I'm just back from Istanbul, where I participated in GUADEC 2008. Terrific conference, as always, and it's so nice to see so many of my farflung friends in one place. Some interesting points:
- Istanbul is a neat city, but has a bit of a tendency to take advantage of out-of-towners. Always haggle on price for anything that isn't fast food and which doesn't have a price tag on it. If it has a price tag on it, consider haggling anyway.
- Traffic in Istanbul is insane. Things like traffic lights, crosswalks, lane markers, medians, speed limits, etc., are considered to be completely advisory. Istanbul has replaced Amsterdam on my list as "the European city you're most likely to get run over in".
- Our Turkish hosts, and Turks in general, are beautiful people. They're helpful and generous and very proud of their history and culture. They very much appreciate it when you appreciate it. I got asked to say a few words about this at the closing of the conference by Behdad.
This conference really brought home for me just how much our community--beyond fostering the development of the technologies which we all use and love--actually bridges cultures and brings people together. As I said, we're a lot like the UN, except that we're more effective and we get along better.
- Most of the parties rocked. We had some good music from the Screaming Macaques at the roof party, and some incredible Turkish music from Serdar and Volkan. Volkan is one of the best drummers I've ever had the pleasure to hear.
- Best of all was the boat ride on the Bosphorus sponsored by our good friends at Collabora. It was a beautiful evening, the views were remarkable, and anything is better when you do it out on the water. We had the brilliant inspiration of making the boat ride the venue for our annual Single Malt Appreciation Society for Hackers, Engineers and Developers meeting, and a brilliant time was had by all, see below. Some fell over, but none fell over the side, yay!
- On the other hand, the closing party, sponsored by Google, was very lame. The music was too loud to think, much less converse, and we were limited to three free "beers" (there was considerable discussion at the conference as to whether Efes Pilsen actually consititutes "beer"; general opinion says, "no"). Lamer still was the apparent fact that not only was the no one from Google at the party, there seemed to be no one from Google at the entire conference. The place really is a black hole. Lots of stuff goes in and nothing (other than an occasional check) seems to come out again.
- Lots of useful developments, chief among them being the hiring of Stormy Peters as Executive Director of the Foundation. Stony did a great job running the Advisory Board meeting, and spent most of the week chatting up people to hear their ideas on what was going well and what needed to be improved. She's off to an excellent start and is going to bring a lot to our efforts.
Also, the Board has set a goal (thank heavens!) of getting the GNOME Mobile effort back on track. Most of us have been valiantly trying to make this happen anyway, in the face of some internal obstacles, but is seems as though those are going to be bulldozed out of the way, and hurray for that.
- As mentioned, we had our regular meeting of SMASHED (the Single Malt Appreciation Society for Hackers, Engineers and Developers), and had an excellent selection of bottles again this year. Most people voted for Rob Taylor's Ardbeg as the bottle of the year, but I personally preferred the Glengoyne cask-strength which was contributed by Dave Neary. I brought a 12yo Burnfoot (also a Glengoyne), which was very good, too.
- I'd list all the folks whom I was very happy to see, or equally happy to meet, but I fear I'd offend someone by leaving them out.