This is the reason why I don’t like Digg and Youtube.
Since yesterday the weather here in the UK is going nuts! We actually have sunshine?! It’s a mild 15ºC and not raining. The blue sky is only there in the mornings, but still, it’s nice to wake up because of the sun shining through your window. I don’t know if I’m still in the UK, but if I’m not, they’ve done a pretty good job moving Egham to that sunny place too.
And hey, the Term is about to end, so book your tickets out of here! God knows I did 🙂
So, yesterday evening we celebrated St. Patricks Day (somewhat in advance) here at Royal Holloway. That meant that we had big 250 years Guiness hats, and a lot of Guiness on tap.
Living in the UK, the thing I have noticed is, that parties / nightclubs close at the time where all the rest of the world normally gets started. So at 2:30 (yes, I know, WTF!) the DJ stopped playing music, the house lights were switched on, and security was trying to kick everyone out.
So I quickly got my coat, that I had stashed away behind a sofa in Medicine (the Nightclub). Kneeling down on the Sofa to get the coat, a cute girl that was sitting there asked me if I was Florian. Me, being very surprised, ofcourse answered “yea”. Turns out, that she is studying Management and International Business, and that she stumbled upon my presentation for a Management Workshop that I published here. So we had a short conversation before getting kicked out by security.
That was 1/3.
Next up, standing outside waiting for the Non-Res Bus, I saw my favourite Bartender (the only good Bartender in Xlands), standing there in a happy mood (slightly alcoholized :p ) with his girlfriend and the Ex-President of the Korean Society. We cracked a few jokes, asking ourselves who is the one person that got Excellent in both Machine Fundamentals and Databases, and then parted different ways.
And now, 3/3.
Still waiting for the Non-Res bus, I noticed 2 girls sitting on the side. Walking over there and starting a conversation, turns out, one of them actually studies Computer Science too (although with Maths … euuuuw … Maths!). I was surprised, because I would’ve never guessed that she had a decent musical taste, but she had. If I would atleast remember her name?!
So yeah, a good night. Lots of nice people 🙂 So when’s the next night out?
So, I’ve been back from Brussels nearly a month now, and I have finally found a few spare minutes to write this post.
For me, the trip to Brussels consisted of 3 great parts. The Actual FOSDEM, the XMPP Summit and last but not least: The Social Events all around it.
FOSDEM: A place where people talk and hand out T-shirts
After arriving in the evening from London and having had a dinner with the nice guys from Seesmic, we headed down to the FOSDEM Beer Event. Having lived in the UK for a few months now, I was missing my real beer. Until today, I haven’t had a beer in the UK that comes close to the good taste of Belgian Beer, and people are trying hard to prove me wrong 🙂
The FOSDEM Beer event is an event held in the city centre near the grand place in the Delerium Cafe. The equation more or less goes like this: Geeks + Free Beer = Overcrowded bar. But it’s always nice to meet up with the people you IM with atleast once a week. Ofcourse, you can’t stay there too long, as you have to try to get up relatively early the next morning to get to the conference.
So Saturday morning, I realized that it’s actually quite difficult to fit a box of 25KG with 110 T-Shirts into a small Golf. After about 20 minutes of turning and moving around the box, it finally fit, and we we’re ready to head down to the ULB Campus. Arriving there with the box of T-Shirts, Dave found his calling as a T-Shirt salesman. He saw the box of T-Shirts, ripped it open, and before anyone realized, the first batch of T-Shirts we’re already sold. AMAZING!
In the back of the building, XMPP had it’s DevRoom, which was the place to be around the conference. The room was packed on nearly every single talk. It just shows you, that XMPP is actually quite popular. Who would’ve guessed?!
So at 16:30 the big moment had arrived. My turn to hold a talk in front of a room of XMPP Fans. Thanks to Will for the pictures.
For everyone who’s interested in my presentation, it can be downloaded here: fosdem09-largescalexmpp-public
Sunday mainly consisted of running round at FOSDEM and selling shirts at the booth, although we actually only had 3 left in the end which then got back ordered.
So let’s move on to the XMPP Summit. Actually, let’s give a summary of the Social stuff in Brussels.
Social Events all around Brussels
The XSF Dinner:
Some time in December, I heard that there wouldn’t be any XSF Dinner. Not being able to rest before knowing that there actually would be one, I talked to some people in the XSF, until one evening, Jack gave me an idea. Small contributions towards the dinner, making it an official event, and a cheap dinner for participants.
Running around with this idea, people quickly joined in and pitched in some money towards the dinner. In the end, we had more money than the dinner would cost. Unbelievable! We collected 1875€ for the dinner.
I would like to thank again everyone who pitched in and made this dinner happen. Thank you a lot.
The hard thing was actually getting there. I underestimated public transportation timing, and the costs to transport that amount of people. I’m sorry that it took this long. I should of have tried the route before. But, public transportation had it’s fun moments.
One was when getting in to the Metro, we went down to the normal departure platform, where we noticed the Metro arriving on the other side. Adding 1 and 1 together, we quickly realized that we were on the wrong side. Not wanting to miss the Metro, everyone started running up the stairs to reach the other side. It was mayhem. However, some smart people, to be exact only Will, actually saw that there was an unused alternative path. You’ll soon know why it was unused. Will saw the stairs and thought it wasn’t enough of a challenge. So he took the escalator. The escalator that was going down, not up. Running alongside the stairs, you could see him trying to fight the system, and actually nearly beating Dave on the way up. Will would’ve won if he didn’t trip on one of the last steps, which set him back a few seconds, allowing Dave to reach the top first.
Arriving on the other platform, completely exhausted, we saw the Metro driver leaving her car, slowly walking to the other side of the train, as yes, Hermann-Debroux is a Terminal Station. The Metro wasn’t supposed to leave for another 7 minutes. But hey, sports are healthy 🙂
A side note on this story: We had the XSF Dinner, which consisted of a solid 4 course menu about 20 minutes beforehand.
The second thing that was quite funny, was the size of the group. On Sunday evenings, public transportation is usually running empty. No-one uses the Buses on a Sunday night. Getting on to a Bus with 45 people which was empty just seconds before, filling it up completely is a funny thing to see. The Bus drivers couldn’t believe their eyes.
Saturday Night @ Poechenellekelder:
After having had a good dinner at a nice restaurant on the Grand Place, we headed down to the Poechenellekelder.
This pub is just amazing. We had the best bar tender ever! EVER! EVER! After a few initial beers, he said to us: “Challenge me!”. We had to describe a taste for a beer that we would want, and he would bring a beer tasting like that. So the first round, we gave him a decent challenge, and he matched it perfectly. Seeing this talent, we quickly challenged him with the impossible. However, he always got a perfect match! Unbelievable! Just amazing!
Some random notes on the evening: I have never seen Artur smile that much; I have had the biggest bottle of Beer I have ever seen in my life; I have tasted amazing beers that were too good to be real.
I want RIBS!:
On Monday evening, StPeter mentioned that he knew an amazing ribs place in Brussels. Being all up for a solid meal, we quickly found a few people that thought the same way. Remember the beer place? Well this was the same for Ribs. You basically had a cow each! And they actually brought more! Again, pictures say more than words.
Please note: This was a huge plate! And I think the salad was just there to decorate. You can’t have those ribs, and then some salad!
So, having covered all of the major social events, let’s move on to the Summit.
The XMPP Summit was held in the Bedford Hotel this year, as we’ve had a lot more participants than the year before. Like you’d expect, there we’re a lot of hot discussions going on about PubSub, File Transfer, Mobile Optimizations, and one of the most interesting for me, Server Security and Abuse Reporting.
I won’t go in to detail for any of these in this post, as this post is already way too long, and you’re probably already asleep.
So just some closing words: It was great seeing everyone at the Summit, and hope to see you again next year!
flosoft: On the way back from London City after a day of showing the city to my brother
dwd: Oh, dear lord, there’s two of you?
sparhawk: clones, indeed… 😉
flosoft: It’s called redundancy 😉
dwd: Load balancing, for those cases there’s too much beer?
flosoft: Nah, in Belgium that would work, but the drinking age here is 18, which complicates the loadbalancing process
dwd: No, the buying-drinks age and the drinking-drinks-in-a-bar age is 18. Drinking age is 4.
dwd: Specifically, a child of 4 can sit in a pub garden and drink alcohol, if he can find someone else to go to the bar and buy them.
You learn so much just by Jaiku’ing 🙂
A few weeks ago, Nathan Fritz posted a video on Seesmic asking about what Belgium is like. Finally I have found a great way to describe atleast the people.
I’ll be holding a talk about Large Scale XMPP. In the last few years we’ve encountered many problems with our XMPP installations, which were directly related to their size and / or the type of infrastructure we run. But I won’t announce too much about the content yet 🙂
I’ll probably post some more stuff about FOSDEM in the next few days. I’ll be updating my pages on FOSDEM.org in the next few days, just need to find some text to write.
I’ll be there on Friday (Beer Event), Saturday and Sunday. So definetly come by and say hello. I’ll probably be around the XMPP Devroom or XMPP Stand.