Company offsite in Spain 2017

by Elvira Eulitz on Aug 17, 2017
4 minute read

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At thoughtram we are pretty much a fully distributed team. While some of us live in the same city, the bulk of the team is spread across the entire planet. With such a setting, spending some time together in a pleasant environment naturally comes as a welcoming change from the daily routine. This is why we sat out to bring the entire team with their partners to Spain for two weeks of fun, learning and getting some work done. Unfortunately, Thomas was unable to attend the offsite in Spain. He was needed in the USA to take care of his wife who was having knee surgery.

Machine Learning Summer School

The first stop for us was the Machine Learning Summer School in Bilbao.This event came along with perfect timing, because we just started a new journey with a company called “MachineLabs” which aims to make the entire Machine Learning field explorable, shareable and accessible to everyone. There were five days of talks about machine learning issues like “Deep learning in the brain” or “Applications of Deep Learning models in human computer interaction research”. It turned out that some talks were quite difficult to follow, mainly because they were theory-driven with very little hands-on experience. However, others were a bit easier to grasp. One talk about how the human brain works and how deep learning relates to functions of the brain, was discussed in a way that the audience could easily connect the dots. We had a super intense time at this summer school and got a lot of new input. These days in Bilbao enabled us to dive deeper into the world of machine learning, which was awesome!

One of the conference rooms with a huge organ.

We loved our super comfy airbnb in Bilbao.

Bilbao itself is a really nice city with an old town centre. In this ancient centre was our amazing airbnb.

After spending some interesting days with lots of input on machine learning in Bilbao, we travelled to Sitges, about 40 km from Barcelona at the seaside.

Hacking on MachineLabs

Our new founded entity is called “MachineLabs, Inc.”. MachineLabs is a platform which could probably be best described as the CodePen for Machine Learning, you can find the announcement here. We announced it and its mission a few weeks ago. As mentioned earlier, MachineLabs tries to solve the problem of lowering the barrier to enter the Machine Learning field. While we were in Bilbao and Sitges, we had enough time to talk about common goals with MachineLabs, find solutions and organize all the legal stuff as well. As we have been all together for two weeks, the time was perfect to collaborate on code and discuss the legal background.

Enjoying life together

On some of the hot days, we went to the seaside and just loved to refresh every now and then in the cold water and feel this chilly sea breeze. As the beaches in Sitges were pretty crowded, we chose some closeby but much more lonelier beachside.

We also explored the area around Sitges with racing bikes. We rent those from a really friendly Cuban guy in the city. He recommended a tour through the backyard over 50 kilometers which we really enjoyed, although, it was quite tough sometimes. However, the views were amazing, we passed a pretty castle, some lakes, fields full of melons and pears, horses and cows and great green fields. For lunch we got some huge ice cream and other sweet food, cold drinks, shade and just enjoyed to take some time off and relax.

The hardest part was a hill that we went up in the lowest gear while the sun was nearly burning our bodies!

Our Airbnb in Sitges had an awesome rooftop terrace. We had a great BBQ there during the sunset. We also had some super funny moments during the BBQ, probably the best was with Dominic having a laugh attack with tears in his eyes - unforgettable!

The other evenings we mostly checked out some closeby restaurants and tried Pintxos (Tapas), seafood and other delicious food, or cooked something nice for everyone. We talked a lot about our lives, our common goals for thoughtram, the next milestones with MachineLabs and more.

We loved the rooftop terrace a lot, every morning we’ve had breakfast there, felt the sun and the happiness of being there.

As Barcelona is not too far away from Sitges, we went there for our last day by car and explored the area. We saw the Sagrada Familia, ate great food, visited the old city centre, grabbed some fantastic ice-cream and enjoyed the Spanish sun for our last hours…

Wrapping up

We were happy to spend this time together, to get to know each other a bit better, to explore the area and to work on current topics and collaborate on them - all in all: to share some special memories! It was a great mixture of fun and of course, good food, hard work and great solutions, doing sports like jogging and trying to follow these pretty hard talks about machine learning topics. Definitely a must for the next year - hopefully with all team members! :)

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