While it’s still fresh in my mind I should go ahead and write up my Pycon 2008 report. I’ll flesh it out as time permits or add new parts. Overall I had a good time and it was worth it for me, but the event was not without it’s problems. I’ll have more positive things to say in Part II.
This is my third Pycon. I attended 2006 and 2007 in Dallas. I’m glad I listened to the latest TWID podcast while waiting for my plane to board from St. Louis. I couldn’t get a direct flight from Tulsa there, but did back. The one thing that stuck in my mind was 1000 people were signed up. There were 600 in 2007 and 400 in 2006. They said there were that many signed up for just the tutorials alone.
Thursday I got to the hotel checked in, called my cousin and then went downstairs to help stuff bags while waiting for him to get off work. I met a guy from LexisNexis and we worked out a great system for stacking the paper that was going to be stuffed in the bags which got changed to what was a less efficient system. Anyway there was a lot of people helping to stuff the goodies bags. My cousin Gary showed up and we went out to dinner with his family.
We went to a great Chinese restaurant called Yue’s in Elk Grove Village. I hadn’t seen them in person in almost 11 years though I keep in touch with him via email. Anyway, I got back to the hotel and had a beer in the bar and got my first shock. It was $6. I soon discovered at the hotel you were a captive audience. I’m glad most of the food was covered by registration because everything was overpriced. The room rate was reasonable though. The nearest place you could walk to was the convention center and other hotels. Even the ‘L’ was 3/4 of a mile away. I thought Dallas was pedestrian unfriendly, but Rosemont, IL has it beat. At least you could’ve walked a 1/4 mile from the hotel in Dallas and found a half dozen nice restaurants.
My first clue that things did not go well was I overheard some people talking on the shuttle bus back to the airport. They were talking about how lightning talks were sold to the sponsors as were keynote slots. I had noticed that there was a lower percentage of good lightning talks and panels than from last year. I realize that Pycon is run by all volunteers and what right do I have to complain when they are doing the best they can. Then I checked Planet Python and there was mention of Bruce Eckel’s rant.
I didn’t even know he was there. Bruce wasn’t even listed in the speakers list. I saw his name on the open space boards downstairs. I’m familiar with Eckel’s Thinking In Java. I thought that was cool. I thought I saw him chatting with someone. I was curious why he was there. Go see his blog to find out. He had some valid points in his post, but I thought he was being overly harsh. His major complaint was that it had become too commercial. Maybe it had. It really didn’t seem more commercial than it was last year. It was and it didn’t really bother me that much. But after reading the rant that it was the reason why the panels and the lightning talks weren’t as good.
One of reasons I go to Pycon is to meet other programmers. I also go to learn about cool things you can do with python. The keynotes this year weren’t as good as they were last year.
I’ll say this for all those who complained and this goes for me to. Help to make Pycon better next year. It doesn’t have to be much. There are a lot of people in the community. I had a good time helping to stuff the bags for the attendees and I wouldn’t mind doing that next year. More later.