Debconf11 - the arrival and Debcamp

Short version - arrival was quite easy, the arrival wiki page is now up-to-date and my photos are uploaded every day to this Flickr set.

I had a small problem departing from CDG to Zagreb - after scanning my suit twice and complaining that it had too many electronic devices, they had me remove my Nexus S, Nokia N950 and Kindle 3 from the suit pockets and then scanned that all lot again. After that another security guy asked me to open my suitcase and started squishing my 'Ligo' cheese and declaring in a grave voice that it was 'too soft to be legal'. As I kept calm and explained the DebConf cheese party to him, he looked around, put the cheese back in the bag and said 'ok, ok, off you go'. So I still have that softness for the party.

I heard an even better anecdote from our next years hosts - when they were travelling trough Germany, a border official asked a typical 'so, what are you here for?' question. They answered that they were in transit for an IT conference and gave him the invitation letter. He read the letter, nodded and then said: "DebConf, huh? So, who was the author of the Linux kernel?" and when after the initial shock they gave the right answer, they were immediately waved trough. Now that's what I call good border security. :)

I met up with the guys in the Zagreb airport café, which was immediately after exiting the secure zone. We waited for dkg to arrive and get his baggage. The passport check too a couple of minutes, but the baggage claim looked to be taking almost a half an hour.

After that was sorted out, we took out some local money in one of the 5 ATMs around and went to the bus. We were waived to just put our bags into the bus luggage space and get on, the driver went around to sell us tickets just before we drove off. It was one of the most comfortable and well air-conditioned buses I have been on in a long time. We were in the Zagreb bus station in less than half an hour.

Then a funny part started - an old man came up to dkg and immediately asked - 'Are you going to Banja Luka?', and when he said yes, the man started dragging us along to the bus station saying that there is a bus to there that will leave in a couple minutes, but we were in luck, so we should follow him right to the bus. Driven by curiosity, we went on. The man dragged us to the far side of the bus terminal bus stops where there was a minibus with Bosnian number plates, but no official designation as a passenger transit bus and no other passengers. They asked a reasonable 120 kuna for the trip, but they looked very shady to me, so we refused. I think that if we agreed and we were lucky enough that they actually did get us to Banja Luka, the price would have risen along the way, for example using the highway tolls as an excuse.

After getting cursed at by the old man and being demanded to buy him a beer for his efforts, we went upstairs to the real bus station where we were told that there were two buses to Banja Luka: one at 15:00 and another at 16:30, but that those two buses arrive in Banja Luka almost at the same time, so we got us tickets for the latter bus and went to a local bar to get some food and drinks. I somehow managed to get sausages in deepfried bread that for some reason cost almost triple of a hamburger and fries that others got, but it sure helped to pass the time and after all those 9€ was not a bad price for a good meal.

We were a bit surprised by the bus drivers asking us to pay 1€ (or 8 kuna) for bags to be put into bus bag storage, especially as we for several minutes could not quite understand what they want of us as neither of them spoke either English, Russian or German.

I don't remember when was the last time I crossed a real (i.e. non-Shengen) border in a bus, so getting out of the bus and walking one-by-one to the border official was a new experience. On the other border of two bus drivers collected the passports an then brought them back later, so that was less painful. And by then we were in Bosnia! And of the things that greeted us was a billboard for the casino in Banja Luka Hotel Bosna. :)

By the time we got to Banja Luka, dkg had already made friends with an official from Croatian ministry of regional development that sat behind us on the bus and knew English very well (after living in Canada for some time). The bus station in Banja Luka looked almost abandoned - like the bus stopped in the field with only a few taxi drivers and a bunch of buildings some distance away showing that this was indeed part of civilization.

The taxi drivers would take you to the venue for 8-10 KM 5€ or 50-100 kuna (if their meter is 'broken' and you look to be really ignorant of the exchange rates). If you walk on a bit, there is a bus station with an ATM taking Visa cards and a bit further on a bus stop that will take you to the centre of the city for 1.5 KM. The train station looked fully abandoned when we went there, only a news kiosk was working there. The bus driver reacted well to the name 'Hotel Bosna' and wave toward it when we passed by it.
It is hard to miss, especially the blinking 'Casino' sign or the white pillars with black letters 'Hotel Bosna' on top. You just get off at the bus station 'Central' and walk back a couple hundred meters. Then see all you Debian friends drinking in the cool bar and walk around the corner to the main entrance of the hotel to check in.
The rooms are looking really great - this is the best DebConf location that I have been to (I was not in Argentina). Soft beds with linens changed daily, nice air conditioning, towels (changed daily, if used), good shower, ... It is lacking in the speed and power of its free WiFi and in some place there is a clear impression that the hotel was built as a top of the line hotel a couple decades ago, but somehow has fallen into a disrepair since. Or it is simply used much more than expected.
So far I would say that the DebCamp is running full steam - two hacklabs have desks, chairs, power and network connection, one of them even has sufficient air conditioning. The network works great for me so far, at least in the venue. The hotel wireless is barely usable to read a blog post, preferably without photos.
The food is being served well and on time. So far for lunch and dinner you walk up to the reception and get a food ticket based on your room number and go to the 'M' level for the food (the 'M' level is between the ground floor, labelled as 'PR', and first floor) where for breakfast and dinner there is a buffet, but for lunch you sit at a table and they bring you food. Vegetarians should clearly say 'vegetarian' while pointing at themselves to get the special vegetarian option. So far food has been very good, except that that they often run out of popular items, such as fries, in the buffet. You can also ask for beer and other extra drinks with your food, but know that they cost extra - up to 2.5KM for a beer, for example.

Paris - preDebConf11

Before arriving to DebConf11, I arranged my flights so that I had a day and a night in Paris as I have not been there before. So after checking out of my work apartment in Tampere, going to work there with all the things from that apartment, then flying back to Riga, going to a midnight screening of the last Potter movie and finally getting back home around 2am, I quickly checked that I have everything needed for the conference and went off to sleep only to wake up at 8am again, pack everything (into a single carry-on bag, after a year of experience travelling by air weekly and watching 'Up in the Air' twice) and be off to the plain to Paris.

The CDG airport is quite huge, even compared to something like JFK it feels bigger and more concrete. And yet so dark and lacking interesting features that the only photo I got from it was this

I then used the B line train to get to my hotel(9.1€), drop my stuff there and another metro ticket (1.7€) to go to Arc de Triomphe (Métro Charles de Gaulle-Etoile), went up there and walked the length of the Champs-Elysées right up to the Louvre. Then I walked to the river, crossed it to a small island to see the Notre Dame and then went back following the other bank of the river Seine seing both some more normal non-touristy streets of central Paris and also some other magnificent buildings, like Les Invalides and ending up at the Eifel tower. It was a rather easy walk that was only spoiled by some rain in the end so I did not get to take some night photos of the Eiffel tower as I wanted.

But the experience still was breathtaking. The scale of the buildings was impressive. The pervasive gold-gilded decorations do expand on the splendour and the same time the full access to all the previously-royal places brings them down to people. The city looks well built and the planning mostly makes sense, especially if you are on foot. Car drivers might have a different opinion about it considering the maze of roads and traffic circles and underpasses I saw in central Paris.

It is often said that Riga is a mini-Paris. Mostly, that is said in Riga. But walking the back streets of Paris I can see where that comes from - the architecture, the street design, the small cafes and some cobblestone roads and some historical buildings with a few modern building thrown into the mix, and a tower too. Visually Riga does look like Paris a lot, but for the feeling, I still think that Riga feels more like Berlin with its mix of eastern and western Europe.

I had one incident when some girl in front of Louvre started to ask me to sign something, gesturing to show that she was mute, it looked like a donation racket, but I did not get to find it out in detail as a swift security guard appeared and started running for the girl, who immediately took off running along with several friends. I guess the guards know them very well.

On a more positive note, in one of many confetterie shops I noticed the macaron sweets that my friend advertised loudly some time ago, so I decided to buy and try some. They cost 7€ for a box of 6. The taste was very, very sweet. Basically it tastes like froffed up and then frozen sugar made into cookie form with a cream layer between two cookies.

So basically it is like an Oreo cookie, but much, much, much more tender, airy and sweet. The two of the 6 cookies were partly crushed while I tenderly carried them for 5 minutes in their box while searching for a place to sit down and eat them.

After that I also had a proper dinner in a restaurant that was not too near the touristy paths, but still it was a bit lacking. The starter was quite nice - I mean it is hard to screw up cutting off a piece of foie gras (basically a piece of liver paste with a layer of extra geese fat), but the main dish was disappointing - I ordered a medium rare steak. First of all it came with a side of fries, that in itself was an insult to Paris, baked potatoes would have fit much better with this dish. And despite the main part of the steak being very nicely done to medium rare, the cut was done badly and the edges of the steak had sinew that was too chewy to eat or even cut normally.

Other interesting things I liked about Paris:
* high street shops of fashion labels and car manufacturers, that showed off the concept cars and also sold small branded accessories, such as Mercedes Benz key chains
* Statues - some made of stone, some of iron, some covered in gold, everywhere and made with great quality
* Bicycle rentals, I mostly saw the locals using them
* Segway tourists
* And countless classic postcard shots of very recognizable architecture

The Eiffel tower was immensely impressive. It towers over everything around, especially because there simply is nothing high enough around it. It would not have been so impressive in the middle of New York, for example. The age and openness of the construction makes you really feel the massiveness of this marvel of functional architecture.

But in the end Paris also looks like a great city to just kick back and relax in

P.S. I am amazed that when I put a link to a Flickr image (such as "" in a separate paragraph in my Wordpress article text, something along the way translates them into proper linked images with a reasonable size. Progress is amazing.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-18

  • Vislabākais veids kā atdzesēties: ielikt plaukstas 25 grādu tekošā ūdenī. Ne mazāk! Citādi kapilāri saraujas un nav efekta. #

  • Ja grib zināt uz kurieni jaiet Latvijas ekonomikai, tad jāpameklē BBC raidījums 'Made in Britain' - mums jāseko viņu piemēram. #

  • Tas Britu raidījums nav gluži tas pats, @normis . Viņi arī parāda ko UK razoja iepriekš un kāpēc tas tagad ir Ķīnā, ar ekonomisko pamatojumu in reply to normis #

  • Finished reading 'Rule 34' by C. Stross. Highly recommended. #

  • Izskatās, ka papildus Parīzei un Zagrebai, man sanāks dažas stundas arī pa Vīni pastaigāt ceļā uz Debian konferenci. Pārcēla vienu lidojumu #

  • This nights lullaby - searching for 'Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' in youtube. #

  • N950 jau rokās. Smuks bez gala. #

  • Nokia N950 does not have a twitter client by default and the shop app is not functional yet. Keyboard is fantastic, however. #

  • Re: - Rule 34. Both the actual rule and the new book by Stross. Both are very relevant. #

  • Atvaļinājums! #

  • HEL-RIX overbooked by @airBaltic luckily if have a seat, but there are few angry peeps left behind. #

  • Iečekojos viesnīcā, noķēru haļavo WiFi, jāiet apskatīt pilsēta :) #

  • Apskatīju galvenos smukumus, tagad līst - vakariņas un tad skatīties Eifeļa torni tuvumā, tumsā, lietū. #

  • Parīze tiešām ir sasodīti smuka pilsēta un Rīga to pamatīgi atgādina. #

  • 50 minūtes lai tiktu no viesnīcas līdz lidostai un vēl tik pat lai atrastu savu checkin, iechekotos un izietu security. Rīgā labāk. #

  • Drošībnieks piesējās pie Jāņu siera, esot "too soft", bet beigās tomēr palaida. #

  • Vēl redzēju kā džeki kamuflāžā ar kārtīgiem stroķiem noblokēja pusi no 2a termināla pamestas somas dēļ. #

  • CDG airport #fail T&C that you have to agree to log in only downloadable after login, and login fails with SOAP error no header separation #

  • Arrived at Banja Luka for #debcond11 - a bit hairy trip, great looking hotel and venue, details tomorrow. #

  • Arrived at Banja Luka for #debconf11 - a bit hairy trip, great looking hotel and venue, details tomorrow. #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-11

  • 'Rule 34' that I pre-ordered last month is now downloading to my Kindle. Woot! :D #

  • Apparently I am in some sort of queue/program and might get a Nokia N950 at some point. #

  • Yay, I also got on Google+ now! Now I need to convince my Nexus S that despite being in an inferior country, it can also have some Plus fun #

  • Tikko atklāju 'Pin as App tab' opciju ieks Firefox #

  • #replaceawordinafamousquotewithduck @donttrythis - "When in doubt - duck!" (actually makes sense in the context of explosions) #

  • - huh? What kind of MeeGo support? #

  • Labrīt :O #

  • Kāpēc @radio101lv mājas lapā ir aizkomentēti linki lai klausītos radio bez viņu Flash plejera? Piemēram #

  • Beidzot Google+ parādījās reāla atsevišķa 'send invites' opcija. #

  • 10m hdmi kabelis nopirkts, uzvalki nodoti tīrīšanā, kondicionieris strādā, dailies WoWā pabeigti - atpūta var sākties, ar labu nakti :) #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • Eiropas pilsētas apzināti ierobežo autovadītājus #

  • Kāpēc visa info par automašīnām ir sadalīta pa markām. Vai tiešām ir tik neprasti vērtēt auto pēc funkcijām, nevis pēc markas? #

  • "O, hai, this is software update, I will quit IE now, ok? ... O, hai, this is software update, I will log you out now, ok?" MS sucks. #

  • Looks like we need a special TCP mode for mobile links implemented in Linux kernel #

  • Izrādās man ir 3 dažādas veselības apdrošināšanas, kas savā starpā pamatīgi pārklājas. No Latvijas, Somijas un no ASV :P #

  • Enter to win a new Canon 7D camera body & 1 yr @AnimotoPro membership. Please RT. Info at: #

  • 'If I knew where I'll fall, I'd put some straw down there' - sometimes in programming half the program is made of straw. #

  • Interesanti, ir kādi normāli internetveikali Latvijā, kas pārdod gaisa kondicionierus *ar uzstādīšanu*? #

  • hmm, ideja - a mobīlā kondicioniera izejas trubu gadījumā nevar pieslēgt pie virtuves tvaiku nosūcēja gaisa trubas? #

  • Enter to win a new Canon 5D MK II camera body & 1 yr @SmugMug Pro membership from Scott Bourne. Please RT. Info at: #

  • Pašam nepatīk, kad spamo konkursus, bet no otras puses - tāda manta taču! #

  • Nosapņoju veselu dziesmu - melodija, teksts, ideajiskā bāze, priekšnesuma kodols, ja to uz Eirovīziju vest. Pat paspēju to pierakstīt. #

  • Kickstarter - HexBright, an Open Source Light: #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-27

  • Jāņus domāju svinēt pie Ogres, teltī uz salas ar ugunskuru, šašliku un dziesmām. Vēl var piebiedroties, ja grib (un pazīst mani IRL) #

  • Stupid question to myself, why is there OpenOffice on a Linux server I installed like 5 years ago? #

  • Izskatās, ka tomēr nokāvu sava blog serveri ar upgreidiem no 4 gadus vecas tehnoloģijas. Pasludinu blogus par anahronismu! (Uz stundām 50) #

  • Nenokāvu, bet kaut kā ssh serverim ports pamainījās :O #

  • Nokia N9 finally has launched! And it is as epic as expected and then some. MeeGo will prevail! #

  • Pēc kādas stundas varēšu pataustīt ar rokām jauno Nokia N9. Ir tomēr arī labas puses strādāšanai Tamperē. #

  • Just played with Nokia N9 - fun and sleek phone, is a bit confusing and some swipes click unintensionally, but great overall #

  • Storm over Finland, lightning, hail, Nokia offices lost power for several minutes. Ballmer restless over N9 MeeGo? #

  • Python 2.7 is a cool beast - 5% speed boost from 2.6 without any changes needed in the codebase. #

  • We want Nokia to keep MeeGo #

  • I wonder is there Jewish mothers that say to their lesbian daughters "You will marry a JEWISH girl!" #

  • Es ar ceļā atpakaļ uz Latviju, ceru ka sanāks labi nolīgot un ka nelīs! Vēl tik jāiepērk viss šašlikam and stuff. #

  • RT: Jāņus domāju svinēt pie Ogres, teltī uz salas ar ugunskuru, šašliku un dziesmām. Vēl var piebiedroties, ja grib (un pazīst mani IRL) #

  • Pirmo reizi vairāk nekā pusgada laikā lietoju skaidro naudu, bet izrādījās, ka Rīgā vilcienu biļetes tagad arī ar karti var nopirkt! #

  • Stacija, 1 minū te pirms vilciena. Dik daudz skrienošu cilvēku neesmu redzējis kopš maratona. #

  • Vecums ir tad, kad tu iepriekšējā vakarā nedzēri, bet jūties tā it kā būtu dzēris gan. #headache #

  • Izgāju Mežaparka Mežakaķi. Ar pirmo reizi visas trases, ieskaitot melno. Smagi, bet forši! #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-20

  • Sežu strādāju, nevienu netraucēju, un pēkšņi 4 dažādi cilveki 1 minūtes laikā man atsūt kaut ko caur dažādiem čatiem/messngeriem :P #

  • Šodien gan politiķiem ir padevusies jautra diena, un rītdiena solās būt vēl jautrāka :) #

  • Congratulations to @tomlenk @tiaburn (birthdays) and to Juta Strīķe (about to get her oppressive boss fired) :D #

  • Kāds būs Rīgā ūdenim piemaisījis kauna un godīguma koncentrātu, tik laba nedēļa tiesiskumam sen Latvijā nav bijusi :D #

  • Kanādas Formula 1 šogad bija visfantastiskākā sacīkste pēdejo pāris gadu laikā. Superīgi! #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-13

  • Apple veiksmīgi sāk kopēšanu no Android un beidzot atbrīvo savus lietotājus arī no iTunes važām (lielai daļai darbību). #

  • Pārinstalēju savu mājas datoru uz SSD, aizmirsu uzlikt sshd, tagad nevaru attālināti pieslēgties ... #fail #

  • Ir kaut kas, kas attur LTV7 vienmēr tiešraidē rādīt visas Saeimas un MK sēdes? Būtu ļoti pamācoši. @arniskrauze #

  • RT: @dzhonijs "Microsoft - disconecting people" #skype #fail #

  • Tempereatūras situācija šobrīd tāda, ja ejot ārā no ofisa nevis jāvelk mugurā jaka, bet gan jāvelk nost žaķete un krekls :P #

  • Neesi oligarhs - cieni savus līdzcilvēkus - maksā nodokļus. #

  • Lai ātri atdzistu jāiemērc plaukstas 25-30 grādu tekošā ūdenī - ne aukstā, jo aukstā ūdenī kapilāri saraujas un dzese pārtrūkst. #

  • Nāk no ziemeļiem vēsumiņš un zibentiņš! #

  • Teikā lietus pamazām jau sāk. #

  • Pērkona negaiss, silts lietutiņš, balkons ar skatu uz Rīgu, zibeņi, auksts kvass, plikas kājas izbāstas pa balkona margām. #ir kaifs būt. #

  • Damn, Love bites ir super jautrs seriāls. Mikrostāsti par seksu un mīlestību ar super foršiem aktieriem. #

  • "- What do you fantasize about? - Firemen. - Plural? - What can I say - 9/11 affected me in many ways." - Love bites #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-06

  • 5% barjeru skaita pa visu valsti. Ja būtu pa reģioniem, tad twitterotāju partijai varētu būt izredzes tikt iekšā caur Rīgas reģionu. #

  • Pēdējā partija pagājušajās vēlēšanās rādija sevi kā nenopietnu joku, katrai partijai jāparāda sevi gatavu strādāt valdībā, lai to ievēlētu. #

  • Man ir uztaisīts Google filts, kas sūta man info, kad tiek pieminēts mans vārds vai niks. Interesanti Šķēle tā sevi spamo vai nē? #

  • Un tikmēr notiek īstā #revolucija - Linux kodols gatavojas versijai 3.0 par godu trešajai tā izstrādes desmitgadei :) #

  • Redz, smaga dzīve deputātam: atturies - atlaiž, neatturies - sastāda administratīvā pārkāpuma protokolu. - IV daļa #

  • is awesome - kids react to death of Bin Laden (week after reacting to Nyan cat) #

  • Visi sola balsot par Zatleru, nu gan būs joki, ja pirmā kārtā 'negaidod' nejauši ievēlēsies Bērziņš. :P #

  • Vai tas nozīmē, ka 5 deputāti "atturējās"? Interesanti vai būs jaunas debates pirms otrās balsošanas? #

  • OT: Somijā vilciens līdzīgs Rīga-Krstpils (pēc attāluma un svarīguma) maksā virs 40€ un parasti kavē 20+ minūtes #

  • . @klavina ja SC+ZZS būs 50 vietas arī pēc šitā balagāna, tad nopietni jāapšauba Latvijas tautas prāta spējas. in reply to klavina #

  • Pāris veci tweeti no kautkāda cache ievēlās iekšā :P #

  • . @sicis kamēr viņš nesēdēs centrālcietumā - neapdomāsies. Tad gan varētu pēkšņi sākties cietumu tīrīšanas un paplašināšanas darbi. in reply to sicis #

  • ASV, piemēram, vispār ir vāks - viņi ir jau pāri bankrota robežai politisku intrigu dēļ. Un mazākums grib nogriezt medicīnu pensionāriem. #

  • Vācija: atsakoties no ātomenerģijas nāksies ļoti daudz importēt elektro, būvēt daudz ogļu staciju un augstpr. elektro līnijas rezervātos #

  • Japānā iznīcinātas ēkas un noplūdusī radiācija samērojama ar ātombumbas sprādzienu un vēl daudz miljardu vajadzēs tīrīšanai. #

  • Par jautrībām tuvajos austrumos un Āfrikā vispār var tikai paklusēt. Īsāk sakot - šobrīd visur ir jautri, labi ka pie mums tikai klauni. #

  • . @klavina ja SC+ZZS būs 50 vietas arī pēc šitā balagāna, tad nopietni jāapšauba Latvijas tautas prāta spējas. #

  • Jaunajai Saeimai jāpieņem divi likumi: 1. Bērziņš=muļķis, 2. Prezidenta pensija aizstāj vecuma pensiju. #

  • Bērziņus dusmās spert nevajag - vajag pie tiem nokārtot dabiskās vajadzības: pašam veiglāk un arī kokam labāk. #

  • Jāustaisa @Ateistiem paziņojums - 'Dievkalpojums atcelts, jo Dievs nav ieradies' un jāuzlīmē svētdienā uz baznīcu durvīm :P #

Powered by Twitter Tools