Grace Hopper Conference

October 1-4, 2008: Keystone Resort, Colorado

Day 1 began at 5:15AM on Wednesday. A taxi picked up Trishan and Myles, and then came to Trinity for Rachel and I. After we piled our stuff in the trunk, we were on our way to Bradley Airport. We got some breakfast and ran into Professor Ingrid Russell, who would be joining us on our panel discussion. She was taking a later flight, and we’d see her in Colorado. The flight there was fairly uneventful: we had a pit stop in Philadelphia, where Myles happily got a Philly Cheese Steak, and then landed in Denver. We took the shuttles to the rental car place, where we saw many other Grace Hopper attendees—women, in groups, some with posters. We got our trusty GPS and a car, and off we went to Keystone.

The resort, with mountains in the backgroundLet me just say how amazingly beautiful it was. Jagged mountains already snow-capped, tall aspens all around, and a nearby lake to top it all off.  We got to the (huge!) resort and waited in line with all the other women at the front desk (oh, poor Myles and Trishan). We got all our keys and then checked in at the Conference Center, where we got small computer bags filled with goodies: about 20 different pens, pads of paper, a hand-powered flashlight, some cheap binoculars, a post-it-note booklet, 4 different kinds of chap stick, a water bottle, and Facebook mints, to name only a few. Then we checked out the condo: wow. We had a kitchen, dining table, gas fireplace, living room, 2 bathrooms, and 3 bedrooms.
But to the conference.

Rachel, me, and Myles struggling to stay awakeThe five of us worked on the presentation well into the east-coast night, and then decided to stop before we ceased making any sense, and finished the next day. Trishan managed to wake up early and go to a panel Thursday morning—the rest of us slept in and made it in time for lunch.

The Conference Center was full of companies and vendors giving out (more) free goodies and recruiting people, particularly students it seemed, for jobs and internships. I connected with a bunch of people, and perhaps have a chance at some internships for next summer. Let’s see if I can remember everyone who was there: Microsoft, Google, IBM, Intel, HP, Facebook, Wells Fargo, CA, Sun, Yahoo!, Ebay, Amazon, Lockheed Martin,…and some universities.
Trishan went to see a panel on “Enabling Nonprofits to Accomplish Their Missions through Technology” and said it was fairly boring, as he pretty much knew all about it. Later we worked on the presentation slides some more in a hall in the lodge, working out kinks, adding and removing things, and preparing for a quick run-through that night. I went to see “Taking the Long View – Many Careers in One Company”, which was pretty good and informative. Lake, mountains, and resortI wandered around, looking for internships in technical writing, which was a bit tricky, as everyone was pretty much recruiting for software development, but I got a lot of people who said they’d pass my information on, or to come back with my resume (I’d forgotten them! I realized as I tried to hand one to someone). I actually managed to talk to a technical writer for IBM, which was great, and someone at CA (Computer Associates) who did tech. writing would be at the booth on Friday. Cool!
We did a run-through of the slide deck (just Myles, Rachel, Trishan and I) and figured out timing. We stopped by the Awards Presentation for about 10 minutes, and then went out to dinner at the steakhouse in the lodge. It was a nice evening.Looking out on the lake
The next morning we got up and got ready for the panel. We went to the Conference Center, and quickly got breakfast at a café in the resort—part of the little Village Shops that were there. We got to the room, and after the panel going on before ours was done, we set up the computer and table. Before we knew it, we were starting. Rachel took the time and would make sure none of us (particularly Trishan) went over our time.
We had a sizeable amount of people attending: it went up to as high as around 60, which was great. Trishan introduced FOSS and HFOSS, briefly covering the various projects started. Ingrid talked about her Software Development class last Spring, which Myles took. She discussed how she found Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford and the impact of having a real client for the class to develop for. I then gave an overview on the Summer Institute 2008, including candid quotes from the students involved. Myles took the stage to discuss AppTrac from beginning to end. Or near end, we’ll see. He talked about how inspiring it was to join the Open Source community and learn skills you’d never learn in a classroom setting. He got a lot of people excited about HFOSS. Rachel went up to talk about OpenMRS and her involvement in that over the summer, and what she accomplished. The poster noting our panelOverall it went very well. When the first person finally dared ask a question, we had a great slew of questions that really got a lot of people into it. A lot of people wanted to know how to get involved, or to do something similar at their own school. Here are links to some other blogs already available about the panel. This one (ICTD) got the questions and answers to the panel, but aren’t the best notes, so here are few corrections:

  • Sadly, Professor Morelli was not present (which could have been deduced by counting).
  • It is not a CEPA grant, it is an NSF-CPATH grant.
  • “Work with ? Fdn. We don’t have a stie. Maybe you can work with us? How do you select projects?” I don’t really know what this means. MY guess is: “How can we work with you? We don’t have a site. How do you select projects?”
  • “borden college” should be “Bowdoin College”
  • The second answer to that question: “colleges” not “collages”
  • The third answer to that question was not in response to the question. Myles had mentioned that the first three weeks of the summer were so intense, it felt like we were thrown into a pool of sharks. This was Trishan’s response to that comment.
  • “A: all the projects that are developed are released, and eventually will be hosted on software, like aptract if it is an independent project will be released on sourceforge.” I don’t know what we host on software, but we do host on sourceforge, and “aptract” is actually the project “AppTrac”
  • “The cause with IBM – with Savana – it hit home.” Sahana, not Savana.
  • “A: We tried to stress that. It helps and hits home when they start and have to look at other code and get started and they don’t have it” means that Trishan and Professor Morelli tried to stress documentation (very true) and that it helped hit home for us when we went to look at or study another software’s code and were irritated by the fact that there was little to no documentation, which meant we had almost no clue what the code was supposed to do.

Myles, Trishan, Ingrid, Sarah, and RachelHere (Laurazavala) is another blog posting, less detailed, but more accurate and worth a look.

Some exciting people were there: a Director from the NSF, and the head of the Gnome project, whom we hope to work with!

After our panel we were free to wander some more (I handed out a bunch of resumes, which was great). There was a panel on “Women in the Brave New World of Free and Open Source Software”, which had the following description: “Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) is a movement that has changed the way software products are developed. Embracing FLOSS presents companies with strategic challenges in adjusting development processes, capturing revenue, and engendering strong open source communities. With development of open source projects done on the Internet by virtual teams with relative anonymity, traditional gender biases should be eroded. Yet, studies confirm that about 2% of open source community are women.”
Apparently FLOSS is now big. Richard Stallman got his wish. Anyway, Trishan and Rachel went and said it was good, and that they even mentioned HFOSS and the “Trinity program,” which is awesome. We left and then Trishan and I came back for other panel around 4pm. I went to “OurCS: Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science: A Conference for Undergraduate Women”, which was actually really cool and interesting. I talked to an undergrad who went to the OurCS conference and spoke on the panel, and she wasParty-lots of people so excited I was even the least bit interested. Trishan went to “Changing the World through Technological Innovation And Communicating Within Virtual Teams,” which was the one he was aiming to see.
That night there was a huge party and dinner sponsored by Google and Microsoft, which was cool but crowded, and the food was the best over the course of the conference. Myles, Rachel, and Sarah eatingWe stayed for a little, and then went back to the room to sleep.
We’d decided to get up at leave by 7:15am to see Boulder and some of Trishan’s friends before we went to the airport. Once we were on the road, by 8:30am, we discovered the GPS had never charged, and had one battery indicator left. Uh-oh. Our not-so-trusty GPS, after all. Rachel wrote down the directions to Boulder in case it died on the way, and we were off. We got probably halfway there when it finally died, though there were occasional spits of “Turn left in .5 miles” in a lovely English accent. The entire thing was mildly amusing, though Trishan didn’t seem to think so at first. When we got into Boulder, we met up with Trishan’s friends at a coffee shop, where we were regaled with funny stories and jokes: after all, they hadn’t seen him in about 4 years. We then went to The Cheesecake Factory for brunch (I didn’t even know they’d turned into a real restaurant—it was exciting. And yummy).All of us with Trishan\'s friends
Noting the time, and getting better direction from his friends, we rushed off to try to make the plane in time. And it was a rush. We dropped the car off, explaining about the GPS (and getting a discount on it), and took the shuttles to the gate. By the time we found the check-in, it was too late to check bags, so I had to stuff everything into two bags, and poor Rachel had to throw out all her toiletries because they were over 3oz. We finally made it through security (they didn’t like my bags very much) and ran off to the gate. We made it with I think 14 minutes to spare. Whew! So there was much shoving and attempts to put bags in the overhead compartments, when everyone else had also brought fairly large bags. There were people from the conference on the plane with us, and would be traveling with us to Bradley. We stopped in DC, and got some light dinner, and then (landing 20 minutes early!) we got a taxi to Trinity, arriving around midnight. Home sweet home.

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