Another year, another Oggcamp. This year though, the biggest and the first to contain real camping!
Oggcamp is a gathering of users and developers of open source and free culture projects. The event is organised by the Linux Outlaws and UUPC podcasters so has a tendency toward Linux and online media. This year's event was at Farnham Maltings, in my opinion the best Oggcamp venue so far, it had a really similar feel to the last LugRadio Live venue, this may have been mainly to do with the size of the event which was bigger this year than any Oggcamp previously.
There were two 'official' accommodation locations this year, a Premier Inn in Aldershot or the Basingstoke Canal Campsite in Mytchett, we opted for the camp site and had a thoroughly amusing and enjoyable time with other oggcampers, from first time attendees to seasoned veterans Matt Copperwaite and Peter Cannon.
Come and see what a monkey did to my car -- Matt Copperwaite
I was presenting at the event again this year, my slides and other notes are at nathandumont.com/oggcamp11, I presented on "Open source hardware: Arduino and beyond". The talk was a very brief tour of open source hardware platforms from the very high end down to the humble Arduino and a discussion of projects that used them and what it meant for hardware to be open source. The talk seemed to go down well with a good audience present, more than I was expecting, but the theme of open hardware and "making" seemed to be more popular than ever throughout this year's event. I also had a demo of a new Arduino compatible board playing "Pong" on a VGA monitor in the exhibition area (details) I was amazed this set up stood up to being played with all weekend with no attention from me.
Proposing a talk has come a long way from the post-it notes on a wall that have been used previously with an open source conference management software called "Campfire" which had been written for the event. It generally worked well although there were some teething issues, particularly with the public terminals and no link from the oggcamp.org to the dynamic schedule was frustrating.
Other talks I particularly enjoyed this year were Andy Piper's MQTT talk, after several years of going to talks about this, I think I'm finally getting the hang of how to actually do something with it, Gordon Pearce did a good talk on his software radio for the amateur bands and Ken Boak did an excellent job of promoting his nanode project of an ethernet enabled Arduino sensor node. Lots of the information about the talks is being collected on lanyard.
That's the story of life, you think you're doing well and then you get out-done by a fire breather. -- Dan Lynch
The evening entertainment this year was excellent, Friday night was at a local pub opposite the Maltings, with a barbecue and an excellent turnout, it was a really good chance to catch up with everyone. Saturday night was in the cellar bar at the main venue and with some free drinks for all was a great success, the size and speed of the bar was the only real problem but at least there were interesting folks in the queue to talk to! The highlight of Saturday evening for me was Dan Lynch's acoustic session which was the push I needed to subscribe to his Rat Hole Radio podcast. Sunday night was the busiest "after party" I think I've seen for one of these events, loads of people hung around until they finally closed the bar at about midnight, excessive portions of onion rings led to a new definition of freedom and the quiz game machine just couldn't withstand so many Linux users and spontaneously blue-screened. It was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and a great chance to talk to more people I only get to see once a year! I got interviewed outside the bar on Sunday evening for an episode of Hacker Public Radio an amazingly frequent technical podcast.
Free, as in onion rings.
I enjoyed the event very much this year, but I found the big sessions (keynote, podcast recording and panel session) had a very political feel which isn't really what I'm interested in. I think this was greatly influenced by the recent riots here in the UK which is understandable, especially as the resulting action concerns online freedoms, however there was just too much of that and not enough cool hacks in the main talks.
I was also a little disappointed with the live recording of The Dick Turpin Road Show, Matt and Pete are a lot of fun and camping with them all weekend I found their banter on the podcast just flows naturally. The show got very time pressured as the recording got delayed and with the raffle (and a chance to win an Amazon Kindle!) following there wasn't any real chance to over-run. I think the live audience was a bit of a shock after less than 10 episodes, I hope this experience doesn't put them off, the show is great!
Don't ask me, I don't camp! -- Pete Cannon (while camping)
The only question remaining is when will the next one be? I can't wait!