I've decided to retire this blog — I don't really see myself updating it any time soon, and haven't for over two years anyway. I intend to leave the content on-line for the forseeable future, but have converted it to a static site. As a result, dynamic things like search and comments aren't really going to work.

You can find me on Twitter or on Google+ if you like. Alternatively, I'm usually on IRC as LawnGnome on Freenode.

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Archive for the 'Conferences' Category

Bizarre life triangle

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

(This post was written on Thursday afternoon while flying over some barren-looking bit of far western New South Wales. Evidently recycled air stimulates my blogging neurons.)

Once again, it’s conference time. This time, I find myself winging my way to Sydney for a rare winter conference — specifically, the first edition of Pycon AU. As usual, I’m not presenting, but merely attending, although I hope (with the co-operation of the papers committee) to finally fix that at next year’s LCA. (Of course, if Silvia talks about HTML5 video, I’ll probably get knocked back!)

It’s been a busy month. Few months, really. I don’t tend to talk about my actual day jobs much on my blog, but I might as well mention a project I worked on earlier in the year — a prototype system for visualising the family trees of wheat strains, which is quite nifty if you like HTML5 canvas based goodies, although it’s far from a complete system. (If you work in agricultural or biological research, have a bit of spare budget lying around, and would like to see it become a complete pedigree traversal and analysis system, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you! Yes, this will be open source; in fact, it would be already if I’d had some spare time at work to sort that out.) Massive props to Nicolas Garcia Belmonte and his Javascript InfoVis Toolkit, which made the tree handling easy. It’s fair to say that the initial code that I wrote before deciding to use JIT was… ugly.

The project I wrapped up a couple of weeks ago was also rather interesting, and will be open source as well, but sadly I can’t yet talk about it. I’ll try to remember to blog about it when I can.

On a personal level, things have also been a little hectic. As per previous years, a group of my friends and I traipsed down to Albany for the Foundation Day long weekend, which was typically filled with wine and laughter, and I spent last Saturday taking part in the 15/15 Film Festival, which gives its participants an object and a quote (this year, a newspaper and "there is beauty in randomness", respectively) to put in a film and asks them to make a <15 minute film in 15 hours. We had an interesting time on that one, partly thanks to the loss of half of our raw footage due to technical issues (OK, NTFS not handling a dirty shutdown very gracefully, if we’re going to point fingers, and I am), which resulted in a very quick redefinition of the film in the editing process. I’ve yet to see the final cut (we were so pressed for time that we had to submit it without actually viewing it start to finish), and I don’t think the competition rules will allow us to put it on Youtube until the judging is complete, but it was a great experience and it doesn’t sound like the end product was that bad.

Admittedly, it didn’t sound that great, either.

All in all, I’m looking forward to a couple of days off. The conference proper is on Saturday and Sunday, so I’ve got tomorrow completely off, along with today and Monday as travel days. At this stage, the plan is pretty much sleep, broken up with the odd social engagement: with any luck, I’ll be having dinner with Noogz tonight, which is always fun, and will be off to the SLUG meeting tomorrow night — having never attended a proper LUG meeting, I’m looking forward to it! (Yes, this means I’ve lived in the city of PLUG for over fifteen years without ever actually going to a meeting.)


Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Yesterday at LCA 2010 I did a lightning talk in the Open Programming Languages Miniconf about a Javascript library I’ve been working on for a while called CineJS. CineJS provides a simple way to apply real-time filters to HTML5 video (and images) with only a few lines of Javascript and ships with nine pre-written filters that match the basic filters you would get from a simple image processing program.

There’s a simple example that applies a greyscale filter to a 30 second clip from the classic 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Check out the source code to look at how the filters are constructed and applied, or look at the more complicated stack demo to see how filters can be combined and altered.

This is pretty alpha, but it should work on current versions of Firefox, Safari and Chrome. I’d love to see some more complicated filters, and if you e-mail them to me, I’ll be very happy to include them in future versions.

The current version is 0.1.1 (and comes minified), and you can also clone the git tree.

Conference Proper, Days Two and Three

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

After the Penguin Dinner, I awoke on Thursday feeling a bit tired, but generally good. Unfortunately, the keynote wasn’t really the sort of material that was likely to energise me further, so I ended up making a discreet exit after about 20 minutes and taking up residence outside the multi-room while I debated having a second coffee.

Happily, my day picked up after that, with Ensign Paul Fenwick delivering a brilliant two-part talk on Klingon programming and Perl 5.10. Even as a recovering Perl coder, I can see just how much better things like autodie would make programming in Perl.

He also introduced what I believe is the linux.conf.au motto — at least, that’s how I titled it on the day. Little did I know…

Beyond that, there wasn’t an awful lot to attract me. I went to Donna’s Inkscape tutorial, which was interesting in a chaotic sort of way, but I think the number of people was a little overwhelming for that sort of tutorial, and I didn’t feel as though I learned quite as much as I wanted to. I’m sure it was valuable for a lot of people, though — I was probably just coming in with a somewhat different background to many of the people who attended.

Thursday evening we had the Unprofessional Delegates Networking Session, as organised by Chris and the TUCS1 team. After a shaky start, we got a rather good little production line going.

Having consumed a decent amount of beer at the UpDNS and then back at Bede’s apartment, I went and got an insufficient amount of sleep. Little did I know that I was about to discover that the aforementioned motto was wrong: it was possible to be given beer and die.

Friday morning I woke up feeling awful, and it just got worse as the morning went on. I don’t think it was just the beer (I didn’t drink that much), but a combination of that and the exhaustion that had probably been coming for a few days that laid me low. I basically struggled through the keynote (which was rather good, and clearly the best of the week in my book) and the first session, but realised that I was in real danger of just passing out where I was and staggered back up the hill to have a nap.

After lunch, things were much better. While I missed Bdale’s debearding, I figured there’d be eleventy billion photos up on Flickr by the time I got back down the hill anyway, and was pleased to be right on that front. Matthew Garrett raised my mood further with a typically entertaining rant talk about power management and the usability concerns that arise from it, Shatter was presented by Adam Jackson and drew some interesting feedback from the audience (well, mostly Linus), and Kevin Pulo showed off some ways to use LD_PRELOAD that are extremely cool, particularly for debugging.

The closing was, as usual, about twice as long as scheduled, and plenty random. The lightning talks ran the gamut, Wellington was shockingly2 announced as the host of LCA 2010, and we apparently made the news but Linus didn’t.

Finally, the party. In years past when it’s been held, the party has been an all-included event earlier in the week. This year, finger food3 was free, but both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were user pays (and not just in the sense of my Friday morning experience). Opinions as to whether this was a reflection of the state of the world economy or just a way of trying to avoid some of the worst alcohol-fuelled excesses of the past was split pretty evenly down the middle. Either way, I was resolved to not drinking last night at the party, and stuck to that, although I did have a sneaky beer after returning to the apartment of Adelaidians for some further Linux-based fun.

So, that’s LCA for another year. I heard it described earlier in the week (only semi-seriously, it has to be said) as a second Christmas for geeks, and I think there’s a grain of truth in that — as ever, I had a great time. Next week it’s back to Perth to prepare for India and Sri Lanka, about which I’ll probably pop up a blog post in the next few days ($DEITY knows, this one’s long enough already).

And finally: hey, I avoided hospital! Hooray!

  1. That link will work if they ever find out where their Web server is physically located to find it.
  2. OK, it was hard to be shocked when I’d known well before the event, but congratulations to the Wellington folks anyway. I had the pleasure of sitting with the Ruthvens at the Penguin Dinner, and they’re a thoroughly lovely family who I’m sure are going to do a great job running the conference. Plus, I just can’t wait to go back to New Zealand.
  3. I think I’ve ranted about this before, but I’ll do so again: if you’re going to have an event with lots of alcohol being drunk — especially one starting pretty much straight after the day’s conference programme — not serving a proper meal seems a bit irresponsible to me. There was plenty of finger food, which helped a lot, but I was still hungry enough for pizza afterwards, and I just wonder how that dovetails in with the idea of responsible service. At least the UpDNS had plenty of barbecued goodness.


Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

More tomorrow.

Conference Proper, Day One

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Last night, after the Penguin Dinner, I watched Barack Obama’s inauguration speech. As an Australian, it’s obviously of limited direct import to me, yet it was inspiring to watch his skills in oration and rhetoric in action.

Of course, Obama will ultimately be judged on how he performs over the next four or eight years, not for the quality of his speeches, just as our presenters here are judged on their deeds more than their words. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing a number of talks by people who have backed up their words with actions, which is one of the things I like best about LCA — you’re listening to and watching the people who have actually created the things they talk about, for the most part, and who can talk with real authority on the matter. The Django tutorial was a great example of this, with Jacob being able to talk not only about how to use Django, but also how it works and why some of the design decisions appear to have been made with journalists in mind (well, basically because they were). Django’s something I’d wanted to find out more about for some time, and I’m really looking forward to using it now.

Before moving onto the aforementioned dinner, it would also be remiss of me not to mention Thomas’s talk on (really) remote management. A sign of how engaging that talk was is that even though I have little interest in the hardware and electronic side of things (which the talk was largely about), I was thoroughly entertained for 50 minutes.

Especially the repeated references to cow-related problems.

So, the Penguin Dinner. The food was outstanding and probably the best buffet I’ve had, the company great, and the amount of money raised for research into saving the Tasmanian Devil quite remarkable. Which is likely to also describe how Bdale will look after he’s been shaved by Linus.

If I have a complaint about the dinner, it’s that the "auction" process is entirely too drawn out for people like myself who don’t have the means to take part. I realise it’s an LCA tradition, but there’s an argument that it’s gone a bit too far in the last few years.

Today, in no particular order: Wikia, Klingon, Inkscape, more coffee.

Miniconfs, Day Two

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Well, that was a good day. Start with breakfast and an awesome talk at the Multimedia Miniconf on <video> support; end with Arjen‘s terrific array of curries and Kung Faux. Awesome.

In between, I attended other talks at the Multimedia Miniconf, with Edward Hervey‘s talk on PiTiVi and GStreamer being the other highlight, schemed with Chris about the UpDNS (sign up on the Wiki!), returned a hire car, released a new version of wp-gopher, and shared a couple of pizzas and watched new-to-me Futurama with Adam, all of which was also excellent.

In short: WIN. Looking forward to the conference proper now.


Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I’ve just had to push out a DNS update (damn you, tunnel brokers), so it probably won’t work automagically for a little while, but my blog is available over IPv6, if people want some IPv6 action here at the conference (great work, network team!) and can’t be bothered looking for a site that’s actually useful.

It’s also available over IPv6 Gopher, should you feel the need. (Well, regular Gopher, too, but that’s boring.) Huzzah!

The (horrible, hacky) code that drives this has also been updated to a brand new version: 0.2! (It only took 18 months.) Grab a tarball (SHA-1 sum: 044b1c5bf1a6d5fa1bd2cad3f2029bc1b2549c38) and you too could join the IPv6-driven, WordPress Gopher blog revolution!

Addendum: Google Reader is mangling the links for some reason. The direct URL for the blog on IPv6 is http://[2001:5c0:1103:3300::1]/ or gopher://[2001:5c0:1103:3300::1]/.

Miniconfs, Day One and a Third

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I have attended two talks at a miniconf. The duck, she is broken.

More thrilling updates as they come to hand.

Day Zero and Miniconfs, Day One

Monday, January 19th, 2009

You know, I don’t think I’ve been to a miniconf since Canberra. Oh, wait, I managed half an hour in Dunedin before the food poisoning kicked in and I had to go throw up again.

So I said earlier this evening. As usual, I didn’t break my duck (or Tuz) today; instead setting aside the Monday for sightseeing. It worked pretty well — I managed to book and pick up a hire car this morning at a surprisingly reasonable rate, so long as I get it back by 9 tomorrow morning — and I was soon on the road for Mount Wellington and parts beyond.

Mount Wellington was lovely, so long as I stayed in the car. The cloud was ominously low, though, and as soon as I hopped out, I was basically pinned to the car by a gust of wind. I looked it up this evening, and the strongest gust of wind of the day (109 km/h) there happened at pretty much the exact moment I was walking along the observation boardwalk and trying not to be blown over the railing.

Unsurprisingly, the wind ruined pretty much all my photos.

Anyway, I pressed on down the Huon Road into the Huon Valley, had lunch in Huonville, and went on up to the Hartz Mountains National Park and ended up walking to Arve Falls, along the way disturbing some wildlife and getting to play with some different camera settings.

Went to Tacos in Salamanca tonight with Adam. My chicken enchilada was pretty good; Adam’s tacos were fairly average. Thankfully, they have cerveza.

As for day zero (yesterday), there’s not much to report. The flights were screamingly uneventful, bar one snippy flight attendant telling me I couldn’t loiter around the front of the cabin. (Where else are you supposed to stretch your legs on a 737?) On time, daytime flights with no screaming children near me make me a happy camper. Paul was nice enough to give three strangers a lift to the university, for which I’m extremely grateful, particularly since he also gave a few of us a lift to the Coles in Sandy Bay later on too!

Tomorrow: I will attend a miniconf for the first time in (effectively) four years. Hopefully.


Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Well, I’m here. I’ve managed to avoid being carted off to hospital so far and have hence already done better than Melbourne. If I make it through tomorrow without medical intervention, I’ll have bested Dunedin, too.

Since it’s already 1:30 am here (my body’s saying 11:30 courtesy of the time difference, but that’s still too late, given how little sleep I had last night courtesy of Evan and Mel’s engagement party), instead of paragraphs of prose, here’s a photo from the car park instead:

Hobart from a Car Park

(Side note: I managed to remember my camera, its lenses, the cable to connect it to the computer, and my tripod… then managed to forget the tripod mount for the camera. I suck.)