This is a multipurpose post, one, it is the last regular installment of Samuel’s lcaLIVE. Two, it doubles as my official feedback email to the LCA organisers. Three, it tripples (???) as a school assignment due in a few days (I have to write a gonzo style random article about anything…it’s easier to just use this).
That was without a doubt, one of the best weeks I have ever had. It all started on Sunday of course, actually no, it started on Saturday night (I could argue with myself that it started when my former boss heard that LCA was coming to Canberra…but I won’t) when I decided to go to the early registration on Sunday because I thought that it would be much quieter, and I could get lost without missing anything. I also decided to fix up my old printout of the LCA timetable, after a long heap of scribbles, I just gave up and printed it again.
Sunday saw me register and pick up my conference bag, badge & T-Shirt. I also managed to get partially lost on the way to the venue, “Noooooo, I’m a Canberran, I don’t need a map, I can memorise a campus map.” The first statement was true, as for the others…well, always look at the ground. 
Sunday night was the time for finishing writing my seminar and practicing it, Michael was right, it was too long. I shortened it and made it to bed at 2am
Monday arrived, and so did I, I was early for the Security Miniconf, and became tempted by the Purple Pickle’s offer of filling my LCA mug with coffee for $3.10, I walked out the wrong doors, had the wrong building number in mind and declared that “That creek shouldn’t be there!” I was lost again, thankfully, somebody told me that there was a building of food out the other doors. That is where I found a nice place that filled my mug for $2.80, I however thought that the Miniconf started at 10:00, but due to my lack of a miniconf timetable, I was wrong, it started at 9:30 and I missed the first 10 minutes of the first installment of SE Linux with Russell Coker. I decided that I should borrow a laptop to make use of the wireless network, and make my blog fit it’s title of “Samuel’s lcaLIVE”…I rang a friend and they offered for me to pick one up.
Monday night saw me putting the final touches to my seminar, which actually means creating the entire visual experience (Overhead Presentation in english), this saw me in bed at 3am…and a few fun mistakes that weren’t spotted. The printer also played up (due to me turing off the wrong computer) and made one page of my notes almost unreadable)
Tuesday came around, I had to rush out to Majura Primary in the morning (approximately 30 minutes from civic by bus), pick up the laptop, rush back to LCA and be there by 10am for the start of day two of the Security Miniconf. That all went fine, well, the “getting out the door” part did anyway. I was carrying three bags, one for the usual stuff, coffee, various papers, etc, a second for the video camera and a third for the tripod. I got out to Majura Primary, waited for a few minutes, unnamed person shows up and has forgotten the laptop, I rush back to civic on the bus (OK, I had to wait for the bus to run late first) whilst making changes to my seminar notes. At the Miniconf I made more changes to my seminar notes (which made it look like I was going to repeat the seminar before me, to the people behind me).
11am, seminar time, Michael announces a five minute break to allow me to get my stuff setup (Thanks Michael for the assistance), and then I start. 30 seconds in and Michael is getting up and walking down to the front, which makes me think that he is kicking me off…he was actually turing the volume up at the request of a person up the back…during the seminar I stumble across a slide which had a few problems, first one I noticed was the squiggle under the word “SmoothWall”, which proves that I did the diagram in Word due to frustrations with other programs, the second, and more embarrasing and funny problem, was the public IP address used in the diagram (123.456.789.012) which is obviously very very wrong (If you don’t know why, see http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question549.htm ). Apart from that, the 50-60 people did seem to enjoy the seminar. I however was exhausted, and needed a cup of coffee…I would have like to deliver that seminar again though, maybe I will one day.
Russell had more SE Linux on Tuesday afternoon, it went waaaay over time, but it was fun, and was definetly the highlight of the Security Miniconf.
That night I ran the video of my seminar and was very disappointed to find the audio almost inaudible. I was releived to find that the organisers had recorded it though…or so I hoped.
Wednesday was the start of the “real” conference, and saw the announcement of special prizes, 1GB flash drive each seminar, and IBM Laptop each day.Wednesday was tutorial day, this was good, I attended the “Recovering from HDD disasters” and “Building user interfaces with video and 3D graphics for fun and profit” one. I thoroughly enjoyed the second one, the speaker couldn’t decide who to give the flash drive to, so we played heads and tails, and I won. By this stage I had found the magical terminal room as well…that made me happy. I also found out that my seminar had been officially recorded, and the audio would be available in about a month. The lovely people at ibiblio.org  also replied to my email and gave me webspace for my LCA video and associated materials.
Thursday saw Tridge’s keynote, and his bitkeeper comments . That was very good & proved three things. One, ZDNet had a reporter at LCA. Two, The Register adapt people’s blogs and turn them into articles. Three, Slashdot are really really annoying and stupid people. My blog was among the first places on the net to have the Tridge story (I think ZDNet beat me to it), The Register however, were definetly after me, and had no more info than my blog…I have no problem with them using my matrial, but I would prefer them to have some kind of acknowledgement of my name rather than “delegate”. Slashdot are just plain annoying, the Tridge V Linus V Bitkeeper story has been the top story for a while, I had the important update on it, and it was rejected, instead they went and accepted somebody else’s version of the story who submitted it hours after mine had been rejected, this isn’t the first thing of mine slashdot have rejected, it is in fact, a continuation of their apparent policy of rejecting all of my submissions, no matter how important or interesting they may be.
Thursday lunchtime saw Russell Coker playing Augmented Reality Quake, he did manage to accidentally break,turn off, or cause temporary incapacitation of equipment, which I jokingly put down to his body having SE Linux Policies. SE Linux is fantastic, and if you don’t know anything about it, then please do.
On Thursday night I played with the audio of my seminar and managed to get something semi-usable. This made me happy, and had me thinking of an interim release.
Friday was yet another great day, plenty happened, but I was very tired, and needed a constant supply of coffee to stay awake. Unfortunately there were a few mishaps with speakers and the timetable, and I had to rearrange my viewing schedule, but it was fun none-the-less. I think it was friday that the Tux Racer seminar was on, this was fantastic. I have read that it wasn’t technical enough for LCA, but I think that it is important to have at least one non technical seminar per day, it helps prevent brain melt…and also helps lift the mood, especially near the end of the week when everybody is tired and overloaded with information.
At lunch time Friday I finally had a go at Augmented Reality Quake, which was quite fun.
Friday night saw me uploading the interim release of the video of my seminar (which you can download from www.ibiblio.org/netsec/ ). I will be making a proper release of higher quality, properly edited video and DVD after the official LCA audio & video is released.
Saturday saw Eben Moglen speak, he got a standing ovation, and so he should. His consistent legal defence of open source software has seen it flourish, and proven to business that it *is* the future. (OK, Microsoft still need a bit more convincing, but a look at the sponsors of LCA should prove just how much business value it.)
The organisers were, for the most part, friendly and helpful. They were under an enourmous amount of pressure (I know, I’ve organised stuff before, and it is a credit to them that they managed to make it look seamless and under control, the better you hide the late organisation, the better you have done.) A few times they were a bit snappy, but this is understandable, the amount of pressure they were under, the massive organisational effort, and dealing with idiots that tried to steal everyone’s passwords with rogue APs, and other idiots who felt the need to float various beverages through lecture theatres that were marked “No Food Or Drink”, can’t have been easy, especially when the latter idiots complained about it in their blog. They worked hard to keep as many people happy as possible, this included the caterers, and as such, the white mugs were to stay inside. Thankyou to the organisers, this was fantastic.
The people who packaged the flash drives obviously didn’t expect anybody to ever have a need to use them…but I finally got my flash drive out today (because I actually thought about doing it), and I now have 1256 MB of portable storage.
I’m now looking forward to next year’s LCA in Dunedin, I’m considering submitting an abstract to it so that I can speak again (and avoid many of the costs). It should be good, and I hope to be able to make it there.
I am pleased to be able to announce that during LCA, my webserver logs hit 90% for firefox usage, and 45% for Linux usage. Good to see the educated people hitting my webserver.
I calculated that I’ve lost about 14 hours sleep during the conference, and will now have to work on reclaiming it (sitting here typing this isn’t helping).
This is the last regular update to Samuel’s lcaLIVE, I will be making an index post soon to provide quick and easy access to all the lcaLIVE entries. My blog will now continue as normal (which has a new definition, previously normal meant that there were no entries, I will try to update the blog at least once a week from now on.)
Samuel Gordon-Stewart reporting for Samuel’s lcaLIVE