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In-person and open

Saturday, March 18th, 2023 at 08:17pm

For three days last week I did something that I haven’t done in over three years, attended an in-person conference in the form of Everything Open.

To steal the conference blurb:

Everything Open is running for the first time in 2023. Linux Australia has decided to run this event to provide a space for a cross-section of the open technologies communities to come together in person. The conference draws upon the experience of the many events that have been run by Linux Australia and its subcommittees, starting with CALU (Conference of Australian Linux Users) in 1999, over the past twenty years, and the Open Source Developers Conference (OSDC).

Everything Open is a grassroots conference with a focus on open technologies, the community that has built up around this movement and the values that it represents. The presentations cover a broad range of subject areas, including Linux, open source software, open hardware, open data, open government, open GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums), to name a few. There are technical deep-dives into specific topics from project contributors, as well as tutorials on building hardware or using a piece of software, not to mention talks covering the inner workings of our communities.

At the core of Everything Open is the community. The conference is entirely organised by volunteers who have a passion for bringing together the open technologies communities to share their collective experience. Everything Open is a not for profit event that aims to provide attendees with a world-class conference at a down to earth rate.

It was a bit weird but also quite familiar to be back at a conference. Although I had been back at in-person events for a while in the form of comedy shows and camera club meetings/outings, this was three full days of interesting presentations as well as a variety of dicsussions between scheduled talks. I have been attending conferences like this since 2004 (all twelve OSDC Australia and eight in-person conferences) and there are a number of people that I only know from these events.

There has been (and will still be) some discussion about whether the change from to Everything Open is good or bad, but I can say that for me I support the change. I will even admit that I did not attend for the Linux content, but for the other related talks, the talks about related open source technologies or activities. I wouldn’t be able to follow along with a talk about something specific to the Linux kernel, but I would happily listen to someone talk about how GPS works or the toxic (literally poisonous) history of wallpaper. I miss the content of an OSDC, and was glad that the topics of an LCA were getting broader.

It was always award to tell someone I was going to LCA and then have to explain Linux to them, so I agree that changing the name to Everything Open makes it more inclusive for everyone.

The recordings are still being uploaded to the Everything Open YouTube channel and once they are I will try to come back and update this post with links to my favourites, but for now I will link to the one talk that has stuck in my mind because what was demonstrated doesn’t seem like it should have been possible…

Houdini of the Terminal: The need for escaping – David Leadbeater (Everything Open 2023)

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The Linux of Things

Saturday, January 26th, 2019 at 03:49pm

As is becoming a habit, January for me means attending which this time around was held in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The theme this year was “The Linux of Things” and rather than paraphrase the definition I will simply quote part of it:

“Building on the role that Linux plays in our everyday lives, we will address IoT-related opportunities and concerns from the purely technical through environmental, health, privacy, security and more.”

Those who know or follow me should immediately spot that that this is strongly aligned with my recent enthusiasm for home automation. I lost count of how many conversations I had with people about what I had done and what they had done, then there were a number of relevant talks that added more information into the mix. It is a lot to think about…

A few of the bigger takeaways are:

  • Home Assistant is good for automation and displaying recent history, but store long term history elsewhere.
  • Use what you are comfortable with. For others this may mean off the shelf devices, but for me this means I will continue building simple functionality into arduinos.
  • What you actually do is also highly personalised. Just because someone triggers the aircon in their office to turn on when they make their first cup of coffee doesn’t mean that you have to as well.
  • Always learn from what other people have done, and just as importantly share what you have done so others can learn from you.

That last point isn’t really new or home automation related, it is part of the philsophy underpinning open source itself, so not surprising that it came up (a lot) at an open source conference ;)

As is also becoming a habit, I am not going to travel to another country just for one week, in a similar way that I followed up Hobart 2017 with a road trip, I am also following up Christchurch 2019 with a road trip:

I will need to hold off (for now) the planning a road trip from the Gold Coast, because that is where LCA will be in 2020…

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Knitting at LCA

Saturday, January 21st, 2017 at 10:17am

For the past week I have been in Hobart for, a conference about open source software that I find hard to explain to non-tech people because it has Linux in its name. Yes, there is a big focus on Linux as an Operating System, but what I find interesting is the stuff a step away in the form of interesting projects or culture/team aspects of software development.

With the decline of OSDC this has become my go-to tech conference, it is an indictment on how slack I have been about writing blog posts in that this was my fifth LCA over the past six years. My first was Ballarat in 2012 and I should not have skipped Auckland in 2015.

I have a lot of things to think about, but there are three clear highlights:

  • You don’t want rockstars
    I always like going to talks on “soft” topics such as culture, communication and teams because it is guaranteed that you will be working with other people. There were a couple of talks this year, but the ones that stood out weres Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Rock Star Developers and Imposter Syndrome
  • Knitting is programming
    There was mention of knitting last year in Geelong at LCA2016, but it was also mentioned in a couple of talks this year, but it was Ada ❤ Lace and Knit One, Compute One that drive home how a knitting pattern is a program. I’m tempted to learn how to knit…
  • Space is cool
    Although not part of the talks or schedule, once an opportunity became available to get a tour of the Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory quite a number of us jumped at the chance. It was impressive to stand in the shadow of the 26m dish that had supported NASA mission when originally located at the Orroral Valley Tracking Station near Canberra (which I have been to).

As with my last trip to Hobart I am not heading home straight away, as I type this I am waiting for Damien to drive down from Devonport (after travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania overnight) to meet me. This afternoon we have a booking for a short cruise down the Derwent River before heading over to near Port Arthur, from there we will spend the following six days working our way up the east coast of Tasmania before we both head back to Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania.

In visual form it looks something like this:

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The other side of this continent

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 at 11:28am

Last year when I posted that things were going to be different there was something I didn’t mention, because I hadn’t yet made the decision. I was going to be flying over to Perth for LCA in January, and since I no longer had to get back to go to work I pushed my return flight back a week. If I am going to be flying all the way across the country, why not take photos of some of the sights? It is not that long since I was last in Perth, but on that try Perth was just a stop, the purpose of the trip was the journey. This time I could wander around and hopefully find interesting things.

Again I intend to write up another post about the conference itself (though I never wrote up anything about Canberra last year), for now I will talk about what I did afterwards.

Initially I was flying home the day after (Saturday) the conference, because I would have to pay a change fee I ended up opting for a slightly cheaper flight back on the following Sunday. This was a dreaded red-eye, but I didn’t have work to go to on the Monday, and it gave me slightly over a week to explore.

I ended up splitting my time, the first four days exploring Perth and Fremantle, then I would pick up a car and drive north (and back) over the next four days.

What I didn’t expect was for this to coincide with a heatwave. I’m not a fan of walking around in 40+ degree heat, so the first few days were essentially heat out as soon as it was light for a couple of hours and then retire to my room. The consolation at least was that nobody was around that early and I didn’t have to deal with harsh light.

Blood and Fire Surfaces T facade A busy morning

Once the heat broke I spent a day down in Fremantle, inclusing the Maritime Museum and former prison

Wooden From the tunnel Decking Cellblock Watching over

I’m not sure where I found out about it, but on another hot day I caught the train out to the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek:

Bundle Rear Connection Panel Replica on a pole Splines

It was then time to pick up the hire car and head north, working my way along the coast as far as Kalbarri and then back on a more direct inland route:

Red brick Frayed Bend in the road Standing out For the Sydney Warribano Chimney

I didn’t cover everything (often too hot to stray far from the car), but I have a better idea of the areas for the next time I go back.

I was back in Perth for a day I drive around a bit to cover some areas that were not in walking distance of a station… (and the middle of the day was quite hot so I went to see a movie for the air conditioning)

For munitions Monument Hill Perth CBD

It was good to get out with my camera, and while I should be starting to think about getting a new job I am spending more time on planning other trips, one over the easter weekend to the high country over easter and a big one to the US.

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My first LCA

Saturday, January 21st, 2012 at 01:18pm

A few years ago there was an LCA held in Melbourne, that I regret not going to. What is LCA? It is the abbreviation for, a large open source conference that is held every year at various locations around Australia and New Zealand. Those familiar with me should know that I am a regular attendee at Open Source Developers’ Conference, my undetrstanding was that LCA is like that but bigger, although more technical and obviously more based around Linux.

When I found out late last year that the next one would be held in Ballarat I decided that I had to go. It was close enough that I could just drive out there, but also far enough away that I could immerse myself in it for the entire week.

That week is now over and I have a lot to think about – will need to make a follow up post about the talks once I have digested it all. Though two that immediately come to mind are one from Andrew Tridgell about the design and build of an open source UAV to rescue “Outback Joe” and other about launching balloons into space which included a live demonstration:

T minus

A big difference to previous conferences was a sense of community which was due to it being held on a university campus AND a lot of people (including myself) stayed on campus in the student dorms. This gave a great sense of community, eg on the Monday night a sizable group of us gathered, ordered a lot of pizza and talked about all sorts of things, there was a big BBQ on another night and on yet another night we had a big shared collective dinner:

Fruit and veg Some of the meat Teary Flaming Sliced sausage All hands

Next year it will be in Canberra and I have already decided to go, probably driving up. Though this does mean that I will now have two regular conferences in my calendar that are similar but different: OSDC and LCA…

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