EuroPython 2010

Posted on August 07, 2010 (History)
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Better late than never, I guess. It's now been two weeks since this year's EuroPython in Birmingham (UK) ended and I somehow never found to time to write at least a short summary. Well, at least now I will try to write a not so short summary instead :-)

Compared to most other conferences I've attended in recent years this was by far the longest. I've so far never been at a conference with 4 days full of talks and while I couldn't even listen to one talk in each slot, I still managed to learn many, many new and exciting things (at least to me). But let's go through the program day by day... or at least only through the most memorable talks.

Day 0: Getting there

Getting to Birmingham from Graz is actually pretty straight forward thanks to Lufthansa offering an easy two-step flight via Frankfurt. And after that getting from Birmingham International right into the heart of the city is thanks to some nice train connections a piece of cake as well :-) Luckily, the hotel (Premier Inn Broad Street) was only about 10 minutes away from New Street Station so I could at least dump my suite-case and exchange my messenger bag with my camera bag before heading back to the airport to meet up with Jannis.

There, I couldn't resist taking another Tropicana-shots ;-) Sadly this was the only time I had one of the delicious drinks and my camera with me.

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After getting all suite-cases and bags out of our way we met up with Raymond Hettinger, his wife Rachel et al. and enjoyed some great burgers at the Handmade Burger Co just 5 minutes away from the Premier Inn. After having our stomachs filled Jannis and I went to the Walkabout hoping I could get some of their great fudge cake. Well, no fudge cake for me but we managed to get the word out via Twitter and IRC and eventually got about about half a dozen people to join us.

Day 1: Let the talks begin

The first proper talk for me, after attending Russel Winder's keynotes, was "Idiomatic Python" by Raymond Hettinger where he promised we would learn something new on about every slide. And he really delivered! Naturally at least some portion of the presentation was about Python's core container classes and the new additions in Python >2.6 but there were also other goodies like some iterator magic and the rather unknown else-branch of for-loops.

As in 2008 I had to attend a talk by Zeth. For some reason he always managed to talk about stuff that I'm also interested in. This time his talk was about some basics around the Semantic Web and getting started with tools like the rdflib. Weird enough, I bought a book about programming the Semantic Web just minutes before at the O'Reilly booth ;-)

The last talk of the day was by David Read about Open Data and data.gov.uk, another data that I'm currently at least a bit into (would love to be more involved by I don't have time for even the stuff that I'd die to be involved right now :-P) since there is a similar trend getting under way in Austria.

Day 2: More talks

On the second day I managed to attend talks I was mostly not all that interested in with the exception of Raymond Hettinger's second talk which, once again, was very insightful. That and the keynotes by Bruce Lawson that focused mostly on HTML5 and how the whole web application market will and is changing thanks to it.

The rest of the day I mostly spent looking for an available power-plug and working WiFi :-(

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After the talks I went among other places to the Wellington for some nice beers (and WiFi) to meet up with Jannis, Arthur, Armin, Georg, Jiri, Ales.

Day 3: Even more talks

You should have noticed a pattern by now: Raymond Hettinger's talks are great and you should attend every single one of them if you have the change. Day 3 saw another one of his talks, this time about Monocle, an event-driven framework. Another highlight (of the whole conference) was Michael Brunton-Spall's session about how the Guardian uses Google AppEngine and Google Docs. Thanks to that talk I learnt about the Guardian's Datablog which is a place for all you data-/statistics-nerds out there :-)

The last talk of the day was about the Flatland form processing library by Scott Wilson, which I immediately fell in love with :D It is a bit more low-level compared to Django's form package but looks like just the right tool for projects using Pylons, Flask etc.

Day 4: The end

I'm not yet sure which one of Michael Brunton-Spall's talks I missed: The one on day 3 or the one on day 4 about the Guardian's API, but I really regret missing it :-) Anyway, the last 2 talks of this year's EuroPython for me were by Denis Bilenko about gevent and Michael Sparks about Arduino. Both were great and in the future probably will cause another large chunk of my not-existing free-time to miraculously disappear ;-)

But before the conference ended there was another huge lightning talk-session (nearly 2 hours) with an evil VGA cable killing one laptop after the other ;-)

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As evening program Jannis, Armin and I had planned to watch Inception at the local IMAX theatre but since the movie was still hours away we opted for some food first. Luckily we found a great restaurant only minutes away from our hotel right next to the Mailbox called Kinnaree Sawasdee which offered great Thai cuisine and also quite exotic beer.

Selfridges at night

And, I guess, I don't have to write anything about "Inception" ;-) I've you haven't watched it by now, then what are you waiting for?!

Day 5 & 6: Sprints

Once again I did some sprinting on some Django bugs and worked a bit on some private projects I wanted to get done eventually ... (they are still not done). After the 2nd sprint day with everyone else already on their way back home I figured I could use my last couple of hours in Birmingham to take some pictures of some of the places I've visited during that week and forgot to have my camera with me :-)

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Day 7: Getting home

My flight was leaving at about 1830 so I still had some time after having to leave the hotel and having to be at the airport. Sitting on some park benches or in New Street Station and reading some books or chatting thanks to the great BT OpenZone network works quite well then :-)

What was great

  • The talks were mostly great (sadly with some promotion focused ones in between)
  • Compared to some other conferences the food was quite good :-)
  • The hotel: The Premier Inn Broad Street is really a nice place to stay if you're attending a conference in the Birmingham Conservatoire.
  • The city in general. I really like Birmingham :-)
  • Airport security: Thanks to all the fine ladies and gentlemen at airports Birmingham and Frankfurt who were really friendly even when they had to search my bags in detail. Yes: mice getting weirder and weirder every year :-)

What was not so great

  • The WiFi: Sorry, but this was by far the worst connectivity I've ever had at a conference. And it didn't really help that the Birmingham Conservatoire is like a bunker not letting any OpenZone in.
  • I eventually really have to get something else than my power-adapter-ninja-star...
  • I managed to kill another headphones cable on the flight to Birmingham.

So, that was EuroPython 2010. Great conference despite its problems (WiFi) with many great people :D Now I can't wait to next year's in Florence, Italy.

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