Adventures in Toronto

posted on jun 9th, 2013 with tags openbsd and travel

I spent a week in Toronto, Canada attending the OpenBSD t2k13 hackathon hosted at the University of Toronto. While these events are put on every year in random places, I have not attended one since c2k7 in Calgary back in 2007. I tried to go to the Portugal hackathon last year but my travel plans got all screwed up.

I wrote about the technical details of what I accomplished at this event at the OpenBSD Journal so I won’t duplicate it here, but it was a fairly productive week for me. I remember at c2k7 I didn’t really have much to work on and felt out of place but this time I had more things to do than I had time.

Usually my biggest concern while traveling somewhere new is getting from the airport to where I’m supposed to be, but thankfully friend-of-the-project Mark Uemura picked up a bunch of us at the airport, and then drove us back at the end of the trip.

My general impression of Toronto was that it seemed rather plain and there was nothing significant about it, especially the food – it could have been any mid-sized town in the US. Once we walked many miles^Wkilometers to the suburbs for the BBQ it felt like any suburb of Chicago with tree-lined streets and similar building styles. I liked Canada’s dollar and two-dollar coins, even as much as I usually hate pocket change. They have also done away with the penny, so all cash transactions are rounded to the nearest 5 cents in your favor.

The squirrels in Toronto are all black, not gray like they are here. I’m not sure why I found that so fascinating.

Most of us stayed in rooms at the University of Toronto dorms and since they were paid for by the OpenBSD Foundation, I feel bad complaining, but I’m glad to be home. Having never attended college, I had no idea what it was like living in tiny, stinky dorm rooms with tiny, uncomfortable beds and shared bathrooms with crappy showers. For some reason everything in my room smelled like a petting zoo when I first arrived, especially my bath towel. After using it for two days and concluding that it was making me smell worse than I did before the shower, I asked the front desk for a new one. They declined and said I had to wash the one they gave me, which required buying a box of laundry detergent from the nearby 7-11 and paying to use the washer on my floor (of course I ran out of quarters and the dryer didn’t take dollar coins). On the last day of my stay, the university had put up signs indicating the water in the bathrooms was being shut off for repair as the showers had little to no water pressure and wildly varying temperature for most of the trip.

The dorms also had no wireless internet connectivity, but did have wired ethernet. I was delighted to find out that my Galaxy Nexus phone was able to get connectivity using my Apple USB ethernet adapter plugged into a USB OTG dongle without any 3rd party software. I was disappointed to find out that, while receiving text messages while roaming from T-Mobile worked, sending them did not.

Usually whenever I go out of town I have to pawn off Carl on some unsuspecting friends or family, it’s always such a hassle to transport him and his cage, and I feel bad about the whole situation. This time I used to find a sitter that was within walking distance. Of course during our walk (or rather, my walk and Carl’s carry) it started thunderstorming terribly and we had to seek shelter in a parking garage for about 20 minutes, and I was soaked. Carl hung out with some other dogs during the week and did not get eaten by them or get swear words shaved into his head, so I guess it all worked out.

I’m not really sure why I hadn’t been going to the OpenBSD hackathons in recent years, but I think I will be going to more of them (hopefully in countries other than Canada).

Questions or comments? E-mail me or tweet at @jcs.