Sunday, November 13, 2005

TLUG Technical Meeting, November 2005

Yesterday afternoon (or Saturday, November 12, 2005, for those of you who like to use an absolute time scale), I gave a presentation on Subversion, an Open Source revision-control tool, at the November 2005 Technical Meeting of TLUG, the Tokyo Linux Users Group.

I convinced Ota and Nikolay to come to the meeting (for morale support), so I met Nikolay at 12:45 at Yokohama Station, where we caught a Tokaido Line train up to Shinbashi Station. From there, we transferred to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Subway Line, and rode up one stop to Ginza Station, where we met Ota at the A-3 exit, and walked down a few blocks to Wall Street Associates Japan, which is kind enough to host the TLUG technical meetings.

I set up my laptop, a lengthy process that involved connecting my mic, webcam, mouse, power, and finally plugging into the projector. Then, of course, I had to move the whole setup, since it was in the way of the projector, and we had to move the projector back to make the picture bigger, etc. By the time the meeting actually got underway, it was 14:15 or so. TLUG technical meetings officially start at 14:00, but this has not actually happened at either of the two meetings I have been to thus far.

I gave my talk, which took about an hour and 20 minutes, or a good 20 minutes too long, but it was pretty well-received. I was recording the presentation with my webcam, so I have video! (Now I just need a place to put it up on the web, so you can watch it. Stay posted.) I have watched some of the video, and I looked relaxed and knowledgeable. Which is how I felt while giving the talk, but you never know. :)

After the intermission, I gave a quick demo of Virtual BookShelf, a piece of library software that Ed Beranek, a colleague of mine at TFCC wrote and I have been hacking on for the past few weeks to make it useful for TLUG's purposes. Hopefully, we will have that live in a couple of weeks.

Then, the second presenter, Martin Parm, gave a talk on Portage, which is the package system for the Gentoo Linux distribution (my favourite distro, for those of you who are in the know). I found his talk quite interesting and well-done.

After the meeting, a good many of us went over to a nearby izakaya (the Japanese version of a pub: you sit around a low table, drink beer, and eat tiny plates of food) for a nomikai. The nomikai is one of my favourite parts of Japanese culture. The characters that make up the word 飲み会 mean "drink" (飲み) and "meeting" (会). So a nomikai is a "drinking meeting", something that we had on a quite regular basis back in Kanazawa. In fact, when you asked someone if they had plans for the evening, they were likely to respond, "nomikai on the go-kai", or "drinking meeting on the fifth floor". Ah, those heady days of complete irresponsibility, how I miss them!

Anyway, back to yesterday's nomikai. About 16 of us made it over from the meeting (about half of the people who came), proving just how important beer is to geeks. We got seated by around 17:45, and discovered that drinks were half price until 19:00 (not that it mattered to me, since speakers are treated!). Wasting no time, a waiter was displached with the orders, "keep the beer coming!".

We split up into two groups and sat down at adjoining tables. I was with Nikolay, Zev (the current president of TLUG), Allen (a chap who, like my good friend Ryan O'Neil, went to RIT), a chap from the Philippines whose name I did not catch, a chap from Finland whose name I also did not catch, but who went to Kanazawa-daigaku for five years at the School of Engineering, and Ion, a Moldovian who has also lived in Romania for quite some time. So we were quite the international group. Conversation was lively and profane, as you might expect from geeks who are trying to down as many half-price beers as possible before the 19:00 deadline.

And the food! We had edamame (boiled green soybeans), yakitori (grilled chicken bits on a skewer), karaage (fried chicken bits), lots of different varieties of fried potatoes, flash-fried salmon, and so on. Yummy!

Mauro Sauco, my boss from Amazon, also showed up. He is a fun guy, and he and Ota and I got in a deep conversation about a topic which now completely escapes me. He and Ota started out speaking Spanish (Mauro is Argentinean, and Ota is the son of a diplomat and thus spent his childhood in El Salvador, Mexico, etc.), then switched to Japanese, at which point I could participate. Again, I have no idea what I actually said, but I am sure it was some insightful, meaningful shit. So there!

At some point, I realised that I was going to be late getting home, so I said a hasty round of good-byes and bolted back to Ginza Station, where I went back to Shinbashi to catch a Tokaido Line train back to Yokohama. I got back to Yokohama alright, but then managed to get on a train going the wrong direction. Twice. Wow, what a moron. I finally made it home, at which point I told Lyanka that she had to come to the next TLUG nomikai, homework or no homework!

Nikolay emailed me today and told me that he convinced a few hardy souls to go clubbing in Roppongi, and after that, a few truly hardcore chaps watched the Australia - Eruguay football (soccer) match. Damn!

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