Friday, October 4, 2013

GHC: Planes, trains, and pedestrians

This week I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration.

Other than a bit early, the flight up was easy and the Minneapolis light rail system is great.  I had heard good things in the past, including a key implementation of including service from the airport to downtown. One thing that struck me though was the honor system. A ticket is required but there are no gates, fences, turnstiles, etc.  A ticket has a time stamp and is good for a period of time.  Officers may appear at any time and check that each passenger has a ticket and I assume the fine for no ticket is significant.  I am so used to the East Coast transit systems and this was a pleasant surprise which is much easier to access and provides a nicer view.  It also reminded me of my trips to Helsinki in the 80's. Of course this connection is not surprising considering the Scandinavian influence in MN.  That influence also carries over to the bike and pedestrian friendly downtown and greenways.  The indoor skyway paths connecting buildings are also great.

Being in a downtown area without a car means that I am getting in some significant steps and good walking exercise.  In addition to locating the brand new Whole Foods and exploring the Thursday Farmers Market at Nicollet Mall, I found a great little cafe that has lots of organic items and is gluten free friendly. It is called Peoples Organic Cafe and it is in the lobby of the IDS building.  I also took a lunchtime walk to the Sculpture Garden to complete the Fourquare City of the Lakes badge.

So who attends GHC?  Well, it sold out a few weeks ago and it was announced that there were 4800 attendees representing over 300 companies and over 400 academic institutions.  Also over 50 counties are represented.  There are paper and poster sessions, technical presentations, career advancement discussions, and exhibit booths as well as a job fair - and not just for recent graduates. Of course no conference would be complete without some social events.

The few Fedora stickers and remaining window clings that I brought with me went fast at the FOSS booth so there is nothing left for OpenSource Day on Saturday.