the hard work is done in the backend to ultimately deliver you a single tool tip, which I think is kind of cool. It works by leveraging all the data that Hearsay Social has already collected, doing a little analyzing, and pushing it towards the user. It’s personalized, so it’s different per user. The reason I did that was I wanted to know the answer to that question myself. It became useful to others.

ScottQuote1What’s your best advice for job seekers?

There’s a lot of value in showing initiative yourself, whether that’s maintaining your own blog or your own application. That creates value no matter what, whether it gets you hired or not.

Time for the fun questions! What’s your favorite snack?

I eat more beef jerky than anybody else here.

Scott's favorite movie
Scott’s favorite movie is a parody starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Favorite movie?

Last Action Hero. It’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where the whole thing is a parody to other action movies, so it’s just over-the-top ridiculousness the whole time.

Favorite color? #111

Do you have a superpower? I can fuse two hydrogen atoms to create helium.

Favorite song to DJ on the office Sonos?

Nobody likes my music, so I generally wait for everyone to leave before I start DJing, but it’s all heavy metal.

Who is your role model, and why?

I had an influential mentor in the army, who was an infantry officer with a PhD in computer science. He was committed to the idea of a warrior-scholar. He was extremely smart and one of the most athletic and strongest people I’ve ever met, and he was a badass infantry dude. He just had an unbreakable work ethic. Those are the traits I respect in the professional realm.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, learn more about what it’s like working at Hearsay Social. Oh, and check out Scott’s autonomous 20-foot blimp below. It will be making an appearance at PyCon in April.

Meanwhile at PyCon 2012…

While our CEO Clara Shih and a few others from the team were networking at SXSW the past week, the Hearsay Social engineering team was out in full force at PyCon, an annual convention for the Python programming language held in Santa Clara. Since it was located in our neck of the woods, we decided to join the event, learn some new things, and spread the word about what we’re building here at Hearsay Social. Additionally, as a PyCon gold sponsor, we had a booth in the expo hall complete with a photo booth so each of you could show off the “social media superhero” inside. (Visit Da Silva Photo Booth if you want to see how your photos came out!)
The talks at the conference covered the gamut of topics including security, scalability, testing, continuous integration, the Django web framework, localization, and unicode. Of particular interest to startups was the keynote speech by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, who challenged the audience with a few startup ideas. Sorry, Paul, but we already have one of those.
Some of the talks that really inspired our team members were “Pragmatic Unicode, or, How do I stop the pain?” given by Ned Batchelder, “Fast Test, Slow Test” given by Gary Bernhardt and “Practicing Continuous Deployment” given by David Cramer. We’d like to thank these guys and all the other speakers for volunteering their time and sharing their knowledge. We definitely came back with a lot of ideas as to how we can improve our product and our engineering process.
On Saturday night, Hearsay Social hosted a happy hour for conference goers and was pleased to be next door to the PyLadies, who were hosting a dinner of their own. Later the two parties melded into one, and then everyone made their way to the Hyatt where our neighbors Dropbox hosted desserts at a crowded afterparty. So while SXSW was all abuzz in Texas there was a quiet contingent of engineers geeking out in California and having just as much fun!
And remember, if you’re an engineer and if you love Python, Hearsay Social is hiring.!/seanconaty/status/178995085428531201!/stgarrity/status/178319401177722881