Khaos

Archive for October, 2013

YAPC::Asia 2013

Monday, October 21st, 2013

There is a slogan at YAPC::Asia – “YAPC ain’t over until you blog about it” – and I have been meaning to blog about the conference since it ended on the 21st September.  I rarely have time to blog at a conference as I prefer to spend my time talking to people or listening to the talks.  I didn’t even bother to bring a laptop with me on the second day as having a computer is distracting. I do spend less time talking at YAPC::Asia as my Japanese still isn’t great and it can be hard for me to communicate with the majority of the attendees.  I did talk to a few people, but it was only a few compared with YAPC::NA where I spent most of the day speaking with people.

The main language of the conference is Japanese and this year there were only four talks given in English.  My Japanese does continue to improve but I still found it difficult to understand the Japanese talks I did go to hear and it was tiring because of the amount of concentration required.  I am slowly getting better at this.

Ricardo, Karen, Keith, Shawn, and lestrrat - picture taken by Yusuke Kushii

Ricardo, Karen, Keith, Shawn, and lestrrat – picture taken by Yusuke Kushii

YAPC::Asia was yet again a very well organised conference. I read on lestrrat’s blog that they had problems with registration on the opening evening but when I arrived on Friday morning this was running well.  I was later than I wanted to be, so the registration lines were short, but I was still on time to hear the opening keynote given by Ricardo Signes, who is the current Perl 5 Pumpking.  All the videos have been uploaded so you can watch Ricardo’s talk.

The conference moved to a different part of the city again this year.  It took me a while to get there but the Japanese train system is a wonderful thing and I decided that I would spend an hour or so getting to the venue rather than staying at a hotel in the area.  I really liked the venue.  All the talks were given on the same floor of the building, so the rooms were easy to find.  The main lecture hall was beautiful and had great acoustics.  There were some issues as the rooms were a little on the small side.  At times there was standing room only but it is always very difficult to work out which of your streams will have the most popular talk in any given time slot and for the most part this worked well.  The smaller rooms had desks and each desk had power built in.  Although I think that laptops are over used at conferences it was great that people could have power without the ridiculous strings of power blocks that are usually strewn all over the floors at conference venues.

The wifi was excellent and was run by a team of 12 people.  I’m always astounded by the number of people involved in a Japanese YAPC.  We tend to use much smaller groups of volunteers at the European and American conference.  But then YAPC::Asia is by far the biggest YAPC in the world, with other 1000 attendees this year,  and it does appear to run like clock-work.  I think that this year as well as the network team there were about 30 other volunteers involved.

The venue also contained food – as there was a convenience store, a coffee shop, and an English pub in the building – and was very close to the train station and lots of local restaurants.  I do prefer conference venues that are close to food.  It sounds really obvious but there have been quite a few times that I have ended up at a conference venue feeling hungry with no easy way to get food without having a car.

There were a couple of things that I liked that I think would be useful to have at the other YAPC conferences.  There was an official photographer at the event and it does mean that they end up with a set of good pictures of the speakers and the event.  I know that I would have found it useful for marketing purposes to have similar pictures taken at YAPC::NA.  The other thing that I liked was that the wifi information was posted in many places around the venue making it incredibly easy to find.  This was posted on the back of some of the chair and I think that it would be useful at other conference to post the wifi information like this and maybe also the schedule for the room.

I am never that keen on conference swag, probably because it just gives me more things to carry and I already try to carry too much stuff with me.  But I do think that the phone stand we were given will come in useful at some point.

YAPC::Asia Swag

Conference Swag at YAPC::Asia

I was sad to hear that the main organisers of the conference – @lestrrat and @941 – will no longer be running this conference.  They have been running the largest YAPC in the world for quite a few years now and we will miss them as they have done a fantastic job.  Hopefully a new team will come forward to continue their legacy.

Recent Travel

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

It’s 7:19am on a Sunday.  Why am I awake?  I’ve been awake for over an hour and I’ve cleaned the kitchen.  Cleaning and Sunday mornings do not go together.  I cannot stress how much I hate jet lag.  Yesterday I was woken up when a friend rang at 11:42am.  I can’t decide which is worse but neither are right.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I actually felt normal when I woke up.  But my brain has been foggy for days and I find it hard to be productive if I end up being awake at 3am as happened on Thursday morning.

The cause of the jet lag was a two week trip to America.  Autumn is a great time to visit New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  It was much warmer than I expected but the good weather did mean that I was able to spend quite a bit of time outside.  I can see why it’s called “Fall” in America as there were fallen leaves everywhere.  To me they were beautiful but since I saw people using leaf blowers to blow these off their lawns I assume that there are some problems caused by the great number of trees in the region.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

It was my first visit to Philadelphia and I was surprised by how much I liked the city.  I was only there for a couple of days, so didn’t get to see that much of it, but I liked how the city felt.  I had been staying in China Town in Manhattan and that was chaotic and smelly so I think I enjoyed the contrast in Philadelphia where the city felt fresher than Manhattan.  Of course Manhattan feels different depending on the part you stay in but I can see why someone described Philadelphia to me as Manhattan-lite.

Love Statue - the fountain has been dyed pink for breast cancer awareness

Love Statue – the fountain has been dyed pink for breast cancer awareness

For the first time I travelled in America by train and bus.  The train wasn’t that unlike travelling by train in Japan.  It wasn’t as clean, and I was a little unnerved by how little information you could get until 15 minutes before the train left, but it was much more pleasant than flying between New York and Philadelphia.  And unlike a plane you get to see the countryside as you are travelling. I also enjoyed travelling by megabus.  The trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh took nearly 7 hours but the bus was comfortable, had a bathroom and wifi on board, and made a stop at a rest stop half way through.  It also only cost $30 for the one-way trip.  It wasn’t without difficulty as it was hard to find the bus stop in Philadelphia.  There was construction going on outside the Philadelphia train station so it may be easier to find the bus stop when this is finished.

I got to spend a couple of days in Laurel Highlands in the Allegheny Mountains.  It was a great area to hike in and I was fortunate to be there when it was clear and sunny.

Laurel Highlands, early Saturday morning

Laurel Highlands, early Saturday morning

I spent a few days in Pittsburgh with friends.  I’ve been to the city many times and I always enjoy going back.  My friends do like me to experience new things when I visit and this time I got to see a giant rubber duck on the Allegheny River.  I think it’s leaving the city soon and I’m sure they will miss it as it’s surprising how happy watching a 40 foot rubber duck can make you feel.

Giant Rubber Duck

Giant Rubber Duck

I am going to be travelling again in just over a week and I’m not looking forward to adjusting to GMT but I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends.

Rubber Duck, at the end of the day.

Rubber Duck, at the end of the day.

Bear With Me

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

I have arrived back from America.  I’m jet lagged and my todo list is horrifying.  I really want to find time to write about YAPC::Asia, the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop, and the Perl community events that I attended but I need to tackle my email first.  I have been working on Perl Foundation (TPF) email related things for about 7 hours so far today and I still have 65 messages that need a response and 110 messages that I need to follow up on.  I have blog posts to write for TPF but there is something wrong with the blog and I will have to wait until that gets fixed.  I don’t want to think about the new email that I need to write in case my brain turns completely to mush.

At least today has been productive even if email is never-ending.