Friday, June 27, 2008

JRuby Japanese Tour 2008 Wrap-Up!

Whew! I survived the insanity of the JRuby Japanese Tour 2008, and now it's time to report on it. This post will mostly be a blow-by-blow account of the trip, and I'll try to post more in-depth thoughts later. I am still in Tokyo and need to repack my luggage, so this will be brief.

Day 1

  • Left my warm, sunny vacation in Michigan to board flight #1 from Chicago to Minneapolis
  • First-class upgrade for Chicago-Minneapolis flight.'s like an hour flight.
  • Just enough time in Minneapolis airport to change some money. Hopefully 20k ¥ will be enough. Compatible cash machines are hard to come by in Japan.
  • Twelve-hour flight #2 from Minneapolis to Narita. Glad I moved to a window seat facing a bulkhead, since I was able to stretch out and sleep most of the flight.
  • Arrived in Narita without event; purchased bus ticket to Tsukuba and rented a cell phone.
  • Bus ride to Tsukuba went through some very nice countryside.
  • Arrived in Tsukuba, walked about five minutes to the hotel and ran into Chad Fowler, Evan Phoenix, Rich Kilmer and others gathering in the lobby.
  • Checked into my room, dropped off my stuff, went back down to lobby to find other American rubyists had taken off for dinner. Teh suck. Ate unimpressive dinner alone in hotel restaurant.
Day 2
  • Ruby Kaigi day one.
  • Sun folks provided a JRuby t-shirt, which was great because I forgot to pack one of mine!
  • Delivered JRuby presentation, and it went very well. Demos almost all worked perfectly, lots of questions showed people were impressed.
  • Met up with Sun guys at Kaigi booth for a bit. They were giving away little Duke+Ruby candies! Awesome!
  • At evening event, lots of discussion about JRuby, and I got to show off Duby a little bit too.
Day 3
  • Ruby Kaigi day two.
  • Some good talks, but definitely a "day two" slate.
  • Especially liked Naoto Takai and Koichiro Ohba's enterprise Ruby talk. Very pragmatic, hopefully very helpful for .jp Rubyists.
  • Met up with ko1 and Prof Kakehi from Tokyo University to discuss progress of MVM collaboration.
  • Had to leave before Reject Kaigi to transfer to a hotel near Haneda Airport.
  • Dinner at Haneda Airport with Takashi Shitamichi of Sun KK.
  • Stayed at nearby comfortable JAL Hotel, basically JAL's airport hotel.
Day 4
  • Quick breakfast at Haneda Airport; "morning set" included a half-boiled egg, toast, salad, coffee.
  • Flight #3 from Haneda to Izumo. Upgraded for 1000¥ to first class.
  • Takashi and I met Matsue folks at Izumo airport for a short ride to Matsue.
  • Met up with NaCl folks including Matz, Shugo Maeda, and others.
  • Listened to a presentation in English about a large Ruby app migrated from an old COBOL mainframe app. JRuby used to interface Ruby with reporting solutions.
  • Lunch box at NaCl after presentation.
  • Played Shogi with Shugo after lunch. Shugo beat me pretty handily. He said I was strong (but I think he was just being polite).
  • Played Igo (Go) with Hideyuki Yasuda. He played with a 9-stone handicap and was winning when I had to leave. He invited me to join NaCl Igo club on KGS and said he'd like to continue the game online.
  • Delivered a lecture on JRuby with Takashi at Shimane University. Received some good questions, but it was a tough crowd (kids just starting out in CS).
  • Took a quick tour of Matsue Castle with Takashi and a personal guide. Basically ran to the top, looked around, and ran back down. Back to work!
  • Evening event at office of the "Ruby City Matsue" project. While everything was being set up, demonstrated JRuby/JVM/HotSpot optimizations for NaCl folks.
  • Delivered the opening toast for the evening event. Barely had time to eat between questions from folks. Showed off Duby and more HotSpot JIT-logging coolness.
  • Post-event trip to local Irish pub. Many Guinness were drunk. Many Rubyists were drunk.
  • Walked back to hotel earlier than others to get some sleep.
Day 5
  • Took a bus from Matsue back to Izumo Airport.
  • Flights #4 and #5 took me from Izumo to Haneda and Haneda to Fukuoka. Saw Mount Fuji from the air, poking just above the clouds.
  • Takashi and I missed flight #5, so we were delayed about an hour.
  • Arrived in Fukuoka, immediately raced over to Ruby Business Commons event. Delivered presentation to an extremely receptive crowd.
  • Post RBC event included beer, various dried fishy things, and lots of photo-taking and card-exchanging. Showed off Duby again, and met authors of an upcoming Japanese book on JRuby!
  • Invited out for more drinking (famous Fukuoka Shouchu), but Takashi wisely told them we were very tired.
Day 6
  • Breakfast at Izumo airport. "Honey toast" and coffee. Basically a thick slice of toast with butter and honey.
  • Flight back to Tokyo (Haneda) from Izumo.
  • Checked into Cerulean Tower Hotel in Shibuya, my final home for the trip.
  • Off to Shinagawa to present JRuby at Rakuten's offices. Across the street from Namco/Bandai! Lots of great questions...I think they were impressed.
  • Back to Shibuya with Takashi for Shabu-Shabu dinner. Mid-range Japanese beef...truly excellent. Ate way too much.
Day 7
  • Woke up a couple times in the night with indigestion. Why oh why did I eat so much beef?
  • Off to Sun KK offices in Yoga for a public techtalk event.
  • JRuby presentation wowed attendees...lots of questions after and great discussions.
  • Traditional Japanese-style dinner with Takai-san and Ohba-san, plus the excellent Sun KK JRuby enthusiasts.
  • Witnessed registration of new site and discussed new mascot ideas for JRuby. NekoRuby, perhaps?
  • Many new consumption firsts: Hoppy (cheap beer plus shouchu on ice), raw beef, and raw horse. I can check horse off my list.
  • Ramen in Shibuya to close out the night.
Day 8
  • Internal presentation on JRuby at Sun KK offices. Slim attendance...there were apparently HR training sessions at the same time. But still fun.
  • Big sigh of relief at being done presenting. Lunch at Chinese restaurant with Takashi and said goodbye. どもありがとございます, Shitamichi-san!
  • Stopped into hotel to arrange remaining plans for the day.
  • Visted Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku, to see images and artifacts of the old capital. Choked up a bit watching videos of the incendiary bombing raids by the US on Tokyo.
  • Headed to Akihabara to meet up with ko1. Wandered around for about an hour before heading up to his "Sasada-lab".
  • Mini "JRuby Kaigi" at Sasada-lab. Showed off Duby, JRuby optimizations, and Ruby-Processing demos (plus applets!).
  • Off to "Meido Kissa" ("Maid Cafe") with ko1 and other members of ruby-core. Very unusual experience, but entertaining.
  • Back to hotel. Considered a trip to my favorite Belgian beer bar in Shibuya ("Belgo"), but I'm plumb tuckered out. Catching up on email, IRC, and writing this post.
Day 9
  • All that remains is getting to Narita and flying home. Hopefully all will go smoothly.
Well, that's about it. Any names I've excluded I'll hopefully include in more detailed posts later. To all the Japanese Rubyists (and JRubyists): thank you so much for making me feel so welcome, and I hope we can work together to make JRuby the best Ruby implementation it can possibly be. Please feel free to email me (Japanese is ok!) or find me on IRC (Japanese is ok!) and please try to help the site be a success when it is ready. I think there's a tremendous future for JRuby in Japan!