Python/Django developer, primarily
Published Nov 22, 2022
DISCLAIMER: All thoughts are mine and mine alone. They might or might not be shared by fellow DEFNA board members or DCUS organizers.
First of all: I did a thing! It was so much fun and I loved almost all of it.
In short: we needed way more online backup talks than I had planned. We had two talks per day per talk format (25 minute and 45 minute) of prerecorded talks, a few of which were from speakers that were traveling to the conference and could present their talks in person if needed.
What I didn’t account for was the possibility that visas would get rejected at the last minute, especially after we used up our entire allotment of 45-minute backup speakers (minus one online speaker who had to back out at the last minute).
What I would do differently: have a couple of on-site backup talks and give those speakers the option to have a recorded version that gets added to the schedule at the last minute (airing either before the day’s talks start or after they end) in the event that all the speakers actually show up
I wrote about what we need for 2023 already. Go read that.
Not knowing whether we’d break even, make some money, or lose a lot until about 10 days before the event made it really hard to know whether we would be able to have a speaker dinner and/or an opening reception. Luckily we were able to do both, although the speaker dinner ended up costing significantly more than previous years due to short notice. It was awesome, though.
We missed thanking a couple of sponsors due to copy/paste oversights and forgot to thank the speaker mentors (sorry, Jon!). We’ll have them drafted before the conference next year in the hopes of avoiding such mishaps.
We didn’t know that the online platform would cut us off hard at the end of talks, so our closing remarks got cut off early for the online speakers, and the in-person speakers had to deal with a few minutes of dead air between opening remarks and keynotes if they ended early.
Also, we need to extend lunch to a full 45 minutes if we’re going to have talks airing during lunch again.
Our online provider had some major performance problems on the first day. They had things recovered nicely by lunch time, but I hope that didn’t depress our viewership numbers too badly.
I rented from Stay Classy Bikes, which I can’t speak highly enough of. Adam Fast, our A/V chair who usually rides a trike, rented one, as did Will Vincent, Carlton Gibson, and Ryan Sullivan. Will and Carlton had a tradition of morning rides to the beach and back (about 15 miles round trip) and were gracious enough to invite me to join. It was a great way to start the morning, and Ryan joined us for Thursday morning’s ride. On Thursday, Ryan and I (the two with proper road bikes as opposed to city commuter/hybrid types) took a few extra miles and rode a little south to Sunset Cliffs, which had a stunning view. If I’m in Philly with a chance to ride, I’m definitely messaging Ryan and trying to join for a ride.
Another group which included Paolo Melchiorre, Mariusz Felisiak, Wil Klopp, and Simon Charette, took a rideshare to the beach on that Thursday morning and arrived about the same time we did, so they went swimming with Will and Carlton. Patrick Arminio ran from the hotel to the beach, putting us all to shame.
Another speaker, Sheena, and someone else she was with whom I can’t remember separately took a rideshare down to Sunset Cliffs, and it was fun yelling “SHEENA!” at the top of my lungs to get their attention as I was speeding by.
The slate of talks felt extremely strong this year. I had a few misses (putting some talks which drew a very large crowd in the small room), but overall, I was more than pleased with the talks and the deliveries therein. I think there was a pretty good mix of skill levels and topics.
My personal favorites were using Django for good, especially Dr. Heidi White’s talk on indigenous sky knowledge, Marcelo Elizeche Landó’s talk on mutual aid in Paraguay during the early days of COVID, and Erin Mullaney’s talk on fighting climate change. I want more of those talks, please!
It was extremely weird (in a good way) being sufficiently well-known at the conference that I was just “Drew” with no qualifier needed. It was like an “oh shit, I am stuck in this community now” type of feeling. It was very cool hearing multiple speakers refer back to my opening remarks from Tuesday in their talks.
Speaking of my opening remarks, caption my expression during said remarks.
Since my call for volunteers went out, we had about 18 people (I might’ve miscounted) sign up to volunteer for DCUS 23. If even only a third of them stick around for the conference, that’ll be a massive boost to our volunteer team for next year.
The speaker dinner was a lot of fun. Between the cornhole, the delicious food, the good beer, and the speech I joked that I was going to make Logan give, it was a really good time. I made it a point to keep the speech short, especially since I hadn’t planned on giving one.
This was my first time staying for sprints. Since I had to get back for my kid’s soccer game on Saturday morning, I only stayed for day one. I got the official Yak Shaver coin from the BeeWare Project and also discovered the 260(?) character path limit on Windows that is somehow still a thing in 2022. I had a great time and got some awesome Ghanaian chocolate from fellow organizer Noah Alorwu and some Polish gingerbread from Mariusz to take home as well as sampling some homemade jerky from Noah K (also cheers to him for taking a gift bag back for the James family!) and other delightful sweets from around the world.
Having White Coat Captioning back for in-person captioning was great. They’re an awesome bunch to work with, and it turns out the most internet famous captioner was one of our captioners, who has an absurd number of TikTok followers!
This was a hell of a lot of fun and I’m glad I was a part of organizing DCUS 22. I’ll be taking a small step back next year (I can’t be program chair, opportunity grants chair, and unofficial co-chair again!) but I’m not going anywhere. I’ll happily mentor anyone who wants to take on any of those roles, but if you try to take on all of them, I’ll call you mean things and run away screaming!
See you in October 2023!