Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Introducing our 2016 Keystone Sponsor: Heroku!

We organizers of PyCon 2016 are grateful that, amidst a roiling stock market and uncertain economy, so many sponsors have stepped forward to assert that their relationship with the Python community is worth investing in. And we are particularly happy to announce that our highest level of sponsorship has been filled.

That’s right — a Keystone sponsor has stepped forward: Heroku is our Keystone sponsor for PyCon 2016!

If you have attended a recent PyCon, you might remember visiting Heroku’s elegant booth in the Expo Hall. And many more of you in the community have used Heroku before to deploy web projects large and small — in their own words:

“Heroku is a cloud platform that lets you build, deploy, manage and scale apps. We’re the fastest way from git push to a live app, because we let you bypass infrastructure and deployment headaches. You just focus on your code, and we make the rest easy.”

Speaking from personal experience, when I helped build a Django app for a non-profit: it is dismaying to explain to a small organization how much work is traditionally involved in self-deploying a new app. An organization would rent or purchase a server, monitor its logs, keep it patched and updated, install the app and Django and the other Python dependencies, install PostgreSQL, give the app access to the database, and establish backups that they then have to monitor and archive.

All of that disappeared when I pointed the organization at Heroku. Their app now serves users every day, without their staff having had to spend even a moment worrying whether their PostgreSQL write-ahead log is working properly, whether a critical operating system patch is overdue, or whether the database is being backed up.

I asked the folks at Heroku why PyCon is on their list of conferences each year:

“We know that building the best platform for Python developers is easier when we can talk to them and find out what’s happening on the ground. So, we’re thrilled to be participating again — so thrilled that we’re the Keystone sponsor of PyCon 2016. We can’t wait to explore Portland with you all, and build some really wonderful apps and memories along the way.”

And how did Python itself get on their radar in the first place? Has the language been a successful choice of target for their platform?

“Python is simple and elegant — which is exactly what your deploys on Heroku feel like. We’ve been seeing amazing growth in Python on Heroku, and that’s why we have folks on our team like Kenneth Reitz, who can advocate for the needs and interests of the community. He makes sure that Pythonistas are happy with the Heroku experience.”

The Kenneth Reitz they mention is, as you probably know, the famous author of the Requests library. When not working on his open source projects, he has spent the last several years crafting Heroku’s support for hosting Python-language applications.

We look forward to seeing Heroku in the Expo Hall at PyCon 2016, and are excited that they have stepped forward this year to take on the responsibility of the Keystone sponsorship. Thank you, Heroku!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Open Spaces — plan a day ahead this year at PyCon 2016!

What’s so awesome about PyCon’s Open Spaces?

Open Spaces are spontaneous, grassroots, and attendee focused. While most of the conference is scheduled months ahead of time, Open Spaces are created on-site by the participants themselves! They offer groups the ability to self-gather, self-define, and self-organize in a way that often doesn’t happen anywhere else at PyCon.

Open Spaces are little one-hour meetups during the three main conference days, held in free meeting rooms that PyCon provides at the convention center. Some people reserve spaces to talk about a favorite technology, whether web frameworks, neural nets, or natural language processing. Academics and scientists plan spaces around topics like astronomy, data science, and weather forecasting. Other attendees schedule actual activities during open spaces like yoga, nail painting, and board games!

Any topic that two or more attendees are interested in, or an activity that more than two people would like to do, is a great candidate for an open space. You can find a list of sample ideas a few pages down in the Open Spaces guide on our web site:

https://us.pycon.org/2016/events/open-spaces/

If you have additional ideas, please email us at pycon-openspaces@python.org and we can add them to the list.

For 2016, an extra day to plan each Open Space!

This year we are doing things a little differently. Instead of the sign-up board for each conference day only making its first appearance that morning, we are going to go ahead and make each day’s board available the previous day as well. This means that each day will feature two sign-up boards, which will be placed closed to the registration area: one for the current day, and one for the following day.

This will give Open Space hosts and their attendees the ability to plan further ahead. Hosts will be able to reserve a slot one day in advance — creating a longer window for them to advertise the space and let other interested attendees know. And attendees will be able to go ahead and start planning which Open Spaces they want to attend the next day.

In fact, the very first Open Spaces board will be up on Sunday evening during the Opening Reception, the evening before the main conference even starts! This will give hosts a chance to go ahead and reserve a slot for the first day of the conference while it is still the night before.

Promote Your Open Space

We are introducing the hashtag #PyConOpenSpace this year. We encourage you to use it as you promote your Open Space and let people know about it. It’s also a great idea to add your Twitter handle to the card that you pin on the Open Space schedule board, in case anyone interested in attending your open space has a question or wants to contact you about it.

If you’re unsure about whether people like your open space idea or whether they would attend, we encourage you to use the new Twitter polls function and mark your tweet with the hashtag #PyConOpenSpace so those interested in Open Spaces can vote on topic ideas.

The committee is looking forward to all of the great Open Spaces that are awaiting us at PyCon US 2016!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sign up now to volunteer at PyCon 2016!

While commercial programming languages often enjoy large and spectacular conferences from their beginning — think of the elaborate JavaOne conference, staged barely a year after Java’s first release — languages without corporate backing tend to accrete their community more slowly and organically. The first conference often takes place without dozens of paid staff to dash back and forth behind the scenes and make sure that the event happens.

Instead, that first event is possible because of volunteers.

PyCon is proud to be part of the long tradition of events that take place because the attendees themselves care and are willing to put forward hours of volunteer work to ensure that new arrivals are greeted at the registration desk, that speakers are guided to and from their session rooms, and — yes — that swag bags are all properly stuffed.

If you are already registered to attend PyCon and are interested in serving as part of the team that makes the conference happen in 2016, simply visit our “Volunteering On-Site” page to learn about the ways you can contribute:

https://us.pycon.org/2016/about/volunteers/

The roles listed there include:

  • Session staff who run the talks.
  • Registration staff who help people at the front desk.
  • Swag volunteers who hand out the conference bags.
  • Volunteers for lunch, tutorials, and Young Coders.
  • And volunteers for the famous Swag Bag Stuffing event the afternoon before the conference starts, when the materials provided by our sponsors get carefully distributed amongst the bags that will be handed out to our attendees.

When volunteers pitch in, even a conference like PyCon with three thousand attendees is able to function smoothly. If you have ever wanted a way to give back to the Python community then take a look at the volunteering page, balance the commitment of each position against your own need to have free hours to experience the conference for yourself, and — if you see a role that interests you — sign up!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Registration is open for our Young Coders tutorial!

PyCon is excited to once again offer a free full-day tutorial for kids! We invite children 12 and up to join us for a day of learning how to program using Python. The class is running twice, on each of the two final sprint days:

  • Option 1. Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
  • Option 2. Sunday, June 5, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

The sign-up page is here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pycon-2016-young-coders-tickets-24319019843

The Young Coders tutorial was first offered at PyCon 2013 in Santa Clara. It was an immediate hit, and has been an important part of every PyCon since — including a French edition for the two years that PyCon was held in Montréal! Whether you and your family are local to Portland, or you are traveling to PyCon and bringing your family along, this class is a great way expose kids to programming.

The Young Coders workshop explores Python programming by making games. It starts with learning Python's simple data types, including numbers, letters, strings, and lists. Next come comparisons, ‘if’ statements, and loops. Finally, all of the new knowledge is combined by creating a game using the PyGame library.

Registration is limited — sign up soon if you know kids who will be interested!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

PyCon’s Sponsor Workshops

Now that PyCon 2016 is sold out, we want to highlight the events that you can still sign up for — events that take place outside of the three main conference days, and which are not yet at capacity:

The two Tutorial Days are a familiar and longstanding feature of the PyCon conference. Coding sprints are not only familiar, but were invented by the Python community!

But you might be less familiar with our Sponsor Workshops!

Workshops let a sponsor communicate with attendees on a deeper and more sustained level than is usually possible. While sponsors do tell their story and share what they are doing with Python through conversations at their Expo Hall booth, Job Fair table, and even through chance encounters in hallways and at lunch, those conversations are usually short. A workshop, by contrast, provides either a 1½ hour or a 3 hour session for attendees to receive a more thorough understanding of how a sponsor is using and advancing a technology.

In brief:

  1. Sponsor Workshops are free for attendees.
  2. They run on the two Tutorial Days before the main conference.
  3. They are offered by top-notch companies — this year: Caktus, Dropbox, Google, IBM, OpenShift, OpenStack, and Rackspace.
  4. You can sign up on our Edit Registration page.
  5. See the full list of Workshops here!

Workshops are an especially attractive option if you are arriving in Portland early and want to go ahead and start experiencing PyCon — or if you have already signed up for a few Tutorials, and are looking for something else to fill out your schedule.

We hope that you will find Workshops a useful way to connect with some of the companies who are bringing Python to bear on interesting problems, and increase your own skill set as well!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Startup Row: UtilityAPI won the SF Python pitch event

A post by Don Sheu, one of our Startup Row Coordinators

PyCon 2016’s Startup Row got our campaign on the road on March 9th in San Francisco, meeting with the local SF Python user group at Yelp headquarters. Six early-stage companies that use Python gave their pitches, competing for an opportunity to exhibit in the PyCon Expo Hall on Startup Row. The roster of candidate startups included Alpaca, Bauxy, Beansprock, Opsulutely, Watt Time, and UtilityAPI.

UtilityAPI won! They convinced the judges that its services for the new energy economy held the most promise, edging out their high quality competitors. Founded by Daniel Roesler and Elena Lucas, UtilityAPI provides easy access to usage data for customers like PG&E, ConEdison, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

An outstanding panel of judges selected our winner. On the panel were several entrepreneurs with successful exits like Bethanye McKinney Blount, Bebe Chueh, and Leah Culver. Kat Manalac, a partner with Y Combinator, joined the panel, as did currently active founders: Startup Row alumna Christine Spang founder of Nylas, and Jessica Scorpio founder of Getaround.

Our judging panel! From left to right::


Tonight, March 21st, Startup Row continues its road trip with a visit to Seattle. The local Puget Sound Programming Python meetup and Techstars will meet at Startup Hall on the UW campus, Seattle, to select Seattle’s representative to PyCon in Portland. If you’re going to be in Seattle this evening, you can join and be part of the audience!

Photo credit: Jeremy Smith, Startup Row's California Director

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Only a few sponsor booths are left

We are nearly out of booths! While PyCon does continue to accept new sponsors once we run out of Expo Hall booths, and those final sponsors enjoy almost every benefit of their sponsorship level, they are placed on a waiting list for a booth and can miss out on one of the most exciting ways to connect with attendees at PyCon.

If you haven’t yet applied to sponsor PyCon 2016 because you have been eyeing the larger sponsorship levels — Platinum, Diamond, and Keystone — but have not yet reached a decision, then this year presents a special opportunity. With the markets uncertain and PyCon sponsorship down at every level, we have run out of Silver and Gold booths before running out of premium ones! Here is what remains in our inventory:

You can snag one of these last booths by filling out our Sponsorship Form or can learn more details by reading our Sponsorship Prospectus.

If instead of staffing an Expo Hall booth you are interested in more unique ways of supporting the conference, check out the À La Carte section of our Sponsorship prospectus. One need in particular stands out:

PyCon talks featured live CART for the first time last year, and we received a positive response from our attendees for making the talks more accessible. As a recent and high-profile addition to the conference, captioning lets a sponsor put their name specifically behind the idea that PyCon should continue to expand the range of attendees for which the conference provides explicit support.

Whether you are able to sponsor PyCon at an extravagant level or a relatively modest one, please know that your sponsorship is important! You sponsors make it possible for the Python community to assemble each year at ticket costs that are a fraction of comparable industry conferences, and make conference attendance and financial aid possible for many who could otherwise not attend. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you in Portland!