PyCon 2014

I’ve been to quiet a lot of Python-related conferences over the years; from EuroPythons, to one PyCon UK, to two PyConDEs and most of the major Django- specific events taking place in Europe. But for some reason I never made it to the original PyCon. This changed this year.

The venue

This year’s PyCon took place in Montreal, Canada, in the local convention center and spanned a week full of talks and sprints. The whole event was enormous with more than 2000 attendees from all over the world. I normally don’t enjoy huge events at convention centers all that much mostly because all the convention centers I’ve been to so far were rather dark and unfriendly.

Tons of room to relax between talks (Large version)

Not so the one in Montreal with natural sunlight everywhere between the rooms and lots of space between the rooms to talk or just sit down and relax for a bit. For one reason or another I spent quite a lot of time there instead of in the session rooms compared with some other conferences.

The talks

This had nothing to do with the talks, though, or rather it had: Whenever someone showed a cool new tool, I had to give it a try immediately.

That being said, there was only very little talk about specific products. Previously (at least based on watching some videos and attending EuroPythons), there had been tons of sessions for instance about Django. This year it seems like the community finally got away from advocating specific tools and more going into the techniques and purposes and general problem spaces :)

I was also extremely impressed by the keynotes. Usually, these are the sessions I skip first mostly because they are usually the first thing in the morning and have been extremely hit-or-miss at other conferences. Not so here. Especially the talks by John Perry Barlow and Jessica McKellar were very inspiring to me, personally, and I didn’t regret getting up (reeeeeally) early each morning not to miss any of them!

And they were just the start of three days full of stuff to learn and people to meet again. Just to list some of the other highlights for me:

  • Getting Started with SaltStack by Peter Baumgartner was an excellent introduction. Sadly, it is still on my list of things to actually try.
  • Cache me if you can by Guillaume Ardaud took a very detailed look into how memcached works internally … and pretty much confirmed why I usually look at Redis first.
  • The State of Crypto in Python was where Jarret Raim and Paul Kehrer gave an overview of the crypto libraries that are out there for Python and introduced their own Cryptography library.
  • … which had an unofficial follow-up on the next day with Hynek Schlawack’s talk about The Sorry State of SSL.

And there are probably many more awesome talks had I been able to attend more and/or split myself to attend multiple sessions in parallel. But luckily, there is still pyvideo :)

The sprints

Sadly, I can’t really say much about what was going on during the sprints. My laptop had once again it’s mainboard replaced (this time in record time by the fine folks at the Montreal Apple Store) and the rest of the time I was playing only around with Python 3 to explore some of the stuff I might get when switching away from Python 2.

Sprinting with improv-presentations. (Large version)

But this was also the time when I got to explore the rest of the convention center… and nearly getting lost in there despite only exploring 2 out of like 7 floors. This place was just great :)

Social events

Dining with best-work-stories-telling. (Large version)

Last but not least: The social events. Actually, for me it was only one: The PyCon Dinner at a steak house near the old harbor. It took some waiting to finally be admitted to our special dinner room, but then it was a really nice evening. It even started with a laugh when the waitress told us that the room was now ready and she lead us through 2 floors of renovation work. I kind of thought she might have meant that a bit too literally.

What else

… nothing except a big “Thank You!” to all the organizers and volunteers who helped making this event possible. Next year’s PyCon will, again, be in Montreal, and perhaps so will I :)