Khaos

Archive for August, 2008

The Imperial Palace East Gardens in the Sun

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Today, for the first time since I got back from Copenhagen, the sun decided to shine.  My house guests suggested that we take a walk round the Imperial Palace before it started to rain again.  It was really hot and humid outside but the beauty of the gardens helped me cope with the weather.  Part of the gardens appear to be a sanctury for all sorts of insects so I will probably complain about the bites on my arms for the next day or two.

Imperial Palace East Garden

Imperial Palace East Garden

Ninomaru Garden, Imperial Palace

Ninomaru Garden, Imperial Palace

Kamakura in the Rain

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I spent the day wandering around Kamakura with my current house guests.  As they had a guide book I ended up seeing places I had never been to before.  One of these, the Kaikōzan Hase-dera, is certainly worth visiting – even in the rain.

Gardens at Hase-dera

Gardens at Hase-dera

Flowers in Rain

Flowers in Rain

Japanese Garden at Hase-dera

Japanese Garden at Hase-dera

YAPC Signs

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

One thing that often gets neglected at YAPC conferences are signs showing the attendees where the venue is and where the relevant rooms are inside the venue.  This year at YAPC::Asia they had the best signs I have ever seen at any conference.  They were placed at the entrance of the university and in front of each building that was being used.  They were large, full colour, professionally printed, and contained a map of the venue and the conference schedule.

Signs used in YAPC::Asia 2008

Signs used in YAPC::Asia 2008

(Image copyright HisashiToday)

At YAPC::Europe, however, it was difficult to work out what building the conference was being held in.  I did eventually notice the following sign on a piece of A4 paper stuck to the inside of a door.  I really hope it’s the last time I see a hand drawn sign like this at a YAPC conference.

Sign On Door of YAPC::Europe Venue

Sign On Door of YAPC::Europe Venue

(Image copyright Jon Allen)

Messy Apartment

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

I rang Marty when I arrived at the airport yesterday morning.  One of the first things he said was “please don’t shout but the apartment is a mess”.  And he really wasn’t joking.  The reason I am writing in my blog is to try to avoid looking at the mess.  I got up early planning to clean but I am fed up cleaning already.  I have visitors arriving on Sunday so I can’t avoid the mess for long.

It’s hard to believe that I have only been away for a couple of weeks as every room is horrible.  From here I can see the dirty towels thrown around the bathroom floor.  The handrail, for the hand towel, has fallen off and is lying on the floor.  The wooden floor in the hall is covered in dust and hair.  And I can smell the overly ripe bananas that he has left out on the kitchen counter. I don’t want to go back into the kitchen as every dish is dirty and there are quite a few used teabags on the work surfaces.

I noticed that Marty has also been blogging.  Wish he had done some cleaning instead.

Yet Another Annoying Airport Experience

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

I am sitting in the Aviance lounge in Birmingham airport as I am flying to Belfast today to visit family.  My day started badly with a mix up over time zones and meeting times which meant I had to rush to get to the airport at Copenhagen on time.  The flight out of Copenhagen was uneventful and I arrived in Birmingham at around 10am.

At that time I tried to check in for my afternoon flight.  I was told this wasn’t possible as my flight wasn’t departing until just after 3pm and they had nowhere to hold my luggage.  I was disappointed by this as I had paid for lounge access as I knew that I would be in the airport for hours.  As I couldn’t get to the lounge without checking in I went and found a seat and finished a book. (That description really doesn’t highlight how difficult it was to find a seat).

Just after 12 I went to check-in again.  As I was walking down to the check-in desk I realised that the airport was really full of people and that the queue for security stretched right back to the food court.  I hadn’t seen the airport that busy since the beginning of the “flying with explosive liquids” scare.  Things didn’t improve when I got downstairs.  It was really hard to even see the check-in desks with the number of people standing around the airport.  I finally managed to get across the terminal to the desks and joined a queue that was more than three times the length of the one I had queued in earlier.  It took more than 30 minutes for me to make it to the desk but thankfully this time I could check in.

I then had to go and queue to get my lounge access and priority track security pass stamped.  I have to admit that I am really pleased that I had the pass to get through security quickly.  I only had to wait about twenty minutes to clear security whilst I am sure that some people had to queue for around an hour and a half.  These additional services cost me 17.50 GBP and it may have been worth that for the priority security alone – which is just as well really as it really isn’t worth it for the lounge.

The lounge isn’t very big and isn’t very impressive.  It does have free drinks and maybe if I drank alcohol it would be better value for money.  There are cheese and onion crisps and biscuits to eat but these don’t appeal.  At the minute there is only me in the room but it’s not overly peaceful because the airport announcements can still be heard but at an annoying volume where you can hear them but not make out a lot of details.  There is a TV showing the Olympics and a phone on the desk of the receptionist that seems to ring every five minutes.  (I think the phone is annoying me partly because I’m tired and don’t cope well with background noise and also because the receptionist sounds like he is having a lot of fun chatting to his mates. Actually he is now sitting with a can of coke on a soft chair in front on the T.V. and is channel surfing…)

It has wifi as I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting to pay for this.  It costs 6 GBP per hour.  The other thing I wasn’t expecting was that I can only stay in the lounge for a maximum of two hours!  If my flight it delayed I will have to leave the lounge and go and wait in the main terminal.

None of the things that have gone wrong are that bad and my experience through the airport has certainly been better that the experience of the passengers waiting in the horribly long security queue.  But all the small things combined have made me feel irritable and grouchy.  Here’s hoping the flight isn’t delayed.

YAPC::Europe – Lightning Talks On The First Day?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

When I first saw the schedule I wasn’t sure that lightning talks would work well on the first day.  A lot of them rely on humour and I had thought that they would work better later on in the conference when the attendees are more relaxed and have more of an idea what to expect from the conference speakers.

But they are about to start so I will soon find out if this works or not.

YAPC::Europe – Lunch Time

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I have noticed that YAPCs are starting to provide more food for the attendees.  I am surprised by how much they are able to do considering the low cost of attending the conference.  The lunch bag contained a bottle of water, salad, two rolls and a small yogurt based dessert.  It was very nice and it was good to not have to go outside to try to find somewhere to eat around the venue.

YAPC::Europe – Opening Day 1

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

At the start of every conference I think it would be a good idea to blog more.  What usually happens is that I end up with lots of unfinished posts in my draft folder.  I still haven’t finished writing up YAPC::Asia and I think that took place in May.  I have an idea that I might use my YAPC::Asia material and write a comparison between the three YAPCs that I have attended this year – but who knows if I will actually get this finished.

YAPC::Europe started this morning in Copenhagen.  I didn’t have any problems getting to the venue as I travelled with JJ and Barbie and Barbie had taken the time to work out how to get there.  I am really glad that I didn’t need to find it by myself as it wasn’t that clear which building the conference was taking place in.

I had already registered last night at the pre-conference event so didn’t need to do that this morning.  Not that it would have been a problem as the organisers looked very well prepared and the opening of the conference has been very smooth.  The wifi has been much easier to connect to than the one at YAPC::Asia or YAPC::NA.  In Asia there was quite a complex registration process to go through.  In America the login details were not obviously available and I had to ask Yaakov what I was supposed to do to connect.

The conference is about to begin as Jonas is calling for the first speaker.  So far so good.

Visiting Copenhagen

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

I’ve had mixed feelings so far regarding my Copenhagen trip.  I didn’t enjoy my arrival into Copenhagen.  The airport was chaotic with five different flights having luggage on the same belt as the one my flight was using.  I had to wait over 40 minutes to collect my luggage and then queue to get out of the airport.  I have had to wait this long to collect luggage before but never have it done it with so many people cluttered around the belt and with such uncertainty about whether or not it would ever arrive.

Yesterday I wandered around the city and it is quite beautiful.  I really liked the area around The Little Mermaid though the statue itself is not that special.  The weather is not great but it makes a nice change to have cooler, wetter weather.  It reminds me of Tokyo in early spring.

Food and drink are really expensive.  For lunch yesterday I had a chicken burger, chips and a large sprite.  This cost 150 DKK (around £15.00; 3,300 円).  In Tokyo I usually spend a third of this on lunch.  Actually, if I eat Japanese food in a restaurant close to the train station where I live I spend less on my main course than I did buying a soft drink in a restaurant here last night.

London.pm Social Meeting

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Last night I managed to drop in to the London.pm 10th Anniversary social meeting.  When I planned my trip to YAPC::Europe I hadn’t realised that I would be arriving in London on the same day as that meeting.

It worked out surprisingly well as I was concerned that I would be much too tired to go and see anyone.  But the flight was good and I had arranged to meet up with Dean before going to the meeting as I did think I would be too tired to cope with a whole crowd of people for too long.  It took me longer to find Dean than he expected.  He had probably expected me to have more of an idea of where exactly I was in London.  He also didn’t know that asking me things like “are you on the south side or the north side of the river” may as well have been in a foreign language as I am never going to know the answer to that.  He was lucky I had even noticed that there was a river at all!

I was pleased that I got to catch up with some people who won’t be going to YAPC::Europe this year.