Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Conference Blogging, Part Two

Yesterday was the opening of the conference. I caught up with some more acquaintances in the morning. In the summer of 2004, I spent a week teaching minority students in the DC area to use a supercomputer (this is the origin of my supercomputing course). So I saw the woman who coordinated that experience, and she told me that some of the people from that workshop were at the conference.

I first ran into the father of one of the kids who was involved, and then I saw the director of the foundation that these kids participated in. It was really great to hear about what they were all up to. That workshop was really a launching point for them. They put together a small cluster, and they gained more experience with Linux, and they did a lot more work and participated in many competitions and conferences over the past three years.

I heard about the kids, who are no longer kids but rather college students, and was pleased to learn that they were now juniors and seniors majoring in computer science. So I feel good that my efforts that summer made such a difference in their lives!

We had our booth meeting in the afternoon, and after that I went back to the hotel to rest up a bit before changing into the shirt provided by my lab and going to the opening gala event. I mostly wandered around picking up awesome swag and some pretty good food. I wandered around for much of the time with my former boss (who is still my boss for 1/3 of my time). At some point, I wandered down to the booth where my friend from grad school was, and let him know I scored us some tickets for a vendor party tonight. I got to meet some of the people he works with, but I didn't tell them any embarrassing stories about him (mostly because I don't know any).

I really had Vinny in mind as I went around collecting swag. I got an inflatable globe ball, a mini-football, a glowing bouncy ball, a pen/bubble wand, and a light-up plastic martini glass, amongst other things.

I have a few scavenger hunts to do. I can collect a bracelet USB drive by going around to a couple of sites. I can be in a drawing to win a TOMTOM if I visit eight booths (just six more to go). And I entered into a lot of drawings for iPods and other fun things.

Today's plans: there are some interesting talks in the technical program that I plan to attend. Also, I'm going to walk around the floor a lot and finish up my scavenger hunts, while getting exercise! Then, tonight is the vendor party that I'm going to attend with my friend from grad school. I plan on having a good time at the party, and also harassing some people who work for this particular vendor, to make them do what they need to do for our big machine.

The former boss who got me into going to these conferences has now recruited me to be on the committee for next year's conference. He even asked my current boss if he would pay for me to travel to the meetings, and my boss thought it would be a great idea. So, I'm going to be the co-chair for signs at next year's meeting. If you get lost next year, I apologize in advance. Although, as directionally impaired as I am, I think I might be the ideal person to decide where signs are needed.

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