2010/10/25

First Impressions of Reno and OOPSLA/SPLASH

Filed under: Conference Report — Tags: — nick @ 08:43

Hi, I’m Nick Cameron, a post-doc at Victoria University of Wellington. I’m going to be covering the SPLASH/OOPSLA conference for the JOT blog.

It should be an interesting year for OOPSLA: it has undergone re-branding from OOPSLA to SPLASH (a re-arrangement of the OOPSLA letters, minus OO (because who programs with objects any more?), and appended with “for Humanity” (cringe)). The research paper selection process has changed too, they introduced `white-ball’ papers (each member of the PC can select one paper to be accepted without argument), and there were slightly more papers accepted than in previous years (including mine, so I can’t really complain; Thursday afternoon, if you’re interested). The payment structure has changed too: you have to register and pay for individual workshops, I can’t comprehend why – the best thing about workshops is wandering between them.

Anyway, after twenty-odd hours on a plane from NZ, we started our descent into Reno, we got a birds-eye view of the Nugget (the conference venue and hotel) as we came in – sandwiched between the expressway and a railway yard, it did not look good. Reno airport was like a gateway into hell, slot machines everywhere and a backdrop of billboards for “gentleman’s clubs”.

The conference venue is almost comically grim. The main floor is a sea of slot machines and haggard looking people. There are a lot of cowboy hats around, and not in an ironic way. No-one looks happy to be here, mostly people look desperate, or just plain chewed up. People smoke a lot, indoors, which seems a bit odd in 2010. There is a patched motorcycle gang drinking in the lobby (seriously, this is not an exaggeration).

If I had to describe Sparks, and the Nugget, in a word, it would be “grim”. I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed in the location of a conference. I hope (and anticipate) the conference itself will be excellent, although it will have to be to justify enduring this place for a week. On the bright side lots of interesting people are arriving, and the free wifi at Starbucks has become a natural hub…

OOPSLA Registration

Things are looking up at registration: registration was very quick and efficient, the conference pack was pretty streamlined – no conference bag and not too much spam, which is great – I dislike the amount of waste most conferences generate. There is wifi in the lobby and conference rooms (yay!), and the gift was the cutest set of rainbow mini highlighters, which is a nice change from a USB stick, although not as practical.

Looking through the program is pretty exciting, there seems to be a lot of good-sounding papers and invited talks. The organisers also seem to have managed the scheduling well – despite three concurrent sessions at most times, there is not a single clash between talks I’d like to attend; Thursday’s invited talk does seem to clash with lunch, however, not sure how well that is going to work out.

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