I got back home from DebConf8 about 11pm last night, having left Mar del Plata at 11am on Sunday morning. 4 hours time difference makes for a 32 hour trip time covering minibus, 2 planes, a coach and a car, 3 time zones (I flew via Madrid) and 4 countries. Not fun, and I'm glad I booked today off to recover. However I'm also exceptionally glad I went to what's probably my best DebConf so far.
Marga and Martín, along with the rest of the local team, did a fantastic job. The venue was great - I really like it when the talks and accomodation are in the same building. It helps convince me to roll out of bed to the first talk of the day after a late night playing Mao if I know I only have to walk upstairs to get to it! ;) Bonus points for the hotel being actually in the middle of the city so it was possible to go out and walk about during the breaks or in the evening. Special mention to zer0 (website looks down at present, but given that he gave his machine up to act as the schedule announce by the restaurant it should hopefully be back soonish) who arranged for the hotel to supply us with Antares beer, as well as taking us to their pub/restaurant several times.
Mark, Steve and Joerg did the usual great job of running the network. They were hampered by a dodgy 3com switch (don't think they'll be using one of those again), but wireless that coped with roaming between the ground, 1st, 3rd and 7th floors without dropping connections is pretty impressive. Phil Hands' VOIP setup was much appreciated too.
I've got a few notes about the talks I attended that I'll try to write up this week (it might help explain to my workmates just exactly why I went as well), as well as a few todo things I should really post so I actually do some of them. For now I'm going back to relaxing on my sofa and trying not to think about having to go to work tomorrow.
FFS. If you're running a forum site (Ubuntu Forums, I'm currently looking at you, though you're not the only offender), please don't require logins to download attachments. It's really annoying and I'm fed up of having to create user accounts I'll only ever use once.
I spent Saturday at BarCamp Belfast. There were more people than I expected; I'm no good at judging exact numbers but the wiki lists 62. As it turned out not everyone ended up talking; this worked out well for me because I don't think I'm Web2.0 enough (is that a bit ironic given I'm writing this on a blog?). I don't really do user interfaces or website stuff and that seemed to be the primary focus of a lot of the attendees. Nice to know there's a fairly active crowd in Belfast though; I discovered the existence of Belfast Open Coffee which I'll have to try and make at some point.
I went to at least the following talks::
Gerard McBreen on Digital Circle & Adobe Flex: Quite a cute demonstration of the Flex framework for Flash. I'd have been more convinced if Flash could be considered truly cross platform; Adobe can't even manage a 64 bit client yet and Gnash is far from ready.
Daniel McLaughlin on Nagios: Not really anything I didn't already know, but always interesting to see how other people are using these things to see if there's any nice tricks you've missed.
Andrew Gribbon from Exile Coffee on speciality coffee: This was really interesting. A complete tangent from IT but enjoyable and I must buy some roasted beans from him (I've been meaning to place a Roast and Post order for ages anyway).
Brian O'Neill on freelancing: Tailored towards the web market in my opinion, which is fair enough but things like aiming to never employ anyone and stay a one man operation doesn't really work if you're doing something that a customer wants supported around the clock. Or even just during the working day if you're crossing time zones. Interesting to hear that Brian had run an agency in the past but preferred working on his own these days. I kinda feel I've gone a bit the other way. :)
Linux Hardware workshop: Not really a lot of interest here; a clutch of EEEs, an N800 and a Debian box or two. However I had a chat with David Newman about his MythTV setup which convinced me I really should give it another try. After I get someone to install a bigger aerial in the hope of stabilising our Freeview reception.
Brian Cleland on Linux Trends: Talking about lots of Linux takeup by big names and general market adoption eg the recent selection of cheap subnotebooks. Main thing of interest was OpenPandora which I hadn't heard of before; OMAP3 based handheld device running Linux with a 800x480 4.3" screen. Aimed as a gaming device, but has a keyboard and bluetooth/wifi so has potential as a PDA as well. Hopefully the build quality will be better than the GP2X I saw.
Andy McMillan on coffee shop working: I've thought about this in the past myself; I worked from Cafe Java in Norwich a few times while doing Black Cat, but in general didn't find it as conducive to work as I'd hoped. He mentioned Coworking Belfast which is an idea Tristam has talked about in the past, in terms of people who work from home getting to have some form of social contact with like minded individuals, without having to go to the expense of a whole office. It'll be interesting to see if it takes off.
Darragh Doyle and Grannymar on blogging: I think everyone in the audience already had a blog of some description. I don't really consider my blog a social forum; it's not something I expect to have a long conversation on, just ask a quick question or discuss something I've done that I think might interest people or give a general "this is what's happening at present" post. Blog commenting systems are all a bit crap to keep up anything sustained. Someone needs to write a blog<>nntp gateway that correctly cross posts comments as well. I suppose the issue with that is then everyone needs to run a news server, or all agree on using the same one. Fine for groups of people who know each other but not if you want to read a dozen blogs from different areas in a single client that'll let you properly follow conversations. Mind you, people seem to cope with forums and I don't really understand how. Supporters of news and mailing lists seem to be dwindling. :(
Anyway, that was my first BarCamp. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, it was a bit more Web2.0 than I'd have liked (which is fair enough, but I'd have liked to have seen some talks about low level bits really) but I'd go again and will keep an eye out for the next one. And hopefully I'll see some of the people I met there at the BLUG meeting this Wednesday (Tap House in Lower Crescent from 6pm for anyone who's not on the mailing list).
I am planning to attend BarCamp Belfast on Saturday. They seem to have this idea that everyone should talk about something. I can't think of anything particularly interesting I've done recently to talk about. What have I bored you about that you think might potentially be reasonable to bore a bunch of strangers about? I've been pondering the calendaring/syncing rant, but it really is just that rather than something with a nice conclusion...
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