Khaos

Summer Travel

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I’m not back in Tokyo yet but I have already started to arrange my summer travel.  It needs to be done, because I want to travel using airline miles, but at this point I feel like I never want to travel again.  I’m out of luck though since at the minute I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board a 15 hour flight.

Registration has opened for YAPC::NA and I do plan to attend.  I have also been trying to work YAPC::EU into my travel plans.  That’s proving a lot harder as I have visitors this summer.  I’m trying to decide if it will be worth attending even if I only make the last day.  I really do want an opportunity to meet up with the European Perl Mongers.

Perl Needs Students

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I’ve been reading about Google’s Summer of Code.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects.

The students who successfully complete the program will receive $4500 but the experience of taking part can be worth so much more than that.

When I was at university I applied for a summer scholarship in order to get £1000 (about $1400) for 10 weeks work.  I still remember how nervous I was applying.  There were only 10 places and the university had hundreds of eligible students.  My senior lecturer sponsored me to continue working on my final year dissertation project.  This was an application for the Apple Mac written in HyperTalk that showed connecting pathways in metabolic systems.

I got the place, finished the project, and decided against a career in biochemistry.  I spent the next four years working full-time and studying at night and just before I completed my  Masters I finally got the job I wanted – Junior Analyst Programmer.  It all seems like such a long time ago but I know that getting that scholarship made me realise that I had a chance at succeeding in computing.

One of the computing related things I do now is work for The Perl Foundation (TPF). TPF is hoping to take part in GSoC this year and  Jonathan Leto has posted a request on his blog asking the world-wide Perl Monger groups to encourage students to take part.

It’s impossible to know how many students use Perl.  But there is no doubt that we want to encourage students to both use and help develop the language.

Travel Planning

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It’s nearly 2009 and I’m starting to plan my conference travel.  I need to find a balance between conferences I want to go to and realistic amounts of travel.  I am tempted to attend Frozen Perl at the start of February.  I’ve read the schedule, looked at hotels, the city, and even checked the price of flights.  But I will be travelling in January and the conference is much too close to my return to Tokyo.  It would exhaust me to go.

I really like living in Japan but it’s so far away from most of the conferences I want to attend.  I have actually fallen asleep at conferences because I was suffering from jet-lag.  I didn’t expect it to be so difficult for me to travel when I moved here but I am going to try to be realistic in my future travel plans.

I will attend YAPC::NA and YAPC::Europe.  I will probably attend YAPC::Asia but at the minute I’m not sure when it will be or if it will be in Tokyo this year.

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)

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.

YAPC::Asia – The Venue

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

One of the most important things about running a successful conference is the suitability of the venue. This year YAPC::Asia was held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. I believe that this was the best venue that has been used for a Japanese YAPC::Asia – and not just because it’s within walking distance of my apartment!

The venue was easy to get to as it was beside a train station. I always prefer conference venues that can be reached by public transport. I don’t drive and I have had to use taxis in America to get to conferences that were held in hotels that weren’t close to anything. Last year at YAPC::NA I didn’t get to see any of Houston as the venue was outside the city and it wasn’t obvious how to get to anywhere without calling for a taxi. I understand that at the American YAPCs it’s important to have access to University Halls for cheap accommodation and that this restricts where a conference can be held. This doesn’t seem to be an option in Tokyo nor does it seem to be a requirement. As Tokyo has such an amazing public transport system YAPC attendees can stay in most parts of the city and given that so many of them come from Tokyo they probably just go home in the evenings.

Registration took place outside the main auditorium. This area was big enough to allow registration without blocking entry to the room. The auditorium comfortably held the full conference. It was a tiered room which I always like as I’m small and find it hard to see over hundreds of people in a room that isn’t tiered. Each chair had a small table though most people weren’t using these. I used mine as I needed somewhere better than my lap to balance my laptop when I was typing up the talks. The only problem that I can think of was that the seats were quite close together and I don’t know how comfortable they would have been if you had been quite large.

The other rooms were smaller but seemed adequate for the number of people going to them. The DeNA room did appear very packed at one point but not uncomfortably so. Additional chairs were brought in and more space could have been made by laying the room out without tables.

The venue was close to a variety of restaurants and coffee shops providing options if you didn’t want to eat the lunch provided. The beautiful weather probably also helped. The rooms for the talks were in three separate buildings and I don’t know what it would have been like to move between these in torrential rain – though umbrellas were provided in the conference bag. But as the weather was beautiful it was possible to sit under the trees and eat lunch in the sun. And the walk between buildings was really pleasant.

The conference dinner was also held at the venue. This did cause a problem as it couldn’t hold all the attendees. I’m not sure, however, if there is anywhere suitable in Tokyo to host a dinner for 500 people. In the end 300 people got to attend based on a variety of criteria such as how far you had travelled to get to the conference. I didn’t hear anyone complain about this but then given my limited Japanese this isn’t really surprising.

I suppose I should say something about the wifi. This was difficult to use and even though I have a Macbook I wasn’t able to set this up myself. Some of this was because the instructions were in Japanese and some of it was because of the security required by the university. It also didn’t appear to support the number of people trying to use it in the main auditorium. When I finally got connected on the first morning, after both Marty and Emerson had played around with my computer, I wasn’t able to stay connected for long. I needed to be connected as I wanted to help with transcribing and eventually the problem was fixed by asking people who didn’t need to be connected to log out. I didn’t have any problems using this on the second day of the conference.

YAPC::Asia – Time to Actually Post Something

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Marty has pointed out that since I am writing something that resembles a book more than a blog post about the YAPC::Asia conference that I should split my thoughts up into multiple posts. He believes that this will have two benefits: 1) I’ll actually post what I have already written; and 2) someone might actually read it!