Tag Archives: pyconau

On burnout, resigning, and coming back to life

Fun story: I quit my job last week.

Somewhat ironically, the first time I’m really writing on this blog about what has been my day job for the last 3-ish years is writing about leaving it.

I don’t have too much to say about my reasons for leaving, but identifying that I’d been suffering severe burnout for a few months was the tipping point for it. Over the last few months my output in most everything I’ve done has visibly dropped – not just in work, or my volunteer efforts (for which numerous other people depend on me), but also in the things I enjoy doing in my spare time.

My last upload to Flickr, prior to this week, was in June last year. Beyond things necessary to get talks done, I haven’t written a line of code in my spare time all year. The last useful thing I wrote on this blog was in January 2014. Those things should have been pretty good indicators, but I missed them.

When deadlines started approaching, I put less pressing things off to the side. I thought at the time that I was merely re-prioritising things in favour or more pressing ones, rather than completely dropping the ball on them. I mean,  that’s basically how it’s always worked in the past.

More on that: I’ve long used conference trips as a way to pace myself through my work; timing trips more-or-less equally throughout the year, so that just as I was starting to get bored and demotivated, I’d have a chance to recover for a bit. This worked pretty well for a few years.

(Indeed, getting away as often as I have over the last few years has let me forge lasting friendships far across the world, and to get really useful things done locally, particularly for PyCon AU. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that.)

So the pattern of feeling down just before a trip was there, just as it always was, for my trip to OSCON and PyCon AU in July this year.

The difference: for whatever reason, I came back feeling not much better than when I left I didn’t pick up the tasks I’d put aside, so they slipped even more.

Something had to give. I chose work. There’s not much more to say for the moment, other than that the time was more-or-less of my own choosing, and I left my job on amicable terms.

Now, what next?

First and foremost, I’m getting myself into a position where I’m mentally ready to run LCA2017 next year. This is probably the biggest undertaking of my life, and I need to be ready for it. I’m making steps to getting the organisation of that back on track.

I have roles with PyCon Australia again next year. Happily, my main role – raising sponsorship money – is now a team role, and I’ll be far less hands-on this time around.

If you’ve been depending on me to get something done over the last few months, and it hasn’t happened, I’m sorry. I’ve been terrible for letting things slip, even worse, I haven’t been open enough about my reasons for it. I really hope to improve this in the future. My backlog is slowly, but surely, getting cleared out.

Beyond that, I’m taking a couple of months off to sort myself out, and to make a concerted effort in figuring out what’s next.

I’m travelling for fun! Right now, I’m sitting somewhere in Far North Queensland, visiting my parents who are here for some reason (I’ve not seen Mum since February).

Over the next few weeks, I’ve got a few conferences I have committed to speaking at (OSDC in Hobart in two weeks’ time; PyCon Canada and Fossetcon in Florida in November), and so will be spending time travelling to attend those, but also taking a bunch of time off around them to relax.

One of the projects I’ve been putting aside for motivational reasons is a book I’m co-authoring on Android development, which I’m sure will show up (a bit more finished) in the future.

As for what I’ll be spending most of my time doing? I’m really not sure. What I’d like to be doing is the subject of another post. I’ll probably write it next week. If you want to cold-call me with opportunities in the hope that they’re relevant, linkedin is as good a place as any for now (lol), but I’m also around on twitter or e-mail.

A friendly PyCon Australia 2013 Early Birds reminder

We’re down to just over 20 early bird registrations left of our original quota of 80. That means that we’ll probably run out of Early Bird tickets before our deadline of Friday.

The big announcement to every mailing list I can think of will happen tomorrow, so today’s a great chance to to get in before the tickets suddenly disappear.

Early Bird Registrations start at $165 for individuals, with discount registration available for students at $44. All the details are at the PyCon Australia 2013 web site.

PyCon Australia 2013 needs sponsors

tl;dr: Grab our 2013 Sponsorship Prospectus, and direct sponsorship queries to sponsorship@pycon-au.org.

It’s less than two months since the generally excellent time we had at PyCon Australia 2012, but we’re already on the lookout for new sponsors to join us for our 2013 conference, which will also be held in Hobart.

As a community-driven conference, the generosity of our sponsors is what makes it possible for our conference to be as successful as it is.

To give you all an idea of how important sponsorship is for us, I thought it might be a good idea to explain what we put our sponsorship money towards.

Keeps our registration costs low

While Python is growing as a language used in industry and government work, the roots of the Python community are in science, research and the Open Source community. There are plenty of people who are active in the Python community and benefit from events like PyCon Australia.

For our two-day conference this year, we were able to charge less than $200 for enthusiast delegates, and less than $50 for Student Delegates.

In raw budgetary terms, our Enthusiast rate covers the extra costs involved with them attending the conference (the extra catering, a t-shirt, a dinner ticket). The Student rate actually loses us money.

Having a wide array of sponsors means that we don’t need to pass fixed costs such as venue hire, A/V equipment, and video recording onto our registration costs. This means that we can put registration for PyCon Australia into reach for more people who want it.

Chances are that students who benefited from our low costs will be back contributing to the Python community, and to our conference in years to come. It’s this sort of community building that PyCons are all about.

Attract international speakers

In the grand scheme of things, Australia’s pretty isolated. If you want to get here from Europe, you need to spend the best part of a day to fly here, and it’s not much better if you’re from the US.

A big role of holding a PyCon in Australia is to help connect the Australian Python community with the best Python developers around the world. Having extra budget to offset the travel costs for international speakers is one of the biggest benefits we derive from sponsorship.

Run more events

Having an excellent schedule of presentations and tutorials is a huge part of our conference, but having the opportunity to meet other delegates, and to chat with them in a less structured atmosphere is also really important.

In 2011, we introduced two days of sprints to the end of the conference, and in 2012, we folded the CodeWars programming tournament into the organisation of the conference itself. We’ve done our best to keep these events free of charge for all comers, and we couldn’t do that without our sponsors.

Help bring people to the conference

In past years, with our diversity programme partner, Google, we’ve run a grants scheme to help bring more women to PyCon Australia. In 2012, we helped to bring 5 enthusiastic women along to PyCon Australia, and by all accounts, it was an invaluable experience for them.

Next year, we want to make this programme even more wide-reaching. We know that there are many people, especially students, or people living further afield who can’t afford the trip down to Hobart. We want to put the conference firmly into their reach.

So you want to help out?

Great! I’d love to hear from you. Our 2013 Sponsorship Prospectus is online now, and any queries can be directed to me at sponsorship@pycon-au.org.

Memoirs of a PyCon Australia organiser: Part 1 (of no idea how many)

This past weekend saw the staging of the third PyCon Australia conference. It’s been a very long time coming, and the subject of countless hours of hard work by myself (chasing sponsors, arranging to fill a programme, and ensuring delegates attended the conference), not to mention my amazing co-organisers, Joshua Hesketh, Matthew D’Orazio, and Josh Deprez.

PyCon Australia 2012

We held the conference in Hobart, my home city, and the capital city of Tasmania – this follows two successful conferences in Sydney. Despite a lot of scepticism about Hobart as a venue for a conference, we managed to attract 240 signups (placing us somewhere in the middle of the first two Sydney conferences in terms of attendance (woo!)).

CodeWars at PyCon Australia 2012

The first conference activity, the CodeWars programming tournament, started on Friday evening, with teams of up to 4 competing to solve programming problems against each other on projectors. This was a great event, which let delegates meet and greet each other before the conference started, and we’re very thankful to our event sponsor, Kogan, for helping us to make it happen.

This year, we were graced by the presence of two overseas keynote speakers –– Mark Ramm, the current engineering manager on Canonical’s Juju project, and Kenneth Reitz, the chief Python guy at Heroku.

PyCon Australia 2012 - Opening

Mark’s passionate and entertaining keynote delved into the murky waters of product management, and showed that applying the tools of testing and scientific process to product development and evaluation was something well in the reach of everyday engineers, even those with small projects. A smattering of war stories from his days leading product management at SourceForge rounded the talk off. It was a great way to start the conference, and it really helped set the informal, enthusiastic tone of the event.

Kenneth Reitz at PyCon Australia 2012

Kenneth’s talk dwelled on his philosophies of designing libraries in Python. He’s the developer of the python-requests HTTP library –– a library that has taken its rightful place as the obvious way to do HTTP in Python. His keynote gave us some strong insights into places where Python can make itself more accessible to newcomers, as well as being easier to remain involved for developers who use Python in their day-to-day lives. Kenneth’s presence was a great asset to the conference –– through his keynote, and also by making himself readily available to chat with delegates in the hallway track. Hopefully we’ll be seeing him back at PyCon Australia in future years, with more of his Heroku colleagues.

PyCon Australia 2012

Our conference dinner was held at the beautiful Peppermint Bay restaurant near Woodbridge (some 30km South of Hobart); delegates were delivered there by the fast catamaran, the MV Marana. We saw some excellent views of Hobart at twilight – the silhouettes of Mt Wellington and the Hobart Hills were quite spectacular. Unfortunately, the river got a bit choppy near the entrance to the D’Entrecasteaux channel, which left a few of our delegates feeling a bit worse for wear. Luckily for us, the dinner itself was a fantastic evening of socialising, and finding out about other delegates’ interest in Python. It was a great event, with great food, and we’re going to have a lot of difficulty topping it.

PyCon Australia 2012 Sprints

There are countless people who made an amazing effort to help improve our conference, including our volunteers, our speakers (some of whom stepped in at the very last minute to help improve our conference), Ritual Coffee (who produced their own custom blend for the conference, named “African Swallow“, no less!), the venue staff at Wrest Point (especially Kelly Glass, who’s put up with my worrying about conference rooms for several months now), our sponsors (who helped to keep the conference itself affordable), and many many more. It’s helped make my life as an organiser so much more tolerable.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I expect that I’ll have a follow-up to this post, dwelling on what we did right as an organising team, and how we can improve for next year. Incidentally, the conference will be run in Hobart again next year – if you’re in a position to help out with sponsorship, shoot me an e-mail at sponsorship@pycon-au.org, and I’ll get a prospectus to you as soon as possible!

It’s… The PyCon Australia 2012 T-Shirt Deadline!

We’ve less than three weeks until PyCon AU 2012, here in Hobart, and we’d really like to make sure that you get one of our amazingly cool conference t-shirts. I’ve just seen the final design, and I think you all are going to love it!

So, if you want a shirt along with your registration, please make sure you register and pay by midnight tonight! Likewise, if you have a friend who’s been holding off on their registration until now, make sure you nag them until they’ve registered :)

Details and prices, as always, are at http://2012.pycon-au.org/register/prices

PyCon Australia 2012 Programme – Out now!

I’m very glad to be able to finally release PyCon Australia’s programme for this year. It’s one of the strongest programmes we’ve put together for this conference, and it features excellent content for developers in all aspects of the Python Ecosystem.

Here’s some of the favourites that I’m looking forward to:

Of course, there’s more than 30 other talks, including our keynote presenters, Mark Ramm (who’ll be showing us why Python’s strengths in handling scientific data make Python an excellent tool for helping make product design decisions), and Kenneth Reitz (who’ll be explaining how to make APIs in Python better).

There’ll also be our regular opportunities for lightning talks at the end of each day, and plenty of other activities. So why not check out the rest of the schedule and tell me what you’re looking forward to?

The PyCon Australia 2012 Venue Tour!

It’s been a very busy month for PyCon Australia organisation — not only have we selected our programme for the conference (more on that real soon now), but we’ve also announced two keynote presenters, and made some real concrete choices about our conference venue. Since as presenters and delegates, you want to know about where you’ll be presenting, it’s probably worth showing off the venue to you.

Wrest Point, Tasmania

As we’ve mentioned countless times before, we’re holding the conference at the Wrest Point complex in Hobart. As well as being amazingly experienced operators of conferences, they’ve done a great job at being flexible to our needs — right down to a late venue change for us.

Locals, and people familiar with Hobart will probably be familiar with Wrest Point — it’s a very prominent tower building, right on the waterfront in Sandy Bay. Whilst there’s a quite prominent convention centre at Wrest Point, we’re forgoing that part of the complex in favour of something different. PyCon AU will be operating out of the Mezzanine section of the Wrest Point Hotel — a 1930s-era Art Deco building, which, whilst old, is amazingly well-kept, and very pretty.

Derwent room 3 from speaker's position

The Derwent Room is our primary venue – it’s an Art Deco ballroom, and in the configuration we’ll be using, will seat around 300 delegates comfortably. It’ll be set up as our keynote venue for the first and last sessions of each day; but during morning and afternoon tea, it splits into two halls — seating 200 in the larger of the two rooms (and more than 100 in the other). We’ll also be using the Derwent Room in an open-plan configuration (with couches, an open fireplace, and views of the Derwent River) for our post-conference sprints.

Portlight Room from speaker's position

The second piece of the puzzle — the room for our third stream of talks — is the Portlight Room. Located at the back of the Portlight Bar (just down the hallway from the Derwent Room), the room will be used for our extended tutorials, as well as some of our shorter talks. It’s recently been renovated to allow for more seats — we reckon it’ll seat more than 100 delegates comfortably.

Portlight Bar

The Portlight Bar itself, complete with open fireplace, will be our haven for caffeine addicts — our Espresso Bar, sponsored by Secret Lab, will be pulling shots for delegates right throughout both conference days; you’ll also find a selection of other drinks at morning and afternoon tea time. This will also be where we put our conference registration desk.

Wrest Point hotel hallways - hallway track and mingling

A great tech conference needs a great hallway track; and a good hallway track needs good hallways. Luckily, we have these too! There’s ample couches and space to mingle with other delegates around the conference hallways.

Riviera Room (Hacking Space)

Finally, we’ve set aside a room for use as an open space — we’ll have couches, as well as desks available to let you hack and work on slides to your heart’s content. Or if you want to hold an impromptu talk, we’ll make sure that you can do this here too!

Boardwalk Gallery

Boardwalk Gallery

The final venue to look at is the Boardwalk Gallery — it’s part of the convention centre section of Wrest Point, and it’ll be where we’re holding the CodeWars tournament (which, by the way, is now being sponsored by Kogan). It’s a large, open-plan space, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the Derwent river, which is less than 5 metres away.

So that’s it — our venues for PyCon Australia. If you want to see the full set of venue photos, including plenty of extra angles from each of our conference spaces, you can find it on Flickr. Got any questions? Feel free to ask!

More from Bruce…

Hello! Have you missed me? It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on what’s happening in the world of PyCon Australia, so I figure it’s probably about time we did that. And it’s good that I’m doing so, because a lot of things have happened since the last time I did so!

Talks, talks, and more talks

Our Call for Proposals closed its doors on Friday 4 May, and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the level of response that we’ve got from Python developers around Australia and the rest of the world. We received 59 proposals to speak, across three categories of presentation, which is far and away the biggest response this conference has had in its short history. So, to all of you who proposed presentations, give yourselves a pat on the back.

To put this into perspective — we have approximately 30 positions that we can fit presentations into. Our review team (who are, by the way, doing an incredibly awesome job) have the mammoth task of figuring out which talks will actually make it into the conference: they’ll need to cull approximately half of the proposals that we’ve received. It’s something that we really weren’t expecting, but I think the review team are up to the task.

With this in mind, it’s going to take us a few days more than expected to sort through the proposals, and we won’t be meeting our deadline of 18 May for sending out notifications. It won’t be too much later than that, but we still apologise for the delay. If you did submit a talk, don’t worry too much about missing out on Early Bird registration rates — we’ll be extending Early Bird pricing through to June 30 for everyone who has submitted a talk. I hope this is OK by you!

We want you to come to our conference

And the best way to make sure that you can actually come to the conference is by signing up for our Early Bird registrations! These have been open for just over two weeks now; and with three weeks left to go, just over a third of our available early bird tickets have been sold. Our early bird registrations represent a substantial discount on our normal registration rates, and they also guarantee you a spot at our conference dinner (which is both space-limited, and is seriously not to be missed).

Early bird regos are available for the first 60 Enthusiast or Professional tickets sold; all the relevant info is at our website.

… and that means all of you!

We’ll be reprising the very successful gender diversity grants programme that PyCon Australia launched with Google last year; in a much-expanded form. Last year these grants helped many deserving women attend the conference with subsidised registration, and some travel allowance. This year, the grants programme will offer travel assistance to many more deserving female delegates. We’ll reveal more details later, but needless to say, we’re very excited.


Well, that’s it for now, I hope you’re as excited about the conference as I am. It’s shaping up to be really quite special, and I can’t wait to share more of our plans with you. See you in August, and get registering!

PyCon Australia early bird registrations now open!

For fear of spamming EVERYWHERE with the news, I include just the tl;dr:

tl;dr: PyCon Australia early bird registrations are now open! Find out more at http://2012.pycon-au.org/register/prices, including details of our accommodation programme.

The full media release on the opening of registration can be found at http://2012.pycon-au.org/media/news/15

Hope we see you all registered soon!