note: This post has been updated for PyCon 2015. Even though the URL is old, the content is new.
New to Python and/or conferences and attending the upcoming PyCon 2015 in Montreal, Canada? Or is this your first conference? Or perhaps your first conference longer than a weekend?
Hoping to get the most out of joining thousands of Python enthusiasts?
No worries! This guide will aid you in attending one of the best technical conferences on the planet. Even though I'm not attending on account of various reasons including finances, work, and personal projects, I'm going to share how to get through duration of pycon in good shape. I'm also going to share some great tricks to optimize the event.
PyCon is a professional event. Sure, lots of people are in t-shirts and are having fun, often in oddly goofy ways. Yet stepping outside the boundaries of civilized behavior is not acceptable. Keep in mind that PyCon US has a code of conduct. Whether or not you agree with codes of conduct for conferences, PyCon US has one and it will be enforced.
As the lines for registration can get epic, I like to get my badge as early as possible so I don't miss PyCon's famously incredible keynote speeches.
All of the beginner tutorials at https://us.pycon.org/2015/schedule/tutorials/ look wonderful. You simply can't go wrong with any of them.
All of them.
I'm actually a little relieved that I'm not going to PyCon, because there were some time slots thad several must-see talks running concurrently. I would have to clone myself repeatedly in order to see all the good stuff! Fortunately, I'll be able to watch them on http://www.pyvideo.org.
If you are new to open source and plan to attend the PyCon 2015 sprints (or in general contribute to open source), then I strongly recommend Shauna Gordon-McKeon's \"Open Source for Newcomers and the People Who Want to Welcome Them\" talk (description at https://us.pycon.org/2015/schedule/presentation/346/). She's the program director of Open Hatch, a group focused on bringing more people into the open source community.
Pro-tip: For the talks you are excited about attending, get there early. If you really want to attend a particular talk, odds are so does everyone else and the room might be packed. Don't be forced to sit on the floor or stand outside the door. Show up early!
See https://us.pycon.org/2015/schedule/talks/ for the talk schedules.
At PyCon, talks are either 30 or 45 long. They represent the best and brightest in both old hands in the community and rising stars. Some quick guidelines:
Don't forget to keep whatever they hand out to track meals at the registration desk or you might not be able to get your food.
Try and sit down to people you don't know and introduce yourself. Every time I do this I don't just get to meet interesting people, I get to meet amazing people. PyCon is full of brilliant minds and you'll never get to know any of them unless you try.
When the tutorials and talks are over, the sprints begin. These are like hackathons, but for only open source efforts. Imagine the chance to apply everything you just learn, while sitting amongst other Python enthusiast including dozens of projects leaders. Not only do you get the chance to apply what you've just learned, you can contribute to make the world of Python better!
See https://us.pycon.org/2015/community/sprints/ for general sprint information.
For beginners setting up a Python development environment can be tricky. If the list below looks intimidating, look for any sprints with \"beginner\" in the title. There is always something! While they aren't listed yet, but there should be something up within a week or two.
On the other hand, if you want a pre-PyCon challenge, I recommend getting the the following installed:
Modern versions of Python:
- Python 2.7 (mandatory)
- Python 3.4 (Rather mandatory for Python 3 work)
Be ready with source control. You should have installed and possess working knowledge with:
- Git. Really make sure you have a GitHub account
- Mercurial. Useful to have a BitBucket account.
If you attend the tutorials, talks and sprints, that's nine days. You (or your organization) are putting out some serious money for you to go and discover new knowledge, new people, or a bunch of other reasons. The last thing you want to do is end up sick for part or all of the conference.
Odds are you'll be riding in public transit (planes, trains, buses) to get there. Unfortunately, you'll be travelling with people who are sick. Then, for over a week, you'll be around thousands of people who have travelled under similar conditions. Many of those people, possibly yourself, will be eating poorly, drinking heavily, and not getting enough sleep.
Here are some things I've found work wonders to keep me active and alert and I recommend you do the same every day of the conference:
As an author, I can't recommend enough that you bring your favorite programming book and get it autographed. A few books I want to get signed:
Keep your eyes open.
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