Thursday, 23 June 2011

Day 2 Exhibiting at The Ada Connection

Day 2 for us at Ada Connection and there was a few more new faces, and after the ice-breaker whisky reception the night before, a more relaxed atmosphere. The talks focused on code generation in the morning and the people we spoke to in the coffee break were keen for the presentations to start.

As people started to filter back into the conference rooms, we had a rare sighting. The sun. Exactly what those in the marquee wanted. In the tropical exhibition area, we made use of the quiet periods by tapping away on our laptops until the sandwiches were laid out on the central table in the marquee and we were all immediately distracted. We ate our share before the masses arrived and were able to talk to people about training and software migration. We were on a roll and gave several presentations on the Legacy Bridge Suite. It’s not all about sales though; for us it’s also about using these opportunities to find out views and opinions of various technologies and markets. I had a great conversation with a University lecturer from the US about student attitudes to programming mission & saftey critical software and Ada. (This will form an entirely separate blog post!)

Lunch finished and we were on the final straight. The man of many hats, Ahlan Marriot, treasurer of Ada Europe and next year’s conference organiser, came to our stand to talk about next year’s conference in Stockholm, Sweden. “Would we be interested in being at the conference next year?” I think so I replied. It’s been a well organised and well attended conference and we’ve met some interesting people whom we hope to work with in the future. Ada is a specialism of Objektum Solutions and so we will continue to support mission and safety critical software development. 

The second and last coffee break came and went with more discussions happening around the room. As the last delegate left, all the exhibitors dragged their boxes out from the behind the stands, pulled the plugs out and started to pack up their camps. 

Our official duties as exhibitors had ended and after short power naps in front of the Wimbledon coverage, we grabbed our jackets and bags and made our way to the spectacular Signet Library in the centre of town. We turned in to Parliament Square and right on cue, we followed the piper’s bellowing tune to the entrance of this grand building.   

Enclosed within the columns and walls of law books of the Lower Library, the Ada community delicately sipped on a glass of bubbly (thanks to AdaCore) and craned their necks to take in the splendour of the surroundings. A man with a big wooden hammer (I’m sure he has an official title) did his thing – namely hitting the hammer on another wooden object - to gather people's attention and he grandly called us into the Upper Library where dinner would be served. So, we made our way up the majestic staircase to the breath-taking setting of our banquet. Professor Les Hatton gave us an entertaining pre-dinner speech; one track of which was “Why programmers are monkeys?”. I am not a programmer myself but I work with many of them so I wish I had made notes to prove this theory when I return to the office on Friday.

I’ll quickly mention the starter, pea and mint soup, but the plate that stole the show was the haggis. Man carrying hammer (aka MC Hammer) did his bit and welcomed the haggis. We clapped the haggis in as it was accompanied by the piper and made its way to the front of the hall (on a tray, not on legs). Tom Anderson loudly broke into Scottish verse and we thought he’d gone mad. It unfolded that this was in fact Scottish tradition and Tony Elliston of Ellidiss Software pointed out that there were some “wee drams” of whisky at the front which would go to those who played a part in the Haggis performance that evening; the Piper, The Artist Formally Known as Tom, MC Hammer and the Haggis. The haggis had rave reviews that evening and one critic said of it, “It’s the best I’ve ever tasted”.  

Main course of sea bass and desserts were laid down by the silver service staff and the speeches started. There was a tiny bit of chocolate torte left on my plate but the speeches were all entertaining enough to distract me from it for a short while. The colourful John Barnes stood on his seat and addressed the dinner guests with tales of Ada Europe from 20 years ago which celebrated a solicitor’s help to receive some money which was rightfully theirs. That solicitor, now a sheriff,  was tracked down and invited to the dinner and gracefully received a round of applause and some flowers for her efforts all those years ago.   

The clock struck 11.00pm and it was time for us to call it a night.

I conclude these posts from bonny Edinburgh, with a big thank you to all those involved with Ada Connection, both organisers and attendees, for making it an enjoyable and successful few days. It’s been great and as I am starting to feel a little weary, I wish I had asked the DHL chap who just picked up our stand to deliver me back to leafy Surrey too.

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