Wednesday, 17 November 2010

It's a hard life.

Every year in November NAG staff attend SC, formerly known as SuperComputing, an annual showcase where computer hardware and software vendors can display their goods and services, along with a huge technical agenda covering all aspects of HPC and scientific computing.

The show moves around different cities in the United States. This year SC10 is in New Orleans, Louisiana, and running from 14th to 21st November, with around 10,000 registered attendees. It's the 23rd outing since the first one which took place in Orlando, Florida in 1988. NAG has attended every single one of these events, and is one of just a handful of outfits to do so.

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by French speculators interested in making money from trade and finance, and named after the then French Regent, Philippe, Duke of Orléans. In the mid-eighteenth century it was ceded to the Spanish. They're the ones who actually created most of the characteristic architecture in the heart of the city now known as the French Quarter. In 1801 it returned to French control, only to be sold to the United States a couple of years later as part of the "Louisiana Purchase". In more recent times New Orleans was badly hit by Hurricane Katrina, and there's a nice museum detailing all the sad events of that calamity next door to St. Louis' Church in downtown New Orleans.

So, SC is always a great place to find out about the latest developments in computing technology, talk to NAG customers, meet old friends and make new ones, and this year is no exception. By the way, if it's not too late and you want to come to talk to us, the NAG booth is number 3131 in the exhibition hall.

The trouble is the parties. They start on the Sunday evening, with the "Exhibitors' Party". This is open to anyone with an X on their name badge, meaning that they're working one of the booths in the exhibition hall. The food is piled high, and there's enough drink to float the Queen Mary.

Monday evening is the "Opening Night Party", which is at the nearby Metropolitan Night Club. A jazz band plays the hits of Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong and other New Orleans greats. The food is piled high, and there's enough drink to float the Queen Mary.

Tuesday evening. Two big parties going on, one hosted by Cray and AMD which takes place in a ballroom at the Marriott Hotel, and one hosted by SGI and Intel, which is at Pat O'Brien's Bar on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. In the interests of vendor neutrality, of course NAG staff must attend both parties. O'Brien's has another great jazz quartet playing, and is famous for "The Hurricane", a drink containing rum and a secret mix of fruits and spices. It's lethal, and guess what, there's enough of it to float the Queen Mary.

There are more parties to come. So, although we have the compensation of being able to learn more about what NAG users want in the way of fast numerical software, and finding out what our contemporaries are working on, the fact is, we've all got blisters on our feet from walking between the different parties.

It's a hard life. But someone's got to do it.

2 comments:

  1. You poor old thing, Mick ;-) Try to stay vertical at the parties (and on the stand) and don't fall off any barstools while you're flying the NAG flag over there.

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  2. Some of us were working!

    OK, I might also have been to a few minutes of one or more "evening networking events" ...

    [Another NAG attendee]

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