[Texas] Notes from PyCon 2011 PyTexas dinner
bradallen137 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 15 17:06:32 CET 2011
Yesterday at PyCon, we held a "PyTexas dinner" and had a number of
lively discussions with ideas about the next PyTexas, as well as
general approaches to teaching Python. Since it was a large table with
15 people seated, not everyone had the same discussion. Also, several
of us continued the discussion after dinner.
Let's use this thread to collect the notes from various conversational
threads; please post what you recall from the discussion. Later we can
condense them for the wiki. (I've cc'd the general Python
group-organizers list since it might give ideas to other organizers).
Here are my notes (so far):
* The date is not set but the range is July through October (see notes
below for reasoning about this).
* I am planning for a capacity of 200 attendees, but expect 150
attendees based on positive feedback of PyTexas 2011 (which had 94).
I'm counting on last year's attendees to tell their friends. Also, I'm
noticing more people interested in volunteering this year so we should
be able to rally a lot of promotion.
* So far we have no guarantees of a large auditorium at Baylor in
Waco, though I have heard from Jeremy Langley that he will check into
that. I think we need to reserve an auditorium with a capacity of 200
* Jeremy Kelley has pointed out the alternate choice of College
Station which has adequate auditorium space in the Computer Science
building. He also pointed out that College Station includes Python in
the curriculum; this specific course has proven popular enough to be
packed to capacity each year. The faculty is very interested in
Python. There is an additional advantage that food and drinks are
allowed in the rooms at College Station, opening possibilities of
catering. A variety of bars and restaurants are two blocks from the
computer science building. Another benefit is that it's possible to
have sprints the following day because the Computer Science building
can be opened on Sunday morning. Driving distance compared with Waco
is a wash; one is further for DFW and shorter for Houston, and vise
versa. Jeremy is investigating this option further with his contacts
at College Station.
* We discussed various ideas about promoting to students. Most seemed
to think that undergrads would not likely be motivated enough to
travel to PyTexas even for a 2 hour road trip, so the promotional
efforts should focus on the university venue for undergrads. However,
grad students are more likely to be motivated so we should focus on
getting the word out to grad students and compsci departments at
* Given likely low undergrad turnout, and better room
availability/guarantees, it's ok to have PyTexas in the summer. July
is probably the earliest we can consider given lead time needed for
sponsors and speakers.
* I'm planning to put together a budget for PyTexas 2011 which will
include 200 t-shirts/bags, travel expenses for at least one prominent
speaker and/or Python trainer, AV recording/production, badges,
art/designs, and potentially snacks/drinks catering. This will be on a
wiki page shortly and I'll need help with ideas. Let's brainstorm and
estimate costs so we'll know how much much to ask for from sponsors.
* I picked up a lot of sponsor contacts at PyCon, and am optimistic
about getting funding. Jeremy Kelley also mentioned a possible Google
contact. The general theme of my discussions with sponsors was that
we're open to coming up with ideas to help sponsors meet their goals.
Several sponsors told me they need several months lead time to produce
swag and/or approve monies.
* There were a lot of ideas about good ways to teach Python depending
on student interests. We want to have a teachpython.org wiki to
organize ideas and resources for teaching Python. Since the users of
such a wiki would be Python experts, I like the idea of MoinMoin, but
others seemed to want to use MediaWiki. Maybe we should add a
Teacher's Guide section to the existing python.org wiki... I plan to
discuss this with the PSF and the Python education SIG. Maybe there is
already a similar existing site we can utilize. This is a topic worth
breaking into a separate thread.
* Python Koans has some downsides as a teaching tool; it's too obscure
in parts and needs adjustment. Any volunteers willing to fork and make
it more beginner friendly? (For example, beginners have no way of
knowing how to derive the string name of the class associated with an
exception object instance...e.__class__.__name__)
* Last year's presentations didn't make it onto the PyTexas.org wiki.
We need to follow up with speakers to get that done. (Any volunteers
to do the nagging?)
* Kent Fraser and Gary Wilson who work at UT Austin mentioned they can
help promote PyTexas there; they also mentioned that their department
at UT Austin has switched to Python for some of their internal
projects. So far it's not part of the curriculum but there will be a
definite interest in sending people to PyTexas to improve their Python
* Several Texas area volunteers are eager to get started; I need to
put together a list of projects to give these folks something to get
* Walker is thinking about setting up a framework for Python gaming,
where gamers can upload code to a common server running a common
overhead screen for spectators to watch the Python scripts competing
with each other in some visual manner.
* A glossy printed program guide is not worth the cost for a small
conference like PyTexas, imho, but we can still print something basic
like a one-page schedule. I would like to get a mobile guide for The
Conventionist app since that proved so handy to Android and iOS users
at PyCon. Jeremy Kelley investigated this and found that it would
probably cost around $750, but he has some ideas for alternatives.
* We need to send out the call for talk proposals much earlier this
year (as in right away).
* We need to cross-promote with SciPy, and make sure PyTexas isn't too
soon after (people need time to rest/recover between conferences). The
contrary view is that having PyTexas prior to SciPy might work better,
because we can help scientists brush up on their Python skills prior
to SciPy, and SciPy speakers can rehearse their talks at PyTexas.
* The folks from OpenHatch.org have come to PyCon to promote some good
ideas about community organizing for open source. We should explore
their site and see if it's useful to PyTexas.
* Jeremy Kelley suggested shortening the name PyTexas to PyTX; he
pointed out the domain pytx.org is available (and shortly thereafter
purchased it). I have doubts about this considering the naming
convention established for other regional conferences (PyOhio and
PyArkansas). However I'm open to feedback about this. Regardless, I'd
like to use the #pytx hashtag for microblog (Twitter) posts about
* This morning, Jeremy Kelley, Josh Marshall, and I had some further
discussions. The wiki approach to registration was a bit clunky. They
want to build a simple PyTexas registration web app which will also
combine some optional survey questions. I gave them a brain dump of
feature requirements, and they are sprinting on it today :-).
* Josh Marshall wants to plan for a post-PyTexas survey.
* Jeremy Kelley has some ideas for a t-shirt design and has asked a
designer at his company to spend a little time on it.
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