Archive for the 'YAPC::Asia' Category

YAPC::Asia 2015

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Last week I attended YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  I’m always impressed by how much work the organisers put in to make sure that the conference runs smoothly.  I have been to 10 YAPCs in Tokyo and every year they get bigger.  Back in 2006 there were around 320 people attending and this year there was 2130!  That’s amazing growth and a headache for conference organisers unless you successfully scale every aspect of the conference.  Just thinking about the wifi requirements alone makes me shudder.  There is no doubt that Maki-san and his team should be proud of everything they have achieved.  It was a great conference.

The venue is so important to holding a good conference.  Last year I felt that the venue for YAPC::Asia was too small but this year it was perfect.  It was large enough to be comfortable, but not so large that you felt disconnected from the other attendees.  The main room was beautiful.  It held around 1000 people, but since it seems that only about half the conference at most will attend a plenary session it was a good size. Given how many attendees there were I didn’t get to see everyone I know.  This is always a problem when a conference is large and if I had not been jet lagged I probably would have been more proactive at trying to meet up with people.

I have attended many conference and I dislike how organisers who are intimately involved with the conference forget that the rest of us have not spent months contemplating the venue and the rooms.  I have joked that for some conferences it’s a quest to find the clues to work out where the entrance to the venue will be and how to find the talks.  Thankfully at YAPC::Asia this is never a problem.  There are always beautiful signs, printed material, and even a video showing how to get to the venue from the train station.  It was wonderful that I could feel confident about getting to the venue.  I really don’t want to keep the keynote speaker who is staying with me late for the opening because I can’t find out where to go.

YAPC::Asia is the only conference I attend that it not in English.  There were a number of foreigners speakers who spoke in  English.  At earlier conferences I did notice that the English talks were not overly well attended but now they are simultaneously translated into Japanese, which really helps.  It would be amazing if the Japanese talks could be translated into English but it’s not cost effective to do that given the number of non-native Japanese speakers in attendance.  My Japanese is not good enough for me to easily enjoy a technical talk given in Japanese so I mostly went to hear people speak in English.

I enjoyed Rik’s talk and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the current release of Perl 5.

While the conference has its roots in Perl – YAPC stands for Yet Another Perl Conference – there is no doubt that the content of this conference has been expanding for years now making the “P” more polyglot than Perl.  I did hear a number of Perl talks but I heard an equal number of container talks.  I enjoy hearing talks from speakers I don’t know and on new subjects, but I do like more Perl in my YAPC.

I could write more but Maki-san has already written a great post on the conference.  I’m sad that this will be the last one, but I’m hopeful that something new will spring up in its place.


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.

Perl Travel

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Next week I will be attending YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  It’s going to be the biggest YAPC that’s ever been held with 1000 people attending.  When I tried to buy a ticket in August it was already sold out so I’ve bought a ticket off a friend so I can attend!  The conference is mostly going to be in Japanese but there will be a few talks in English and I’m looking forward to hearing Rik’s keynote.  My Japanese has improved in the past year but I will still find it difficult to understand the talks and it’s tiring concentrating on Japanese so I won’t be able to listen to a whole days worth of talks in the language.

I’ll be travelling to America towards the end of September and I’m hoping to catch up with Perl Mongers in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City.  I am also hoping to speak at the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop so it would be useful if I actually managed to write a talk proposal for this…

In November I will be in Europe where I should manage to catch up with my friends at  I’m not going to make it to the London Perl Workshop though as I had to fly back to Japan before that as I have a Japanese exam on the 1st December.

Missing YAPC::EU

Monday, August 12th, 2013

For the first time since I started attending YAPC::EU in 2001 I’m going to miss the yearly conference.  I’ve been watching the tweets and status updates of people arriving in Kyiv with mixed feelings.  It’s expensive getting from Japan to Europe.  I’ve been lucky that in previous years there have been family events in Europe around the same time as the conference making it easier to justify the expense.  But Ukraine is quite far from my family and not convenient to get to from Tokyo.

I’ve been living in Tokyo for nearly 7 years now and whilst I really enjoy YAPC::Asia it doesn’t feel like my home conference to me.  I imagine that’s because I see YAPC::EU as an opportunity to catch up with friends.  One of my friends called it “the family reunion” aspect of YAPC, which is incredibly important to the people who attend these conferences regularly.  This year I’ll read about the conference from a distance and miss my friends.

YAPC::Asia 2012 – Tokyo

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Last week I went to YAPC::Asia in Tokyo. One of the many good things about this conference is the amount of blogging that happens around it, but I have been finding it difficult to think of anything to write. This was the seventh YAPC::Asia that I have attended and the conferences have been incredibly consistent. Having a core group of people who are involved in the conference every year does mean that some things just work. The registration is efficient, the signs are wonderful, and the talk schedule runs like clockwork.

There were a number of things that I really liked. This conference, like the other YAPC conferences, is very cheap to attend. My “two day pass with t-shirt” cost me 5,000 円 (40 GBP, 64 USD). But it was also possible to become an individual sponsor of the conference by buying a ticket that started at 10,000 円 (79 GBP, 127 USD). I think that this is a great way to show support and help with the conference costs. These sponsors also received a special t-shirt and a conference mug.

YAPC::Asia Individual Sponsor T-shirt

The registration process was so well organised that having another category of people registering didn’t cause any problems.  Making everything look so easy has to be a combination of the experience of the organisers and also the fact that there were 43 people helping out with this conference.  I know that when I was involved in running a European conference that we maybe had 10 people volunteering during the event.  Mind you, this YAPC in Asia was a much bigger event with 798 attendees.

There was also a professional photographer at the event.  This means that there are now good quality photographs of all the speakers and of the general conference that are nice to have but can also be used in the creation of promotional material or to show future sponsors.

YAPC Day 1 - On Arrival at the Venue

It’s not the photographers fault that I was pulling silly faces early in the morning.

I do like that there are prizes for the top three talks.  I believe this year that the third prize was a set of books, the second prize was funding to attend three local Perl Monger events in Japan, and the first prize was funding to travel to either YAPC::NA or YAPC::EU.  The attendees of the conference use a web-based system to pick the best talks.

It was also the first time that I have seen a Lightning Talkathon.  My Japanese language skills are not good enough for me to have quite worked it out on my own.  I could see that a group of people were giving lightning talks but my first thought was that it was an area that allowed people to practice their talks before giving these before the entire conference.  It turned out to be a mini-conference running inside the main one where all the talks were lightning talks.  It was not as well attended as the main sessions but there were still a fair number of people involved and it is certainly an interesting concept.

Larry Wall was the opening keynote speaker, so I’ll finish with a quote from his talk:

There are many computer languages in the the world and they all they think they  are perfect.  With Perl 6 we are not trying to make it perfect, but right next to perfect, so the next generation can make it perfect. 

Larry Wall

Larry Wall, Day 2

YAPC::Asia – Tokyo 2012

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

I have just bought a ticket to YAPC::Asia which is taking place in Tokyo from the 27th to the 29th of September.  I would suggest that if you want to attend that you buy your ticket as soon as possible.  Last year, I completely forget to do this and had to write to the organisers and ask for a ticket after the conference had sold out.  And since it sells out every year, I imagine that it will sell out this year too.


Friday, April 27th, 2012

I have finally booked flights for my summer travel.  I start travelling next week and will be away from home for 14 out of the next 21 weeks.  I have booked 20 flights and plan to be in Seoul, Pittsburgh, Rome, Chicago, Madison, Amsterdam, Belfast, Frankfurt, London, Tallinn, and Sydney.  I’m a bit apprehensive about the amount of travel I’ll be doing, but I will get to catch up with a lot of people.  As well as a number of family events I’ll be attending YAPC::NA in Madison and YAPC::EU in Frankfurt.  I’ll also be back home in time to attend YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  As always when I travel I will try to meet up with local Perl Mongers.

Attending and speaking at the Perl conferences is important to me but I haven’t managed to come up with an interesting talk this year.  I will be speaking about The Perl Foundation at YAPC::NA and I may do this as well at YAPC::EU.  But I had really wanted to create a lightning talk based around the number 25 as YAPC::EU will be my 25th YAPC and this year marks the 25th anniversary of Perl.  I still have time to get inspired, but I have so many Perl related things that I’m working on that I don’t know if I’ll manage to make the talk a priority.

YAPC::Asia 2011

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

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.

I’m at the end of my post so finally my YAPC::Asia is over, and now I can prepare myself for the London Perl Workshop!

YAPC::Asia – Call for Papers

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I noticed today that the call for papers for YAPC::Asia is open.  I need to decide if I am going to submit a talk. The conference is taking place in Tokyo, 13-15 October.  I will be at home in October so I plan to go even if I’m not going to speak.  I’m looking forward to hearing Ricardo Signes, who is one of the guest speakers. Actually one of things I like about YAPC::Asia is that I get to hear a lot more talks. When I’m at YAPC::NA or YAPC::EU there are a lot of people that I want to speak to and the hallway tracks are very beneficial to me. But I do a lot less chatting at YAPC::Asia and as a consequence go and hear more talks.

I only got round to submitting a talk for YAPC::EU last week.  I’m not very organised this year, but I have flights to Europe and I do plan to arrive in Riga a couple of days before the conference starts.  I really don’t want a repeat of last year’s travel disasters that meant I missed more than half the conference.

Speaking in Japanese

Monday, October 25th, 2010

I gave my first talk in Japanese at YAPC::Asia last week.  It was a lightning talk, so I only had to speak for five minutes.  It was incredibly nerve wrecking even though I had spent hours practising.  I dread to think what my accent was like and I completely messed up one of my lines but I’m glad that I tried.  It also means that I have completed another item on my “101 Things to Do in 1001 Days” list.