Sunday, June 19, 2011

PyTexas 2011 Status --12 Weeks To Go

Here are this week's notes summarizing PyTexas 2011 organizational activities.

Road Trip to College Station

My wife Bonnie and I travelled to College Station on Friday to scope out the venue, and meet the local volunteers. Dr. James Caverlee of the TAMU Computer Science department greeted us and showed us around. Soon after, Jeremy Kelley and Dave Birch joined us, and we had a good brainstorming session about how best to make use of the space, content for the conference, options for sponsors, t-shirt design tweaks, and how to provide beverages + snacks.

Afterwards, Bonnie and I joined Benjamin Liles and his family for dinner. Benjamin works at TAMU as a web developer, and he had coincidentally just joined the PyTexas mailing list to inquire whether anyone had started a Python user group in College Station. His timing was perfect, as Jeremy Kelley chimed in that he had been thinking the same thing. With College Station volunteers for PyTexas coming out of the woodwork, prospects for a local user group are excellent.

The Liles made for wonderful dinner company, and they provided a lot of useful insights into local resources such as the city visitor's bureau, GIS user group interest in Python, and where we can get access to TAMU's spare power strips and extension cords.

Enough Info for Sponsor Prospectus

While visiting TAMU, we took some measurements, and Bonnie has drawn a nice scaled map of the space we have for registration and sponsor booths. At this point I have a good idea of what we can offer sponsors, and expect to have the sponsor prospectus ready soon.

Kurt Kaiser from the PSF has sent me the info required to handle PyTexas-specific donations to the PSF, and Jeremy Kelley has also mentioned that his company provides an easy way for individuals to donate the PSF.


Earlier this week, we determined that the t-shirt does not pose problems related to copyright or trademarks, based on general guidance provided by a certain helpful intellectual property lawyer. The design is a mix of original work and public domain clip art, so will not violate copyright. Also trademark is not an issue here, because we are not using Monty Python's name, or logo, or anything from them. To be on the safe side, we need to avoid any suggestion in our materials that we are affiliated with, sponsored by, or otherwise associated with Monty Python.

We are leaning toward maroon as the t-shirt color, since that seems to be the favorite color of Aggieland. I've confirmed the availability of this color with our t-shirt manufacturer.

Swag Bag

We're looking for ideas on this; it doesn't seem likely that sponsors will have an interest in putting their logo on swag bags, since they tend not to receive much exposure post-conference.

Jeremy suggested putting a picture of large wooden badger on the bag.

I'm still checking into pricing and options for swag bags.

Proposals, Presentations, Etc.

With the Call for Proposals due July 16, we still have several weeks before it's time to consider the formal proposals. However, in the meantime, I'd like to find out who is considering putting forth a proposal, just to get a sense of where we stand. Please contact me and let me know what's on your mind proposal-wise.

Professor Caverlee said that faculty may be able to offer presentations, especially since two classes in the curriculum use Python as the teaching language. We may also want to think about selecting presentations about content which may be complementary to their curriculum, if they can provide feedback on any pain points their students might be experiencing.

Please help me with recruiting speakers; if you know someone with strong expertise (or just opinions) about topics of interest to the Python community, or someone who is a lively presenter/teacher, please talk to that person about the possibility of proposing a presentation, tutorial, lightning talk, or open space session. If they seem interested, urge them to contact me about it.

Preparations the Day Before

The Friday before PyTexas 2011, we will need to assemble volunteers to help with a few things. I will be there, but hope to lean heavily on the local user group to help with posting signs, laying out power strips, and stuffing swag bags. We may have student volunteers as well.  Hopefully this means that those of you travelling from other cities can focus your effort checking into a hotel, rehearsing your presentations, etc.


We are still lacking volunteers to manage the prize drawings.

Attendee Registration Site

The registration site works, but does not yet have all the required functionality or volunteer administrators. Volunteers to work on it have not materialized. Jeremy and I need to have a bit more discussion to determine whether it will be suitable for use this year.