Sakai in Paris, Day 1

I arrived in Paris late Thursday afternoon, so Friday was my first full day in the city. The hotel is very nice although everyone staying here seems to be either American or German–very few French folks choose the Marriott, I suspect, but it is the only hotel with conference facilities in the area. I have a room on a high floor (a perk of being part of the group organizing the conference) with a nice view of the Pantheon and Monmartre in the distance.

I got some work done in the morning, visited the school my children will attend while we’re living here (starting in late August) and went back to the hotel where more Sakai folks were finding their way in.  I had a nice lunch at Restaurant Apollo near the hotel with Anthony Whyte, Noah Botimer, Jim Eng, Kirk Alexander, Megan May, Ryan Lowe and Ryan’s wife Brittany.  We then took a long walk (led by me, as I’ve been here more frequently and more recently than anyone else in the group, I think) that took us through the Jardin du Luxembourg to Notre Dame, then across to the Isle Saint-Louis (for ice cream, of course) and then to UPMC.  From there we checked out a small corner of the Jardin des Plantes (a must-visit during the conference since it is so close to the university).

At this point our will to walk gave out and we decided to try the metro ride from the university (stop: Jussieu) to the hotel (stop Glacière, after a change at Place d’Italie) which was very efficient. We all wondered what it will look like when 300 Sakai folks try to get on the train at the same time after the keynote sessions at the hotel. Paris a city of more than 2 million people, so it will probably be just fine…we’ll see.

The project planning meetings start in 2 hours, so it’s time to get ready. I’m really looking forward to the discussions of the next set of Sakai releases. More on this subject after the disucssion….We’re going to try (unlike in St. Paul) to post at least brief notes to the wiki on the same day of the meetings.


Moodle Conference

Last week, by invitation of Jason Cole (author of Using Moodle), I attended the Moodle Moot in South San Francisco. The highlight was Martin Dougiamas’ keynote on Tuesday morning. He led the audience (around 225, I think) back to the origins of Moodle in 2001 (Moodle is a few years older than Sakai) and his original interest in creating “Open Source and social constructionist epistemologies.” Needless to say, Moodle has spread very widely since it’s birth.

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Sakai Conference Attendees

In case you didn’t see the announcement on the email lists, we’ve just enabled the “Sakai Faces” functionality on the conference website. If you’re registered for the confrence you can see a list of everyone else who is currently registered (except those that requested their information not be made available).  You can update your profile, add a picture, etc.

This is a great way to find out who is attending so you can begin to set up meetings with folks you’re particularly interested in talking to. If you’re registered for the conference you can access the attendee list and face book at

Also, if you’re a relative newcomer to Sakai you should know that we’re having a Newcomer’s Reception on Monday evening from 18:30 – 20:00 at the Marriott Rive Gauche. Yves Epelboin will be there from UPMC (our gracious and generous conference hosts) as will members of the conference program commitee. This is a good way to learn how to get the most out of the conference and to meet some friendly faces who can help you during the conference itself. We’ll be sending out an electronic invitation to registered attendees in the next few days.

Newcomers should also check out the pre-conference workshops on Monday. There is no additional cost for these and there are of exceptionally high quality.

See you in a few weeks!

Moodle Moot in San Francisco

I’ve met Jason Cole (author of Using Moodle) on a couple of occasions.  He’s also attended at least one Sakai Conference and I’m sure many in the Sakai community know him.  In any case, I saw Jason recently and he invited me to attend the upcoming Moodle Meeting (called a ‘Moot’) in San Francisco, which takes place this Tuesday and Wednesday.

I’m really looking forward to it and I’ll hopefully have a chance to sit down with Martin Dougiamas at some point.  I’ll write a blog or two about the conference over the next few days….

And, while I’m at it, don’t forget to register for the Sakai Conference if you haven’t already!

2008 Sakai Fellows!

In case you didn’t see the announcement on the email lists, the 2008 Sakai Fellows have been selected. We had a large set of qualified nominees, a real testament to the size, quality and diversity of the community.

In alphabetical order, the Sakai Fellows selected for 2008 are:

  • Alan Berg, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Nuno Fernandez, Universidade Fernando Pessoa
  • David Horwitz, University of Cape Town
  • Beth Kirschner, University of Michigan
  • Maggie Lynch, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Stephen Marquard, University of Cape Town

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Bay Area Sakai BBQ

Saturday was the first (annual?) SF Bay Area Sakai BBQ, held at my house in Berkeley. About 30 folks showed up including, as you might expect, people from Berkeley, UC Davis and Stanford. Patty Sullivan from IBM was there as was Steve Schoen from Agilearn. We met a new member of the community, Stephen Ryan, who is working with Kaiser Permanente to build an online physical therapy orthopedic Fellowship program.

There were some unexpected guests from outside the Bay Area so I’m glad I spammed the lists with the party announcement. Nicola from NYU was there (she had been in town for Google I/O) and Jess Mitchell, Fluid’s new project manager, stopped by, all the way from North Carolina.

But the “what the heck are you doing here” award goes to Ian Dolphin and his colleague Vicky (sorry, last name escapes me) from Hull. They were in town for a Sun Microsystems digital archiving and preservation conference and were able to come by before the returned home to the UK on Sunday. Very cool.

It was a fun event even if the sun only came out for about 15 minutes around 5:30. I made barbecue for the meat eaters (almost everyone, even in Berkeley) and, yes, it was barbecue. It’s important to note that in the United States there is a difference between barbecuing and grilling. BBQ is slow cooking with smoke over indirect heat. Grilling is fast cooking over high heat. Most people never barbecue.

So I made pulled pork for about 25 people. Take 3 good size pork shoulders. Rub with spices (salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, brown sugar). Put in your smoker (I use a kettle hot smoker, basically a 55 gallon drum turned on its side with a separate fire box…looks something like this) and let it cook for as long as you can stand, at least 8 hours, preferably 12.  You should use real hardwood, not charcoal, although a mixture of the two will do.  Serve with cole slaw on fluffy white buns. And beer. Yum.

I also made cocktails for the crew. It was the “Desert Sun” which is not my favorite but good on a sunny day (which we didn’t have) and easy for a crowd. But that’s a different blog.