I haven't bothered to mention it yet because I'm not speaking this year, but I'm currently at PyCon 2006. I've been really busy lately and I wasn't entirely sure I was going to make it out this year until late December, but I'm definitely glad that I did.
So far, Dallas seems like an OK place to have the conference. This is important because it's going to be here next year as well.
- Staying at the venue is quite convenient if you're trying to make an 8am keynote
- Catered food is way better this year
- Bigger and better spaces for the talks. Last year we had to use two floors of the Marvin center at GWU.
- Once you leave the hotel, Dallas is not terribly interesting. The bars and restaurants we've been to so far have been rather disappointing. The Galleria is no Georgetown.
- Transportation from the airport to the hotel isn't great. I had to take a cab. At PyCon DC, since I was living in NY at the time, I just took Amtrak and hopped on the Metro to foggy bottom. Cheap and easy.
So far I'm definitely having a good time catching up with people I haven't seen since the last PyCon, such as the PyPy crew as well as meeting a bunch of new faces in the Python community: Kevin Dangoor, Runar Petursson, etc. Also interesting is to see the number of Python folks Google has snatched up since last year: Guido, Neal, Ben, Fitz, etc. Microsoft has a small presence as well with Jim and Martin from the IronPython team -- there may be others, but they're not wearing company shwag like the Google folks.
I haven't seen anyone yet that I recognize from Apple, but there's an obscene amount of Powerbooks and iBooks here. Looking around the room, I see two thinkpads, one indistinguishable PC, 8 Powerbooks, and an iBook. Granted, at least one of the Powerbooks is running Linux. Even Guido is using one these days, but that's probably because Apple gave it to him. Apple really could do a lot more to help out the Python community (giving me a MacBook would be a good start), but they seem to be floundering a bit more than usual on their open source front since the Intel machines have been released so I don't really expect much.
Beyond the slew of new Python 2.5 features discussed this year, the most interesting news to me is EWT (one of the major sponsors this year). EWT is a very aggressive financial company doing interesting work in real-time analysis, using Java and more recently lots of Python in their trading software platform. The really interesting part is that they've found some really talented Python programmers, such as Christian Tismer and Richard Emslie, who are allowed to spend 20% of their (paid) time working on PyPy and other open source projects. If you're particularly interested in high performance Python computing, you should really get in touch with these guys. I honestly expect to see PyPy translated code running on top of a smart JIT such as LLVM running faster than the C equivalent in the next few years, and it seems that EWT is going to be a driving force behind that.