SciPy 2017 tips

After missing it for a couple of years, I am happy to be back in Austin, TX for SciPy this week!

Always invigorating and exhilarating, Scientific Computing with Python (SciPy) has remained a top quality venue for getting together with fellow Pythonistas, especially the academically-bent variety.

As a graduate student eight years ago, I was fortunate enough to be one of receive sponsorship and attended my first SciPy - SciPy 2009. This was the last time it was held at CalTech in Pasadena, CA.

The following year, in 2010, at the first SciPy held in its now usual spot in Austin, TX, each attendee got a bottle of delicious salsa!

SciPy2010 Salsa Stack

Here are some oy my thoughts about attending this wonderful conference.

Conference Tips

bring a sweatshirt -- Yes, I know Austin's hot, but at the AT&T center, they don't mess around and crank the air conditioning all the way up to 11!

join the slack group -- This year, there's a Slack group for SciPy: the link to join is in a pair of emails with the titles "Getting the most out of SciPy2017" and "Getting the most out of SciPy2017-UPDATED", both from SciPy2017 Organizers. So far at the tutorials slack has served as a useful back channel for communicating repo URLs and specific commands to run, signaling questions without interrupting the speakers' flow.

engage with others during the breaks, lunch, etc -- There are lots of tool authors here and we love chatting with users (and helping you become contributors and authors yourselves). Not your first SciPy and feeling "in-your-element"? Make the effort to invite others into the conversations and lunch outings you're having with old friends - we're all here because we care about this stuff.

take introvert breaks (and be considerate of others who may be doing the same) - I'm an introvert. Though I enjoy interacting with others (one-on-one or in small groups is best for me), it takes a lot of energy and at some point, I run out of steam. That's when I go for a walk, stepping away from the commotion to just have some quiet time.

be kind to yourself (especially at the sprints) -- Between the tutorials, all of the talks, and the sprints that follow, there will be a flurry of activity. Conferences are already draining enough without trying to get any work done, just meeting a bunch of new people and taking in a lot of information. It took a lot of false starts for me to have productive work output at sprints, but the best thing I've learned about them is to just let go of trying to get a lot done. Instead, try to get something small and well defined done or just help others.

Stuff to do in Austin

The conference already has a great list of Things to do in Austin, as well as Restaurants, so I'll just mention a few of my personal favorites.

Barton Springs Pool. Take a nice dip in the cool waters, and grab a delicious bite from one of the food trucks at The Picnic food truck park.

Go see the bats. The Congress Ave bridge in Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. You can read more about this here, but the short version is that around sunset (8-9pm) - a large numbers of bats stream out from underneath the bridge to go feed on insects. Some days, they leave in waves (this Saturday there were two waves, the first was smaller, but many people left thinking that was the entire show).

I hope you enjoy SciPy2017!

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