22 March 2000

Got back from GUADEC yesterday at
4pm. 17 hour flights are way too long. Good thing they had
a SNES at every seat. They also had a phone at every seat,
and it looked like you might have been able to plug in a
modem. If there was somewhere to plug in a laptop,
Singapore Airlines would be almost perfect for hackers
:).

Here are some notes on what I did in paris:

Wednesday, 15 March:
Got through customs at about 6am. It was still a bit dark,
so it took a while to realise that I was 2 floors up from
the ground. I dedided to take the train, as from the
instructions on the GUADEC web site, it seemed the
simplest. It took me a while to get to the train station,
as I didn’t realise that aerogare meant airport terminal
rather than a train station at the airport :(.
After getting off at Denfer Rocherau. The 300m walk down
Boulevard St Jaques to get to Rue Barrault turned out to be
closer to 1km, and passed a few metro stations.

After getting to the hotel, I dropped off my bags and
went sight seeing. I went to the Eiffel Tower, which is a
great place to go first, as you can see a lot of Paris from
there. They have a lot of boards up about the history of
the Eiffel tower, which is really interesting. The french
complained about it as an eyesore, then agreed to put the
same advertising on three sides of it for over a decade. Go
figure.

I also went to see the Arc d’Triumph. Tried not to
look
australian while standing next to the eternal flame
:). You get a great view of the traffic from the
top of the arc. You will probably never see anything like
that round about anywhere else in the world. After that, I
was starting to feel a bit tired (a 7 hour time difference
does that to you), so went back to the hotel, where I fell
asleep from 6pm to 7am.

Thursday, 16 March
Got up, feeling a bit shaky as I hadn’t had a proper meal
since yesterday breakfast. It was good that the hotel had a
buffet. Around that time I found Miguel and met a lot of
the other HelixCode guys in the dining room. I forgot to
ask for one of their cool T shirts, which I am regretting
now (if there is a second screening, I would love to get a
copy). Had a bit of a conversation with Michael Meeks about
whether the ideas of the canvas needs to be rethought to
make it easier to use in a model/view type application
(currently it is easiest for a single view apps, and I think
there is a lot of code duplication in doing up multi view
support which should go in the canvas).

Went to the ENST after that and met up with some more
hackers. Commented on how brain damaged the french keyboard
layout was. Tried bringing up my presentations in netscape
on the computers, only to find they displayed in scaled
bitmap fonts (this seems to be because Mandrake installs the
URW scalable fonts under the urw foundry rather than
adobe). Luckily we had an X guru (Keith Packard) who helped
fix the problem. I also talked with Alex a bit about dia. Then Miguel
gave his openning talk, where he introduced just about
everyone, which was good, since most people had no clue what
the others looked like :). After that, the
workshops were scheduled. I did my talks at the workshop
sessions — the dia one went better than the pygtk one, as I
had prepared for it a bit better. I would have loved to go
to some of the ones upstairs, but its a bit difficult when
you are supposed to be speaking somewhere else.

After that, there were drinks and nibbles. I met a
lot
of people there (if I try to name them, I will miss someone,
and get them upset). About twelve of us (including the
conglomerate guys, John Trowbridge the guppi guy, Alex,
Telsa and a few others) at a small restraunt near the ENST.
It was fairly good food, and we had fun deciphering the
french menu.

Friday, 17 March
Woke up at 9:30, and went down for breakfast and found Damon
and a few others. Got to the ENST at about 10am, which
seemed to be just in time for the 8am “coding party”
(apparently Iain managed to get there at 8am, but no one
else did). I had thought they would hold something like
this in one of the computer labs where there are lots of
computers. Instead, it was in one of the lecture rooms with
only about three computers for those without laptops.

The afternoon had the GNOME 2.0, Nautilus, bonobo
components and GTK+ talks. They were all pretty
interesting. Got me thinking about scrapping all the libwww
stuff in gnorpm and switching it over to gnome-vfs and have
it as a nautilus component. Just another idea I don’t have
time to implement for a while.

We had dinner at the ENST. After that a big group of
us
went to find a pub. About 20 of us stopped off at an Irish
pub, and found that it was St Patrick’s day. As part of the
celebrations, they had loud music, including scottish bag
pipe songs. This didn’t help the conversation much. From
there, about half the people went back to the hotel. The
rest of us tried to find another place to go. We ended up
at an Internet Cafe called Sputnick. We chose the place
because it had a GUADEC poster up, but the computers were
all unprotected win98 machines. Some of us started checking
mail and others tried to install linux and gnome on the
machines without success. When we found out that you were
meant to pay to use the computers, we just had to be a bit
more discreet. George stuck a lot of stickers on things,
but when the staff came over to investigate, he stopped
saying “I take full responsibility” to “James
takes full responsibility”
. I am surprised they didn’t
kick us out.

Saturday, 18 March
Got up around 9:30 again. Had a talk with Raph at
breakfast. He told me a bit about his CSS3 and SVG gripes,
and he talked about adding SVG icon support to Nautilus. It
doesn’t sound like we will have full XSL styling of icons
any time soon :). and went to the coding party.
Not as many people there that time. Signed a lot of posters
though. In the afternoon, there was a docs talk, an
evolution talk by Miguel. I was sitting next to one of the
Achtung guys who was commenting on the bad points of Magic
Point. He shut up when I asked why we couldn’t do that in
Achtung yet :).

We went to the HelixCode Evolution Boat Party in the
evening. Stopped off at a nice Veitnamese restraunt on the
way. The party was OK, but the choice of music wasn’t that
great. Had a bit of a talk with Michael and Damon about
adding a serial number to glade files to try and detect
broken installations better (and reduce bug reports). I
also signed a lot of GGAD books (if my signature looks a
little messy, it was because I was drunk). On the way out
from the party I picked up a handful of GUADEC CDs.

A group of us went to a club in the north of Paris
after
that. I put a few CDs under the windscreen wipers of parked
cars on the way. Frisbee’d a CD to the woman selling Metro
tickets. Handed out a few CDs to people on the Metro. At
the club, I gave one CD to the woman at the bar, and another
we frisbee’d into the croud. Apparently Jacob doesn’t
dance.

Me, Dave Camp, Robert Wittams and Robert Brady
decided to
leave a little early (around 1:30am I think). The metro was
closed at this time of night, but instead of taking a cab,
we decided to walk. Passed by the Louvre and Notre Dame on
the way back. We could also see the Eiffel tower nicely lit
up. We got back at about 4:30am, by which time most of the
people who had stayed on at the club had got home. Iain was
still up, as he had left his bag (which contained his
passport) somewhere.

Sunday, 19 March
Got up at about 11am, which was too late for breakfast at
the hotel. I went to Macdonalds and ordered a royal with
cheese. They put even less effort into them than in
Australia, and come in a foam box still. On the way back,
ran into Miguel who thought walking home was stupid.

Ran into JP Rosevear and went sight seeing with him.
Went to see some of the places that were closed at 3am.
First went to Notre Dame, then looked at the Pompidou centre
(aka inside out building) and finally went to the Louvre.
Saw a lot of nice artworks including the Mona Lisa.
Unfortunately the section containing Gnome with a Snail was closed on Sundays.

Went to a crepe restraunt with JP. It was good food,
and
the people at the next table had brought their dog. Went to
a pub where we had a couple of pints of Guiness.

Monday, 20 March
The next morning I got packed to go. Talked with jrb at
breakfast. Recommended that he go see the Gnome with a Snail while at the
Louvre. Caught the Metro and RER to the airport in half the
time it took going in the other direction.

The plane flight back was fairly uneventful.

A few final notes on GUADEC and Paris:

  • people smoke everywhere. You probably won’t find many
    smoke free places.

  • nautilus and evolution will be really cool.
  • it would have been nice if elliot could have come.
  • there are a lot of cool people working on gnome
  • I need a laptop. I like Michael Meeks idea of getting a
    computer company to give you a laptop, so I might try that
    one.