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This year I have the opportunity to travel to the conference of my choice and thus far have been looking at OSCON. For those who have attended, what is your opinion of the conference? Any tips/tricks? Any tips to effectively plan what to see/attend?

Any suggestions for lesser known conferences?

As a working programmer, my interest is pretty general; I want to learn more about up-and-coming tech that I may have a chance to use and/or use more effectively.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, Wayne M, Dan Pichelman, GlenH7, user61852 Jun 27 at 20:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Some related reading on stackoverflow: tinyurl.com/3qp4kvy, tinyurl.com/3lqbcfm –  16bytes Jun 2 '11 at 14:45
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2 Answers

I love OSCON. I don't know if I can make it this month, but if I can I'll be there.

My biggest tip for OSCON is take advantage of the hallway track. Meaning the impromptu conversations you have outside of the formal schedule. The point of a conference is meeting people. So do it. Sit down with a bunch of strangers at lunch, talk to them. The last time I did this met the CTO of Wikipedia. You'll learn a lot about an amazing number of things that way. Most of the people at OSCON are developers who know about stuff that you don't, working with technologies that you don't know. Ask them what talks you don't know about that you should go listen to.

More specifically I would suggest that you come with a short list of things you absolutely want to go to. Another list of speakers you don't want to miss. (Damian Conway is an example of a good person to have on this list.) A BoF session or two you want to make. And then leave plenty of time for the conference and talks that you'll learn about from other people.

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OSCON has a very wide set of topics and a very wide set of concurrent tracks. I think what you get out of it depends on what your interests are and whether they happen to be well covered by OSCON. I think some of the sub-confs (OSCON Java, OSCON Data, Emerging Languages Camp, etc) are typically very very good as they are more tightly focused. In general, I don't like the short mini-keynotes they have; some are good but many are more market-y.

O'Reilly does an excellent job managing conferences, things are usually pretty well run. The flipside of that is that OSCON is a relatively expensive conference compared to smaller regional confs.

As with all conferences, they are what you make of them. If you seek out developers with similar interests, start BOFs, go out to eat/drink, pair up to code, watch Twitter for events, etc you can get a lot out of any conference.

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Thanks for the input. I've already decided to go. I'll post another answer here with my notes after the conference. –  16bytes Jun 28 '11 at 15:49
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