The Ashpocalypse

Monday, May 17, 2010

Melange is the open source web app that runs Google Summer of Code™ each year. It is being developed and maintained by a volunteer team of student developers in several different countries. I try to meet with the Melange developers about every quarter in person to get hands-on time with the tool, suggest improvements, and give them time to code together and work out problems in person. It is usually relatively simple to bring us all together for a productive week, and get everyone home again. But then, usually we don’t have an erupting volcano to schedule around.

My trip to the Netherlands started out simply enough: I flew to Amsterdam, and took a train to Delft. On Sunday evening, I met up with the Melange developers for dinner. We started work bright and early on Monday morning, and spent the next few days working on Google Summer of Code and the Melange tool.

Unfortunately, while we were at TU Delft on Thursday, reports of airport closures started to reach us. By Friday morning, we were assured by the respective airlines that none of our developers would be flying out of Amsterdam that evening.

We took the train back to Amsterdam and spent the night in a hotel. On Saturday morning we had breakfast and went over to Amsterdam Centraal in the hopes of getting train tickets back to our international destinations. We got there around 11am to find that the wait was already three hours long and the line snaked out the door and through the station:

We waited. And waited. And waited.

The moment our number was called, we all ran over to the counter. Mario took a picture. That's our number at the top (C037):

Sverre and Lennard, based in the Netherlands, were both lucky and able to travel back home by local train and bike. But eventually Mario, Madhusudan, and Daniel got their respective train tickets home as well.

After all the developers were safely en route, I started my own trip. I ended up opting for a ferry ride from mainland Europe to England, in the hopes of getting a flight home from there. My wait in Calais was just as bad as the wait in Amsterdam Centraal. Another 3-hour line, in Calais:

By the time I got to London, most airports had reopened. My flight home was uneventful. I promptly slept for 12 hours once happily ensconced in my own bed.