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Pythonista & Techno-Geek
PyCon TX 2006 (Part 1) & A Return to the Blogosphere
by David Goodger
March 25, 2006
Summary
The first in a series of articles about PyCon TX 2006, which marks my first blog entry in quite a while.

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I haven’t used this space for a while. I plan to make better and more frequent use of this blog from now on. Hopefully these writings will be of interest to a few people.

PyCon TX 2006 took place in Dallas/Addison, Texas, USA, from February 23 through March 2, inclusive (if you include the tutorials day and all four days of sprints, which I did). Since returning from PyCon, I’ve been swamped. Work, Python.org reorganization tasks, PSF minutes, Cub Scouts, and, of course, family, have occupied almost every hour of up-time. I’m still catching up on Docutils email. This leads to my first order of business: an apology.

To those who attended my tutorial and talks at PyCon, I apologize for not yet publishing my slides & notes. I do still plan to, and I will make the announcements here.

This year my attendance at PyCon was fully funded by my employer. It was nice having a hotel room to myself. And it was very nice to hold the conference at the same hotel; on the rainy day (days?) we had, I didn’t even have to step outside. A far cry from two years ago, when I stayed at a youth hostel in DC, with 9 roommates (three sets of triple-bunk-beds, with a couple occupying one bunk), and had a 40-minute walk to the conference. Luxury.

The Trip There (Wednesday, February 22)

The flight from Montréal was uneventful. The American Airlines flight was direct and lasted about 4 hours, arriving around 20:30 local. Luckily, the 737 had 12-volt power (via low-tech automobile cigarette lighter sockets under the seats) which I was equipped to plugged into. So it was 4 hours of well-backlit hacking and polishing up my tutorial notes while listening to music over my noise-cancelling headphones.

(I highly recommend good noise-cancelling headphones whenever travelling. They make the roar & whine of the engines tolerable, and let you listen to music or the in-flight movie soundtrack at reasonable levels. They even make it easier to hear what the flight attendants are saying.)

Although the flight departed at 17:30, no meal was served. They did have lame “snack boxes” for sale, but nothing I wanted to eat. Luckily I had a couple of granola bars in my bag.

A half-hour shuttle ride took me from the airport to the hotel. Along the way I spied a Fry’s Electronics outlet, and made a mental note to be sure to visit. I dropped my stuff off in my room and went down to the meeting rooms to see what was up.

A few people were about, including the conference chairs, Andrew Kuchling and Jeff Rush. Everything seemed to be under control, so I tried to contact my wife via audio iChat. Unfortunately the hotel’ network seemed to be blocking whatever port iChat uses for audio, so we had to text chat instead.

I hate going out for breakfast. Restaurant breakfasts are too heavy; I'm used to juice and a bowl of cereal. So whenever I travel I try to find a nearby supermarket and stock up. The concierge told me about the Tom Thumb’s nearby, but unfortunately the hotel’s shuttle service had finished for the night. I was told it wasn’t far, so I walked. Not far if you’re driving, but it was at least a half-hour walk.

That part of Addison is not set up for pedestrians. Large stretches of Belt Line Road only had sidewalks on one side of the road, if that. Sometimes the sidewalks would disappear altogether, especially if there was an alternative nearby. In one case, the sidewalk disappeared beside a parking lot, but I had to climb a steep slope and a retaining wall to get to it. I guess you have to have a car to get around; good thing they have oil in Texas.

And it was cold. Not nearly as cold as Montréal was (where I slipped & fell on an ice-covered slope that morning on my way to work — my shoulder still hurts), but I could see my breath.

It was after midnight by the time I’d navigated the isles and paid for my vittles, so I called a cab, which never showed up, and I ended up walking back. I later discovered that a 24-hour Walmart with a large grocery section was an easy 10-minute walk from the hotel.

There was no refrigerator in the room, so I put my milk & juice cartons on ice and called it a late night.

More in my next post.

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About the Blogger

David Goodger has been using Python since 1998, and began working on reStructuredText and Docutils in 2000. A proud Canadian, he lived in Japan for 7 years, where a stint at a document processing company in Tokyo began his love/hate relationship with structured markup. David is a Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) Editor and a member of the Python Software Foundation. He currently lives outside of Montreal, Quebec, with his Japanese wife and their two children.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2006 David Goodger. All rights reserved.

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