linux.conf.au Presentation Day 1 continued
I forgot to re-write the bit about maddog‘s talk yesterday after Mozilla crashed with all diary entries aboard. maddog’s talk was the first keynote. It wasn’t all that applicable to me personally — I don’t write software, either proprietary or free, for end users, and nor have I ever been employed as a software engineer in a large company. maddog’s intended audience seemed to be people who struggled to find their place as a techie in a welter of managers, employers, shareholders, customers and users. He had a cute ploy towards the end: pointing out to people that most free software applications are secretly written for obsessed auto-didactic fourteen year olds with their own Linux distribution and are in fact used by maddog’s parents, who like to get their computer support at their church, in their retirement village, or from their children.
In the afternoon of the conference, I went to Patryk Zadarnowski‘s TeX talk, which was a basic illustration of the programming language features of TeX. The most complex piece of code used as an example was about seven lines or so of TeX: the definition of a linked list. It would be lovely to have complete “syntax highlighting” TeX macros for programming languages than Haskell and I might put playing around with TeX somewhere on my long list of things I should maybe learn how to do (it includes, for example, programming in Lisp, and learning to sail).
After Patryk’s talk, I saw Sean Burford talk about Reverse Engineering Linux x86 Binaries. I had been expecting something fairly difficult — I go to talks like that to find out how much I don’t know, and so, since I’ve heard of most of the tools he worked through (strace, gdb…) I didn’t get what I expected from the talk.
The talks concluded with the Works In Progress talks. The WIP talks were 3 minute sessions open to anyone who’d managed to prepare a poster for them, and were given over the course of an hour. Although forbidding props was probably necessary given the time allocated, it was sort of disappointing, because the majority of talks could really have done with an accompanying screenshot or mockup.
Finally, the Linux Australia AGM was held. I’ve never been to a meeting that formal in my life, and it was of necessity somewhat dreary. It ran for nearly three hours — I’m pleased that the amendments to the Constitution allowing online AGMs were passed.
spiv and I wanted a quietish night in preparation for the conference dinner (I drink heavily really rarely, but I’m also crap at dealing with sleep deprivation, so I still need to save up energy for an event like that). We had pizza at thaytan‘s and Jaime‘s hotel with daniels, one of his friends, bdale and keithp, before heading off (really briefly) to a bar/cafe with some Linux Australia folks and (I think) the odd kernel hacker after running into jdub.
I’ve been able to mention eating with various free software ‘celebrities’ (and mainly not talking much with them) primarily because of my SLUG friends. Even though I appreciate that the (Western, English-speaking) free software communities are smallish, it seems flatter than I expected. This is probably illusionary — if I didn’t know anyone in the Australian free software community, I wouldn’t meet any of the international hackers either, and my conference social experience would be much more like it was in 2001 (nearly zero, except that I went on the pub crawl the final night).
linux.conf.au Presentation Day 2
Noone else seems to have thought a quiet Thursday night was worth the sacrifice — lots of cranky sleepy people this morning. There were still lots of people at bdale‘s keynote talk. This keynote had some similar themes to maddog’s as regards the ‘typical’ user of free software end user projects, but was talking about larger deployments: LinEx and Guada LinEx. Community based free software deployments sound really exciting — it would be a cool thing to work on.
I went to jamesh‘s talk as well. I didn’t find this talk particularly exciting, but I think that was just a mismatch between my interests and the subject of the talk. If I’m at this conference next year, I’ll probably attend mainly advocacy talks or talks about really insane or theoretically involved subjects — I don’t do much finite state machine programming or lexical analysis, but then I don’t come to this particular conference to find out much about things I already do. It’s the insane stuff I’d never even contemplate that is interesting.