satRday (Paris) 2019

21 February 2019

Arrived in Paris rather late after catching the Eurostar from London. Trip nearly started on a bad note when I underestimated the time required to checkin, get through passport control and security. Sat down on the train literally as it departed.

22 February 2019

Early start, working on my tutorial for satRday. When the Sun came up I went out for a trot, primarily to get acquainted with the neighbourhood but also to locate the grave of Jim Morrison. Arrived at Père Lachaise Cemetery to find that it only opened at 08:00. Mildly disappointed. The breakfast that I had back at the hotel made up for that though.

Rest of the day spent working on tutorial. Tracked down some good cheese and baguettes. Somewhat surprised and dismayed that screw-top wine bottles have not made it to France.

23 February 2019

Another early start, putting finishing touches to my tutorial exercises. Probably just obsessing at this stage.

Still getting my head around the Paris Metro. Two trains and I was in the vicinity of AgroParisTech. Fortunately I bumped into Julia Grandhay as I surfaced from the Metro and we found our way to the venue together.

The conference registration was very efficient and I was pleased to receive a conference shirt and hex sticker. I was also intrigued to find that the organisers opted to give us this swag in a brown paper envelope. I really don’t need another conference bag and the envelope is very environmentally friendly. 👍

The conference kicked off with a talk entitled “Programming in the tidyverse” by Lionel Henry. He laid down lots of useful information about tidy evaluation and introduced the idea of the “curly-curly”, {{ and }}, which might significantly simplify the current quoting syntax.

Before the coffee break I got the opportunity to punt satRday (Johannesburg) 2019. Hopefully we’ll get one or two of the folk from satRday (Paris) 2019 making their way to the Southern Hemisphere for our conference.

Coffee accompanied by fresh pastries. Can’t fault that.

After the coffee break I sat in on the beginning of the “Introduction to the tidyverse” tutorial by Susan Baert. I was very taken by her teaching style and this was a great session.

Lunch was delicious. I only regret not having too much of an appetite. Probably a combination of over-indulgence in the coffee break and mild performance anxiety.

After lunch I attended the Spatial Analysis session and saw the following talks.

Each very entertaining and informative. Hadrien Commenge mentioned the Mobiliscope, which I found particularly diverting. Press the play button at top to see how demographics evolve in France during the course of the day.

Afternoon coffee. With macaroons. I still can’t get excited about them, sorry. Give me croissants!

Finally it was time for my tutorial on Automated Reporting. Pretty good turnout. One person left when I pointed out that the content was aimed at beginners. There was still a wide range of experience in the room, which makes a tutorial challenging. How to keep everybody engaged without leaving anybody behind? About half way through I realised that I had been a little ambitious in terms of content. Still managed to finish most of what I wanted to say. Had to simply demo the final step, which was automatically emailing the reports. Probably just as well because the guest WiFi only allowed HTTP and HTTPS. So no hitting an external SMTP server without a VPN.

The organisers did something very good at the closing: they asked people from the audience to come forward and talk about the top three things they had learned during the day. This was a good way to ensure that the conference ended on a high note.

Congratulations to the organisers: that was a great conference.

The materials for workshops can be found here.

24 February 2019

With the conference behind me I had a massive backlog to contend with. So Sunday was spent catching up on that (patially) and working on my course for DataCamp.

I made my second failed attempt to find the grave of Jim Morrison, arriving at the cemetery at 08:30 to find that it only opened at 09:00 on Sundays. Poor planning on my part.

25 February 2019

Finally, on my last day in Paris, the stars aligned and the cemetery was open when I arrived. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is spectacular and well worth a visit. Such amazing tombs and monuments. The tomb of Jim Morrison is very modest relative to most of the others in the cemetery, but it is without question the most frequently visited and even has a guard rail around it to keep you at a respectful distance.

The tomb of Jim Morrison in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

A side note: do not consider running in the cemetery. In fact, do not even go to the cemetery in running clothes because you might be accused of running. Which, incidentally, is “strictly forbidden”. No problems with that, it makes sense.

Sign from a fromagerie (cheese shop).

My trip to Paris was great. But the highlight was the fromagerie a few steps from my hotel. Never seen (or tasted) such a range of cheese. I regret not having more time and apetite to work my way through more of it.