Thursday, November 7, 2013

OggCamp Part 2

Well the Sunday of OggCamp started a little later as Myself and Olly did not have to be at the venue until 9.30 so we could have a bit of a lay in till 8am. We stopped off at the fast food place for coffee and a bite to eat again, then back up the hill to the venue. This was a little harder as we were both carrying our weekend cases as we couldn't leave them in the hotel. Brownlow Hill is quite steep when you have to lug a case up it :-(

Anyway arrived at the venue and after dumping the said case in the crew room (storage locker under the stairs) I was allocated the registration desk for the morning. I always enjoy doing registration as you get to meet loads of people as they arrive. Some you may know but often new faces, including some new to Barcamp events.

Just before lunch I managed to skive of for a talk given by Mark one of the UUPC presenters and one of the organisers of the event. He was talking about the history of OggCamp and what was involved in organising community events like this. The most interesting thing about his talk was that he said that while the event had been started by the 2 podcast teams there was now ongoing discussion as to how it could be passed on to the community to be more involved in the organisation of the event. Mark invited anyone who was interested in getting more involved to contact the team. This invite extends to anyone wanting to help in any way, such as being part of the crew right through to being part of the main organisation group. Mark also called for ideas on what to do for future events and it was suggested by one person that there should be a young persons track (junior OggCamp) and this was greeted with some enthusiasm as it was felt it would be good have something happening to attract younger attendees to the event.

After Lunch (which was again Pizza and as quickly devoured as the previous day) I was part of the Full Circle podcast Live show along with my co-hosts Les, Olly and Freaky Clown. you can listen to this recording via the website when it gets released soon. Suffice to say we had a good time after we managed to finally get the audio recording equipment set up and negotiated genial heckling from our friend Pete Cannon of Dick Turpin fame.

Then came one of my favorite parts of the week, despite it meaning the event was coming to an end. The live Raffle Cast, it’s always good fun to see Popey running up and down the stairs in the main lecture theater, throwing prizes at all and sundry and getting out of puff in the process. Then sadly it was all over for another year, I helped with a bit of the clearing up but had to miss the after OggCamp drinks and food as I had a train to catch back to Blackpool as I was back at work the next day.

If you have never been to a BarCamp type event have a look on the internet, there are several around the country during the year, Blackpool and Canterbury to name just 2 and of course OggCamp. There is also a thriving community running other events on similar lines such as the Raspberry Pi events (Raspberry Jam's) Python, open hardware and hack days. If you have an interest there is probably a community event that will meet your needs. Also don’t forget your local user groups and hack spaces, its often only a few people meeting over a common interest but it is a case of use it or lose it, if the interest and attendance is not there, these groups go as quickly as they were formed.

Well that's it for now, Happy Geeking and maybe I'll see you at an event sometime, if you see me and you've read this come and say hi.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

OggCamp13 - Part 1

Well what can I say, last weekend I spent 2 days with the wonderful community which is OggCamp.

This was my third time at the event and again I was a member of the infamous crew ably controlled by the more infamous Les Pounder a member of my LUG and the one originally responsible for my involvement back in 2011.

The weekend started with arriving in Liverpool at 7pm Friday evening for the pre OggCamp party at Leaf a bar and cafe in Bold street and just around the corner from my hotel for the weekend. It was a great evening, friendships re visited with members of the community I only get to see in the flesh once or twice a year at events like this, and new friendship made. I retired back to the hotel about 10pm as the Crew call for the morning was 8.15 with a long weekend ahead.

Saturday dawned too early but we (I was sharing with my fellow Full Circle podcast and Blackpool LUG member Olly) got up and headed out for a quick breakfast in a local fast food joint, then a walk up to JMU's art and design centre on Brownlow Hill about 15 minutes walk. After the crew call the first order of business after getting our crew 'T' shirts was taking 250 goody bags up to the main corridor for handing out to attendees as they registered.

Then the doors opened and the usual Melli ensued. Within the space of an hour over 200 people entered the building all looking to find out what talks were scheduled and when they were on, which is not easy as only the main track of talks was pre scheduled all the other three talk tracks were open for attendees to schedule any talks they may want to give (this is why barcamps are often referred to as un-conference's). There was also a glitch in the talk scheduling monitors and apart from the projected screen in the main reception the other monitors did not work, so those not able to access the Internet on a mobile device had problems knowing what talks were offered or where they were. There seems to be a problem with this on an annual basis but we survived.
My highlights of the Saturday were:

The speed that 60+ pizza's were polished off by the attendees

Freeky Clown's (also a co-host on the Full Circle podcast ) talk about his robbing banks and why we should all be worried, for those who don't know him he is a penetration tester of both data and physical system security and gets paid to breach the security of buildings and data systems to identify weaknesses in these systems. Hi talk gave us all a scare about how secure (or not) our data is in the modern world.

The live recording of the TDTRS podcast which is always entertaining if not suitable for the young or those with a sensitive nature, the main topic for the recording was do we need more design specialist to get involved in the open source community. You can access a recording of the show from the TDTRS web site.

My Final highlight of the Saturday was the regular live recording of the organisers podcast. The event was started by the UUPC and Linux outlaws and they do a joint live show at the event each year, this year sadly Fab the co-host of Linux Outlaws was not able to be at the event so the Crew Chief Les Pounder and another Full Circle podcast co-host was press ganged into service. We were entertained by the judging of the swag bag decorating competition. Luckily the audience had good taste and the winners were two younger attenders at the event.

There was also an interactive discussion about the demise or not of Ubuntu, it was interesting that most of the audience run Linux of some sort and about 75% indicated they had run Ubuntu at some time. However when asked if they were current users only about 10-15% indicated yes with the rest almost overwhelmingly stating they now run Mint (as I currently do). I wanted to point out that without Ubuntu many of us would not be using Linux at all and that Mint's success is owed in large part to the work that Ubuntu has done, and continues to do, to make Linux a user friendly OS. However I did not get the chance to make that observation due to shortage of time.
After the live show the days events were over but the day itself was not, there was to be food and drink at a local venue for us to continue to party (for some into the small hours), I'll tell you about Sunday next time. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Linux community

It's been a little while since I posted on this blog as I've been quite busy and as they say life has got in the way.

Anyway I've been reviewing my use of Linux and my support of the community surrounding the Linux operating system. I have been a full time home user of Linux for the last 3 years and used it for a couple of years before that specifically to rescue older PC hardware to save it from the electronic graveyard.

Over the last few years my Distribution of choice has been Linux Mint and I have installed it on a number of my own PC's in various forms, netbooks, laptops and my main desktop PC. I have also used it to rescue hardware for friends replacing a virus infested windows installs on a number of occasions for several people, some of these have come back for seconds, (and we're not talking uber geeks here) so Linux Mint is getting something right.

At Blackpool LUG last week we were talking of the community distributions and the popularity of Mint and the amount of financial support it receives from it's community and I realised the value I place on my use of a fantastic operating system but make absolutely no contribution back. Now I'm not a coder so can not help with development of the OS but I am in a position to support those that do, so I have made a small donation to the projects funds, and intend to do this at least once a year. 

Now I know that not all users of Linux have loads of cash to splash about, but if you consider the cost that putting that other OS onto your PC, and given that many Linux users also build their own PC's or rescue older hardware this could amount to a considerable amount of cash over time. Making a small donation of say the price of a drink or a cinema ticket (in the UK this would be £2-7) once or twice a year or a little more if you can afford it, is still very good value for money and you will be helping the developers of you favourite flavour of Linux to continue to develop and improve the software. 

We need to remember that Free in the open source sense is the freedom to use the software in the way we want to, but it still needs to be developed and developers have got to eat and pay their bills as well. If we don't support these projects there is a danger that software freedom will die, as the people with the skills to write the code will move towards the closed source propriety world to earn a living, and we will all be the poorer if that happens.