YAPC::Asia 2015

Last week I attended YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  I’m always impressed by how much work the organisers put in to make sure that the conference runs smoothly.  I have been to 10 YAPCs in Tokyo and every year they get bigger.  Back in 2006 there were around 320 people attending and this year there was 2130!  That’s amazing growth and a headache for conference organisers unless you successfully scale every aspect of the conference.  Just thinking about the wifi requirements alone makes me shudder.  There is no doubt that Maki-san and his team should be proud of everything they have achieved.  It was a great conference.

The venue is so important to holding a good conference.  Last year I felt that the venue for YAPC::Asia was too small but this year it was perfect.  It was large enough to be comfortable, but not so large that you felt disconnected from the other attendees.  The main room was beautiful.  It held around 1000 people, but since it seems that only about half the conference at most will attend a plenary session it was a good size. Given how many attendees there were I didn’t get to see everyone I know.  This is always a problem when a conference is large and if I had not been jet lagged I probably would have been more proactive at trying to meet up with people.

I have attended many conference and I dislike how organisers who are intimately involved with the conference forget that the rest of us have not spent months contemplating the venue and the rooms.  I have joked that for some conferences it’s a quest to find the clues to work out where the entrance to the venue will be and how to find the talks.  Thankfully at YAPC::Asia this is never a problem.  There are always beautiful signs, printed material, and even a video showing how to get to the venue from the train station.  It was wonderful that I could feel confident about getting to the venue.  I really don’t want to keep the keynote speaker who is staying with me late for the opening because I can’t find out where to go.

YAPC::Asia is the only conference I attend that it not in English.  There were a number of foreigners speakers who spoke in  English.  At earlier conferences I did notice that the English talks were not overly well attended but now they are simultaneously translated into Japanese, which really helps.  It would be amazing if the Japanese talks could be translated into English but it’s not cost effective to do that given the number of non-native Japanese speakers in attendance.  My Japanese is not good enough for me to easily enjoy a technical talk given in Japanese so I mostly went to hear people speak in English.

I enjoyed Rik’s talk and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the current release of Perl 5.

While the conference has its roots in Perl – YAPC stands for Yet Another Perl Conference – there is no doubt that the content of this conference has been expanding for years now making the “P” more polyglot than Perl.  I did hear a number of Perl talks but I heard an equal number of container talks.  I enjoy hearing talks from speakers I don’t know and on new subjects, but I do like more Perl in my YAPC.

I could write more but Maki-san has already written a great post on the conference.  I’m sad that this will be the last one, but I’m hopeful that something new will spring up in its place.


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August 30th, 2015
. . .

Summer Weddings

I am still travelling.  I’ve been away from home since the start of June and I won’t be home for a while yet.  Today, I’m singing at my cousin’s wedding.  I’m a little nervous about that.  At the start of the trip I attended my niece’s wedding, and my trip will end with a friend’s wedding.  Weddings are wonderfully happy occasions, and once the singing is over I’m sure I’ll have a great time today.

Marty and me at our niece's wedding.

Marty and me at our niece’s wedding.

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August 1st, 2015
. . .

Irish Summer

I flew from New York to Dublin yesterday. I was fortunate to be sitting beside two friendly people, Katie from L.A. who was flying to Ireland for her summer holiday, and an Irish man who was heading home after a technology conference.  Katie was excited about her trip.  She hadn’t done much research, but she had a smart phone with GPS and the internet, so really didn’t think it was needed.  She told me she would be happy as long as it was green and there were castles and distilleries. It certainly has those things, so we smiled and chatted about food, one of my favourite Irish things, and the beautiful places she could visit.

As usually happens I got cold during the flight.  But I travel with a blanket and while Katie was admiring my fluffy Disney blanket we talked about our mutual dislike of being cold.  It turns out she was the sort of person who feels cold when others feel warm.  She joked about wearing 7 layers of clothes when her friends went out in shorts and t-shirts.  The Irish man asked if she had brought jumpers to wear on holiday.  She didn’t know what a jumper was, as it’s not an American English word, so I told her it was a sweater.  She had brought one, but it was summer, surely she wouldn’t need them?  Ah, the Irish man said, so you don’t know what it is that makes Ireland so green.

As we were landing the captain announced that it was 44° F (7 ° C) in Dublin.  She said to me, “did he mean 44° C?”.  He, of course, did not.  It was cold yesterday morning, colder than L.A. in winter, and even cold for an Irish summer. Katie was horrified.  We told her to find a Primark and to buy some cheap winterish clothes so that she didn’t freeze.

It’s still cold today.  I have been avoiding the rain and the wind.  It’s about 52° F (11° C) and after my week in New York of average temps. around 86° F (30° C), I’m cold.  My Mum’s washing is forlorn.  It hangs through wind and rain until eventfully the weight of the water drags it from the line.  I have not worked out yet why she bothers and there seems to be an endless cycle of rewashing clothes that become dirty on the line.  I think that she is an optimist and hopes for sun, it is summer after all, but today that seems a far fetched dream.

Washing in Rain

Washing in Rain – but look at how green the grass is…

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July 26th, 2015
. . .

Dear J

Dear J, single of Manhattan,

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation tonight and your contemplation as to why you might be still single in your 30s.  I know you didn’t ask for my advice, but here is some anyway.

  1. Asking your date questions about themselves is great but you really shouldn’t answer the questions for them.
  2. If you do decide to let your date speak, it’s a good idea to listen.
  3. When taking a date to a restaurant you should know something about either the restaurant or the cuisine.  Describing guacamole as “the stuff on green sushi” and using your phone to look up the other foods does make it seem that you put no effort into choosing the restaurant.
  4. Making racist comments and offending 1.2 billion people is probably not a good idea.
  5. Bringing up S.T.Ds and not seeming to understand that you get these from having sex is just odd. (You really can’t catch one just by visiting a country.)
  6. First dates are not the time to give a lecture on how you expect your future children to behave.
  7. Making comments about the speed that your date eats, and your concerns about how they will look in the future if they keep eating like that, is not endearing.

Yours, K, who wishes she could tune out background noise.

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July 20th, 2015
. . .

The Search for Nessy

I finally managed to get to the Highlands of Scotland.  It was remarkably beautiful. I had been told it was like Ireland, but the landscapes are vaster, the mountains are higher, and the glens are wilder.

I sold the trip to my friends by describing it as a hunt for Nessy, but she was notably absent during our trip.  Mind you, Loch Ness is impressive all by itself and doesn’t need a mythical monster for it to be worth a visit.

Loch Ness, on a beautiful summer afternoon

Loch Ness, on a beautiful summer afternoon

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July 12th, 2015
. . .

Jet Lag in Salt Lake City

I’ve arrived in Salt Lake City a couple of days before YAPC::NA in the hope that I can adjust time zones before the conference.  This doesn’t feel like it is working well, but I did manage to stay awake until after 10pm last night even if I started waking at 4:30am this morning.  This would not be so bad if my head didn’t hurt and I was able to concentrate.  I appear to have my body here, but my brain is somewhere over the Pacific.

We held the last weekly YAPC::NA planning meeting last night.  There are some last minute things that need to be sorted out but things do seem to be on schedule.  I’m both apprehensive and excited about the conference.  This was the first time I was involved in the planning of training courses around the conference and I’m pleased to see that the Introduction to Moose course has sold out.

I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and there are a few people, who I have dealt with in email, that I’m looking forward to meeting in person.

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June 5th, 2015
. . .

End of Spring

Spring is over, but I did manage to get out and see the Cherry Blossoms.  It is the most beautiful time of the year in Tokyo.

Spring Sakura

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May 17th, 2015
. . .

Perl in February

March is, well, marching on and I still haven’t completed this post on my work in February.  I’m just going to post what I have or I will never acquire the discipline to post about Perl every month.  February was hectic and I could not keep up with my workload.  A large part of the problem was caused by me having shingles and not being able to work on Perl Foundation things.  I did try to deal with urgent things, even when ill, but it’s not easy to do and I had to cancel a few meetings.

Every month I work on the Perl 5 Core Maintenance Fund as there routine task that are carried out on a monthly basis. It has been suggested to me that I shouldn’t deal with these tasks but I find that doing them helps me with procrastination.  I imagine that every volunteer suffers from a procrastination problem to some degree and I help overcome mine with routine tasks.  Once those are completed I can usually continue working for the whole time block that I set aside.   At the minute we have two running grants, Tony Cook’s Maintaining Perl 5, and Dave Mitchell’s Maintaining the Perl 5 Core. Every month I read the reports, post the reports, and authorise the payments. This month we also received a new grant request from Ricardo Signes, so that he could travel to the QA Hackathon.

As well as blogging about grants I have also been posting to the TPF Facebook page, the TPF twitter account, writing for the TPF blog, and updating the TPF website.  I’m not alone in doing these tasks as many people in TPF have access to do so including Mark Keating and the marketing committee.  We even have some outside help as this year, in order to improve our communication for YAPC::NA, we are using a PR company to promote the conference.

The preparations for YAPC::NA are well underway and I continue to work on the beginners’ track, the master classes, and the Perl 6 hackathon.  I’m excited about the conference and pleased that we have a capable team of people working on the many things that need done to run a successful 500 person conference.

We are going to be taking part in Outreachy, which is the successor to the Outreach Program for Women.  The winter round is not completed yet and at the minute we have a intern working on Dancer, and another one working on MetaCPAN.  We have funding for one intern in the summer round and I’ll have more to write about it in March as the application deadline falls on the 24th.

Admin work is constant and not something I find I want to write about.  One admin thing of note this month was the calling of a vote of confidence in the Secretary of the Grants Committee. This is part of the rules of operation for that committee and this will be done on an annual basis.  My email situation has worsened since last month but I’m still optimistic that I can catch up on the backlog.

As you can probably tell from this post my role in TPF isn’t a clearly defined thing.  Jesse Vincent stated during his time as the Perl 5 Pumpking that he was the project janitor — and I know exactly what he meant.

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March 9th, 2015
. . .

Feeling Unproductive

February is passing oddly.  I’ve injured my shoulder causing the days to crawl along when I want to cook, clean, knit, answer email, or do anything that causes me pain.  At other times it seems to be zooming by as I’ve been so unproductive and can’t easily work out what I’ve been doing with my time.  I have read 9 books, but since only one of them was non-fiction it doesn’t feel like an overly productive way to have spent my time.  I’m taking a musical theatre class so I’ve been working on “The Worst Pies in London” and “A Little Priest”.  It’s been a while since I tried to sing anything this difficult, but it’s fun. I get to meet Mr. Todd at a rehearsal on Valentine’s Day so hopefully by then I’ll have learnt to sing “popping pussies into pies” with a straight face.

My shoulder is improving though or I wouldn’t be wasting typing time on this blog post.

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February 11th, 2015
. . .

Tokyo – Safest City

According to the Economist’s The Safe Cities Index 2015 Tokyo is the safest city in the world:

Tokyo (1) comes top in the overall Safe Cities Index 2015. The Japanese capital performs most strongly when it comes to the security of its technology assets: it tops the list in the digital security category, three points clear of Singapore in second—the widest gap at the top of any of the four categories. Tokyo also ranks in the top five for personal safety and infrastructure safety, despite suffering regular earthquakes and being home to the world’s largest urban population (38m, according to the UN).

It is a great city to live in, if a little big.

Winter View from my Apartment

Winter View from my Apartment

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February 3rd, 2015
. . .