Pete's Log: Usenix 2001

Entry #1053, (Travel)
(posted when I was 22 years old.)

Once again, I am back in South Bend. For this log entry, "we" will generally refer to Paul Schermerhorn, Rob Minerick, and myself.

Wednesday morning we departed from South Bend airport to Pittsburgh, and from there to Boston. An uneventful trip. We checked out the hotel a bit: huge. It had a mall on the second and third floors, as well as a pedestrian bridge from the second floor to another mall across the street. Huge conference areas on floors 2-4, several restaurants, and then 30 some odd floors of rooms. We quickly discovered that the elevators sucked (they had 9, but there were still absurdly long waits), but luckily we were on the seventh floor and thus the stairs were our savior.

We met up with Dr Freeh for dinner, ended up at an Indian place. I had the chicken vindaloo, it was quite good, but not as spicy as I expected.

Thursday: first day of the conference. I saw two general track talks: "Virtualizing I/O Devices on VMware Workstation's Hosted Virtual Machine Monitor" and "Magazines and Vmem: Extending the Slab Allocator to Many CPUs and Arbitrary Resources" which were both excellent. I also saw two Freenix track talks: "The Design and Implementation of the NetBSD rc.d System" which was less interesting, it mainly dealt with the politics of implementing the change. And "User-level checkpointing for LinuxThreads Programs" which was decent, but not great. We also checked out the vendor exhibition.

We had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, which was an interesting place. I had a Thai Chicken pizza, it was excellent. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant, I had sweet and sour pork, which was also very good. We also explored some of Boston, we found the Boston Tea Party ship and museum, which was very disappointing, and then wandered around the Beacon Hill area and the Boston Commons.

Friday: we ran into Mad Dog Friday morning. That morning I caught two Freenix track talks: "Improving the FreeBSD SMP Implementation" and "Page Replacement in Linux 2.4 Memory Management" which were decent. For lunch we went to a Sushi bar inside the hotel, good stuff. After lunch it was time for Paul's (Freenix track) talk: "User-Level Extensibility in the Mona File System." Paul talked well, but I really hope I'm done with Mona forever now. I then caught another Freenix talk: "The Design and Implementation of a Transparent Cryptographic File System for UNIX" which was quite good. Mad Dog and I then set out into Boston again (Paul and Rob didn't want to walk anymore) and found our way to the USS Constitution (a.k.a. "Old Ironsides") ... very cool. Friday night also featured the Usenix reception. Free beer and tons of excellent food. Mad Dog joined Paul, Rob and I for dinner there. We also finally ran into Seva at the reception (he was supposed to share my hotel room, but we'd not shown up the first two nights). After the reception, Paul, Rob, Seva and I decided to check out the Boston club scene. We wandered towards the Fenway park area, and after scouting a few options ended up in a bar which featured "Dualing Pianos" ... it was a ton of fun, the pianists were excellent, and the place had a good crowd. I proved to be retarded when Paul and Rob tried to get me talking to this really cute blond, but beyond that, a great night.

Saturday we had some issues waking up. I barely made it to a General Track talk I'd really wanted to see, "A Toolkit for User-Level File Systems" which ended up being a decent talk. For lunch we went to a Middle Eastern restaurant which proved to be mediocre, despite a "Best of Boston" award hanging in the window. I then checked out "The Future of Virtual Machines: A VMware Perspective," an invited talk. It ended up being more of a marketing talk than I had hoped for, but it was decent, there were some good questions asked at the end. We then checked out the "Usenix Quiz Show" which was the last event. It was quite amusing. For dinner we found a Vietnamese place, I had a beef curry which was excellent.

Saturday: the trip back. Uneventful, though I took a bunch of pictures from the plane.

Opinion of Boston: Boston was very ugly at first, due to the ongoing Big Dig, which covers much of the city in a layer of construction. I found the amount of honking in traffic irritating, and I was disappointed at the large amounts of trash littering the Boston Common, which was otherwise a beautiful park. But there were many neat buildings, the people were friendly for the most part, and we found a bunch of good food.

oh yeah: Free Stuff. I got two t-shirts, a hat, a Usenix bag and a Usenix frisbee-like thing. Some weird sticker thing. That's all I can think of.

Rob brought an age of empires cd. Since all three of us had powerbooks with airport cards (Paul had Dr Freeh's G4 titanium) we played a bunch of networked age of empires ... on the flights, in the pittsburgh airport, and in the hotel. A very fun game. Wireless is the coolest thing ever. I really enjoyed the wireless network the Usenix people had set up.

pictures available online

Usenix 2001 rocked. Usenix 2002 is in Monterey, CA. I definitely wouldn't mind going there.