EuroDjangoCon 2009

Well, that’s it. EuroDjangoCon 2009 in Prague is over and most of us are on their way home right now, already there or will leave tomorrow. For me, tech conferences are just great. There is always so much new stuff to learn, on so many cool projects to work on and so many really nice and clever people to meet with. And then just imagine a conference in the name of the Pony in Prague with its beautiful old-town, low prices, great beer and subbed American movies. A perfect match.


But let me write this at least a little bit chronologically and perhaps get the not-so-perfect parts out of the way first.

About trips, hotels and pain

Armin, Florian and I arrived on Sunday right after the only tourist info office near the train station had closed down. So there we were, standing close at the Holesovice trainstation with some fresh money from the ATM but without any way to buy some metro tickets with it. So we took a taxi and got ripped off quite heavily with an 800 kc ride to our hotel.

And since nothing can be easy, the hotel reception couldn’t find our room reservation. Only after about 10 minutes of looking and us in the end actually finding it on their list they agreed to give us our room. A room without any way to open/close the window, thank you very much, since the window handler was lying next to the window. Our complaints resulted in some annoyed looking person knocking at our door and asking if we wanted the window opened or closed. Once we decided to leave it closed for now and he using an Allen wrench to do that he went off watching his soccer match again ;-) This was their only solution for the broken window for the whole week.

Luckily, the infrastructure of the whole vicinity was actually very nice, with a MacDonald’s right next door, a Tesco grocery store (24:7) just on the other side of the street and the next tram station only about 5 minutes away.

The conference

The next day started with a really nice breakfast incl. eggs, ham and sausages … and naturally the conference itself. Zed Shaw kicked it off with great keynotes and James Tauber reiterated some patterns actually everyone who wants to build something with Django should really memorize. After James, Andrew Godwin convinced me that I should give South another try. The afternoon for me was mostly filled with talks by Paul Smith about GeoDjango and in general how EveryBlock uses the various GIS systems out there, and Simon Willison. Simon’s talk actually marked (once again) the absolutely highlight-talk of the conference for me where he ranted for nearly an hour about various design decisions in Django that turned out to be the wrong ones.

The conference as a whole covered basically all the current topics of Django with Honza Kr├íl speaking about his task for version 1.2, model validation, Eric Holscher presenting some ways of how to test your Django projects, Frank Wierzbicki giving a status update of Django on Jython, James Tauber updating his talk about the “State of Pinax” and much much more. So, I guess, there must have been something from everyone :-)

There was also about a ton of camera equipment, so I hope we will see some nice videos soon.

The sprints

Days 4 and 5 were dedicated to sprinting on various tasks mostly for Django and Pinax. Since I had wanted to get into Pinax for the last couple of months, I focused mostly on Pinax and also a little bit on django-piston

Sprint time is great ... also for sticker collectors like Jannis. And now we even have Bitbucket stickers :D

Within Pinax especially the new task manager of the cpc-website project_ received a lot of love like an attachments feature and a pastebin by Martin_ and various performance improvements by Stephan. Since there were tons of open documentation tickets and some other parts that hadn’t been documented at all yet, I used the first day of focusing on those tasks while the 2nd day saw some baseline Microformats support for the profile application within Pinax and Piston getting unittests with the help of Buildout.

Centrum Holdings

The location in Honza’s company Centrum Holdings was probably the best sprint-location ever: Large tables, modern furniture, broadband Wifi connection (broadband in the real sense), sponsored drinks, food and enough toilets. What else do you need :D

Well, perhaps some faster pizza services, but that’s about it.

The entertainment

It’s not like learning new stuff and coding in between isn’t entertaining but if you’re in Prague, you really should get to know some of the local bars and restaurants.

For the first evening Robert organized a party at a local beer bar, The Pub World. What made it so special besides the guests? Every table had its own beer taps and a high-score listing with entries for each table. I so want something like that in Klagenfurt ;-) The bar also provided 2 small buffets: One with cold, one with warn dishes, but both really good.

Beer break. Imagine how hard it is to take a picture of people in a beer bar not drinking beer ;-) (on Flickr)

The second evening had no event planned, so we all just went off to get some food and later on perhaps meet up in some Jazz bar. Getting the food was actually, despite out group being about 20 people IIRC, not a problem. With the first restaurant we found a simple yet good, friendly and extremely cheap place to eat (sorry but I can’t remember the name anymore). Just an example: A large beer, Gulasch (so hot!) with some dumplings and a dessert for only about 4 EUR! Finding that Jazz bar afterwards turned out to become an odyssey through the Praha 1 Stephan and I could at least take some nice pictures. But that jazz bar was really nice. At that time I regretted it at least a bit that I had already eaten. Some of the menus looked really delicious.

Finding a place when you have no clue where it is and or don't have a real address but a map can be quite entertaining. The sites compensated that, though. (on Flickr)

On the third day after the last conference session we all went with tram 7 to the west side of Prague just to end up in front of an already full restaurant, so we had to split up. Some could still find a place in there, some went somewhere else and most of #django-de with some friends went to some nice Pizzeria. Probably not the cheapest place in town, but definitely good :-)

Sprint days are mostly self-entertaining, yet on the 2nd sprint day we still tried to first find some cheap food and then a nice bar for some cheap beer. While we failed on both tasks (one bar even wanted 149 kc for a beer!!!) Arthur, Bastian, Jannis, Jesper, Martin, Philipp, Stephan and me had least had some fun in the Palace Cinema watching the new Star Trek movie.

What’s kind of weird in Prague is, though, that most of the restaurants close really early. The one we found on day 2 wanted to close an hour after we had arrived (i.e. 21:00).

Conclusion

I’m really sad that these 5 days are already over. I met a lot of people I had only seen on IRC before and we actually got a chance to make a small German-users-meetup on the 2nd day. If it’s possible I’d really love to meet all of you again in Birmingham and Portland later this year for the EuroPython and the DjangoCon. I really hope that I’ll be able to make it at least to one of these two conferences.

A big “thank you” goes to Robert and Honza (and everyone else involved with the organization) for making this event possible. It was great :D

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