Preparing for YAPC::Asia 2009

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I realised this afternoon that this time next week YAPC::Asia will be under way.   Last year I was much more aware of the conference as I volunteered to help out.  This year I’m not planning to do anything other than attend.  The spare room is ready for the guests we know about and I do have another futon or so just in case some of the other foreign visitors decide they want to stay with us.  (With only a week to go it’s possible to imagine that everyone has sorted out things like accommodation but I know from experience that this isn’t always the case in the Perl community.)

Last year YAPC::Asia had more attendees than any other dedicated Perl conference.  With 524 people it was the biggest YAPC ever.  This year the numbers appear to be down (378 the last time I checked) but this may simply be because the other 100 or so who have registered their interest haven’t gotten round to paying for their tickets yet.

As always I’m looking forward to catching up with friends more than attending the actual talks.  But, since the hallway / bar track might be in Japanese, I’ll probably attend more technical talks at this conference than the number I attended at YAPC::EU and YAPC::NA combined.

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)

Miyagawa Wins White Camel Award

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I’ve just seen Miyagawa announce on Twitter that he has received a White Camel award at this year’s OSCON.  I have not seen the official announcement yet but I imagine that he has been awarded this for his work in being a key organiser of YAPC::Asia and for his work with  Well done!

YAPC::Asia – Registration

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

The registration process at YAPC::Asia made use of QR codes that Japanese mobile phones can scan and read. The attendees were supposed to print their unique QR code from the website and bring it with them in place of tickets. Last year tickets for the conference could be bought at a Lawson convenience store. I have never needed a ticket for the European or American YAPCs. I usually give my name to the person at the registration desk and they check this off a list or find a badge that contains this name. But YAPC::Asia makes good use of technologies that are common in Japan. I have bought tickets at Lawson for everything from flights to concerts. And QR codes are found even on the wrappers that McDonalds use for their burgers.

Although the registration process was very well organised I do think it should be possible to improve it as I thought it was a bit slow. Not because of the QR codes but because the codes related to a name badge that was filed by number in a box. You would get to the desk and someone would scan the code and then find your badge. This was done in a small area limiting the number of people who could help with registration. And even if the area had been bigger only so many people can look through a couple of boxes of badges at any one time.

One way to speed up the registration process would be to limit that number of things that need to be given to a specific person. If attendees printed their own badges with QR codes on them then these could have been scanned but no badge search would have been required. The conference bags were generic so handing these out was easy. The badges, however, were not the only things tied to a specific attendee. Each attendee was given details of how to access the wifi system and because of security reasons the wifi access accounts and passwords were connected to the userid of the person registering. They also were the property of the university and this information could not have been given to attendees via the web-site.

There was enough space, however, to allow more people to help with registration. And there were certainly enough people on the conference crew to do this. It should be possible to find a way to split up registration. For example speaker registration could have been done separately. Sometimes registration of a large number of people is set up alphabetically. This would have been hard to do though because the attendees queuing at the door wouldn’t have been able to see these signs and it could have caused quite a bit of confusion in the entrance hall – to say nothing about the fact that the attendees names wouldn’t all use the same alphabet…

As well as registration on the first morning a pre-conference registration took place the night before. I suppose I’m just worried about what would have happened if 400 people had all turned up 15 minutes before the conference started. Mind you, there is probably no fast way to deal with that.

YAPC::Asia – Morning, Day 2

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I haven’t finished writing up Day 1 of YAPC::Asia. Instead of blogging I spent last night eating, watching “The IT Crowd”, and chatting about all sorts of things from tree booze to local temples.

Even though we stayed up much too late Marty and I did manage to get here on time for the start of the staff meeting this morning. I was glad about this as I hate to be late and it means that we have an assigned task for today – we are going to keep time in the DeNA room. This means that I will probably hear more talks at this YAPC than I have at the last few I have been to.

At the YAPC::Europe and YAPC::NA conferences last year I spent quite a bit of time sitting around chatting to people and not actually attending that many talks. But here in Tokyo, even if I wanted to do that, it doesn’t seem to happen quite as much. And I have heard no-one talk about a bar track (not that I want to attend one).

YAPC::Asia – Meeting Guests

Monday, May 12th, 2008

We are having a few people stay with us during YAPC::Asia. It would be lovely if their flights had similar arrival times but that’s just wishful thinking. Today I nearly ended up going to Narita airport to meet a guest who is arriving tomorrow. Tomorrow I think I will be going twice. And then because Casey’s flight was delayed and he missed a connection I will be going to Narita again on Wednesday. I’m glad that Casey is speaking on Friday as he is going to be exhausted when he gets here.

I prefer to meet guests at the airport even though it takes me nearly 2 and half hours to get there. Most people tell me that after the really long flights to get here that the thought of navigating the airport and getting a couple of trains is just too much to think about. I imagine it’s easier if you’ve done it before but this year we have had a lot of guests who have never been in Japan before or any other Asian country. On top of that there is no way anyone is going to find our apartment without us meeting them at a train station somewhere.

I’m hoping that all the travel upsets are over now and the rest of the flights come in on time.

YAPC::Asia – Coming Soon

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

I was wondering how many people are travelling to YAPC::Asia from outside Japan. There are 24 confirmed registrants from outside Japan and 497 from Japan. The biggest YAPC in the world to date seems more a Japanese conference than an Asian one as there are only a handful of people attending from any other Asian country.

The thing I wasn’t expecting to see in the statistics was how few people list themselves as members of Perl Monger groups. Only 53 confirmed attendees out of a total of 521.

This conference was sold out in just over a week. How do all these people find out about the conference? Where is all this Perl interest coming from in Japan? One thing I can’t easily tell – because lots of people didn’t fill this in – is where in Japan the attendees are coming from. Are they nearly all from Tokyo?

Hopefully next week I will get some feeling as to why there is so much interest. I may not though. This will be my third YAPC::Asia and I didn’t find out very much during the last two conferences. I have a big language barrier to overcome. At the first conference I spoke no Japanese. Last year I had some Japanese but not enough to be that useful. This year I have more but I can’t talk about technical things or anything much beyond food, shopping, weather, and other basic life things. I am looking forward to the day when I can speak enough Japanese to properly interact with people in Japan.

I also feel less comfortable than I do at either YAPC::NA or YAPC::Europe. I have heard other women say that they feel like some sort of alien when they attend a big male dominated technical conference. Well in Japan I am a card carrying alien and I do feel out of place sometimes at tech events here. Actually, I haven’t gone to some because I didn’t want to be the only Western woman in the room. This was after my experience at a Free Software event where no-one would even sit in the same row as me. YAPC::Asia was nothing like that but I can still feel out of place at times. That being said I am really looking forward to this conference.