Ted Leung on the air
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Wed, 01 Mar 2006
PyCon 2006 Sprints and last thoughts

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.

[14:33] | [computers/programming/python] | # | TB | F | G | 3 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
PyCon Day 3

Day 3 of PyCon was a short day -- things finished up around 3:30pm. I went to a number of solid how-to talks on topics such as Turbogears and Django. Unfortunately, I missed the PyPy status talk, which I later heard had some good content on managing an open source project. I'm sorry that I ended up missing that one. Due to some hallway conversation, I also missed the PyPy architecture session. This year's PyCon had far fewer programming language hacker kinds of talks. I have mixed feelings about this, since I generally find these talks interesting. However, it is probably better for there to be more talks on web stuff and application building.

The most interesting talk of the day was Martin Blais' talk on Nabu, which he calls a publishing system using text files. Martin is using reStructured Text as a way of marking up structured data (events, people, etc) in a reStructured Text document. He gave a timely example of a travel text file, which was to represent his trip to PyCon. In this file he had regular text describing various topics, and embedded in the text was marked up meeting information, contact information and so it. Nabu can process the file, extract all the marked up data, and then do a variety of things with it, including publishing a web page kind of view of all the data. While Martin says it's not a PIM, I think that it does some interesting things that PIM users might be interested in, particularly some of the 43Folders / life hacks crowd. Martin is very clear that this is not a "for your Mom" kind of tool, but if you are a keep it all in text files kind of person, and want to take things up just a little bit, I think it might be worth looking at. Most of the OSAF folks were in Martin's talk and it sparked some interesting discussions about Martin's work. The travel file example that he showed is exactly the kind of thing that we are aiming to be able to support using our collection system, so it was nice to see something that was similar in spirit.

[12:17] | [computers/programming/python] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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