A trip to Dallas

My press pass to MLG Dallas
My press pass to MLG Dallas

On Monday, I got back from my third (and final, for a while at least) trip to a major city.  I’ve previously discussed my trips to Boston and New Orleans, which were both for work, but this trip was to a huge Starcraft 2 / League of Legends tournament at MLG Dallas.  I went there with my friend Ethan and some other people from Leaguepedia, a wiki devoted to League of Legends that I volunteer some development time for.

I had been to an MLG previously (Columbus 2012), but this was my first time going as more than just a spectator.  It was a really cool experience — I got to meet a bunch of pro players / help with interviewing them, and had access to areas that were otherwise off-limits.  I’m a big fan of e-sports, and MLG is probably the event to attend (in North America, anyway) for professional videogame competition.

More than the event itself, though, I really enjoyed meeting the people I had been working with previously — the guys from Leaguepedia were all super cool, and the trip had a different pace than all the trips I’d been taking with SAnToS.  There also was an after-party, which was a total blast.  I got to meet a number of big names (Flash, djWheat, itmeJP, Day[9] and a whole lot more) which made it the highlight of the whole trip.

I’m definitely happy to be back home for a while, but traveling is / was a good time too.  Whether it’s my work with Leaguepedia or with SAnToS / K-State, meeting people in-person was fun, and makes working with them remotely much easier.

A trip to New Orleans

The HIMSS Show Floor
The HIMSS show floor — this goes on for a mile.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended this years HIMMS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) exhibition and conference.  I was there to help show / run our demo, and there was also time to do a little bit of exploring in New Orleans, which I hadn’t ever visited before.

The show itself was huge, by just about every metric.  There was nearly a million square feet of floorspace in the main exhibition hall, which was a mile long.  There were additional exhibition floors on other levels tailored to other areas (our booth, for example, was in the “Interoperability Showcase”).  I’m not sure of this year’s attendance, but in previous years there have been over 35,000 attendees — roughly half the size of Manhattan.

It was a productive conference though, as I got to meet with a large number of people, both within the research group, and external people who stopped by our booth / were interested in our work.  By far the most fun meeting I had was a man who, after I introduced myself, told me that he recognized my name from one of the papers I was listed as an author on.  That was really neat.  It’s odd, though — I know that networking / the interpersonal side of work is super important, but I never feel as productive doing something like HIMSS as I do just sitting down (either alone or in a group) and writing a bunch of code.  I suppose that an understanding of non-tangible productivity will come with experience.

Exploring New Orleans was also a lot of fun.  I had some time to walk around the French Quarter, which is a really cool, old area.  It has Bourbon Street, which one of my friends described as “Disney World for drunks.”  That’s a pretty accurate description, I think — I walked through it both at night and in the morning when they were cleaning all the streets / starting to open up some of the shops, and honestly preferred the latter.  There were a couple people in my group who were semi-knowledgeable about the history of the area, and getting to hear about all the the Spanish, French, and American bits of history was really interesting.

Jackson Square, New Orleans
A view of Jackson Square in New Orleans.

I’m not quite done traveling yet, as this weekend I’m headed to Dallas for the MLG Winter Championship.  I’ll be there with a group of people who work with Leaguepedia, and I actually have a press pass, so hopefully I’ll get to meet some players / see some cool, behind-the-scenes stuff.