The best part of PyCon? Definitely the people. This is my fifth PyCon, so I’ve had a chance to see the event evolve, especially with the fantastic leadership of Ewa Jodlowska and Diana Clarke. We were also lucky enough to work with them on the PyCon 2015 website. This year we were once again located in the Centre-Ville section of Montreal, close to lots of great restaurants and entertainment.

Mark Lavin, David Ray, and Caleb Smith arrived before the official start of the conference to host a workshop on “Building SMS Applications with Django.” As avid users of RapidSMS for many of our of projects, including UNICEF’s Project Mwana and the world’s first SMS voter registration app for Libya, it was a great experience to share our knowledge.

We also had a chance to work with future Django developers through the DjangoGirls Workshop this year. Karen Tracey, David Ray, and Mark Lavin served as mentors to help the mentees build their first Django app. It was wonderful to watch new programmers develop their first apps and we are looking forward to participating in similar events in the future.

The conference kicked off Thursday night with a reception where we debuted a game we built during one of our ShipIt Days. Our Caktus-designed “Ultimate Tic Tac Toe” was a huge hit!

Also on Thursday, the O'Reilly booth held a book signing for Mark Lavin’s Lightweight Django that he coauthored with Julia Elman. An impressively long line of people showed up for the event. Luckily, Mark’s around the office enough that we can get him to sign all sorts of books for us.

Look at all those people!

Friday and Saturday the trade booth show was in full swing. At the Caktus booth, people continued to line up to play “Ultimate Tic Tac Toe” and we gave away five copies of Mark’s book, Lightweight Django, as well as three quadcopters. We were sad to see the quadcopters leave the office but hope that the new recipients enjoy playing with them as much as we did.

We also had some visits from our PyCon 2015 ticket giveaway winners. We gave tickets to the Python community at large and to our local community groups here in North Carolina, including TriPython, Girl Develop It RDU, and PyLadies RDU.

Duckling, an app we developed to make it easier to find and join casual outings at conferences, was also in full use this year at PyCon. We brought along the app’s mascot Quacktus. He even had his own Twitter handle this year to give a bird’s eye view of PyCon happenings. It was great to once again use the app to meet new people and catch up with old friends while exploring Montreal.

On the last night of PyCon, PyLadies held their charity auction and Caktus donated a framed collage of Trevor Ray’s preliminary artwork and sketches that went into his redesign of the PyCon 2015 website. We were very honored that it sold for $1,000 (the second highest bidded item, second only to Disney’s artwork) and are glad we can provide support to all of the awesome work PyLadies does for the community.

PyCon was, as always, a terrific time for us and we can’t wait until 2016. See you in Portland!

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