JuliaCon for beginners


While I wholeheartedly agree with the need to reduce \text{CO}_2 emissions and the importance of climate change, I think that the issue has such a general applicability that it can be used to potentially derail discussions about a large set human activities.

The great thing about previous JuliaCons was that I could get a lot of the benefits from watching the videos without being present in person. I realize it is not the same experience, but I consider this a reasonable alternative given the hassle and costs of travelling (including, among other things, emissions). Perhaps the best solution is to aim for high quality video recordings and announce a commitment to this in advance.

Nowadays there are many researchers who are unwilling to travel to give talks/seminars, but are perfectly happy to give one over a video link. Again, I don’t think this is the exact same experience, but it is a great alternative.


To me, one of the biggest benefits though was networking, and in-depth discussions in small groups in the hallways, at lunch together, or over beers or cider in the evenings.
So, if you can manage to make it, I’d highly recommend it.

Also, don’t forget, CO₂ emissions is just one factor influencing climate change and destroying our environment, we shouldn’t forget the others as we strive to reduce our carbon impact - bitcoins => huge electricity usage / waste heat from CPUs, eating meat => cow flatulence => methane in the atmosphere, or one that is of particular import to programmers:
writing inefficient code (whether by poor design or by using inefficient languages) that is used heavily (by having many many users or by requiring lots of supercomputer / cloud resources)


I am a Julia beginner and I am going to JuliaCon. At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to myself to give a talk and attend a conference.

I have not yet watched many videos from previous conferences. I am not so interested in more screen time. Another personal goal I have is to connect with PEOPLE. I get enough of screens. I don’t know what JuliaCon will be like. But if I have a few good civil conversations on topics like the folks do on this site, it’s going to be a blast.

As for carbon dioxide emissions. The world is burning and we as individuals can’t do much about it - in the short term. All we can do is try to care for each other while the exponential climate change process induced by humans runs its course. I am blown away by the fact that a gallon of gasoline releases something like 20 pounds of CO2 - more than the weight of the gasoline! So, working from home is a good start. In the long term, I am hopeful that technology and education will prevail to avert humanity’s complete destruction. And the hyper-intelligent robots are nice to us.


A gallon of gas weights 6.3 pounds, but one carbon atom gets 2 atoms of oxygen from the atmosphere, and oxygen is heavier than carbon to start with, so you end up with 19.7lbs of CO₂ released.
(It’s actually less if you burn E10 or pure ethanol, but I’ve heard that the ecological impact of raising corn to make fuel is pretty bad)


Unfortunately, video quality has been a bit hit or miss for the previous JuliaCons. In particular, the layout (tiny window with presenter, medium size slides, and lots of stuff surrounding them–logo, whitespace, etc.), leaves a bit to be desired.

Also, the choice to film the screen instead of using screen capture, leads to low resolution, loss of focus, shaky-cam, and missing parts of the screen. At worst the whole thing is just lost.

High quality video and audio, with microphones for questions; screen capture of the slides and a better video layout would be a huge bonus.

Edit: I was also going to suggest captions, but watching the recent presentations of threading and Cassette.jl on Youtube, I was very impressed by the automatically generated closed captions. They were really good (except they consistently transcribed the package name as “Cosette”.)


That was not my point at all. I will elaborate a bit.

Let me use an analogy. If there is a forest fire I could go pee on a small tree and argue that objectively it is better if this tree is wet and it is. However, this will not have a measurable impact on the spread of the fire. Even if I convince 10k people to come and pee, the fire will not care.

That is my problem with the discussion about personal contributions to CO2 emissions. This discussion completely misses the point and this is done on purpose. Have you not ever wondered why do we see so many numbers about the CO2 emissions of domestic flights, private vehicles etc, but none for military vehicles. How much CO2 does a fighter jet emit in an hour? I don’t know, but no one talks about it. How much CO2 is emitted every year by NATO? I cannot find an answer to this online.

This is just one example of things we do not talk about when we talk about CO2. Emission trading is an other. I live in UK and you have to pay emissions tax for any car you own. Now if I go and try to argue that since I do not own any car, I could sell my emission “rights” to someone with an old car, so we can pay less tax together, I will be laughed at. Yet, emission trading is considered normal business practice.

An other example is Al Gore’s napkin. Everyone was talking about this, people argued for and against, yet the discussion never went to the international industries that are deforesting the amazon or African. Or to the oil companies that bribe governments so they can ignore environmental regulations in undeveloped countries.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because we focus so much on CO2, we pretty much ignore every other pollutant. Mobile companies produce a couple new models each year, usually with marginal improvements (although this is very subjective), yet no one talks about the environmental impact that this rates of production has, no one really cares to recycle old electronics as long as we can dump them in some poor country. The same time that people in India that protest about the local industry polluting their water are shot dead, the owner of the said industry is hailed as a philanthropist.

This whole personal responsibility about climate change is just a feelgood industry whose goal is to prevent anything from happening. It gives us a way to save face without actually doing anything.

I am completely against it. I am for collective responsibility. We have responsibility to protect the environment and this means that we need to interfere with other peoples business (metaphorically and literally). Protection of environment cannot be left on voluntary basis. Imagine if someone proposes that driving licencing should be voluntary and people should not be tested. Well the destruction of the environment is far more dangerous than this.


I started using this to at least try to repay the cost:

Although if you consider this costs on the order of 10 € per ton, it’s ridiculously cheap. At least if enough people buy certificates like this, they will get more and more expensive and that will in turn make CO2 reductions elsewhere more attractive.


I’m loving this discussion, but maybe one of the moderators can move all of the carbon footprint / environment ones to a new “OffTopic” thread, so we can continue to gnash our teeth about the state of the world and how we individually can help the situation without drowning out the original topic? :wink:


Backing up what Scott says. Can we have a proper thread on carbon footprints?

Back on track I was going to make a comment regarding accomodation, however the conference site has an excellent page on local accomodation choices.
If you have never visited London, it is a big city. The famous London tube map is a connected graph, not a geographical representation. (Say - there’s a Julia presentation waiting there somewhere).
The stations in the centre are all physically close to each other. As you get outside the Circle Line distances increase dramatically.
Also in London the metric of distance is the number of Tube stops. People do not talk about how far they live from work, rather the number of Tube stops away their homes are, or the commuting time.


Absoultely! I took a look at splitting this thread, but I was unable to find a breakdown that would leave both new topics in a readable state. Things are pretty intermingled here.

Why don’t you start a new thread over in #offtopic to centralize that discussion?


If you can use your magical moderator powers to help us, I think that what should go to the #OffTopic carbon impact discussion would be #5, and everything from #7 til the end, except for #23 (which should be in both), #25, and #29.