WLW2009: Part 3: OggCamp

Last updated: Oct. 25, 2009, 8:04 p.m.

It's all over. I'm on my way back down to Bath on the train now. It was a bit of a rush in the end with Katie, and two others only making it onto their train back London-ward with only a minute to spare, but we made the most of the time here.

It's been a busy day, I've spent most of my day in Room 2 (of the three rooms at the hotel) helping change over speakers. The talks were really good in that room fortunately and a fellow crew member (NikDoof) was there so we could each wonder off for a bit without a problem.

My day started early again (after a fairly late night of amusing Karaoke last night) with breakfast and packing before a nine o'clock crew call. After the general carrying of equipment to the venue I ended up blue-tacking signs up to direct people around the rabbit-warren of corridors to the three rooms of the event. By quarter past ten the jobs were mainly done and I popped out to check-out of my room. Then the flood of people began.

It was a great turn out (not entirely sure how many but I'd say 120+) and when the doors opened the queue was running down three floors from the fourth floor main room. The OggCamp mugs went down well (I grabbed one early) and the sticky labels for names proved a popular choice.

After the welcome the first thing I was at in Room 2 was the OpenStreetMap mapping session briefing. I would have liked to join in like I did last year but didn't want to miss out on that much of the day.

Next was a talk called "PIG Analysis" which was an interesting ice breaker exercise from corporate training meetings. We each drew pigs and then had them analysed to tell us something about our personality. Sadly I got very little out of it as I drew two pigs in the time and they conflicted on most points apart from the fact that I'm a bad listener apparently (I can believe that.)

Lunch was interesting as there was no lunch on site everyone went walking down the road looking for somewhere to eat and we ended up packing out SubWay (the first place to buy lunch on the road). I suspect it's the first time that the guy working there got a round of applause for coming back to work after lunch because until he did his colleague was dealing with a queue that filled the shop on her own.

After lunch was a talk about how to get involved in open source which was interesting, and suggests to me that the Moodal project community have a really handy and easy version management system to join in with.

Next was a fairly technical talk on designing and implementing web services which was very interesting. It clarified for me the distinctions between web apps and web services, and gave some good suggestions for how web services might work.

The last talk was "Answering the question of the Swallow", this was a small project to code an open-source app to calculate whether (or for now how fast) a swallow could carry a coconut to Mercia from somewhere tropical. It seems like a good project to do to learn user interfaces but I could have done that much in a day (maybe he did) and it really isn't a good use of volunteer developers time. However as a learning project with no pressure then it seems quite valid. The time turns out to be about 2 weeks but ignores how long the swallow would have to rest or how much drag a coconut would cause (a fairly vital point).

Once this was done we shut up downstairs and went up to the final event which was the live recording of a LinuxOutlaws and Ubuntu UK Podcast all in one. The first order of business was the drawing of a raffle, the prizes for which had been donated, so all the money went to funding the event. There were some amazing prizes including two Viglen MPCs (tiny computers about the size of three CD jewel cases) some Ubuntu apparel, and an Arduino Mega micro-controller kit. There were well over a thousand tickets sold. Alistair, a fellow Linux Outlaws listener and crew member won one of the MPC machines along with Ron from the LugRadio crew. Katie won one of the Ubuntu hoodies which was ironic as she had got me to order her one with my Karmic Koala release t-shirt last weekend. I've got the hoodie now in payment for hers so we now have matching Ubuntu hoodies.

It was a fun show, and the discussion topics caused some debate. First up was audio and video production on Linux which is showing promise but not there yet apparently. What I've had to do recently Audacity has done me fine. The second subject was whether all Linux distros should be rolled into one. Clearly this is mad but it sparked some debate. Basically we established that the divisions between server and desktop, and deb and rpm were too big to be unified. I personally would have no regrets if RPM just ceased to exist, but I bet there are people who would argue that DEB was no good. I think the Linux Kernel is a relatively insignificant part of the distro these days as most distros share almost identical Kernels but the layers on top of that, which manage the user interface (be it a command-line interface on a server distro, or a GUI on a desktop system) are what make distros unique and useful. The argument was that doing so much work on what colour things are is distracting from getting basic functionality working but I think that the constant march for more features is what's causing basic functionality to break, and no one wants a stagnant desktop any more than they want an ugly one. In the end it's always going to be good in the long run to give several options a fair chance to work on their own rather than end up dismissing a new idea because the only Linux distro already has an app for that. Duplication in effort eventually creates a better solution, think of it like a larger genetic pool from which the strongest parts survive.

The event wound up fairly sharp at four, and the next hour or so was spent clearing everything away. I went back down to rooms two and three to remove the locks we'd put on the data projectors and collect the extension leads. The clearing went quite quickly with plenty of help, and we all ended up in the hotel foyer for a chat and a drink. I think the discussions this evening were the most interesting of the weekend, there were lots of people still about (around 40 I think) and no music or other distractions. We all went from the hotel to a Chinese Buffet for dinner and it was from there that we ended up dashing for the train.



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