So here we are again, another OggCamp the Linux and Free Software un-conference I attend every year. For the last two years Ron Wellsted has been kind enough to drive myself and some other shaved gibbons from Wolves Lug to and from the event. It would seem Ron has somehow mysteriously invoked a bit of a tradition namely last year when Ron phoned to say he would be at my house imminently I was sat on the toilet! Nice. This year I had a time slot of 14:00 so at 13:20 I thought “Right time for a cheeky wee wee methinks?” so there I was about to point Percy at the porcelain when low and behold my mobile went off, yep you guessed it “Hi Pete I shall be with you in a few minutes.” Aaaarrrgghh.
Ron’s a great guy, his six seater Fiat is like a technology department on wheels what with his blue tooth phone controller thing-a-ma-jig, so he sets the mobile phone Sat Nav (More than likely open street maps knowing Ron?) to get us to Craig Squire’s house. After Ron’s stupid Sat Nav takes us all round the houses we arrive to the tune of me screaming “What a pile of crap that is! I could have got us here much faster and with less hassle” we dragged Craig out his mansion and set off for Liverpool. Department of Transport I hate your guts, why is there never a patrol car pulling over what would clearly appear to be 1.4 litre articulated lorry drivers trying to overtake other slow moving articulated lorries? A straight road that should take us around one and a half hours to traverse took TWO AND HALF HOURS! Mr minister for transport.
Now I’m a very poor person and have to run a PAYG mobile phone I also keep my 3G turned off especially after last years OggCamp where I purchased £10 worth of credit just before we set off and by the time we left the M25 for Aldershot I had used up all my credit so by the time we hit the M62 for Liverpool I was starting to get Google G+ withdrawal symptoms. I had stuck £5 on my phone late on Thursday and I swear I’d not made any calls and had only sent a couple of texts. By the time we left the M62 I had 97p of credit left. :'(
We arrived at the Britannia Adelphi which was the official OggCamp hotel and Ron kindly dropped us all off then went to park the car, once through the revolving door I thought I had gone through a worm hole or a time warp at the very least! I kept waiting for Kate Winslet to swan down the stairs with her arms flailing behind her like a set of pretend wings. The Adelphi is a Victorian hotel and the décor leaves you in no doubt it’s Victorian, one of the first things that hits you when you first arrive is the smell I’m sorry Adelphi but you stink you really do. It’s a kind of musty old smell with a hint of mould thrown in for good measure I have to say for the first couple of hours it was almost gagging time however after being exposed enough a bit like some dog owners home you actually got used to the smell so much so that you didn’t notice it any more. What’s weird about this hotel is it’s so amazingly crap and yet awesome all at the same time, the place is huge and in its day would have been lavish but it’s kind of just hanging on in there to be honest and due to its size I suspect not even the Sultan of Brunei could not afford refurbish it.
Apparently my room was on the first floor which initially I was pleased with as it meant not far to travel, oh you poor sap Peter you will learn that your happiness will be short-lived, however we will deal with that later. So off I set to find my room, now while there are numbers on the wall to tell you [supposedly] where to go they’re rubbish! This is because not only are there rooms on both sides of the corridor but also rooms in the middle of the place too! So after traipsing back and forth a few times in a long marble wall I spy what looks like a cupboard door, I’m not joking either yes this was my door. I inserted my key card and opened the door to be presented with a cupboard, honestly, in front of me was two walls with a fuse box on the one in front “This can’t be right?” to my right was another door handle as I started to open the second door the front door eerily slammed shut and I entered Narnia! The room was enormous, the ceiling must have been at least 20ft high I’d got two single beds made into a double and my wardrobe was that big it had another wardrobe inside it, I was out of breath just walking across the room to get to the bathroom, thank heavens there was some easy chairs so I could have a rest half way.
The rehearsal: Matt and I had been asked a few months prior if we would host a OggCamp quiz for the Linux Outlaws and the Ubuntu UK Podcast given there was some technology involved Matt and I felt a rehearsal was in order which turned out to be a good idea as there was one or two glitches that needed sorting out before Saturday. We had arranged to be there for an hour but it quickly slipped into longer the funniest point was Tony Whitmore saying “While I know you don’t want to reveal anything and I don’t want to spoil it can I just ask what you have planned and what’s involved?” Ahahahaha I’m not saying Tony was concerned but I’m sure I could hear parpping noises (Snigger).
The LEAF: And so for some food, we had already posted our intention to eat at the LEAF on bold street, Liverpool Matt and I love this place after Dan held his Rathole Radio Live there in April of this year. They do a decent range of meals including vegetarian options, you sit at mostly long rustic tables with long benches. Because it was so busy we had to sit upstairs, the guy behind the bar said “Is there many of you? I’ll inform the chef” I was really tempted to be cruel and say “Actually they’ve sold 400 tickets so …..” but I didn’t. We had a brilliant time with everyone inspecting everyone else’s meals “Ooh that looks nice what you got there then?” they even had non alcoholic ginger beer so I was a happy bunny.
The Pre OggCamp party: Now that we had filled our bellies with some food we headed back to the hotel for the drunken revelry we have all come to love. As I hinted at earlier the Adelphi is not only huge but a rabbit warren of function rooms, bars and eating establishments this will become relevant later. We all piled into what was already a very busy bar come part-time sauna, there is a sort of circular bar in the middle of the room but this offered little extra ability to get a drink. twenty people all surround the bar clutching £5, £10 and £20 notes in an attempt to gain a quicker service from the three barmen all to no avail. after a long time I managed to purchase a Coke and made my way to the back of the room that by now must have been pushing 20°C everyone was sweating nicely I met up with loads of friends (I can’t name all of them or we’ll be here all week, you all know who you are.) unable to stand the heat any longer I made my way outside which lasted about twenty minutes when it decided to throw it down with rain so we all ducked under the entrance canopy whereupon Julian Aloof (German) and Kim Rasmussen (Danish) proceeded to make remarks about the UK weather, I was having none of that and lectured them on the fact that English rain was the envy of the world and that they had better get glassful’s and take it home to their parents who will worship them for securing her majesty’s rain. I hope they both remember the rain conversation as everyone around us seemed to find it funny at any rate. But I have to say the funniest point for me was when I bumped into Félim Whiteley or as we like to call him on the podcast “The posh Irishman” because of the acute above the letter é. After a bit of a chat I said that Shane Marks was here and offered to introduce him, so they started off with the usual stuff where do you live, where do you work then Shane said “Ranelagh it’s near Slitorgan.” OMG it was like a scene out of Father Ted “Ah ya loying baastard it’s nowhere near there.” the bit that made me wet myself with laughter was when Shane started to get his mobile out, I presume to look at a map? And Félim said “Ah to be sure and Google’s never been wrong has it?” Bwahahahaha. They both assure me it was typical Irish banter and we all had a good laugh about it.
I wandered up to have a chat with heeed AKA Michael Rimicans who relayed this story to me; “So I was in the lift coming down and there was these two old ladies one of them was blind. I started talking to the blind lady and asked her where she was from, how long she was here for the normal stuff anyway she asked me if my room was nice and I told her about it being a bit small and how the view from the window was rubbish as it was the car park. I then proceeded to ask her what her view was like? I knew what I was saying, I couldn’t stop myself the words just came out even though she was blind what’s your view like?” I didn’t laugh honest, no honestly. Bwahahahaha. I knew it was too good to be true some guy came out and said we all had to go back into the sauna as technically we was on the street and drinking in the street breaks the by-law so we all shuffled back in to be greeted by ‘Grab a granny night’ it wasn’t just appalling it was embarrassingly appalling I swear to god one of them was 118 if she was a day “Ello deary fancy a quick step?”
Having only managed to obtain two drinks all night due to the three barmen nightmare I came up with a cunning plan, when you enter the Wave bar you actually walk past another bar with a restaurant “Why not get a drink there and bring it in here?” I thought, it worked perfectly only trouble was I opened my big gob and then that bar was full too! Oops. I have no idea what time they slung us out of there but we was moved to a 4Ft by 3Ft residents bar known as The American Bar I don’t have the foggiest why I tried to carry on drinking but I’d had enough so sloped off in the hope of at least finding my room within thirty minutes so long as I didn’t get too lost.
OggCamp day one: Amazingly for me I arose at 7:30 most of my friends know as Adam Sweet puts it “You get up at stupid times” so this was a long lay in for me but I was looking forward to something I’ve not had for about fifteen years now, a bath! refreshed and wearing my new Creative Commons tee-shirt I headed down to breakfast with Shane Marks and Julian Aloofi the hotel did it’s very best to either ensure we took as little food as possible or scar us for life by providing red-hot implements to retrieve food items with however this did not stop me from filling my plate with bacon!
Having dragged our full bellies out of the dining room we met up with Matt and some others in the lobby ready for the hike, and I mean hike to OggCamp. Why is everything in Liverpool up a bloody hill? Upon arrival I sneaked in under the pretext of dropping our quiz stuff off and then craftily registered so I didn’t have to stand in that huge queue, well I mean I am a celebrity you know? I had a quick look at the CampFire board and was disappointed that it only displayed the name of the presenter and not what the talk was about, I did speak to Jon Spriggs about this on the Sunday and apparently it was the way people had in-putted the information and nothing to do with him or CampFire for that matter.
I attended the welcome section along with everyone else and then spent the morning basically chatting to everyone, I had my photo taken by Tony Whitmore little did I know what he intended doing with all these photo’s although I have to say the end result was fooking brilliant, well done Tony. It was insanely hot I managed to obtain some large blue paper towel from The LEAF that had set up a small refreshments stand at OggCamp, did I say how much I like the LEAF? So I spent the rest of the morning wandering around dabbing myself like Louis Armstrong. My first port of call was the FSFE stand I had already arranged a few days earlier to purchase a hoodie from them but it would seem it was not to be? Apparently they had arrived from Germany that very morning but the paperwork was not in order so the whole lot was sent back to Germany! Bloody Customs. I handed over some money and arranged for them to post it to me. I then went round and grabbed some stickers and an LCD display screen that I have no idea what I’m going to do with but it was free so why not?
Geeknic: This is actually heaps of fun to attend made even more appealing by the promise of free food but most importantly free pizza! Little did we know that some swine’s would hover around said food items like carrion waiting for the pizza boxes to be opened, by the time I arrived there was four pieces of pizza left, I took one and luckily Matt was behind me and he took one for him and Marie, bloody geeks they’re like human vacuum’s when it comes to pizzas, we all had a good old natter sat in pretty good weather if the truth be told drinking coke and chilling.
Stephen Fry & The Quiz: Now we only had an hour or so until the moment everyone was waiting for was upon us, Stephen Fry, like most people I’ve seen him on the TV and I do watch QI the quiz show he hosts now and again but I wouldn’t class myself as a huge fan however after the thirty minute message he’s definitely gone up in my estimation, if you haven’t seen it and get the chance you should make some time to watch it. For me the best part was his definition of copyright and how it was like a small bird for me he was spot on.
While my new mate Steve was telling us what Linux distribution he uses, it just had to be Ubuntu didn’t it? Matt, Ron and I started setting up ready for the quiz. During the planning of OggCamp 2012 Dan Lynch asked Matt and me if we would like to organise a quiz between Linux Outlaws and the Ubuntu UK Podcast, deeply flattered Matt and I set about trying to produce something that would do justice to the hard work everyone puts into this event. We actually researched the question (Something we rarely do on our podcast) and then sought help from our good friend Ron who very kindly donated some buzzers, questions and his time. Matt spent his personal time reworking the pyquizaster software so that it fitted our event and needs and more importantly going through 12 months of both teams podcasts collecting items to ask questions on, can I just thank Matt as this was no mean task and did take him more than just a couple of hours. I set about creating the ‘Tux from above’ section and the corresponding questions. I did want to have some proper printed cards however the cheapest price I was quoted for 50 cards was £60 which was a bit rich for my pocket. I decided we would make our own and purchased 100 cards from Rymans the stationers. My test prints failed miserably and so we was left with no alternative but to print off our logo on normal paper and glue that paper to the cards so my daughter Hannah kindly spent a whole day glueing each individual card I then glued every question to every card a task that took us two days to complete, Hannah darling you rock.
Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed it and certainly the audience was laughing loads as you can see in the video we had some problems that unfortunately threw us out a bit, you can tell at the start we’re a bit shaky and just kind of launch into it, we sadly lost the sound which meant we could not use the theme tune Matt created or the buzzer sounds I created. As you would expect from nine hyper active podcasters it descended into anarchy now and again. We had a plan to flick our cards into the audience, my misses had said “It’s a bit dangerous?” but hey since when do husbands listen to wives? She was right of course, wives always are, I nearly took some poor woman’s eye out in the second row! All in all it was a damned good laugh and lots of people came up afterwards and said they really enjoyed it. Thanks LO & UUPC we love you.
Feed me Seymour: And that was it for OggCamp day one and most of us headed back to the hotel to dump our stuff. Now a person who shall remain anonymous (You know who you are) suggested we eat at a place that apparently did food from all over the world and was one of those ‘Eat all you like’ for £14.99 my spider senses started tingling when he said “So you go down there, up there, turn right, up the stairs turn left……. I thought “Yeah this is a recipe for failure?” and I was right, kind of. Oh we found the place all right after a four day trek and the loss of 4 stone in weight only to discover it was packed to the gunnel’s so we turned around and some of us headed back to where we came from and ended up eating in the Indian just across the road from the hotel. This was actually hysterical, Stuart Langridge and Adam Sweet was with us so there was bound to be trouble, Adam piled his plate up and left three potato wedges I was moaning at him that there was a £3 charge for any left food so he hid them between two plates! But the funniest bit was Aq’s (Stewart Langridge) “Worst job in the world” role play. He mused at how they got that Basmati rice coloured at each end only and that it was done by some poor sod on an apprenticeship with two marker pens and a mountain of rice, then the question of quality control came up “Ooh you’ve coloured this one wrong you’ll have to do the whole batch again!” Bwahahaha
Sing Jimmy Carter ya bastard: We all headed into the bowls of the hotel for another night of drunken revelry and entertained by Dan Lynch and his band 20lb sounds Now how can I put this politely? Dan is not what you would call a size 32 chest, I watched Dan sidle up to a chair in need of a sit down, and crush it! Yep one sec there was Dan in front of me the next he was rolling on the floor to sounds of helpful laughter. Of course Dan would say that the leg of the chair was faulty but …… Bwahahaha. Clearly Dan chose two records specifically designed to make me lose my voice namely Billy Bragg’s “Great leap forward” and Dan’s very own “Jimmy Carter” at the time I thought I was OK however next day my voice box was horribly damaged. Towards the end of the evening George Doscher asked me if I wanted to go for a burger with the group of people he was with which little did I know on the one hand might have been a good idea. I was pretty tired and decided to retire to my presidential suite room, now remember how at the start of this I said I was on the first floor and that while I was pleased with this I was to later find out what a mistake this was? Well here it comes. As I made my way through the labyrinth of corridors to the lounge area there was a wedding reception going on with a sound system they had clearly borrowed from The Who “That’s a bit loud?” I thought, yeah it was loud all right. When I got to my room everything inside including me was bouncing up and down I kid you not! Boom, boom, boom, boom. There was no way I was getting any sleep so headed out to wander the streets of Liverpool for an hour and sat eating what McDonalds call a burger watching all the revellers. I couldn’t find George although from what I heard the next day that was probably a good thing as George ended up with some Hen party and the least said the better although rumour has it there are pictures to be found on the Internet.
OggCamp Day Two: It was a later start today, the event was not due to open until 11:00am and we all had to book out of the Adelphi by 11:00am anyway. I’d already arranged to have breakfast with Shane and Julian so while on my way to that I was waylaid by Jon Spriggs where we had probably one of the best conversations I’d had all weekend, true it went over old ground and my thoughts on the Free Software Federation (FSF) and the FSFE (Europe) and all the other plethora of FOSS associated, self appointed organisations. As far as I know Jon now understands where I’m coming from and grudgingly agrees with me which is nice. Craig Squire lumbered in brining his sated belly with him “You been to breakfast?” said Craig “Not yet, I’m meeting Shane.” I replied “He’s been there a while.” Craig informed me. I leapt up and raced down to find a massive queue. Bugger.
On our way back up that pigging hill I dropped my bags off in Ron’s car and we all headed for the last day of OggCamp 2012 Matt had already hacked into CampFire and added The Dick Turpin Road Show for our live recording at 12:00pm and I suspect that swine jontheniceguy added the red warning triangle to our schedule. Matt had put NSFW (Not Safe For Work) but I mean, we do warn people you know? Ahahaha. We had just enough time to meet and greet and before we knew it our time slot was upon us, personally I blame Jon Spriggs and his rotten CampFire as we only had about thirteen or fourteen people at the recording, it couldn’t possibly be anything to do with the fact we clashed with Simon Phipps? The problem was I really wanted to see Alex Martindale’s talk on comedy error messages and of course be at the raffle so the only choice was 12:00pm Matt came up with an awesome topic for discussion “Will Windows 8 be a success for Microsoft?” I felt we had a good debate with lots of audience participation especially from Fabian Scherschel I suspect everyone’s favourite bit was when the church bells next door started peeling hence the title of our episode “For whom the bell tolls”.
The Raffle: Now I don’t want to break my winning streak but I always win ‘something’ at the OggCamp raffle and it’s kinda become tradition that I give my prize to UUPC for them to give away on their show in a competition, wait hold the phone? Did I just say I pay good money for tickets then give the prize away? Yes I did. in 2009 I won a very nice Ubuntu laptop bag, in 2010 I won some O’Reilly E-Book vouchers in 2011 I won some Python hardback books (I kept those) and this year I won another Laptop carry case all of which I gave back to UUPC (Apart from the 2011 win as I said) so I’m not really a tight fisted meanie.
The main prize was a Nexus 7 “Oooooh” they retail at £200 and so a hush fell on the salivating audience, to cut a long story short it was a bloody fix as I never won it, but wait, what’s this? “I would like to donate it back to OggCamp to be auctioned off to raise funds towards the cost of the event.” what a fantastic gesture, that man should get an ovation at every FOSS event he attends. And so we start all over again but this time it’s money on the table. I thought I was in with a chance with my offer of £40 I was even prepared to go to £80 , I had the cash. It finally went to Esko Reinikainen for £280.00 that’s £80 above the RRP! The FOSS community is just overflowing with the most generous, selfless and friendly people you are ever likely to meet.
Goodbye OggCamp: With tears welling up in my eyes I made my way round the venue man-hugging all my friends, and one or two strangers as well, the car park attendant seemed most upset by it? I hate leaving OggCamp I honestly do I feel so sorry for poor Ron as he stands there while I drag out the leaving, trouble is most of the people there I know I won’t see for at least another year and it’s such a great group of people you want to be with them every day.
We made our way back to where Ron’s car was parked and headed off to collect Ron’s wife and daughter and then made our way to the M6. I did warn Ron that Liverpudlians think they’re blee-din Ben Hur at the Colosseum but he did not heed my warning so after a couple of scares we made it on to the M62 prior to joining the M6. Just outside of Stoke-on-Trent the motorway signs started displaying “40MPH Pedestrians on motorway” with visions of crowds of people wandering down the fast lane we passed some random dude in the middle of nowhere stood behind the crash barrier watching the traffic. Obviously there is very little to do on a Sunday In Stoke? After screeching up Craig’s road and pushing him out we headed for my house to be greeted by a distraught Archie he was so excited he wanted to lick everyone in sight.
If you’ve never been to OggCamp you should make the effort I guarantee you’ll meet at least one person you will get on with like a house on fire. Once again OggCamp peeps you’re the best, I look forward to next and many more. #hugs