So I went to FOSDEM part 4
Now that I’m an expert on the Belgium Tram system I dispensed with a Taxi and made my way to the Tram stop. I like the Tram especially when it nearly hit the silly woman driver, and we all shot forward out of our seats. Drama over we headed for the end of the line Legrand on the Avenue Louise. A short walk down the road and past the embassy of Uraguay and I was back at FOSDEM. To be honest, it was pretty much the same procedure as Saturday, into building H and pick up a program. The first talk on my list was Solid: Taking back the web through decentralization. I thought it was a pretty good presentation and I learned that “Permissionless Innovation” is evil. I also had, as far as I was concerned, a brilliant conversation with Fabien Scherschel on the ownership or personal data. The speaker asserted that even a “Like” on a website was your data although Fab disagreed. It might sound soppy, but I thoroughly enjoyed that chat with him and will place it among the other cherished memories of the FOSS community.
I didn’t fancy the next talk and so went for a bit of a wander. I did poke my head in a couple of talks in buildings U and H, but on the whole, I kinda wasted a couple of hours. During that time a visit to the food vans was called for. Avoiding the Pasta van like the plague, I headed towards the burger van: “What’s a Mexican burger?” I asked. The guy serving, totally oblivious to food hygiene standards, promptly picked up a meat thing with his bare hands that I had just seen him tweak his ear with and showed me a reconstituted meat product that looked exactly like those frozen pretend rib steaks you can buy. “It is this, very spicy,” he said in a heavy Belgian accent. Figuring that a dip in his fat fryer was likely to kill what was ever on his fingers, I agreed to pay the €5.00 (I think it was €5?). It wasn’t that bad tbh, pretty much as I expected. I did make a mistake though, in my defence, I didn’t know, but now I understand the trick. You go to the chip van first, buy some chips then get in the burger queue. If you’re lucky, you’ll still have a fair amount of chips left to go with your burger. TaDa!
Back in the Janson building (J) it was time for Open Source at DuckDuckGo. Pretty much all of the talk was focused on how DuckDuckGo respects your privacy and doesn’t evaluate your searches so that next time you go on Facebook, there’s an advert for haemorrhoid cream. It was a pretty good talk on the whole with lots of insights as to how browsers cache and process your data. Ade Bradshaw enjoyed it that much he went down to meet the two presenters and ask a few questions. It was only later when we were having a meal that he revealed that DuckDuckGo uses Bing as it’s backend search engine! Bwhahaha poor Ade was mortified, it was like someone had asked to snog him and promised “No tongues” and then promptly stuck their tongue in his mouth!
Next up was Crostini: A Linux Desktop on ChromeOS well what can I say? It struck me as yet another talk that was unrehearsed, or at the very least ‘bad luck’ was descending on the Janson building? The speakers seemed to have a lot of trouble getting the slides to work, and after a while, for me, it started to sound like the Teacher in Charlie Brown.
I did go to another talk in the AW building, but I can’t seem to find it on the booklet? But it was about identifying places and structures on Wikipedia so for example instead of talking about something by a bridge actually identifying and expanding upon the bridge. It was OK, the only thing that shocked me was at the end during the Q&A section someone said “How can people help?” the speaker seemed taken aback and didn’t really have a response. I did get in touch with them and suggested the obvious, email, GitHub, website blah blah blah. But I got the feeling they either felt it was their own little baby or was totally shocked anyone else would have an interest?
Bring me my Axe!
I didn’t stay for the closing of FOSDEM sadly on the way back Dan Lynch sent me a text asking where I was because he’d not seen me all day which actually made me kinda sad if only I had stayed for the end? Still, I knew I was seeing him later at the Noodle bar along with Fab, Ade, Ilka and Katherin and Ade’s friends whose names I forget, sorry.
On my way back I walked past the Axe bar again. Who’s bright idea was it to allow drunken punters to lob axes at wooden walls! I stood and watched through the window as a guy tried to stop his axe bouncing off the wood panel and embedding itself in either his foot or his skull. Amazingly I was to discover they even have these axe throwing bars in the UK. I’m truly surprised our Health & Saftey Executive doesn’t have a fit over these establishments.
Strangely, I enjoyed Sunday more than Saturday. For a while I couldn’t figure that out then I realised it was because on the Sunday I knew where I was going and what to do. I did say we would hear about Fab and the chilis in this post, but I’ll hold that over for the next and final blog post of “So I went to FOSDEM”