Old and New Faces It was good to see everyone, too many names to mention. That includes all the other Boston pythoneers who I tend to see just once a year and in a city not named "Boston." There is never enough time to time to talk to everyone but I did try. I also did my usual thing which is to purposely eat lunch with no one I know [it's my fifth PyCon so this rule has been relaxed to "as few people I know as possible"]. A few mentions: somehow I'd never met Jesse Noller before (despite many PyCons and him being in Boston); Georg Brandl made it over to the US for PyCon for the first time; I didn't run into Martin Blais until day five when he was sitting next to me at sprints; a sixteen year old (who is senior to me on py-dev) thanked me for contributing a patch; and David Mertz (whom I had never met in person) ran up, introduced himself, and disappeared into the ether (far too brief: I have to invite him over for dinner or something).
Limited Excess In a down economy attendance and freebies were also down. Almost no speakers ended their talk with a "and we'ere hiring!" slide as opposed to the past standard of 100%. To my shock and horror I actually had to pay for most of my own dinners and drinks. CCP/EVE Online was a standout in this respect [If you're wondering how a company in Iceland can afford to be generous remember that their subscribers pay in dollars and euros, not kronas].
EVE Fan-Fest I learned about EVE Fan-Fest not from the CCP guys but from a husband/wife team of players. 1500+ gamers descend on Reykjavik annually. This is such a large number of extra people for a country of 300k that the conference has to be closely coordinated with the government, hotels, and airlines. The mind reels.
Code Blindness By the end of sprints I was suffering from the geek equivalent of snow blindness. Throughout sprints I traded bug reports, emails, and checkins with Hiro Yamamoto (the "John Smith" of Japan). He'd miss something and I'd whargarbl his name under my breath. I'd miss something and know he was grumbling half way across the world. I pretty clearly lost that battle when I committed a patch that checked to see if unsigned longs were less than zero (oh sure, the compiler can optimize it out, but still..). Which reminds me, I still need to revert that.
We have a prodigy on our critical path. Python's release manager is Benjamin Peterson and Benjamin is sixteen years old. On the internet nobody knows you're a dog and in open source no one cares if you're in High School. He gets stuff done, end of story. There is a small amount of cognitive dissonance involved, but not much. For instance he gave me an attaboy for a patch I submitted last year - and while I have shoes that are older than he is - he sincerely meant it as a compliment and I took it as such. He's good people to have around - though if he gets a driver's license or a girlfriend we're in a spot of trouble. [I talked to his mother only briefly but she treated his hobby as casually as if he was on a sports team.]
Benjamin is not without precedent. Our now somewhat older prodigy is named Georg Brandl. The idea of prolonged adolescence is pretty new in cultural terms (less than 60 years old). Both men are sterling illustrations that when you treat "kids" like adults, they behave like adults (heck, they were adults in the first place but just not acknowledged as so). Let's have more of this please.
Twitter Twitter was the breakout story of the year at PyCon. I've peeked at it several times but never seen the point. I'm so old school I still refer to IM as "talk." Twitter was nowhere to be seen last year but this year it was pervasive. Sure, most of the tweets were mindless blather but they fill the mindless blather niche very well. "bourbon in the Kennedy room" is useful when broadcast but not the kind of thing you'd send an email about. Michael Foord (aka voidspace) gained 50 followers a day during the conference. I have reluctantly broken down and signed up too. Oddly one of my first tweets was answering the question "do I need stitches for this?" which is something I know much about (I had a very full childhood and I have the scars to prove it).
My Talk Video of my talk Class Decorators: Radically Simple is now online. I was pleased with my performance until I saw the video. Thankfully attendees care more about content that presentation because there are a dozen things I would like to do over; I don't have a future as a motivational speaker. I have done a talk on that same topic several times now and this time was a giant rewrite. The night before I was in bed by midnight but tossed and turned. I ended up giving up and rewriting large portions until 5am. I slept for three hours and what you see was me looking at the slides for the second time. All the ridiculous example slides were what people [unsolicited!] came up and told me is what made class decorators "click" for them. Go figure.
There is a raft of little things I would change about the presentation. Unfortunately I won't ever give it again so I'll have to apply them to my next talk (after I think one up). Bloused shirt? gone, starch that thing and make sure it is tucked in. Conversational voice? gone, I have a separate speaker's voice and I didn't use it (lack of sleep?). USB remote slide dongle? gone, I spent as much time aiming the laser pointer at the screen as I did talking to the room. Wireless mike? keep, standing at the podium sucks [I lucked out - I was in the only room that had a wireless mike and I only got to use it because I asked].
Oh, and the perenial "pause between sentences." For the first five minutes I talked like I was reading a teleprompter. There isn't much you can do about this other than practice.
[and then some more errata]
International As I've mentioned before PyCon is the inverse of EuroPython in that it is 75% American and 25% European (eyeball numbers: I'd love to see hard data on this). The speakers list is somewhat more static because there is a subset of people who go to conventions for fun (myself included). To confuse things further there are a number of Americans who weren't born here and some "Americans" who are American but not in name (Alex Martelli is still Italian for sentimental reasons despite living in and literally marrying into to America).
Martelli's Slides Alex Martelli's slides are immediately recognizable because he uses the same background and the same quirky font on all of them, always. I got the scoop from Anna Ravenscroft (a sometimes PyCon speaker and AKA Mrs Alex Martelli). He is fond of the background and font because they remind him of a blackboard. No one has complained so that's all there is to it.
Sprints are Magic Two days of sprints generated the same amount of python-checkin traffic as a regular month. Questions are just so much cheaper in person than in email that it couldn't be otherwise. Raise you hand and say "can anyone tell me about [interface]" and you get an answer. Person-to-person social pressures also lead to quicker bug resolution. Jesse Noller said something like "I assigned a pickle functools bug to you while you were in the can, it seemed up your alley." It wasn't up my alley but a few hours later I had read the pickle docs and checked in a patch to make functools.partial instances pickle-able.