Preparing for PyCon

With PyCon a couple days away I’m trying to get ready. Partially this is doing things like laundry. But, mostly, I’m trying to get my mind really focused on technology. One would think that since I’m a programmer that it is really easy to get into geek mode and just geek out on all the cool things going on at a conference like PyCon. The reality is that it is a little harder than that.

In addition to being a programmer, I’m a musician. The thing that stinks about PyCon is that it usually happens pretty close to SXSW. The result is while I’m ramping up for a serious geekout, my mind is also thinking of a grueling 5 days of shows, meeting people and working towards creating opportunities for the band. Since PyCon is a rather low key event, it is easy to put more focus on my SXSW concerns than my geek prep.

This year is a little different. For one, I started thinking about PyCon earlier. This was actually really helpful as I have some concrete plans as to things I’d like to work on for PyCon. I’m still searching for a theme in terms of sessions, but that shouldn’t be too hard once I get my schedule card in my hands. Another difference this year is that PyCon was happening before SXSW. Last year it was afterwords and I was very much still in SXSW mode. This meant thinking about things like record labels, managers and booking agents more so than the multprocessing module and NoSQL databases. I still managed to learn a great deal and come away with some great experiences, but this year I’m able to make a much better effort to keep focused on geeky topics.

I’m sure other people have had similar experiences where it is difficult to get out of a certain mode. I know when I’ve looked for a job in the past, that mode of searching for work, selling your experience and skills and generally trying to network becomes addictive. It is the same sort of thing at SXSW. You have high hopes important people will come see you play, so you give them every opportunity possible. It is a ton of work and rarely is that successful, but it seems that every year there is potential so you still work hard and go for it. Besides the hard work, it can be a lot of fun. You can meet some pretty interesting people and see some great bands. Some shows are really hard to get into, so it can be fun to find someone to get you in or to find your own way to slip past the person at the door. There is always a lot of free alcohol, although when you play all the time, you don’t really get that many chances to settle down for a cold beer.

Likewise, you never know who you’ll meet at a show or in the street, so it is best to stay reasonably prepared.

All in all though, I’m really excited about both PyCon and SXSW. Both events feel familiar and more comfortable. This is probably the first year I’ve felt this way. I’m not taking it easy by any stretch, but my expectations are realistic and achievable. So, if you’re going to be at either (or both!) please drop me a line and lets grab a beer!