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SCALE Conference

I got to attend yet another conference for work! This time I went to SCALE - the Southern California Annual Linux Expo - in Pasadena. I was able to justify the travel since there were plenty of talks on the observability stack we use at work. It was a great conference and a pretty fun time as well. My old roommate from college was the one who recommended it to me as he was planning to attend several of the Kubernetes talks.

Wed, Mar 13, 2024

I woke up at Nathan's apartment in the morning, and after some breakfast I did some work on Psychart. Then we hit the road, listening to 3rd Eye Blind, Mt. Joy, and other music. We made good time and got to Kettleman City around noon for lunch at In-n-Out. It was actually a relatively painless drive (Nathan drove the whole way) and we got to the hotel in Pasadena before 4 PM! After going to our rooms, we decided to explore town a bit. We walked through downtown, visited a few shops, and went to Stone Brewing. I tried a pilsner which was good, and a kind of peanut butter and jelly sour beer, which was nasty. When we got hungry for dinner, we went to GameStop - I mean, SushiStop. (It had the exact same logo except for "Sushi" instead.) It looked kind of sketchy but I'm so glad we tried it. We each ordered sushi appetizers and I ate an amazing curry udon bowl. After that, we finished the day off by going to a nearby arcade and played Mortal Kombat, several pinball machines, and a bootleg MarioKart game. It was awesome, and I got to drive as a Tamagotchi! I can't believe we have a conference to go to tomorrow.

Thu, Mar 14, 2024

The conference started today! In the morning, Nathan and I walked over to a cafe to grab breakfast and then went back to the conference center. We got our badges printed by a Raspberry Pi computer and then went to our first workshops. The one I went to was on Typescript and WebAssembly. It was difficult to follow along, but I did manage to get some sample code working. After that, I met up with Nathan and one of his coworkers, Tony, for lunch, and 2 other guys from their workshop tagged along. We ate at Rubio's where I ordered a California burrito but received something else. When asking about it, they told me to keep what they sent out and they would remake me the California burrito... so in the end, I got 2 burritos for the price of 1!

After lunch, I joined some NixCon talks. Turns out, Nix is an operating system, a package manager, AND a configuration language. So, it's pretty complicated. It was a completely different vibe than the other talk I went to. I loved the energy here, and now I want to try installing NixOS on my laptop. After 2 NixCon talks, I met back up with Nathan and Tony for drinks and appetizers at Yard House. I tried poke nachos for the first time, which seemed weird, but surprisingly was very good! The chips were fried dumpling dough. After Tony had to leave, Nathan and I went to Whole Foods to pick up breakfast, and finally I took a quick jump in at the pool when we got back to the hotel. It wasn't that cold!

Fri, Mar 15, 2024

This morning I had a quick and easy breakfast in my hotel room and met Nathan at the conference center. This was a super busy day for me. We started the day off together back at NixCon with the talk "NixOS is a better Docker image builder than Docker." The speaker was really funny and had a 2-character GitHub username. Then I broke off and went to some embedded systems talks, one on AI with Raspberry Pi, and the other on the NASA-JPL Open Mars Rover project, where you can build your own rover at home. Then I attended an Open Government talk on the GTFS (general transit feed specification) data specification. Turns out, this is where Google Maps gets its traffic and transit data from. It was really interesting and it is the de facto standard for all public transit that publishes their data.

I met up with Nathan and Tony for lunch at King Taco, and our 2 new colleagues, Sumner and Addison joined us there. It was a pretty good (and cheap) lunch, I ate 2 chimichangas. After lunch, Addison and I went to Ubucon for a talk on deploying a supercompute system in Ubuntu. It was interesting to hear a bit more about some of the software we use at NERSC, like Slurm. Although, most of it went over my head anyway. After this was over, Addison and I went to the expo together and I spent probably an hour talking to the Grafana team. I didn't know any of the team, but they were all helpful, and I got a ton of stickers from them. I collected so many stickers that day and 2 T-shirts.

Then, we grouped back up with Nathan and Tony and went to dinner together for burgers at The Stand. It was a little plain, but the burger meat was really good, and the fries were crispy and delicious. Tony had to leave after dinner, but then we finally got to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time - go ice skating! There's an ice skating rink right next to the hotel that I can actually see from my room, and we tried it out. I was shocked how good the other guys were skating and I could not keep up their speed. Plus, the ice was really chipped, making it a rough ride. I got all bruised up, but it was a lot of fun.

Sat, Mar 16, 2024

It was yet another busy day. In the morning, Nathan and I attended 2 talks together. One on Godot, a free, open source game engine, and the other on the dev/stage/prod pattern but for data sources. The Godot talk was funny and threw some shade at Unity, and my old employer, EA. For lunch we went back to The Yard House with some of the guys we met. Things were extremely crowded because America's Got Talent was hosting at the same convention center! So, there were huge crowds from both events. After a long wait, we got our food. I ate a chicken sandwich and some fries which were very tasty. Then we dashed back to the convention center to catch the next round of talks. If you watch America's Got Talent, maybe you'll see me rushing along in the background footage.

I spent the rest of the day in the "Observability Track," which were a series of talks on metrics, logs, traces, and all things observability. It seems like the general theme is that OpenTelemetry is becoming the standard framework for instrumented systems. I'm not sure if we're using that at work, but I'll need to find out. For dinner, it was just me, Nathan, and Tony, we went to L&L Hawaiian BBQ and I had a bowl with chicken, rice, and veggies. Thankfully there was no wait this time and the food was just as good. Nathan and I returned to the hotel where we spent some time working on our passion project, a simple multi-player game that communicates over a network. Unfortunately, we found out that our original idea of using Websockets for the client side is not going to work which means we/I need to redo the client. I guess it's an opportunity to apply some of the things I learned in the last few days!

Sun, Mar 17, 2024

Finally it was time to head back home. After a bit of a lazy morning, we hopped in Nathan's car and drove to Camarillo to pick up his girlfriend and stop for coffee (not for me, though.) After getting back on the road, we got to drive down highway 1 for a bit, which is a beautiful stretch of road right along the coast. Eventually we stopped for lunch in San Luis Obispo for really good burritos, with really spicy salsa. The rest of the drive was mostly uneventful until going past Gilroy, where there was a frustrating traffic jam. But luckily, I was still able to get home just in time to go watch The End of Evangelion in theaters with my sister.


It was definitely an interesting and fun conference. I got to make some good connections there. If I could do it again, I would focus more on the workshops since I think I had the potential to learn a lot more from those types of events. Sometimes, just hearing people talk about the software or specification can be a bit abstract. Although, they did make me aware of a lot of emerging technologies.