[Texas] PyTexas 2010 Retrospective: Facility

Brad Allen bradallen137 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 29 20:55:31 CEST 2010

On Sun, Aug 29, 2010 at 8:40 AM, Lewis Franklin
<lewis.franklin at gmail.com> wrote:
> Let me begin by saying that am (the lone) from Waco and so my response might
> be a bit biased.

Biased or not, your opinion carries a lot of weight given that you
mentioned you'll help volunteer for next year's event.

However, you're not the lone attendee from Waco--there were quite a
few others. Maybe I didn't do a good enough job of publicly thanking
Jeremy Langley for everything he did to make PyTexas possible this
year at Baylor. He works in the Baylor IT dept, and knew who to talk
to about arranging the rooms, parking garage, and wireless access. He
helped in innumerable ways and was my single point of contact for
Baylor. He and I cooked up the idea for PyTexas at Baylor sometime
last year when he attended a DFW Python meeting.

> I thought that Waco and Baylor made for a nice location. I had heard about
> PyTexas from a friend and never really got involved, in spite of my
> presence, and really didn't have much expectation for the conference, to be
> honest. However, I must say that this conference exceeded all my
> expectations.

Thanks! That's the kind of result I had hoped for; this community can
surprise itself which how much we can learn from each other, and how
much fun we can have doing so.

> From talking with others, it seems that Waco makes a great location because
> of its central location. A number of attendees were able to come down for
> the day without needing to stay over night at all.

Yes, making it a "day trip" was the intent. We started the keynote at
11am to give everyone time to arrive, including the keynote speaker!

> Recognizing the benefit of the location of Waco, I would also like to
> volunteer to help out next year more, especially if we decide to meet in
> Waco again. I would be happy to be a point-man in the town and to work with
> Baylor to get better facilities. I might even be able to swing some coffee.

Great, Lewis! That will be much appreciated. Please give me a call
sometime so we can discuss it (my phone number is on the wiki
BradAllen page).

> Also, in relation to transportation concerns, a close friend of mine works
> for Waco Transit as the route planner and Waco Transit has several trolleys
> and buses used for public transportation around Baylor and Waco. Their load
> is lighter on the weekend and I would be happy to talk with him to see if we
> could work out something to keep people from walking. It could also open up
> the possibility of going to off-campus locations for lunch.

I don't know about that...the cafeteria seemed like a great solution
given the price and diverse food selection.  I'm not hearing that
people mind the walk; in fact, that's another opportunity to
socialize. Also, getting a little exercise helps fight off the
post-lunch sleepies.

My only concern about the cafeteria is the possibility of bad weather.
I don't want to ask people to walk 10-15 minutes through a
thunderstorm, or withering heat for that matter. We got lucky this
year on the weather.

Maybe we should investigate the possibility of selecting a building
closer to the cafeteria.

> I think that the overall format worked well. I agree that lunch should be
> longer. I have always found at conferences like this that while the sessions
> are a great part of the conference, I find the social aspect to be equally
> beneficial.
> For me personally, while I love the idea of lightning talks, I think that at
> a smaller conference they area bit trickier to pull off. We may only need
> about 30 minutes for the talks. Also, having a large signup on the wall
> might encourage more people to sign up.

Yes, I'm guilty of not appointing a lightning talk coordinator of
taking charge of that. We should have had a signup sheet posted early
in the day, and someone actively recruiting. We can do better on that
next year.

> Another idea that I thought about with our diverse attendees is that we
> might want to look at having themed tracks throughout the day. Maybe one
> targeting beginners, one targeting intermediate/advanced users, and one
> targeting "Get It Done" talks like "How to Make a Package" and "Lessons
> Learned From Trying X In Python".

It may not have been obvious from the schedule, but there were
supposed to be two tracks, a "beginner track" and an "experienced
track". We probably didn't do a good enough job of marking those on
the board even though they were documented on the wiki schedule.

Having a "Get it Done" track sounds interesting. That kind of a track
might work well short talks; maybe four talks in one hour. For
example, 12 minutes of virtualenv, 12 minutes of pip, 12 minutes of
testing with nose, 12 minutes to understand closures, etc.

> We may not be able to get enough speakers
> for all three tracks, but I think that if we make our request for proposals
> targeted like that we could possibly have a better turnout of speakers. To
> me, its the difference of writing an essay about a specific topic versus
> "whatever you want". I always found the former easier because I at least
> knew a direction to head.

That's a good point. I've noticed some of the O'Reilly conferences
specifically list topics they want covered. We did have some
suggestions and ideas for topics, but not a lot.

Do you have any interest in helping with speaker recruiting and coordination?

> I know that I have said quite a bit and for that I apologize. I think that
> PyTexas was great and that we can all make it even better next year.

Apology not accepted :-) You are going to have to send more long
postings to make up for it. Hey, we need some traffic on this list so
let's not be afraid to chat it up!

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