Monday, June 23, 2014

ACM ICPC World Finals 2014 Opening Ceremony day

Today was the Opening Ceremony day at the ACM ICPC World Finals. In the morning, the participants listened to IBM's talks and participated in some fun activities - including a team graffiti workshop, the result is pictured on the left (photo by Pashka).

Later on, the ceremony itself took place. It was a mixture of very long talks and congratulations to people who make ICPC happen, and energetic performances by local dancers and musicians. Many awards went to people from Yekaterinburg, which makes sense given that they put tremendous effort into organizing this World Finals event - on of such awards is pictured on the right.

Some of the artistic performances were tuned to the audience, and those really stood out from the rest: the blacksmith melting metal into a smartphone, and the robots telling a story of ACM ICPC in 2187 were particularly funny in my opinion. The 'normal' performances, probably still of good quality, tended to feel disconnected from the event and thus less interesting to me. Maybe I've just missed something - was there anything else related to ACM ICPC in them?

One other topic I wanted to mention is Yekarinburg itself. I was here before, but this time the city feels much more friendly and convenient than it did a year ago. Much of it is probably due to the wonderful organizers of the World Finals who make sure everything is smooth, and the nice weather. But even taking that into account, it's still so nice :)

For example, traveling from the apartment that I rent to the ICPC zone involves taking a 20-minute tram ride, then walking along the very nice shore promenade, both without big crowds I'm so used to in Moscow, enjoying the very mixed architecture - with historic wooden buildings next to modern office towers.

Please don't get me wrong - the city is not as nice and clean as Zurich, for example. The aforementioned trams might well be older than I am and make a lot of noise, the streets still suffer from traffic jams and lots of parked cars everywhere. There is quite a bit of trash on the streets, the small city park that I randomly wandered into was just trees and mostly unpaved pathways, and construction sites form an epsilon-net in the city :) Many of the completed buildings are already deteriorating.

But still, the city feels nice and friendly both to myself in particular, and to the World Finals participants in general.
It might well be that I'm just biased for Russian cities, and tend to weigh positives way above negatives for them, though. Other World Finals participants reading this - how do you feel about Yekaterinburg? 

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