Disclosure: GitHub Universe 2019

This is one of my regular disclosure posts. You can read more of them here.

GitHub Universe

GitHub Universe was held in San Francisco, CA from 12-13 November 2019. I attended as a guest of GitHub.

Monday 11 November 2019

I took our usual PivotNine car service to the airport around 7am. My flights to and from the USA were organised by the Linux Foundation so I could attend KubeCon the following week. Coordinating multiple conference attendance can be an interesting exercise in cross-company logistics.

I had breakfast in the Qantas lounge before leaving Australia on Qantas in economy class, up in the little section of economy seating at the back of the A380 upstairs. If I select a seat early enough, I can often get one up there, which I like because it’s a little quieter than the main section of economy seats downstairs.

We landed in LAX around 6am (still on Monday) and it took an hour or so to clear immigration because several planes had landed at once. I still don’t understand why we need to use the machines that take your photo only to then see a customs officer as well, but I guess it saves them having to take your photo and fingerprints.

I walked over to the Qantas lounge in LAX international for a shower and some breakfast, stopping briefly to play the piano that is still there between Tom Bradley terminal and terminal 4. I’d been practicing a bit at home, so I didn’t make quite as many mistakes this time.

There wasn’t a lot of time before I needed to head to my short flight to SFO, which was out of gate 53 which is a little remote terminal thing you get a bus to. It’s for short-haul American flights, I think. I was glad I’d left plenty of time as I initially thought I was at gate 52 which is in terminal 5, so I’d walked a little further than I needed to as there’s a bus to gate 53 from terminal 4 as well.

A quick flight to SFO and then I collected my bag and headed to BART into downtown and then walked to my hotel. I stayed at Hotel Triton, right next to the Dragon’s Gate entrance to Chinatown until Sunday, as GitHub very kindly paid for a few additional nights in SF.

After a quick game of Shower Puzzle™ I cleaned myself up and grabbed a pizza for dinner/breakfast while catching up on email and then having an early night as I’d been awake since the equivalent of 2am local time. I’ve yet to claim incidental expenses, but GitHub allocated $75 a day for meals outside of the conference. I expect to come in well under this once I process expenses, though PivotNine will pick up a lot of incidentals that aren’t directly related to individual conference attendance.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Most of Tuesday was spent around the Bay Area attending meetings with customers and sundry PivotNine related business.

At 4pm I joined the GitHub folks for a tour of their headquarters in San Francisco. It’s a nice building, though it has a lot more open plan than I personally enjoy. I did enjoy the library room they’ve constructed, and imagine that kind of quiet away-from-others place would be where I’d personally prefer to work. We knew it was a library because everyone instinctively started whispering and looking over their shoulder in case someone told them to shush.

GitHub PR organised an Uber to take us to the reception venue where press and analysts mingled with GitHub executives at B Restaurant at Yerba Buena for a few hours over nibbles and wine. I had a cleansing Scots Ale to start, and several mushroom arancini and similar small bits of food. There was a table with salami and similar cured meats, and several cheeses, that I completely missed until a French journalist pointed it out to me. I had a glass of forgettable local Cabernet with it, and finished with a small Japanese whiskey.

Around 10pm I shared a car back to the hotel with a couple of other analysts and several surplus bags of swag that had been left behind at the venue. It saved the venue staff having to do a bunch of extra cleaning up, I suppose. I ended up giving the bags (which contained a GitHub branded mug, a GitHub t-shirt, and some Octocat stickers) to my PR handler who was far more interested in the swag than I was. I did take a couple of stickers.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Wednesday morning PR called an Uber for the other A/NZ press and analyst folk to get to the conference. We bopped along to some excellent jazz tunes playing on PBS.

Conference breakfast was a small slice of quiche and a cup of American ‘coffee’.

Lunch was half a ham, cheese and lettuce sandwich thing and half a vegetarian focaccia thing. Both were heavier on the bread than filling, but I was busy with constant briefings so I didn’t really mind.

For dinner we were left to our own devices, but a bunch of PR and press folk hatched a plan to meet up for dinner. We met at 8pm, which was getting a little late for me given a week of early starts, but such is life. We ended up with reservations at Hakkasan for 9:30pm, which was nearby and was recommended by the hotel staff as having excellent dumplings. While we waited, we stopped in at a bar on Market St called Early Edition which had a live jazz band and some very enthusiastic elderly super-fans. The band was pretty great, and I sipped a negroni while chatting to PR until it was time to get to the restaurant. The food was amazing, though we were all pretty hungry by this late hour. We also shared the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu between the five of us, but it was perfectly fine (and still $60 so not super cheap). We ended up spending about $48 per person, which is still well under our allowance.

I was in bed before 11pm, thankfully, as Thursday was destined to be a late one.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Thursday was another Uber with the group over to the conference, and breakfast was just coffee as I was still a bit full from the late dinner the night before.

Lunch was sandwiches again, though this time there was a really tasty ham and cheese roll thing, and I went back for a second half-sandwich after the first. Oh, and a packet of crisps.

I bailed from the conference at 4pm to battle San Francisco traffic to get to Caltrain so I could head down to Mountain View for the Tech Field Day 10th anniversary reception, which was totally worth the effort. I had a glass or two of wine while chatting to what felt like a hundred people before realising that I needed to eat something more than a single canape and a piece of celebratory cake. I had a few Thai-style rolls and some little mushroom cup things before the event closed down around 9:30pm.

After some good-byes, I called a Lyft around 10pm to get me back to San Francisco rather than try to make the late Caltrain and deal with complex late-night logistics. I was back at the hotel by 11pm, and had a nightcap of a negroni at a pub around the corner from the hotel with the intention of a quiet wind-down from what had been a full-on week. I bumped into the press and PR folk from Universe again who just happened to be at the same venue, so I hung around longer than I’d intended to and bought people a couple of rounds of drinks while we chatted into the small hours. That’ll go on my own expenses and won’t get charged back.

Happily I only had one meeting scheduled for the following morning, and that had been cancelled, so I got to sleep in a bit.

Friday-Sunday 15-17 November 2019

I mostly worked in the hotel and generally kept to myself after several days of intense peopling, though I did get to have dinner with Andy Banta and his family on Friday night, which was nice.

Expenses here were minimal, but they’ll be on my own account.

I checked out of the hotel on Sunday to head to KubeCon, but I’ll handle the detailed disclosure details for that in a separate post.

Swag, Etc.

  • Two custom Octocat stickers created using the Octocat creator station thing GitHub had set up. It was the same system as last year, but GitHub actually got stickers printed for you after a short delay, rather than just emailing you a JPG of the design.
  • A small GitHub branded pouch, containing a GitHub branded notebook.
  • A set of Microsoft product enamel pins as part of a treasure hunt exercise for the conference. I managed to collect all four by talking to Microsoft Azure people at the booth briefly. They’re quite good quality pins. I’m not sure if pins are the new stickers, though, as they tend to set off metal detectors.
  • A couple of sheets of emoji sticker things, that I now assume were supposed to be used to decorate my conference badge. Oops.
  • A Sonatype branded business card holder, which seems an odd choice for a developer-centric conference. It has a little “questions to spark conversation” card inside, so maybe that was the idea? Anyway it’s lighter metal than my Melbourne Business School cardholder, so it’s probably useful for travelling.
  • A Sentry branded hotdog stressball toy thing. Sentry were providing hot dogs for lunch each day, so that was the tie-in.


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