Friday, September 18, 2015

DjangoCon US in Austin, Texas

Back in Febraury, I attended my first Python conference with my professor and classmates.  We met a lot of people in the field and attended talks regarding Python.  You might not know, but Python is a programming language that I've studied and used in the past two years.  Anyways, during this conference, PyTN, I met this German programmer named Anna, and she expressed her love for teaching women how to code.  She also runs a weekly blog that highlights a "DjangoGirl" of the week.  To be a DjangoGirl, you must identify as a woman, and you use Django in one way or another.  She said she was looking for more ladies to interview, so I gave her my information.
About a month later, I receive an email from Anna for the interview.  I filled it out and talked about my group project on UngMap.  About a month after that, another programmer, Lacey, emailed me saying that she was interested in the work that I do and to present it at DjangoCon US.  At first, I wasn't sure, but I put in an application anyway.  My talk was approved as well as some financial aid!

Before I knew it, DjangoCon was around the corner, and I was finishing up my presentation. I booked a morning flight out of Phoenix to enjoy my time in Austin.  In Arizona, they have this nifty "Arizona shuttle" that runs all over the state.  I booked the 2am shuttle from Flagstaff to Phoenix.  The drive is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, but if I took the 3:30am shuttle, I was pushing it for my 7 am flight.  I got on the shuttle and slept the whole way.  I arrived at the airport at 4:30, and it was dead!  No one was there.  The TSA were having a meeting so only two people were running the security checkpoint.  No one was at my wing except for the Starbucks people and the custodians.  I took a seat and tried to fall back asleep, but I just couldn't.  The plan was ready to board at 6:50am.  There were only 40ish people on the flight, so everyone was able to get a row to themselves.  I slept about an hour on the flight.  We arrived in Austin a little early.  I got off and ate lunch at a sandwich joint and walked around the airport.  I was thinking "do I want to get a taxi or try Uber for my ride to my AirBnB?"  I finally decided to try Uber since I've only heard good things from it.  My Uber driver told me all about Austin and some cool places to check out.  I arrived at my AirBnB and took a 3 hour nap.

After my nap, I decided to go over to the conference center to met some people and hang out before the speaker's dinner.  I forgot how hot it was and only brought pants with me...oops!  It was 100 degrees! I arrived at the conference center and signed in.  From my AirBnB to the center, it was a 25 minute walk.  I walked around and said hi, then walked back outside and explored the campus.  It was finally 6:30pm and we met up for the speaker dinner.  We ate at the Iron Cactus.  I enjoyed myself and met some cool people.  After dinner was over, I was a little unsure about walking back to the AirBnb because I was downtown.  I got an Uber back to my AirBnB and hit the hay!

Monday marks the first day of DjangoCon Us talks.  I wasn't presenting until 4:30pm, so I had time to go to other talks and enjoy my day.  I learned a lot in those 5 hours.  The conference was well organized and the food was really good.  It was finally my turn to present, and I had a better crowd than I thought I would have.  I talked about GeoDjango and had some great questions afterwards.  There were several people that wanted me to help them start their projects, but I didn't have a laptop with me, and I also wanted to see the other talks that were going on.

After the day of talks were over, they had an opening reception at a German Beergarden.  They had beer and snacks, and it was good.  After that, Anna, Adam, and I walked towards the capital and admired its beauty.  We then went to the Texas Chili Parlor and ate dinner.  The chili was pretty good!  I walked back to my airbnb and crashed.

Tuesday marks day two of talks, and my final day in Austin.  I had a great time learning new applications and meeting some cool people.  I received good feedback for my talk, so that makes me want to present again!  My flight left at 7pm, so I left the conference around 5 due to traffic.  The flight was full, and I sat in the emergency exit row.  My phone had a good charge, and I was able to use Southwest's free live TV option.  I watched two episodes of Chopped, and I was in Phoenix.  I caught the shuttle back to Flagstaff and fell asleep.  Brandon picked me up at 11:45pm.

Overall, I had a great time at DjangoCon US and definitely want to go to other conferences in the future.  Austin was cool, but really hot!  Next week, I am going to a GIS conference in Prescott, AZ.  I will update you all on that soon! :)