|Some quick notes about the Oakland conference
||[May. 20th, 2008|04:37 am]
More detailed thoughts at a later time, perhaps. I'm running on 4 hours of sleep a day right now and loving it.
First, it's located in Berkeley. Why do we call it Oakland? Bizarre.
The average quality of the talks was very good, and better than I expected. But we can do better as a community. There should totally be a best speaker award. That'll motivate everyone to put more effort into their talks.
Today's best talks in my opinion were those by Charles Wright, Ben Ransford, David Brumley and Markus Durmuth (in some order). If you look at the program, all of these were attack talks. This is not entirely a coincidence: attack papers are easier to work on, easier to write, easier to present and more fun to listen to. More people should be working on attacks :)
Berkeley is awesome. SF is awesome. The bay area is awesome. My Mazda 3 rental is awesome (and dirt cheap.) The crowd here is great. Overall explosion of awesomeness.
The only shitty thing is the conference hotel. It's weird -- in my experience, hotel quality pretty much monotonically decreases with price. This one goes out of it's way to be bad (you're not paying $200 a night for nothing): wifi didn't work even though the conference paid for it. (On the other hand, your $35-a-night Motel6 has free wifi.) But that's just for starts.
It also had this whole faux European vibe going. All drinkable liquids were either alcoholic or carbonated. Continental breakfast. Sugar, then sugar topped with sugar, more sugar over there with a side of sugar. Sugary drink. Sugar. And did I mention sugar? Motel breakfast by contrast is usually ham and eggs and stuff like that. You know, actual food. Then we get to lunch, which was about 300 calories total. Whatever little there was of it was spaced out in 3 tiny courses over what felt like 4 hours.
Oh, and the other not-so-great thing: I don't like the culture of everyone attending all the talks. There is no way everyone could possibly be interested in everything. Ideally, half the people should be outside networking. This isn't something a single person can decide to do or not do -- if there's no one outside then there's no point in stepping out yourself. So each conference tends to have its own culture. CRYPTO (and I think some theory conferences) have the right balance.
Edit: I got the name of the speakers wrong, it was Michael Backes not Markus Durmuth.