Europe Trip Journal – Entry 24 – 26: OpenPGP Email Summit


It’s been a while since the last blog post and a lot has happened. I will try to catch up, but I may not remember all the details. Nevertheless, here we go:

On Thursday morning I got up earlier to get some breakfast at the hostel this time. Last time I had missed it, but not this time. For a handful of euros the hostel was offering breakfast on an all you can eat basis. They had croissants, filtered coffee, orange and apple juice, yogurt and spreads like butter, jam and honey. I enjoyed it.

I briefly met A. again, who wished me good travel and then I left the hostel to get the train to Geneva. The ride through the alps was very impressive. I was looking out of the window most of the time, as the mountains appeared to grow higher and higher. Absurdly high. Every now and then the train made a stop at a small village and some people left the train while others got on. And then the train once more meandered through the green mountains of the french alps.

During the trip I suddenly remembered that Swiss was not part of the EU, so the roaming rules that apply to all EU countries and that allow EU citizens to use mobile internet and telephony abroad while not having to worry about astronomical bills from their provider would not count. I quickly did some research on how bad it would be.

7cts/10KB. What. The. Fuck. I quickly disabled roaming and mobile internet. Guess I’ll be dependent on the availability of Wifi for the next days.

After arriving in Geneva, I had to walk through customs but they did not check my luggage. That would have been annoying to unpack everything. My hotel (I hadn’t found a hostel, so I had opted for an Ibis budget hotel) was on the outskirts of the city, so I had to walk for about an hour, but I quickly found it. Still, the location of the hotel was a bit strange, as I had to pass the currently deserted Palexpo exposition halls and wide, empty parking lots just to get to the building which looked a bit like the staircase of a parking deck. But I had my own room, so hey ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and they gave me a “free” ticket for public transport during my stay, so that’s nice.

After quickly refreshing, I took the bus to the other end of Geneva to the offices of Proton (formerly Protonmail). They hosted the 6. OpenPGP Email Summit which I was going to attend. When I got to the building, I had to call the office upstairs and one member of the Proton team came down to fetch me. On Thursday we only had an informal meeting of participants that already arrived. The real discussions would take place on Friday and Saturday, although when I entered the office room people already had discussions going.

After the meeting we went to a small bar to get some drinks and a small dinner. This being my first OpenPGP meetup (apart from the Sequoia meeting I was invited to some time ago), it was nice getting to know many of the people I already knew from the internet in person.

When later that evening people started heading back to their hotels I figured this was a good idea for me as well. When everybody was gone, I noticed that I actually didn’t know how to get to my hotel. Organic Maps unfortunately only has offline support for public transport for metros and trams built in, so I searched for a tram route which at least would take me a bit closer to my destination. Unfortunately it turned out that the tram was cancelled when I got to the station. I walked back to the last bus stop I had seen and asked the driver of the next bus, which line would go to the airport. I’m a bit proud of myself, because the driver could not speak English so I had to try in French and apparently it worked out. “Vingt-trois” was the answer.

Now I only had to find out from where the 23 would depart. I asked a lady at the bus stop and she told me which bus to take and where to switch. So at 00:20 I was back at the hotel.

The next morning I got up at 8:00 and without having breakfast I went to the Proton offices. Luckily it turned out they had croissants and coffee there. We had 2 presentations and afterwards everybody gathered potential topics to discuss. Then we voted on all candidates and picked the most popular one for 1h long sessions. There were 3 tracks with 3 sessions each.

The sessions were very productive. I learned some crazy facts about things that enterprise OpenPGP providers would have to deal with and got a good insight into the daily challenges of client developers and the future of the protocol. It will be exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

After 8 long, exhausting hours it was time for dinner. We met an Italian restaurant and had some very nice food, beer and wine. I really enjoyed socializing with all these like-minded folks. At some point it was time again to get back to the hostel, but this time I asked someone from the gathering to quickly let me use their phone to find a route.

The night was not very restful. I had eaten too much, so my stomach was complaining a bit and took some time until it finally allowed me to sleep. The next morning I overslept for a few minutes and then had to pack my stuff, as I had to check out again.

After successful check-out I took the bus to the Proton offices again and we had another day of sessions. In the end we collected some actionable items and assigned people to work on those tasks. And then I said farewell and left for my train.

During my stay in Geneva I haven’t taken many photos, mainly because most of the time I was with other people. There was a gentleman’s agreement not to take photos of others, so that’s the reason why this post does not have any pictures.

My train to Paris was supposed to depart at 18:30. At the station I had to walk through customs again and they picked the person in front of me for a detailed control. I was let through though. When I got to the platform the sign said that the train was delayed for 25 minutes. Fine. Then suddenly the sign read that the train was delayed indefinitely. Not good. In the end the train had about 70 minutes delay, so it was 23:30 when I got off in Paris. 2 metro rides later I got to my hostel and checked in.

I want to say thank you to Proton for hosting the event and to everyone who attended the summit and contributed making it such a nice experience ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I have to get some sleep. Good night ๐Ÿ™‚


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