LCA 2009 recap

26 January 2009, 11:22

Sunday

I flew down to Hobart on Sunday morning. I knew there were some fellow LCAers on my flight although I didn’t know them by face. It turned out to be easy to find them since two chaps sat in my row and one had a previous LCA shirt. :)

After hanging around the airport for a bit, we got a taxi to the UTas Sandy Bay campus where our venue and accommodation was. Seeing the hill between the campus buildings and the accommodation, I suddenly understood why a shuttle bus between them had been arranged.

The accommodation was very spiffy – recently-built little apartments set into the hills, overlooking the river. Lucky students that had such accommodation every day (dare I say the brochure would be very reassuring for the parents of overseas students). Will, the guy in charge of check-in, was very friendly.

Rego was at 2. I caught up with a few people milling around and checked out the room that my miniconf would be in. I mucked up my meals a bit and so by 4.30pm I was starving. I walked further down the hill and explored Sandy Bay and had a very early dinner. The rest of the evening was spent wrapping speaker gifts and doing lots of last-minute planning.

Monday

Miniconfs! I spent the day between LinuxChix and BizDev miniconfs.

  • Starting your free software adventure by Mary Gardiner – she interviewed some women about how they became involved in free software/free culture, and tried to extrapolate some tips for women interested in getting involved but not knowing where to start. It was one session that got me thinking throughout the whole week, so I will write about it separately later.
  • On speaking by Jacinta Richardson – I saw the first run of this at the LinuxChix microconf, but it was still funny and useful second time round.
  • I skipped the geek parenting panel to check out Open Source Business 101 for Hackers by Ross Turk, who is like head of community management at Sourceforge. This was a really excellent talk by a good speaker – highly recommended. In particular I thought his “funnel” analogy between “getting people to buy your product” to “getting people to write code for your project” was insightful.

I spent lunch and the following sessions running around the printers, arranging a poster for my miniconf, and printing for Open Day on Saturday.

For dinner I met up with wiki-folk for a Wikimedia BoF/meetup (1, 2). We had dinner at Blue Skies, on the suggestion of Charles, the only local. It was a really fun dinner! Decent food and great talk. At 11.30 although the offer of drinks was tempting, I declined in order to get enough sleep to not be totally braindead for my miniconf.

Tuesday

Free as in Freedom! All my speakers showed up, and they were all awesome, everything ran very close to on-time, and the audience size and questions seem to indicate it was appreciated.

(Free as in Freedom minicon recap + slides is available on my other blog.)

The evening was the speaker’s dinner, which involved a 45 minute catamaran cruise to Peppermint Bay, which was seemingly both the location and the restaurant’s name. I was engrossed in conversation for most of the evening, so that counts as a good night. The food, unfortunately, was not as good as anything else. But it’s hard to get everything 100% right. I only wish I’d been talking a bit less on the way over and thus able to appreciate the scenery. On the way home it was pitch black.

Although an inauguration party was in the offing, I was exhausted and headed for bed.

Wednesday

The main conference begins! Well… almost.

My power adaptor, which had been sputtering a bit the previous evening, gave out entirely this day. It was a bit distressing as I had been looking forward to a tutorial that afternoon, not to mention the rest of the conference. I stood around stressing with the volunteers and one of them, Henry, volunteered to drive me into the CBD and pick up a new adaptor from a computer store specialising in laptops. So although I missed the first keynote, I did recover in time for the rest of the conference. Thank you Henry!

  • Introducing the re-built Linux desktop by Keith Packard – well over my head unfortunately.
  • Use the fork Luke! by Brian Aker – interesting talk about what led to the decision to create the MySQL fork, Drizzle, and some new rules of thumb they decided for themselves along the way.
  • Introduction to Django by Jacob Kaplan-Moss – great. Now I feel confident and excited about starting my planned Django project.
  • The Genderchangers Academy by Nancy Mauro-Flude – talk about projects run in the Netherlands to encourage women to get involved with technology, like the Eclectic Tech Carnival. I wonder if one will be run in Australia? now that she is moving here :)
  • Crikey! Open sourcing the future of news by Sarah Stokely and Jeff Waugh.

Then it was time for the Penguin Dinner, at the casino. Although it looked for a minute like I might not get fed (apparently I forgot to fill out a mandatory box when I registered online…hm, that’s why my nametag didn’t have a little penguin icon…), it all ended happily and the food was excellent. The charity auction was just insane and amazing. The guy who instigated the winning bid was sitting on my table. I just kind of gazed at him in awe.

Thursday

  • Angela’s keynote on the contradictions in Wikipedia went down pretty well. The extended analogy of including-fair-use-material-in-a-freely-licensed-project as meat-at-a-vegan-dinner went down very well. (See original)
  • User love and how to get it through good documentation by Paul Wayper – interesting and useful. I took a few notes and also passed on some more ideas I had. Having a kin of panel or roundtable on documentation strategies might be a good idea some year.
  • 7 Things Lawyers Don’t Understand About Software by Anton Hughes not overly enlightening for me.
  • After-lunch tute was The Joy of Inkscape by Donna Benjamin which was very well attended. I learned lots of useful stuff just by listening/watching her zoom through keyboard shortcuts and unknown features and the like. And I finally found out what the difference between an Inkscape SVG and a plain SVG is! :) (The answer is: the Inkscape SVG records more internal stuff like what your last action was, so you should use that format while you’re still editing, then save as plain SVG when you’re finished to reduce the bloated file size.)
  • Where the future lies: OpenOffice.org and the ODF in the world by Louis Suarez-Potts, a SUN chap, was disappointingly not much more than preaching to the choir. We know open source and free standards/formats are awesome — what else?
  • Tricks of the Trade: Learning Free Software hacking from clever people by Hugh Blemings was rather more focused to kernel hacking than the title or abstract would suggest.

Thursday evening, I found out belatedly that I was eligible to attend the Professional Delegates Networking Session. But I needed some recuperating time so I went to Sirens resaurant by myself, hearing it was a vego place. It was OK, the food was decent although a bit overpriced and wanky, but that tends to be par for the course when a town only has one vego restaurant.

Friday

  • Simon Phipps gave an excellent keynote, talking about what he perceived as the “third wave” of open source and how “adoption-led” approaches were going to win business to open source. I think. It was one of those talks that had the right mix of name/anecdote-dropping, humour, guessing and reasoning, where at the end you feel impressed and smarter, even if you can’t grab a single tangible thing from it. Well it was four days ago now, maybe that’s an unfair comment. I count it as an excellent keynote.
  • Collaborative video with Wikipedia by Michael Dale, talking about his work and some stuff that had come out of the Foundations of Open Media Workshop, which is held in the week before LCA for the last few years now.
  • The 11.40 slot went to a miniconfs BOF, which I hope will produce/prompt some useful outcomes for future LCA organisers and miniconf organisers.
  • OLPC in Australia and the Pacific by Pia Waugh – unfortunately audio from video wasn’t piping throughout the room, but eh… Pia’s tirelessness is an amazing thing to witness.
  • Why Open Media Matters by Rob Savoye – talking about Open Media Now, a new organisation he’s set up. (Again related to FOMW)
  • Last session – I skipped this one to spend some time getting a personal demo of Michael Dale’s work. It’s pretty damn awesome. I’ll write this up as a separate post.
  • Then the closing – congrats to Wellington! Gosh, only 358 days to go…

Dinner: supposed to be Google’s closing party, but the only thing provided was uninspiring fingerfood, so I followed Alice’s lead and we ended up at an Indian place in Salamanca. Delicious.

Saturday

Open Day! 1, 2

Note for future reference: you can never have too many stickers. Thanks to Karl, Angela and Tim for helping out, and Charles for bringing his daughter so we could all enjoy watching her play with an XO. :)

NB: If links stop working, replace the domain with http://lca2009.linux.org.au/.

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