September 4th, 2009
Finally we come to the end of my holiday bloggings. In this, the final episode, Nick finally gets to ride on vlacek!
I went on a train journey to Karlštejn, not a destination chosen entirely at random, as the guidebook said it had a nice castle: and it did! It’s 33km south east of Prague and a return ticket cost 85 CZK (around £2.90) – pretty cheap. Czech railways seem a little run down, but are perfectly functional. The train I rode on dates from 1972 according to research on the intertubes. Presumably a hangover from its communist heritage the train had no 1st class section unlike some newer commuter trains I saw at Prague station.
Wednesday was my last full day in Prague, and as I took very few photos on Thursday I’ve gathered them all together here.
September 4th, 2009
As I was presenting a poster I couldn’t skive the whole conference, so I spent quite a lot of Tuesday listening to presentations. Still managed to get out in the morning for an hour or two, and there was an organized tour of the castle in the evening.
Since this episode is a bit dull maybe it’s a good time to talk about the conference. The two most interesting talks I saw were from Altera and Xilinx. On different days, presumably to avoid a fight. The Altera talk was my favourite, although I don’t really have any experience of Altera’s FPGAs. Talk was by Vaughn Betz, probably better known in FOSS land as the author of the VPR place and route tool. The subject was the problems and opportunities of FPGAs on <40nm processes. The primary argument seems to be that smaller process sizes favour FPGAs over ASICs (traditionally better for performance and volume price). Primarily because doing an ASIC at 40nm costs upwards of $4m for a mask set (and you're going to make mistakes...), plus the physics gets messy when the feature size is smaller than the wavelength of the light used to manufacture them, so you'll need some very experienced engineers. Thus most ASIC users are stuck at ~130nm, whereas FPGA users get many of the speed and density benefits of a 40nm process with a fraction of the NRE costs.
The Xilinx talk was along similar lines, but seemed more of a marketing presentation for their latest range of devices. Weirdly enough the speaker got a standing ovation at the end. Academics coveting industrial sponsorship? (The speaker was quite a well-known senior engineer and retiring.)
Poster session went OK. Quite a lot of people read it (or at least looked at it for >30s). A few talked to me about it, one guy quite in depth! Felt relieved when it was over.
Anyway, on to the obligatory photos!
September 4th, 2009
Woo! Another exciting episode of Nick’s holiday snaps! I hope you’re all enjoying them…
After going to the first keynote talk of the conference I didn’t really fancy any of the later talks so went out for a walk. Unfortunately the walk lasted over nine hours so I didn’t do any more conferencing that day. I think I had a lot more fun sightseeing though!
This episode covers the centre and western regions.
September 3rd, 2009
I’ve survived my trip abroad! Was really good. I didn’t exactly do a lot of conferencing, but I did all I was required to.
Prague is an incredibly pretty city, but some of the touristy areas are a bit tacky to say the least. However they have a truly excellent public transport system and I managed to ride on all the different components at least once; these being: bus, tram, metro, and train. Train (vlacek) was particularly exciting: a little run down, but they have buckets of charm which is sadly lacking on British trains.
Czech food is utterly awesome, consisting largely of salt, fat, and lots of red meat. Non-potato vegetable is rare. Nick heartily approves.
In contrast to previous adventure destinations such as Hull, Prague has an awful lot of things to do (i.e. more than three). So I ended up wandering around without visiting anywhere in particular. This turned out to be a good idea as I achieved high coverage with low expenditure.
I took rather a lot of photos which I’m going to caption and split up into a number of exciting episodes! In this, the first episode, Nick zooms through the skies and visits several communist landmarks before retiring to his bourgeoisie hotel.