A Few Tips for OSCON Attendees

If you’re attending the 10th Annual Open Source Convention, I’ve compiled just a few tips for you on this, “day 0” of the event:

  • Don’t check bags. Everything is slower if you check bags, and if you’re packing more than three shirts, you’re crazy, because if history is any indicator, you’re going to be bombarded with shirts over the course of the week. One maximum size (22″ x 14″ + 9″) suitcase, and a bookbag with a laptop pocket is all I brought, and I’m confident I’ll have all I need. I’ll report back if things change 🙂
  • Request a room away from the ice machine. They can be loud. This year my room is the last room at the end of a long hallway. Ahhhhhhhh….
  • Don’t bring toiletries of any kind: you can’t bring a lot of them on board, and I’d rather just avoid it altogether and buy stuff when I get to my destination. Don’t use the Hotel store though – there’s a Dollar store about 2 blocks from the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel (on the back end of the Lloyd Center mall), and they probably have everything you’ll need. If not, walk another block north to the Safeway, and you can get anything, though I didn’t find any travel-sized stuff.
  • Show up to registration early: I’m leaving shortly for registration. Registration moves pretty quickly even if you go on Monday morning, but on Sunday night (from 5-7pm) there’s a nice, jovial, laid-back mood around the registration areas.
  • When you’re in Portland, know that you’re in an area that is something of a mecca for beer. Even if you don’t like beer, I urge you to join friends and at least have a look at the beers available. You’re in an area where even the hotel bar has an ok beer selection. Saying you don’t like beer is like saying you don’t like food. If “beer” to you means Coors Light (or similar), you have no idea what beer is – but that’s ok, because you’re now in a place that can grant you a PhD in beer snobbery in a matter of a weekend. Really. Take advantage of it!! (a hint: many people who “don’t like beer” really just don’t like the bitterness that comes from hops. Ask a bartender for a sample of their finest wheat beer. I’ll bet you’ll be hooked).
  • Don’t stay in your hotel room if you can help it. Engage. Look at the whiteboard that is probably in the registration area as I type this. Find the conference web site, irc channels, wikis, and everything else that you can. 75% of the value of coming to OSCON is finding and meeting people you’ll be in contact with well after you leave. It’s a commercial conference, yes — but it’s a community atmosphere.
  • Plan your day. You can try to plan everything you’re going to attend before you get here, but it probably won’t work very well, because you’ll inevitably hear someone talking about something else and decide to attend that instead. What might work better is if you try to plan the night before — but not after the parties — probably sometime between the last session of the day and dinner. At least have an idea what you’re doing the next day, because parsing the program on-the-fly is, imho, difficult, especially when ten people you know walk by and say hi and stuff.
  • Try to plan lunch in the city. This can be a little difficult, but you can hop on the light rail for free as soon as the conference breaks for lunch, and be downtown in no time. Last time I attended, I only made it out for two lunches downtown, and I’m kind of a foodie, so I would’ve liked to sample more of the local faire. Try to keep away from the chains (you can get that at home) and be adventurous!!