Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
This year folks from OSAF were around for 2 days worth of sprints. Jeffrey Harris had a very successful (I thought) sprint on vobject. This was a direct result of having the sprints after the conference, because most of the people at the sprint were not existing vobject contributors.
The Chandler sprint broke down into several sub groups. One group worked on a parcel to grab data out of 43 Things and integrate it into Chandler, one group worked on getting a very simple address book going, one group worked on importing and exporting Chandler data to VTODO and vCard (providing a nice tie to the vobject sprint), and there was also some work going on to try to figure out just why it is that Chandler is so slow on the Mac.
I paired with Ralph Green from the Dallas Pythoneers on the address book parcel. We've done a lot of work on the Chandler parcel APIs since last PyCon, and it looked like that made a big difference this year. Whereas last year it took people about a day and a half and a lot of hand-holding to get a parcel running, Ralph was able to get quite far with only minimal help from me. I've wanted to get some Person/Contact/Address Book functionality into Chandler (ahead of schedule) so that I could experiment with some ideas around linking web data to people and working with the social network that is nascent in your address book. So while what we did is pretty simple, I'm happy that there's now a starting point for experimentation.
This year's PyCon experience was different for me. While I did see a number of people that I knew, and had very good conversations with them, I didn't feel as much connectedness to people as I have at previous PyCon's. There are a bunch of reasons for that. A lot of people that I know were not here -- the DivMod guys didn't come, the SubEtha gang was totally not around, and a few other people were also missing.
I think that moving the sprints and the environment of the sprints had a big impact on this as well. By the time I got through the tutorial day and the 3 days of the conference, I was already tired, which made it hard to muster enough person energy for even 2 days of sprints (not to mention 4). Also, the sprint rooms had sliding dividers, which meant that the various sprints were pretty isolated from each other. So there was almost none of the spontaneous interaction between sprints that happened in previous years, and I missed that.
A final factor is that I spent a lot of time with Chandler people this year. The Chandler contributors are getting more geographically dispersed, so there are fewer opportunities for us to get together face to face. While this is the norm for open source projects, the OSAF staff has been centralized and is becoming more decentralized. This is definitely a good thing, and I see us taking advantage of face to face time just like the other projects.
I was very happy to see that PyCon was going to be in a single hotel this year. It did make it easier to run in to people. In previous years, things pretty much ended after dinner did, because people were scattered in various hotels. This year, people came back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby and various public areas.
As far as I could tell there were only two downsides to the conference. The first was that the hotel's wireless network was not up to the task of hosting PyCon. This isn't a surprise to me. Pretty much every time a tech conference goes to a venue for the first time, the venue's wireless networking get thrashed. The only real question is whether or not the venue recovers or not. The second issue is that I personally didn't care for Dallas as a location. Then again, I didn't particularly care for Washington D.C for the last few PyCons, either, so this is really just a minor complaint.
This post and the day 3 post were delayed because the iBook that I borrowed started freaking out the night before the sprints, and became so unreliable that I couldn't even get it to boot. Needless to say, this was pretty frustrating, especially since it hosed things for the sprints. Fortunately, Ralph had a computer so we were able to make plenty of progress. I just couldn't do much with e-mail or write any blog posts. When I got home last night, I plugged the machine in, hoping to coax it to stay up long enough to get a few critical files off of it. Instead, the crazy machine has been running all day.
Regular readers know that I usually write this post on the ferry home after some excruciatingly bad travel experience. If you're waiting for that report, you'll be happy to know that this year I got home from PyCon with absolutely no travel glitches at all.
Posted by Katherine at Fri Mar 3 09:19:38 2006
But there was also a strong feeling that the noise level would reduce productivity and the dividers should be left closed.
It was an experiment this year and feedback on the organization and room layout is very welcome. Personally I had trouble finding the correct sprint groups, having to open each door to see who was where. We need banners or some way of labeling groups -- that why I put the folding white-cardboard signs in each room, to be marked up/decorated.
Last, if as you say you were tired by the time the sprints rolled around, how could we improve that? If we put the sprints first, then some will be tired during the talks instead.
Posted by Jeff Rush at Sun Mar 12 23:34:21 2006
If people wanted the dividers closed, then there's not much you can say.
As far as feeling tired, I'd prefer to be tired for the talks instead of for the sprints. I need more brainpower for sprinting than I do for following talks.
Posted by Ted Leung at Thu Mar 16 09:25:15 2006
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