I'll probably never blog from a conference, since sometimes the true impact of news takes a while to assess. Besides which, sometimes there are other priorities, even when you're at a conference. And then there are other costs ...
Fear and Loathing in Portland
little question here ... yes? ... well you were a speaker at OSCON,
what happened to the Python track?
... sometimes, life is complicated...
Monday afternoon to give a tutorial Tuesday
morning, so it was a fast whip round the speaker's room, see
if anyone I knew was around, make sure I can project my slides
in class and then out with Kevin Altis (a Portlander who mostly put the Python
track together at OSCON), Patrick O'Brien (the man most likely to publish the
first wxPython book) and Kirby Urner (who later gave an acclaimed presentation
on Python in Education) to an alehouse whose name is lost in the mists of time.
Portlanders, God bless them, take their hospitality seriously.
There I met Ward Cunningham (the instigator and maintainer of the Portland Pattern
Repository and its related C2 wiki) and Randall Schwartz, famed Perl author and one
of the leading lights of Stonehenge Consulting, both for the first time. All in all,
a fascinating evening.
The Drinker's Diary
I remember that ActiveState provided the drinks on Tuesday
and Stonehenge Consulting did the honors on Wednesday (though I got to the party
late via dinner with my publisher). Thursday evening it was a dynamic DNS company
whose name escaped me, who were giving out neat little plastic toolkits. Quite what
this says to the marketing types about giving free drinks to geeks I have no
idea. Oh, and there was an exhibition.
things, conferences. I used to be involved in a part of the UK conference circuit,
Treasurer of DECUS UK and Chairman of the Sun UK User Group, member of both
the UK and the European Unix User Group, but since I moved to the States I've
been too busy to get into the habit over here. Besides which, I don't like to
be away from Mrs. Holden for too much of the time. But OSCON promised to be
exciting for me for a number of reasons.
Why I Went
First, it represented a chance to put some introductory material on Python
network programming in front of an audience for the first time. I had spent
quite a while working on the material, which I would like to eventually use
as the basis of a one-day course with hands-on exercises against a class server
machine. I'm happy to record that the seminar sold out, and seemed to go well,
although I haven't yet received the formal feedback via O'Reilly.
Secondly, it represented my first opportunity to meet Andy Robinson, CEO and
Chief Architect of ReportLab Europe, since we started to talk about ReportLab
representation in the USA. I'm enthusiastic about Andy's approach to open source,
since he's built excellent proprietary products on top of an excellent open
source base library.
Thirdly, it was supposed to be my chance to keep in touch with Python users
and canvas opinion about possible changes in PyCon for 2004, since we have now
begun that planning process. It was here that my plan fell to the ground, as
I got a call on Tuesday from a customer who wanted to demonstrate some new functionality
on Friday. This meant that I had to spend substantial amounts of time programming
in VBScript. It was good to
recover the conference fees during the conference, but I'd rather have been able
more in Pythonia.
I made time Thursday afternoon to make
a five-minute presentation of ideas for a registry of Python modules
with the ability for remote (developer and end-user?) tests to record compatibility data that might later be
useful to others.
On Friday morning one other thing I did find time for was to interview
my fellow Artima blogger Guido van Rossum. I'd heard in
advance about the move to Elemental security he publicly announced at OSCON,
and thought it would be nice for
him to be able to reply to some slash-dotters who seemed to think he should consider
them in his choice of career path. It was a speculative interview, but
I'm happy to say it was picked up by the O'Reilly Network (see http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/python/2003/08/14/gvr_interview.html).
It's been a long time since I was an active journalist, but
this blog has woken the instincts. A number of Python users have been kind enough
to mail me about the interview, so it's come to the attention of the
community without any special publicity.
The Real Cost?
For me the worst thing about OSCON 2003 was the way O'Reilly
inconsiderately arranged to hold my tutorial the same day as my third wedding
anniversary. So nothing would do but Mrs. Holden had to have a nice gift to
remind her that she really is more important than conferences ...
PyCon, the US-based community Python conference, won't be as big as OSCON -
we are thinking maybe 400 delegates - but I'm beginning to realise that as demands
on my time increase the chairmanship can't be a one-person job and so I am
thinking that a few co-chairs this year wouldn't be a bad idea. Next year maybe
I can enjoy PyCon as much as a regular delegate? Now, there's a thought....
Thanks to Michael Feathers for keeping me straight on names