FLOSS UK Unconference 2010

Its been a good couple of weeks for me as far as Linux and community participation is concerned last weekend I attend a Postgres talk at Wolves-Lug and then this week the FLOSS UK Unconference.

As I had no wish to pay £3872.50 parking fee for the day in Birmingham so I jumped on the train.

Picking myself up off the tracks having missed the train while jumping off the bridge I crawled round the corner to the station and caught the 8.32am to Brum. Now I don’t own an Android phone, I have no need to walk down the street like a pillock with a Sat-Nav in my hand, armed with my scrap of paper and a rough idea where it was I headed off in the general direction of Birmingham town hall.

A couple of “Scuse me do you know where Margaret Street is please?” and dick_turpin was ready to enter the Birmingham & Midland Institute this turned out to be a former library and lecture centre in a grand Grade II listed building next to the museum and other historical academia venues, entering the be-glassed oak doors in the foyer to the right was a smart looking official sat behind a desk surrounded by souvenir books and items relating to the building on the left was a guy in a Debian tee shirt and a biscuit tin with a slot cut in the top for your loot. Impressive. 😉

Climbing the steps I met Alex Willmer who was rummaging around in a box of cables the thought did cross my mind “The swine! He’s nicking all the copper before I can get a look in” but Alex is way too nice to stoop to that sort of thing. I sat down and waited for ‘The Start’ so far the only person I knew was Alex which was a bit worrying as prior to coming I was unsure if I was attending, I’d looked on the Facebook page and it said “Attendees 17 people” and I knew none of them!

We entered the lecture room as Simon Phipps was to give the opening speech. Now I really like Simon I honestly do I think he is a great speaker but boy he does love to play the conspiracy card, I’d heard Simon give a pretty similar speech at Liverpool and as I suspected he would finished up on the ACTA issue. I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I sort of widdled on his parade a bit when it came to the Q&A section at the end, it was obvious that the vast majority of people had no idea on the ACTA subject and was keen to contact their MEP as Simon requested I pointed out that in fact the section of the proposed agreement that deals with Internet access is very small the agreement is more to do with counterfeit goods it just so happens that digital rights has been included as part and parcel and not as is being portrayed the sole purpose of the legislation that is being proposed.

Oops got a bit serious there, anyway rewinding a 5 or 10 minutes, so there I am sat listening to Simon and I notice Chris Procter sat half a mile away across the auditorium, oh goody that’s two people I know then? When my mobile went off which was slightly embarrassing. It was a text message “Don’t start and I’m not here with my family” this could be only one person ‘Amo‘ looking round there he was sat at the top with a group of Asian guys. 😀

After Simon finished his talk and the various discussion groups had been organised we headed off for some coffee whereupon Peter Oliver appeared.

PeteO: “Where’s everyone going?”
Me: “You’ve missed it mate we’ve finished its home time

Amo and I looked at the talks/discussions none of them was ‘my cup of tea’ but I was more than happy to sit in and listen. I did fancy putting my name down to discuss promoting Linux but the only slots left was for 3pm onwards and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay that long. A discussion started between Chris Procter, myself and some other guys (Sorry I really should have got your names) it was just a comment really about cloud computing but we attracted a couple of more people so retired to a room to chat about it more comfortably.

The friendly discussion as you’d expect covered everything from Google docs, gmail and on-line backups but then moved onto media streaming and how content providers such as the BBC would have to pay ISP’s to ensure bandwidth I said “But surely the BBC would just become an ISP it’d be cheaper for them and they’d have a revenue stream” we then talked about the limitations of broad band but again I said “What if we had a 4000GB download capability? Finally we ended up slagging BT off for making huge profits and not investing in infrastructure which was pretty funny as Amo works for BT. 😀

By now I was hungry and we was already 30 minutes into the lunch break, Amo and I slopped off to that height of culinary expertise McDonald’s where we had a good chat about Arch Linux over a big Mac and fries. Having eaten my cardboard tasting bun and reconstituted meat burger we headed back to the event.

Amo wanted to go to one about Android apps (I think?) I shambled along muttering about Android not being Linux and its mobile phones yet again under my breath when Alex sat behind us. The speaker got to a section about his app and how you could download it “Just use the barcode tag” what?

Alex shoved his HTC Desire between mine and Amo’s head and proceeded to scan the Matrix Barcode with his phone from the giant screen about 30ft away from us the HTC went off and got the app and started to download it. Now I know this is probably old news but it was the first time I’d seen this done and I was pretty impressed to be honest.

We moved into yet another room where there was a really technical talk going on I think it was Python as I heard PyPy mentioned a few times but it was way over my head. In all truth I had enough it was by now about 3pm and made my farewells and Amo and I walked to the town hall and parted company.

As it happens I did enjoy myself which ultimately is the most important thing.

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