Lestrrat wrote recently that “YAPC ain’t over until you blog about it“. At the start of every conference I convince myself that I’ll write at least one blog post a day, but my plans often go awry. I have started writing this post many times but keep stalling because I can only think of so many ways to say the word “great”. It would be such a boring post if I just kept saying that everything was great, the registration process, the venue, the organisation, the speakers, but in reality all these things were great.
I will admit that I attended one conference this year where I didn’t actually register. The queue was just so long and I knew that I could always come back and do it later, I just never got round to it. But at YAPC::Asia the registration process was very efficient. I arrived about 30 minutes before the start of the conference and it only took a few minutes for me to register. I have been to the venue, so had no trouble finding out where to go, but there were beautiful signs at the entrance to the campus with a map to make it easy to find the main room.
I’m having difficulty in thinking of anything that was overlooked. I’ve been to conferences that forgot to put up signs to let you know where the rooms were, that forgot to hand out wifi information, that didn’t print out the schedule because they assumed everyone would be online, but not at this conference. I’m not saying that everything worked perfectly for them, as I remember that there were problems with the projectors on the first morning, but that everything was well thought out and any problems that did come up were handled well. I received a printed copy of the schedule in my conference bag as well as details of the wifi and a map of the venue. The main handout also contained useful information such as a section on how to get the most of the conference, bios of the keynote speakers, information on the IRC channels, and the tags to use on social media.
The conference had more attendees than any other YAPC, I believe about 670 of them, but it was only at the closing event that you noticed just how many people were there. For the most part the venue easily coped with that number of people. It also had more people helping out than I’ve even seen at a YAPC: 42 volunteers really did mean that there was someone around to handle any problem.
There were couple of quirky things about the venue. The shutters in the main hall seemed to have a mind of their own and would occasionally pitch the room into darkness. I did watch a few people stumble on the stairs in the dark. The main hall is also near the part of the university where musicians come to warm-up and practice. Not as a group, but as a bunch of individuals all trying to play brass instruments louder than each other. This racket could occasionally be heard in the main hall, and was certainly noticeable when I was trying to work in the hallway, but I don’t think it caused much of a problem for the conference.
There are also some other differences from the YAPCs I attend in Europe and America. This conference didn’t use the ACT system that is used by most of the grass-roots Perl conferences in the world. (Maki-san has written about his reasons for using something different.) The only thing I missed about it is the ability to see who else is attending the conference. I’m not great at remembering names and have often used ACT to go and look up a person after I’ve spoken to them in the hope that it will help me remember who I was talking to.
There was a professional photographer at the conference. I quite liked this. I know that lots of people carry cameras but it’s still nice to have a set of pictures of the speakers and the main events at the conference.
There were prizes for the top three speakers based on votes from the audience. From memory I think that these were an ergonomic chair, an iPad, and a MacMini. The keynotes speakers weren’t eligible to win, which makes sense, and I believe that a draw was taken and one of the voters also won a prize.
As for things I would change? There weren’t that many talks in English this year, around 7 I believe. I would like there to have been more but I know that since the conference is in Tokyo that the main language will be Japanese. I also know that fewer foreigners are coming to Tokyo this year. I would also have liked Larry Wall to have been there, I find it strange being at a YAPC without him.