2007: Tuesday 16th Jan

FAQ of the conference so far: my desktop background, which you can see through my terminal, is this image. It is a lotus seed head: a dried lotus flower. I took the photo myself, with a point-n-shoot, although a high end one: my Canon IXUS 65.

Yesterday’s was almost entirely LinuxChix miniconf focused for me, unsurprisingly, since I organised a chunk of it (Sara Falamaki in particular also did a lot of work) and chaired the whole thing. I was in Chris Blizzard’s keynote in the morning, but I’d hit the network and was processing images for my gallery of LinuxChix, which didn’t get as much air time as I’d hoped, and which will be public in some form at some time, once someone has a good idea about how. The bits I saw were a reasonable talk, but not one of those once-in-five-year keynotes that make everyone think hrm and then go out and change the way they see things for a day or two. (Daniel Marcu’s invited talk at ACL last year was a bit like that; or at least was for people who do statistical work with language and want it to appear in ACL in the second half of this decade.)

I spent a bunch of time projector-minding in the LinuxChix room, which was a dim tutorial room. Oh for the beautiful pavilions. There was a reason I decided to hold the last Chix session on the UNSW library lawn. In fact, the library lawn, which is partly shaded by huge plane trees, is such a perfect place to eat and think and admire the sun on people’s faces that I’m half sorry and half glad that the conference wireless doesn’t extend that far. Sorry because it’s awesome, glad because no one would see it if they could use their laptops.

The miniconf room wasn’t hooked into the conference network until halfway through the day, because the relevant people hadn’t known until the last minute that tutorial rooms were being used on the first two days. This was one of those sad little moments where you think Huh, the organisers did something imperfectly and it’s like a soft belling tolling in the pavilion or something. They’ve based this year’s conference organisation on 2004 in Adelaide, which was also a very well-organised conference.

Yesterday had a dramatic break with lca tradition on the part of the attendees: the GNOME and Debian miniconfs had to be swapped into smaller rooms, and others moved around, because the Gaming and Kernel miniconfs were much bigger than expected. This is most interesting on the part of Gaming, because it sounds like they attracted a lot of people due to the quality of their programme, rather than relying on being about gaming in the way, I think, that the Debian conference has relied on being the Debian one (this may not have been a choice on the part of the Debian organisers, it just happens that they didn’t get enough talks in time to actually announce a full two day programme, and thus, I suppose, have had to rely on being Debian). Andrew told me the room switch didn’t actually help all that much with Gaming, because demand grew with supply. Rusty Russell apparently spoke right after the first break, which can’t have helped.

Last night was the conference party, which was Google funded. It was based on the digital arts mini-parties of the past, but I don’t think it worked out quite the way that the organisers intended. The Roundhouse was very hot and stuffy inside, and people, given the choice (which they often aren’t at a pub) chose as a herd to go outside and talk rather than listen to the bands. I ran into Anthony Baxter, who was the chosen one who went to the speakers’ dinner to tell them how to speak. If the rest of the conference consists of people using peppy short slides and hitting piñatas, you know who helped them revise their talk. And unfortunately, there were reports of creepiness. I can’t believe I have to say this. Actually, forget that, yes I can: sexism and harassment can be funny. That doesn’t mean they aren’t sexism and harrassment.

Get it together, people! C’mon. Jeez.