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DebConf launched with a bang—the day I arrived by bike I was up until 3am meeting and greeting in the basement lounge of the Carmen Columbia dormitory, where I was staying. No idea how I managed to be so awake for that.
The rest of the week alternated between hacking like crazy on code for my talk and spending a lot of time socializing with Debian folks new and old.
For the day trip to Coney Island, I joined the dkg-led bike expedition which ended up running to nearly 30 miles, which was a bit more than expected. The fact that this was all in actual dense city really drove home the scale difference between Boston and New York (I'd never been to NYC before this). We took several breaks to lounge around and eat and drink, so it took quite a long time even given the distance. I hadn't planned on seeing the baseball game that was a part of the trip, but I ended up going anyway and it turns out that a bunch of geeks at a minor league game is actually quite a lot of fun! I hope someone else will put some pictures from the bike ride and game online soon, since I didn't really take any myself.
This was the first DebConf where I gave a talk, which resulted in me skipping almost all of the other talks, because my talk was on the last day and I reaaally wasn't ready at the start of the conference due to the rest of life being pretty crazy this summer. I missed some things I would have liked to see because of this, but ultimately I think it was worth it. The good news is: it went well! I was nervous until I actually started talking (never given a talk at a conference before), and then it was fine. If you missed it, the talk video is on the web in low and high quality; slides are here.
The audience was great—there were excellent questions and people were excited and interested in the project. I couldn't have asked for a better reception. After the talk finished I spent some time aisle-chatting with some folks, and totally failed to recognize Joey despite having met him before, because he'd shaved off his hair.
DebConf was, like usual, both inspiring and exhausting. I haven't managed to follow up on much that happened during the conference yet. I definitely plan to do so, though, now that real life is calming down again. I'd hate to waste the post-conference buzz about SD. My todo list includes:
- Working more on the SD debbugs bridge to make it more stable.
- I ran into Jesse soon after coming back and now have a better idea of how I'm going to handle a lack of history properly.
- Getting my patch to the Debbugs SOAP interface merged.
- Looking into the read-write SOAP interface work that was done as a Summer of Code project.
- After talking with Jesse I also kind of want to hack up a RESTful interface that could be used alongside the SOAP interface. It seems like doing so will make development of and using the Debbugs web API less painful in the future. This may be a rabbit hole that I don't actually want to jump down, but it's an idea.
- Maybe other help on Debbugs proper!
- Fixing SD bugs and generating more documentation.
- Thinking about and thanking people for talk feedback!
- Playing around with monkeysphere for authentication on my personal machines.
- Watching videos of talks I missed (this includes basically everything that didn't have to do with bugtracking).
We aimed to catch the 10:00 commuter rail train from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island, but we ran late (predictable) and had problems with the bicycle rack for my racing bike, which attaches without frame mounts (also predictable, since Mako and Mika test-rode it earlier in the week), so we didn't make it in to the station until around 10:20. We used the extra time to eat and fix up the bikes, though, so it's not clear how much of a setback that was.
Here are our bikes ready to go at the Providence commuter rail station.
We then had some problems with Molly's brakes, and it took a long time to navigate out of the city, but eventually we found ourself on the "Washington Secondary Trail"—a wonderful bike path along an old rail line. Every couple miles there'd be an old covered rail bridge over the river, and it was a well-paved straight shot for about ten miles, with no cars and no need to navigate.
Just as we were getting into things after the bike trail ended, something completely unexpected happened.
This is Daf's derailleur after it sheared off in the middle as we attempted to start after a red light outside Tractor Supply Co.
Luckily, John and his son Chris lent us a hand and hauled Daf and his bike to the nearest bicycle shop in the back of their pickup truck. They'd just come from there, where John had bought Chris a new helmet.
Due to all these things, we didn't get as far as we'd planned in the first day and ended up camping in Seaport Campground in Mystic, Connecticut, rolling in at around 22:00. We did about 65 miles, including six due to the detour to the cycle shop. Carrying camping gear is heavy! Several delicious peanut butter and jelly bagels and some wheatberry and couscous salad later, we were passed out.
The second day included less bike trouble, but was no less eventful, and we were tired from the previous day's riding. The highlights included taking a tiny sidewalk path that I'm baffled how Google knows about up onto a sidewalk alongside the I-95 bridge across the Thames to New London, Connecticut.
The 13:00 ferry from New London to Orient Point, New York, where we got some remarkably good veggie burgers (whole edamame visible!) for lunch.
And a vineyard on the north fork of Long Island, where we stopped for a quick tasting and ended up picking up a bottle of barrel-fermented chardonnay. The vineyard was small—23 acres, with 11 acres of grapes—and the proprietors were friendly and extremely interested in our trip. They gave us a dollar off on the bottle due to our method of transport.
It turns out there are only two trains a day on the Long Island rail, and we just barely caught the 18:52 return from Riverhead. We had mere seconds in the station and ended up without enough cash to pay for tickets onboard, but the conductor just took what we had and gave us tickets to Penn Station anyway.
Outside Penn, a girl with a mohawk and a messenger bag overheard us talking about biking up Broadway and told us to bike up 8th Avenue instead. "Always bike up 8th and down Broadway because they have bike lanes in those directions." Thus, we didn't die dodging taxis in the dark.
So basically, due to various people being extremely nice to us for no good reason, we made it to Columbia University around 22:30, on the correct day. Warm fuzzies for humanity all around.
Flights and train tickets are all booked (with some difficulty) since a few days ago. Looking forward to seeing people at my second DebConf!