I attended this event last year and, as such, the first thing I want to do know is to admit defeat. I was pretty proud of last year’s writeup, and I had every intention of trying to repeat the experiment in writing up a thorough review. For the record, I have failed, even before I begin.
I took less pictures this year, I was overall less attentive due to recurring hangovers, but I did have every bit as good a time. Anyway, let’s see where we get to…
Transport & Accommodation
After the disaster that was trying to get to Oxford by train a few weeks back, I opted to drive down to Wolves this time round, offering lifts via the LancsLUG list but forgetting to check the LUGRadio Forums – meant I ended up meeting a few others who’d similarly travelled down from Lancaster, which was a mistake. We could have easily car-shared if we’d realized.
Another factor in driving down was that I’d only really decided I was definitely going to go down there the day before – it would have been the same cost to get on the train, with less guarantees.
As it was, the drive down was painless, although I did get there a little late because I went for beer the night before and slept through my alarm – n00b.
With making the decision the day before, I decided to go with what I knew and opted to stay at the Novotel in Wolverhampton – right next to the railway station, 5 minutes walk to the venue, and just off one of the main roads (maybe 15 minutes from the motorway). It was as to be expected – not the cheapest, but conveniently placed, clean and, to be quite honest, easy. Buffet breakfast was included, which I maxed on, and the snack I got there in the evening to wash down my Guinness was pretty good as well.
This segment is the reason this is a week late, and it’s an utter failure. I spent most of the last week wanting to really devote time to this part likeI did last year to give the speakers the best possible summation I could. Then I realized I didn’t make enough notes to do that. Instead, I’ll just summarise what I saw, what was interesting, and key things of note.
To begin with, as mentioned, I arrived to the event too late to see the opening segment by the four large gents, and as such also missed the usual rush to get in and see the place fill up. It also meant that I missed a good portion of the first talk I went to see, which was Rufus Pollock talking about the Open Knowledge Foundation. I have to be honest, before LRL, I think I had heard of the Foundation but knew nothing about it. It’s a really cool idea, and I wholeheartedly suggest visiting the webstie to find out more, along with the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network – super stuff. The things that particularly made me sit up and think were a couple of key phrases Rufus mentioned during his talk, the first centralising around the many minds principle, which is a principle I have a lot of faith in, and his phrase of ‘the revolution will be decentralized’. It makes so much sense given the nature of the internet and its accessibility. These big changes, that need to happen to make real progress revolve around the idea of open and shared knowledge and the sharing of ideas struggle if they’re dictated to from a central point. I really can’t do it justice by trying to paraphrase everything he said but, to find out more, check out the aforementioned links.
Another snippet he mentioned that caught my ear was, after explaining how ‘3G’ alone has over 7000 patents applicable to it, and 800 distinct patents (all of which, supposedly, ‘protect’ intellectual property), the question ‘Why should this process be open?’ His answer? ‘Because putting Humpty Dumpty back together is easier‘ when things are open. And it really is. When the shit hits the fan, and things need fixing, it’s so much easier if you can have all the blueprints and tools right there at your fingertips. You shouldn’t need to scrabble around for permission to access certain ‘IP Stuffs’ just to be able to start working on a fix. Another point mentioned that I wasn’t aware of was that, in most cases, works without a license default to being treated as proprietary, not open.
I stayed in the main stage for the next talk by Emma Jane Hogbin, regarding women on open source and various aspects surrounding that. I’m not going to go blow-by-blow with what was said, but it really was extremely interesting, well thought out, and energetic. Would definitely like to go see her speak again when I’m not as hungover / tired so I can pay considerably more attention and make notes.
Lunchtime intervened, allowing me to check into the hotel, grab a lot of coffee, and a sandwich to try and help me make it through the afternoon. It failed.
First up was Jeremy Allison of the SAMBA project, again on the main stage. A very good speaker, I actually found the talk fascinating for an area I didn’t know much about as it provided a good broad picture of where SAMBA came from, what it had done and a glimpse at where it could be going. My only regret, as with most talks over the weekend, is that I was in not mental state to really get the most out of them, as I was constantly battling sleep. n00b.
The Gong-a-Thong Lightbulb Extravaganza was up next, and it all got much more surreal than last year. Funny though. I actually didn’t listen much to most of the Gong-a-Thong though, as I decided to run over and make the msot of the quiet spell on the Bytemark gaming rig. Impressive setup. I found myself coming back more and more in a vain attempt to stroke my epeen and get better at Team Fortress 2. I didn’t quite achieve this.
I also played on for much too long so that I missed at least the first half of Steve Lamb’s talk entitled ‘Green IT’. As such, I feel even less qualified than normal to comment on what it was about – some comments about security not being platform dependent rang true though. And well done again Steve, what I heard was really interesting stuff, but I did spend a long time cursing myself for not getting there to listen to it from the start.
The day concluded with LUGRadio Live and Unleashed. Always amusing. You can go listen and download it here (when it gets uploaded… 🙂 ).
I was surprisingly spritely at the start of Day 2, my only guess for that is that I was still drunk. I kicked it off by going to see Barbie’s talk, ‘Understanding Malware’.
I’d heard of Barbie many times before going to LRL and he didn’t disappoint. It was informative and interesting, even if it was a little above the level I would be comfortable with.
Next up was the Mass Debate – a popular event last year – this year featuring Jeremy Allison, Mrben, Matthew Garrett and … I forget the last panelist (I arrived after the introductions). Jono hosted it.
As with last year, it was hilarious, with some good points being made along with plenty of sly and not-so-sly piss-taking.
Lunch came, and with it came the afternoon fragging. Back to the Team Fortress 2 server I went, and the time flew by. I missed Matthew Garrett’s talk on ‘Power Management that Works’, but made it to Neuro’s talk on Second Life. I found Neuro’s brief rundown to Second Life last year pretty interesting, even if it is something I’m not massively interested in getting into and, listening to him this year, I came home and downloaded the client. I’ve yet to give it a thorough trial. It’s impressive technology-wise, not convinced it’ll prove to be for me though. We’ll see!
And that was it. Game over for another year. This time with no regular podcasts in between.
I’ll miss the podcasts, but i certainly won’t miss being at LRL next year. As Westwood may say, “It’s gonna be BIG” – and all that shite. It will be good.
The fully edited picture will hopefully get linked here Soon ™, but my Nutsack idea this year was, I think, not what I was meant to get, and I apologise if someone left theirs on the side only to return and find I’d swagged it. Having arrived late, I just grabbed the first one that was on the table, saving myself from rummaging through it until I got to the hotel.
Mostly it was of a similar composition to last year (to be expected). The free T-Shirt was from UKUUG, there were one or two pens, some papers and advertising stuff for various upcoming events, the programme, a keyring bottle-opener from Yahoo! (which was considerably more useful than the strangely shaped pen of last year.. 😉 ), and a latest Ubuntu CD. Solid stuff.
In addition to the stuff in the bag, I was also able to grab a lovely free T-Shirt from the LinuxEmporium stand, as a return for entering their competition with the chance to win an EeePC. Alas, I didn’t win the EeePC, but getting a T-Shirt for the effort was a nice touch.
I’ll update this, and add info to the pictures, when I get chance (given that this is 7 days late, expect a sturdy delay on that..), but for now I can’t really think of much else to add!
EeePCs seemed to be everywhere at LRL this year. Which wasn’t a good thing for me as it dramatically increased my urge to go buy myself one. I did in fact come very close to just getting one right there and then, but with the knowledge that the new models are coming out very very shortly, I figured I should wait.
These things are bloody lovely for the sort of thing I want them for. The keyboard does indeed feel incredibly small at first, but I’m almost certain that, with a little practise, that will become a non-issue. The screen is plenty big enough for general browsing and document-editing. All in a slick little package with wireless capabilities, massive battery life, and solid state disks so I can feel slightly more comfortable when it crashes to the floor.
The other thing that was on show there that looked really slick was the Ubuntu desktop running on one of them. It just looked really, really good. To be fair though, I only had the ‘Advanced Menu’ mode of the native Xandros install to compare it to which, whilst it’s definitely functional and familiar, was a bit of a disappointment – I was quite looking forward to seeing what the Bubbly and Cuddly default appearance looked and handled like. Even so though, I think I’ll end up getting mine pre-installed with Ubuntu, probably from EfficientPC – as the fellow running the stand for them was really quite interesting to talk to about it and seems more than happy to go to extra lengths to help customize it. Go check ’em out – they’re meant to be getting the new EeePCs in stock in the next few weeks – FUN!
Community, Community, Community
Jono may get a kicking at regular intervals for his overuse of this term but, feck it. The community aspect of LUGRadio may have been clear to see last year but, for whatever reason, this year came across as considerably more sociable right the way through.
Admittedly, as much as anything, that may have been less to do with an increase in sociable atmosphere and more to do with me coming out of my shell a bit more and feeling comfortable striking up conversations and generally imposing myself on other groups. If I ever did become a bind, then I obviously apologise to those people, but I don’t think I did (hopefully).
The addition of Karaoke on the Saturday night was a superb idea, and definitely brought out the best in people, if not always their voices, and generally aided the party atmosphere. Heading down into Wolves afterwards to visit the rock bar (can’t remember it’s name) was just as much a laugh, even if my memory does get considerably sketchier past that point. However, getting lost on my way back to the hotel certainly wasn’t as much fun!
As with last year, both days carried with them plenty of joviality and all round politeness and banter. In many ways similar to what I loved about Glastonbury, everyone at LRL is there because they share similar broad interests – in this case technology in general and FOSS. As such, the atmosphere is brilliant.
I had some great conversations with various folks this year, and learned a whole load, and I thank them for that. I also saw people I first met at last year’s event, and it really did hammer home this community idea, and made me realize how foolish it was to have not taken a bigger part in it during the year. I have no excuses for that, except my own leanings towards being socially inept and not really knowing how to best start to get to know an already established group as a complete outsider. Childish and foolish? Definitely. But it seems to be the way I’m wired.
Pictures and all that Jazz
I didn’t take alf the pictures I’d wanted to take, and most of the ones I did take didn’t come out well.
If you want to look through some of them, then mine are bunched up in the midst of the Flickr collection, tagged lugradiolive. Some fun photos in there!
As you can hopefully tell from this writeup, I had another great weekend at LUGRadio Live this year, and I was extremely pleased to hear that the show will have at least one more outing same time next year. It’s going to be interesting to see how it turns out, seeing as how there won’t be a regular show to promote it, but if anything it provides an impetus to become more actively involved with the community, which can only be a good thing.
So, to the four blokes and their merry band of yellow-shirted helpers – thanks for another great year. For the cool people I met and talked to – thanks for the hospitality and friendliness. To those who provided such solid information – it’s all appreciated, and I apologise I couldn’t do you justice in my write-ups.
I’ll see you all next year, that’s for sure.