PyCon US: A 2012 Retrospective by Sancho Panza

This is a guest post by Sancho Panza about his experiences at his first PyCon...

Pycon... My visions of the Promised Land…

I was fortunate enough to go to PyCon 2012 in Santa Clara and I cannot be more serious when I say that it was a life changing experience.

I got there in time of the tutorials and was so excited that I arrived an hour early, but that didn't matter because I WAS AT PYCON!!! The tutorials were crash courses that took me from zero to hero in a few very fully packed hours of both lecture and lab work.

My brain was on overload and smoked after the 2 days of classes… and I had not even hit the opening event.

As a first timer to PyCon, this was when the fear and uncertainty set in.."How am I going to take all of this home with me if my brain can't reset?"

The opening of PyCon was, not overstating this, an event that enthralled the mind and ensnared the senses. The atmosphere was electrified with some of the brightest minds on the cutting edge of the Python community and even the emerging technologies field and to be in an environment that everyone looks at everyone else as equals, was just humbling. The keynote speakers, Paul Graham and Stormy Peters, set the minds of over 2500 people rolling down a path of concepts and ideas that would be encouraged and pushed even further over the following days.

Now that the storm of energy from these 2500+ people has been further excited, that energy is unleashed at one moment to go to the field of talks that span such a broad spectrum of topics and really good information, that the hardest part is painfully choosing one talk over another. All this information that is available and I wanted it all, but I could only go to one at a time.

Sitting in a room listening to a speaker talk about something, them giving you the benefit of their experience and knowledge, then saying "You might be new to this stuff, but hey… not too long ago, I was new to it too.", that is a kind of encouragement that can't be bought.. it can only be shared, and at PyCon it is shared freely.

Of all the talks that I was able to go to, I have to mention the talk given by Robbie Clemons, "How to make your website more accessible". It was the second talk on Friday morning, and it absolutely blew my mind. He talked about coding aspects that had not even occurred to me and how my benign ignorance was so common. He opened up a whole new area of exploration for me and to really understand what I am talking about, you really need to attend one of his talks. The personal nature of it will change you forever.

Up to this point, I have intentionally left out much of what I did, but now, I will tell you what the PEOPLE like the tutorial instructors, Jesse Noller, Katie Cunningham, Paul Graham, Jacob Kaplan-Moss, Steve Holden, Robbie Clemons, and so many others inspired me to do.

I was, simply put, amazed by their dedication and felt compelled to give back to them and PyCon in any way that I could, and THIS is where I benefitted the most I think.

I volunteered to stuff bags, be a runner, be an introducer, help with AV… anything that was needed and if I had a free moment, I did it. In the middle of the largest storm of excitement, learning and opportunity I have ever been in, I felt compelled to give back and help feed that energy with the only thing I felt I had to offer.

While I was giving back, I got to talk and listen to more people and it was almost one on one instead of in a large group. I got to ask questions and not have to worry about holding up an entire room of people. I was able to thank the speakers for helping shape my mind and show me a different path to not just help myself but help the community and people on a much greater scale than I had thought possible.

So, by giving back, I received so much more.

I encourage anyone that thinks they might want to go to PyCon to in fact GO to PyCon. It will, without a doubt, change your life as it did mine. But, in order to really get the most out of it, volunteer some time and give back to PyCon. You will not be disappointed. In fact, the experience will mean so much more to you and be more complete than if you don't.

In 2013…. I will be there in Santa Clara… and I will be there volunteering again… and I look forward to it.

Hope to see you there….



PyCon US: My First PyCon Experience - Rupa Dachere, CodeChix.org

Guest Post By Rupa Dachere - Founder, Chapter Lead - Bay Area, Software Developer - CodeChix.org

I didn’t know about PyCon until a friend of mine mentioned it to me about a month before PyCon 2012.  At the time, I was job-hunting and figured, why not go since it’s a language I’ve dabbled with briefly and it might be interesting to see what’s going on with it.  Also, it would be a good opportunity to see if CodeChix-Bay Area could be involved in some way.

I think it was one of the best decisions I made.  I asked for and received financial aid to attend and volunteered for bag stuffing - this involved an assembly line of several layers of sorting of stickers (about 8 different kinds), stuffing bags and carrying full bags to various bins for distribution.  There were all kinds of people helping out - organizers, geeks, programmers, artists etc.  We finished stuffing almost 2500 bags in record time (I don’t remember the time) and were rewarded with Pizza, Beer and hobnob-time.

I attended some of the tutorials that were offered the first couple of days - in particular, Hands-On Beginning Python and Hands-On Intermediate Python with Matt Harrison, Optimize Performance and Scalability with Parallelism and Concurrency with Bob Hancock and Making Interactive Maps for the Web by Zain Memon.  The content and quality of each of these classes was excellent and as I progressed through each of my classes/talks, I felt re-invigorated and enthused to explore and build something(anything) using Python.  My fellow CodeChick, Akkana Peck, had a talk on Writing GIMP Plugins with Python and that was standing-room only.  At times, it was a bit of information overload, but, that was totally fine with me.

During the conference, all food was provided - I’ve never been to a conference which served me a full-course sit-down meal for lunch every single day!   It was on one of the conference days that I got directed to a lunch table in the immense banquet room and sat down with a bunch of guys, none of whom I knew - something that I’m quite used to.   Casual conversations revealed to me that the person I was sitting next to (a very quiet, soft-spoken and humble guy) was Armin Rigo, the lead developer for PyPy, specifically the JIT compiler.  And a few chairs down from him was Guido Van Rossum (Armin mentioned this to me which is how I discovered this fact).   Armin and I conversed about the JIT compiler and I told him a little bit about CodeChix and what we do.  He was very encouraging and said that it would be good to have some female developers helping with PyPy - I said I would see what I could do.  He said he would be happy to help in whatever way he can as a developer.  I walked out of the lunch room that day feeling like I could scale Mt. Everest with no legs and one arm - that’s how ridiculously inspired I was.

And that was my first PyCon experience. PyCon 2013 is going to see a LOT more proposals from women and CodeChix-Bay Area will definitely be a big volunteer! To the organizers and PSF, thank you for all your hard work and dedication - I know what it takes.  Here is one fan that will try to do her best to see PyCon continue to inspire all female and male developers and be a huge success.

[Editor's Note]: I want to personally thank Rupa for sharing her thoughts - it's encouraging to me, and the entire PyCon team and Python community to see so many efforts come to fruition. As always - our call for proposals is open, and we always need more sponsors to help us be successful. Thank you Rupa, and everyone else who made PyCon 2012 amazing - and here's to PyCon 2013 topping that. - Jesse


SpacePug - a sample talk proposal

Along with PyCon's cadre of veteran speakers, we always need new ones. In fact, PyCon thrives on new speakers. They provide fresh perspectives, bring up new and interesting topics, and they can pass on their speaking experience to a new generation of conference speakers. We thought a good way to help that new generation would be to release some sample proposals.

The first proposal is about SpacePug, a project about a space program that launches pugs into orbit. We think it's a good proposal, but it has some faults. After laying out the proposal using the same sections you'd need to fill out in a real proposal, we include a review and summary outlining areas that need some work.

Like we said, the proposal isn't perfect, and it might not be the best format for every topic. Some topics are better served by proposals with in-depth outlines, while some work well with SuperPug's paragraph style. If you check out SuperPug, it even includes a small supplementary outline. Another sample proposal we're working on follows the in-depth outline format.

With 31 days left to submit your tutorial and talk proposals for PyCon 2013, we hope you've thought about submitting a proposal or two. Hopefully the samples help you out! We're looking for all types of talks from all types of people with all types of experience, so everyone is welcome and wanted.

The submission process is pretty easy, and it all starts at your dashboard (you'll be prompted to sign up if you haven't already). Once you're in, you need to fill out a speaker profile where you tell us who you are and what you're about. After that, you can submit as many proposals as you'd like!

For more details on speaking at PyCon, check out our speaking resources under the "Speaking" tab on https://us.pycon.org/2013/. Our Call for Proposals, which runs through September 28, contains plenty of information on the types of proposals we're accepting.


PyCon 2013 Talk Brainstorming and Workshop!

Ever thought about speaking? Want to give speaking at PyCon a shot, but not sure what to talk about?

Even if you have a tiny inkling that you'd want to speak, beginner level or advanced, come to our workshop to get help brainstorming ideas & learn what makes a good proposal!

Join the PyLadies hangout, open to PyLadies and PyLaddies, with help from PyLadies' leaders, previous years PyCon speakers & current Program Committee members (e.g. the folks that review proposals) to ideate, write, and submit your proposal to speak, give a tutorial, or a poster session at PyCon 2013.

Space is limited by the Google Hangout technology. An invite link will be sent out about 15 minutes prior to the start time.

For those in the Bay Area, be sure to check out the PyLadies San Francisco meetup, Workshop: Talk Proposal Writing for PyCon, on Tuesday, August 28th.

Eventbrite - PyLadies presents: PyCon Proposal Brainstorm


Thanks to Lynn Rogue and everyone else for pulling this together!

32 days left to submit PyCon proposals!

We're almost inside of one month until PyCon 2013 tutorial and talk proposals are due. Even this guy fully dressed in a pool with his laptop is ready to submit. Are you?

Check out our Speak at PyCon page as well as the official Call for Proposals! September 28, 2012 is the deadline to mark in your calendars.


What talks do you want to see at PyCon?

PyCon is a conference for the community. You're the audience. You're the speakers. You're the ones watching the videos. Now is your chance to speak up and let us know what you want to see. There are 37 days left to submit proposals for PyCon 2013, so if you have a topic you want to hear about, let us know! We'll share the ideas with everyone and see if we can find speakers for everything and make this the best conference schedule yet.

Some people have already started coming up with topic lists on their blogs. Daniel Greenfield put up a great post yesterday, with interest in seeing how Python is used in space exploration and research. Ned Batchelder started a thread this morning on Reddit to gauge interest in talks people want to see. He's interested in Stompy from Project Hexapod, the giant Python-powered robot.

What are you interested in? Tweet us your ideas to @pycon or use the #pycon hashtag and we'll pull everything together. If you make a blog post about it, tweet the link or email me and I'll include it in a list we'll be putting together.

If you're ready to submit a proposal, check out some of our resources under the Speak at PyCon page. From there you'll see some important dates, including September 28 as our deadline for talk and tutorial proposals. Poster proposals aren't due until January 15, 2013. We also have our Call for Proposals which includes more detail on the types of proposals that we're accepting.

Submitting a proposal is as easy as signing up, checking out your dashboard, creating a speaker profile, and submitting a new proposal! We'll be following up in the coming days with some helpful tips and examples for writing your proposal, so check back here for more info.

PyCon India Updates

We at PyCon India, have been busy with our preparations for the event which is scheduled on Sep 28-30 at Bangalore, India.

Here are some updates on our activities at PyCon India.

  1. The PyCon India poster is up for printing/download. Please spread the word and link to it from your websites.
  2. The Call For Proposals (CFP) is ending on August 25th. We have received 53 talk/tutorial proposals so far.
  3. Regular registration deadline has been extended to August 31st. Register early to save money!
With a great selection of talks, two keynote speakers and tremendous sponsor support, we are looking forward to having 3 amazing days of fun and learning here at PyCon India. Join in the celebrations ! 


PyCon Around the world: Make a difference with a Systers Pass-It-On Award

Boston Python user group organizer and Systers Pass-It-On recipient Jessica McKellar teaching beginning Python programmers at the Boston Python Workshop

Twice a year, the Anita Borg Institute issues $500.00 to $1000.00 USD grants to women in technology through its Systers Pass-It-On program.

The awards go to technical outreach programs for women as well as individual women pursuing a career in a technology field. The program is called “Pass-It-On” because it comes with the moral obligation to “pass on” the benefits gained from the award.

In the context of PyCon and the greater Python community, this grant would be a great fit for women who:

The deadline for this Pass-It-On round is Wednesday, September 26th. Apply today and do something awesome for the Python community!


PyCon US 2013: Keynotes, Jobs fair announced.

A common theme - as you can see from the tagline on the PyCon 2013 website - that's running through everything we plan for PyCon 2013 is "Change the Future". It is our goal for PyCon 2013 to not only be the largest Python conference in history (2500 attendee hard cap) but to also use it to help nudge Python and the community towards the future.

In my eyes, this means talks on everything from Python 3, hacking with Python (on say - a Raspberry Pi), discussing Outreach and community growth, deep dive technical talks to expand your mind as well as gentle introductions for those new to Python who come to the conference.

In that thread - we've already announced a new workshop/tutorial for kids - "The Young Coder: Let's Learn Python". We've started planning the Python Education Summit. We're examining the financial aid budget and working to expand it, and coordinate with all the outreach groups we can to further grow it.

Also - you should be submitting a talk, tutorial or poster proposal!

We feel that PyCon 2013 can be something of a watershed moment for the community, the Python Software Foundation, our sponsors - everyone. So today, I'm proud to announce a few things.

PyCon Jobs Fair

First, are you in the market for a new position? Looking to test the waters and see what's out there? If so, a lot of really cool companies sponsor PyCon and many of them are hiring. Just check out the PyCon Job Board and see for yourself! We launched it this week and there are over 38 open positions listed on the site, along with a few entries that have no explicit opening but just want to hire good people.

A bunch of the jobs are in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and areas in between, but most of them so far are outside of The Valley. Portland and Seattle are represented. The Philly area has a few openings as well. Massachusetts, Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana also show up in the list. One company has locations in the Czech Republic and Israel. Don't forget that some of these companies are open to remote workers, so insert-your-location is also an option!

One of the many benefits of being a PyCon sponsor include the ability to list your open positions on our site. You also have the ability to join the on-site job fair (last year companies got hundreds of resumes in under an hour), which is a great place to find your next employees. For hiring benefits and so much more, check out our sponsorship prospectus, and contact Jesse Noller for more details.

While that's great news...

Announcing the PyCon 2013 Keynote Lineup

That's right - we've got a stellar series of keynote speakers lined up this year. I'm always excited to sit down and think who would be an excellent keynote speaker - it's a challenge as you want to balance the abstract with the concrete, and the community. This years lineup is something I'm very proud of.

Eben Upton, Founder and Trustee - Raspberry Pi Foundation

Eben is a founder and trustee of the Raspberry Pi foundation, and is responsible for the overall software and hardware architecture of the Raspberry Pi device. In his day job, he works for Broadcom as an ASIC architect and general troublemaker.

For those that don't know - the "Pi" in Raspberry Pi is an intentional misspelling of "Py" - Python is a first class citizen and the recommended educational language of the Raspberry Pi platform.

Jessica McKellar, Linux kernel engineer, Python Outreach and Workshops

Jessica McKellar is a Linux kernel engineer from Cambridge, MA. She is a Python Software Foundation board member and an organizer for the largest Python user group in the world. With that group she runs the Boston Python Workshops for women and their friends -- an introductory programming pipeline that has brought hundreds of women into the local Python community and is being replicated in cities across the US. Jessica is a veteran open source contributor and a maintainer for several open source projects, including OpenHatch and the Twisted event-driven networking engine; she wrote a chapter on Twisted for The Architecture of Open Source Applications Volume II and is working with O'Reilly on a new edition of Twisted Networking Essentials.

Jessica's work on the Python workshops all over the US and her work for the community in terms of outreach, education and much more are a boon to the community and Python as a whole.

Raymond Hettinger, Python Core Developer, Python teacher and freelancer

Raymond Hettinger is a freelance programmer with experience in cloud computing, high frequency trading, genomics, and optimization. He has worked at Sauce Labs Inc as a Director of Technology and at EWT/Fattoc as Chief Visualization Officer. Raymond attended West Point for 2 years, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and became a CPA in 1990. His favorite computer language is Python. Raymond also is a licensed pilot and has interests in math and the sciences.

When I approached Raymond, in my mind was that question - who could go into why Python is awesome? Who is a rock within the Python developer community? Raymond was the answer. His talks are always amazing - his work on Python-the-language is as well. I'm very, very excited to be able to give him the opportunity.

Guido van Rossum, BDFL

Guido van Rossum is the author of the Python programming language. He continues to serve as the "Benevolent Dictator For Life" (BDFL), meaning that he continues to oversee the Python development process, making decisions where necessary. He is currently employed by Google.

What would a PyCon - or Python be without Guido? His talks are always interesting - each year they're different and we learn more about not just the history of the language, but also the future. I've been honored to interview him on stage, and I've sat and had my assumptions and thoughts challenged by what he has had to say.

That's almost a wrap...

I've been sitting on this post for a few days - both excited and and honored that I continue to be able to do these things for PyCon and the community as a whole. It boggles my mind how far the conference and community have come in a relatively short amount of time.

PyCon is a showcase for the community - it's speakers, tutorial instructors - it's attendees and sponsors all come together to make PyCon a unique entity in both conferences in general and within the community. 

As always - I can not thank our sponsors enough - we're signing more and more every week but we need more - without the support of sponsors PyCon can not happen. I've been beating the pavement every single day trying to get a hold of new sponsors, and to bring back many of the ones we had in 2012. Without sponsorship, we will not be able to achieve many of the things we are trying to do - the robust financial aid and outreach, more surprises, and so much more.

If you know of a company (or are one) - please take a moment to take a look at the Prospectus - we've added a lot of options this year, and benefits for all the levels. We also have the "Why Sponsor" page which attempts to make the case for sponsorship.

If you're interested - drop me an email. I'm eager to work with you.

- Jesse Noller, chair PyCon 2013 


45 days remain in PyCon's Call for Proposals

Since we opened our doors on July 9th, proposals for the 2013 edition of PyCon have been rolling in. Through September 28 we'll be accepting proposals for tutorial, talk, and poster presentations, to be given March 13-17, 2013 in Santa Clara, California.

If you're interested in presenting, check out our Call for Proposals and create your speaker profile today! Once there, we allow you to submit as many proposals in as many areas as you choose. For conference talks, we have a limit of two accepted proposals per person, but that doesn't mean you can't submit your five best ideas.

Are you interested in presenting but don't know what to speak about? We heard from the community and got some talk ideas, tutorial ideas, and info on posters. Although the posts are from last year, the info is still very much the same.

Submit your proposal today!