Monday, July 15, 2013

PyConAU, Tassie, Aussie and more...

Well, I'm back from Aussie land !!

It was a blast and I had a great time in Hobart, Tasmania where PyCon AU was and spent a couple of much-needed days in Sydney on the way back.  Must see in Hobart:  Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).  Must see in Sydney: Opera at the Sydney Opera House (Tosca in my case), Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  The Bridge Climb is really expensive but it's totally worth it.  You can eat spaghetti for a couple of weeks at home to make up for the expense.  I'll do a separate post for food :).

Thank heavens my hardware arrived in Tassie intact and unscathed.  I set it up and did some initial tests with the hotel and conference wifi and was dismayed.

My code was timing out while uploading to Dropbox and when connecting to Twitter.  The wifi was slower than molasses.  I upped the timeouts (and kept upping them) and things sort of worked, sometimes, at around the 50 second mark.  Which was unacceptable - I could just picture myself doing the live demo on stage and saying - "Oh yeah, and now we wait for *50 seconds* while things get uploaded to Dropbox...".  I wouldn't receive the tweet on my phone until a *minute* after the video was taken.  Totally unacceptable.

At the OpenStack hacking session, I happened to run across Tim Serong who had a 4G connector and a bunch of us ended up using it for the hacking session.  Tim was great and offered to help me out by setting up his 4G connector during my live demo of my talk.  I met up with him on Saturday afternoon and did a test run in the auditorium and everything worked swimmingly!  Yaay!  I was so relieved.

On Sunday morning when I was setting up for my talk, I kept a sharp lookout for Tim and was slowly getting more worried/panicky when I didn't see him.  And I only had 10 min left - I was setting up the hardware on the stage at this point.  And then I saw Josh (?) come up with a 4G connector in his hand and he said that Tim had been in a car accident that morning after his car skidded on black ice on the way to the conference.  He had a concussion and was in the hospital!  I felt awful for Tim !  And he sent the 4G connector for me even though he was in the hospital!! I couldn't believe that someone who had been in an accident would have the presence of mind to send the connector through to me!  I was totally floored by how true-to-his-word Tim was and humbled by his actions.  Thank you Tim for being  that rare individual who can be counted on - it is truly appreciated and admired.

Unfortunately, it was too late for me to set up Tim's connector on my laptop (I had about 3 min left to start the talk) and a good samaritan in the audience, Scott, lent me his 4G phone hotspot for the demo.  I did a super quick test and then launched into the talk.  But, in the back of my mind, I was praying that Tim was ok and that he wasn't in pain.  I've broken my foot and been bed-ridden for several weeks with painkillers - it was horrible.  I hoped Tim was in better shape.

My talk went pretty well - the demo worked and lots of people asked great questions!  I found a typo in one of the charts that I had got from the Make website and I need to update it.  After the talk, I thanked Scott for loaning me his mobile hot spot and had some indian food (that's what we got for lunch :).  And I sent emails and tweets to Tim thanking him and hoping he was doing ok.  Poor guy - concussion and broken shoulder - I felt terrible for him.  I hope for his speedy and hopefully-relatively-painless recovery.

There were a bunch of great talks at the conference - on different languages (python, ruby, go), how python is used to forecast water availability, Ed Leafe's talk on using python to build your infrastructure (although, his demo didn't work), great lightning talks etc.  It was a bit exhausting but totally worth it.

And the code sprints were great - saw great synergy and although my devstack configurations didn't work, it was worth a shot.  And Andrew (don't-know-his-last-name), asked about serial debugging using the RaspberryPi and we set it up and tested it and got it working during the code sprint!  I think he'll go build some cool thing once he gets back to Montreal - I *think* that's where he was from.

All in all, it was a good conference.  And I met Samantha who was building cool mindstorm robots !  Yaay - RoboGals!