So I went to FOSDEM part 3

Amazingly I woke without a hangover from the copious amounts of alcohol consumed at the pre-FOSDEM party. It’s a surprise because I rarely drink these days it’s probably only at FOSS events that I do drink so it’s all my FOSS friends fault. Looking out the window, I saw it was snowing! Thank the pond gods I’d packed warm clothing.

It was time to enjoy the €9.00 breakfast I’d agreed to at check-in, clutching my card token I made my way to the dining room. Now I’m not stupid; I guessed it was going to be continental breakfast, but this was continental at its worst. The choices were cereal, toast, cakes, croissants, ham, cheese, scrambled eggs with 2 kilos of butter in it, fat with some eyeliner width of bacon running through it, boiled eggs, fruit, coffee and juices. I watched one family enthusing at the slice of ham they were cutting up and eating like a three course meal! I resisted screaming “Roll it up and stuff it in your face, two bites and it’ll be gone! It’s no sausage sunshine!” munching on an iced doughnut, for breakfast! I wondered if I should cancel the two breakfasts I had in hand and spend the €18.00 on a decent breakfast? The thing is, It means traipsing outside to find somewhere and I need coffee when I first get out of bed and with no coffee making capability in my room I opted to have my two coffees and cakes for €9.00 a day.

Are you ever going to get to FOSDEM?

I’d looked on Google maps, and there was no way I could walk to the event, Google was telling me to walk up the road for 10 minutes and catch a tram, so I went to the desk: “Hi, I need to get to the university and Google says to catch a tram, can you tell me which way to go please?” I won’t bore you with the typical stereotypical view of Brits abroad when it comes to communicating with the locals, but I was getting nowhere fast however this did make me laugh.
Me: “OK, OK, I’ll catch a taxi, can you call me one please?”
Receptionist: “I don’t think they will take you to the tram sir, it’s not far enough.”
Me: “No, I want the taxi to take me to the University!”

€16.00 lighter and the taxi driver dumped me in the snow by the barrier at Université Libre de Bruxelles. I thought the fare was pretty reasonable tbh, either way; I was glad I was going to be at my very first FOSDEM even if I was initially my own. Taking pidgeon steps through the snow I made my way towards a building with lots of people outside, I didn’t see any big signs outside saying “FOSDEM”, but there were some on the windows as I got closer. First port of call was what I thought was the info desk, although I was to discover later building H was the main information point. Pushing my way through hordes of geeks who do love to stand in the most inconvenient places I made my way towards a counter that was not only handing out event booklets but also selling FOSDEM Hoodies and tee shirts. I duly bought a Hoodie; I’ve no idea how much it cost I just slapped in the debit card and paid. For all, I know it could have been €500.00? LOL

There’s not a lot in building H other than rooms for talks O’Reilly was in there, selling books, as they often are at FOSS events. I stopped buying Tech books nearly ten years ago; everything is on the web these days anyway. Still, it was nice to see some people making purchases. I had installed the FOSDEM app on my phone but to be honest, if it’s your first time to the event definitely get a map because initially, the University can be a bit confusing. For example, the university signs directing you to building J (The Janson building) took me to building K! very confusing.

Can Anyone Live in Full Software Freedom Today?

I wanted to see the Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler talk over in the Janson building (J) sadly by the time I got there I’d missed the first fifteen or twenty minutes. As you can guess the gist of the talk was pretty much in the same vein as Mr pick your feet himself Richard Stallman I think the biggest eyebrow raiser for most of us was when Karen told us about the time her father had been taken ill and rushed to a hospital that she didn’t know. Karen, apparently, agonised over whether to use Open Street Maps or Google Maps to get there! Personally, principles should go out the window when it comes to life and death situations in my opinion. Living a righteous life is all well and good, but I know of a few people who take Libre a bit too far.

I spent a fair bit of time in the Janson building, mainly because it was pretty much the only place you could get a seat that you wasn’t in danger of getting your feet trodden on. Somebody told me that around eight thousand people visit the event throughout the weekend and I can quite believe it, I can now see why people say “If you want to see a talk and it’s in one of the smaller lecture rooms get there early and queue!” I enjoyed watching ‘The Staff’ slam doors when rooms were full although some people hung around outside in the hope someone left so that they could take their place. I did see one talk that was being piped via video outside to a group of about fifty plus geeks stood in the corridor.

I’ve come all the way to Belgium to see you!

Top of my list was to see the 0 a.d. stand in building K which as it turned out was on the second floor. Building K reminded me of what LugRadio Live used to be like, lots of stalls from different projects such as MySQL, PHP and distributions such as Red Hat and Ubuntu. As you can imagine, I grabbed as many stickers as possible, but my prized sticker was from the guys at 0 a.d. Sadly they would only let me have one which made it really hard to pick from the four choices they had. I was tempted to buy one of the official CD’s they had, but it would have just sat in a drawer which is pretty pointless. I did have a good chat with them although I suspect they thought “Oh god, yet another I love playing your game old fart.” LOL

I visited the Libre Office stand and swiped a couple of stickers, but I also bought a tee shirt just to show my support. Whoever allocated the stands spaces at FOSDEM clearly didn’t know their FOSS history. They’d placed Own Cloud and Next Cloud opposite each other! I stood around for a while hoping to see a bun fight, but we’re all good friends at these events. Sadly I didn’t see the Haiku stand I’m not sure if I missed it or it just wasn’t there? I would have liked to have seen that. Building K was a lot of fun for me, I like talks but some are way above my pay grade, and so it was good to have something alternative to do. The LPI stand was packed as you can imagine, I didn’t register for the exam mainly because it would have been an embarrassing fail for me. I would have like to have taken part in the quiz they ran; you had to put an app on your phone and then answer questions in a certain amount of time. The problem was they held it at their stand and with little room as it was with people were pushing and shoving past the small group huddled round the screen it would have been far better to hold that in a small room somewhere which I’m sure could have been arranged.

Where’s the meat?

It was now time for food, well it wasn’t some people’s lunchtime but a little tip if you go, eat at around 12 pm because from 1 pm onwards it’s like feeding time at some African watering hole! Now because I’d eaten crap two days running (Burgers, fries etc.) I wanted something wholesome. I spotted a van selling Pasta based meals and asked for the Bolognese clutching my heart I staggered around a bit at the €7.50 price tag but figured that you’d expect to pay a premium at an event like this. “Oh Pete, you sucker!” grasping the hot box of food I made my way to some shelter as it was still snowing. Steam bellowing from the box I started to tuck into the very nice sauce with a few bits of meat in it and some cheese on top. After a few mouthfuls, I stared at the over three-quarter full box in disbelief I was now eating a box of plain pasta tubes! The cheeky feckers obviously fill the box with pasta then smear some Bolognaise sauce on the top, a bit of a ripoff in my opinion. Pasta is probably a couple of Euros for a big bag of pasta, and the sauce is probably a couple of Euros I would estimate each serving works out at about 5 Cents a box? That’s 1500% markup! Nice.

Blockchain: The Ethical Considerations

Because I ate early, I was able to nip back to the Janson building (J) to watch Deb Nicholson Give her talk I was looking forward to this given my use of Steemit, but I have to say the talk wasn’t very good. I’m not sure what was going on really. The speaker threw in the word “Blockchain” now and again, but on the whole, she spoke about stuff that while possibly ethical in a life scenario on the whole totally unrelated to Blockchain. It was as if the talk had not been rehearsed with lots of “Umm?” “Ooh” and faffing about with the wrong slides. It was a little bit embarrassing as lots of people started leaving the hall in a kind of mass exodus. I stuck it out till the end, but sadly it didn’t get any better.

In the afternoon I went wandering, building AW was interesting, there were a few exhibitions in there some of which were ARM based. I poked my head in a couple of talks, but they weren’t my cup of tea if truth be told so slid through the snow that was now turning to slush to building U which was talks. Again nothing really wet my fancy, so I headed back to building K. During the course of the day I bumped into Ade Bradshaw and Fabien Scherschel I have to take my hat of to Fab, every time I saw him he was working on an article now that he’s a freelance journalist. Fair play Fab. I also bumped into Alan Pope who said “I can’t stop Pete, I’m late for a meeting.” which I thought was a bit weird I’d have expected him to say he was late for a talk. Maybe Popey is applying to be a professor at the university?

You going home? You lightweight!

I have to say, by four thirty in the afternoon I was ready to go. I was soaked through, although I didn’t discover that until I got back to the hotel, it’s amazing how excitement can make you ignore stuff. My feet were killing me, and I was now just going from building to building for the sake of it. I did consider getting a Taxi back but in the end, I decided to see if I could find this tram. Yet again, I cannot praise Google enough, following the map was simple and the number 93 Tram took me close to my hotel for €2.50 which is a bit cheaper than €16.00. As soon as I got in my room, I took off my wet clothes, did I mention I didn’t realize how wet I was? And ran a bath.

I did go out on the Saturday night, after something to eat I headed back to the Delirium Cafe but I couldn’t see anyone I knew, and it looked like the locals had reclaimed ownership anyway. I decided to head back to my room and spent the night watching Forest Gump with Dutch subtitles. LOL
As it turned out Ade wasn’t very well anyway so he and Ilka stayed in their room too so tbh I didn’t feel half as bad for staying in mine.

In part 4 we hear how Sunday went and how Fab is a wuss when it comes to Chillis.

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