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.

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Archive for the 'LCA2007' Category

The Muse-Bone’s Connected to the Radiohead-Bone…

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

For some reason I still can’t quite fathom, people have been interested in my Hackfest entry at LCA. Specifically, the entry I put in for the Audioscrobbler question, which asked us to create a program that could interface with the Audioscrobber related artists API. I decided to write a buzzword compliant Web page. So, I’ve uploaded it to http://www.adamharvey.name/hackfest/ for your viewing pleasure. You’ll need a browser with decent XHTML and SVG support. Firefox 2 seems to handle it nicely.

It uses PHP 5 for the little bit of backend processing it requires, but most of the heavy lifting is in Javascript. The only other dependency is the HTML_AJAX PEAR package — I developed against a test release of 0.5.1, but 0.5.0 should work as well.

The files I actually wrote (be warned, they’re messy and undocumented):

  • index.php: The entry point for the user. It’s only in PHP so I can control the Content-Type header.
  • server.php: The AJAX server which pulls in the Audioscrobber related artists information.
  • audio.js: The Javascript that does the heavy lifting of getting the related artists information and spitting out SVG via the DOM to render it.

You can consider these files to be licensed under either the GPL (which was a condition of entering Hackfest) or the MIT License. HTML_AJAX is licensed under the LGPL.

Tux vs. PPC64 Assembly

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

I had the best of intentions when it came to blogging LCA, but it’s easy to forget just how all-consuming it can be. (I haven’t read a newspaper for a week, either.) So, instead of making up for it with a deathly dull four page blow-by-blow account, I’ll just jot down a few feelings now that I’m back in Perth and then stop breaking Planet LCA once and for all.

I thought the programme this year was outstanding. Every talk I attended rocked in some way, whether from the point of view of cool hackery (Nouveau), usefulness (Eat My Data), or sometimes sheer chaotic entertainment (x86 Hypervisors). HackFest was also really, really good fun, and I ended up with a completely unexpected little toy to bring home, pictured below. (The LCA 2006 key ring/bottle opener is for scale.) Congratulations to Stephen Thorne, too, who really, really deserved to win after attempting five more of the problems than I did.


Tux at HackFest
Plus, even Tux finds HackFest cool enough to attend!

Otherwise, the experience is really the key. While I could go a long time without hearing Good morning, freedom lovers! again, LCA’s such an insane, overwhelming experience that you can never really get much more than a taste. As with every other year, though, I’ve found myself coming home with lots of things to try, lots of things to work on, some new people to annoy talk to on IRC — and, ultimately, just having learned more in a week than I would have in 51 weeks at the office through attending talks and talking to people who are way, way smarter than I am.

Now I just have to look forward to Mel8ourne — only 373 days to go!

Wireless Brings the World Together

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Random images from Shalom College tonight. People say the Internet and pervasive wireless will isolate people in their rooms — these images suggest that less-than-pervasive wireless will actually bring people together.

Shalom First Floor Link

The link between the old and new parts of Shalom’s first floor.

Shalom First Floor Stairs

The very popular couch area at the top of Shalom’s main staircase… now with wireless behind the bin!

Shalom First Floor Common Room

The main common room in Shalom. Note the various groups of people interacting in ways other than IRC. (Yes, really.)

Shalom Common Room (Near the TV)

More people in the common room.

So, as you can see, LCA once again brings people together from across the hacking world into university accommodation. It’s like a slightly geeky “Big Brother” without cameras. That we know of.

Finally, I give you Steve without his super wireless powers:

Steve Without His Amazing 802.11 Powers

Shalom Wireless II: Electric Boogaloo

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

First, Shalom wireless news: we now have coverage of the first floor common room (which is next to the dining room, for those who haven’t quite figured out the building layout yet) and the couches at the top of the stairs. The Internet is spotty and not especially quick, but it does work. Massive thanks to John Ferlito, Ian Beardslee, Steve Walsh, Andy Kirkpatrick and the people whose names I didn’t catch but who helped while getting our insanely hackish wireless network happening, particularly Ian’s friend with the OpenWRT-fu.

In non-Shalom-wireless news, there was a party tonight. It was good, since it involves an open bar and free swag. Of course, said bar and swag led to… the Linux ninja!

The Linux Ninja is rare and mysterious

Moving right along, the bar tab partway through the night can be seen below. I feel sorry for whomever’s Google corporate credit card is being used.

Thanks Google!

Still, I think everyone had a good time. Much networking (of the social variety) took place, which is always excellent. The dancing, however…

The Funky Disco Monkeys

Anyway, in other news, the PostgreSQL talks I went to today (the ones before and after lunch) were terrific. I think you would have learned something from those sessions pretty much regardless of your experience with Postgres, which is the sign of a really good talk. Kudos to the organisers in general for shuffling the rooms allocated to each talk around after lunch, too — the Postgres talk, for one, really benefitted from the larger room.

Before I go to bed, a question. Can anyone explain how the fan seen below, which is in one of the Shalom common areas, is supposed to work? Note the length of the power cable attached to it and the location of the power point.

The fan and its cord

Truly, a mystery for the ages.

Shalom Wireless

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Just ran into some orange shirted guys while warwalking around Shalom. Basically, the deal with wireless at present is this: if you are immediately around room 113 (or 213, or maybe G13), chances are you can access wireless. If you are anywhere else, chances are you cannot. Unfortunately, this doesn’t encompass any common areas except for maybe the first floor pool room — it didn’t work for me, but if you have a good wireless chipset or coathanger antenna or something, you might have more luck.

As I understand it, there’s just no way to get LCA network infrastructure into anywhere more useful in Shalom, and after talking to them, they (for understandable reasons) won’t let us run a cat 5 cable down to the first floor common room or somewhere equally useful. Therefore, it looks like we may be, as the technical term goes, SOL.

Das Frankenet

Monday, January 15th, 2007

As further proof that God exists and His name is Steve Walsh, I present the following images documenting how the Frankenet providing Internet access to the Shalom common room…

The whole Frankenet setup
The overall setup. Note the iBurst card on the laptop at left.

The iBurst card on the laptop
The iBurst card in close-up. I think Steve’s very thankful he doesn’t pay per megabyte at the moment.

GKrellM of the Frankenet
GKrellM on the laptop, showing the Internet usage — which, given it’s shaped to 64 kBps, is pretty hefty.

Say Shalom…

Monday, January 15th, 2007


Courtesy of the organisers and the persistent Steve Walsh, we now have some wireless access for the evening in the first floor common room in Shalom College. Apparently something more permanent will be in place later, but for now, it’s working.

Are the “Winner Is…” Jokes Played Out Yet?

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Day one of LCA 2007. Went to Jeff’s tremendously entertaining conference opening, dealt with a server at work that managed to fall over while Adam and I were still on the plane yesterday, and finally decided that I could skip a few sessions and check out Sydney City.

Sydney Opera House

Of course, what that really means is that I went to Circular Quay, went over the Harbour Bridge, got a ferry across the harbour, walked around the Opera House, and got incredibly cheesed off at the price of going up Sydney Tower. I think that gives me the authentic Sydney tourist experience in three hours flat.

Now back at the Pavillion sucking up some sweet, sweet wireless. There was talk on the Shalom whiteboard of there being a New Zealanders dinner (with us West Islanders invited too), but I think it’ll end up just being a quiet dinner at one of the restaurants on Anzac Parade and an early night, because let’s face it, there’s not going to be too many more from here.

Tomorrow: Chris Blizzard, Jokosher and tonnes of Postgres.

Minutiae of Travelling

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

It’s been one of the less eventual day’s travel in my life, and I’m glad of that. Suffice it to say that the flight was efficient, the taxi ride from the airport easy, and checking into the college simple enough once a working intercom was found.

So, what of the conference and Sydney? Hard to make a definitive call after less than eight hours, but first impressions are positive. The conference Internet access is yet to be enabled (It was enabled on Monday morning, so no complaints there.), but since the conference proper doesn’t start until tomorrow that’s hardly a big deal, although it did cause a little consternation while trying to work out the arrangements for getting to the Löwenbräu, since the details were on the Wiki.

Once there, though, a good time was had by all. I think rather more people showed up than Steve, who organised it (and was quoted late in the night as saying, If I do this again in Melbourne (LCA 2008), shoot me) or the Löwenbräu staff expected, but it still went off without a hitch. Adam and I even managed to find our way back to UNSW without help, which surprised me a tad.

Beyond that, I can’t really comment on Sydney. We did get a really quick look at the bridge and Opera House from Circular Quay, which at least means that I probably have now qualified as Australian under some sort of eastern states metric.

Really, though, it’s just good to be here. The conversations about DRM and PHP on the bus, Dayvd stoking the vi/emacs war at dinner… the next week promises to be enjoyably geeky. Both Disco Stu and I can’t wait!

Disco Stu Doesn't Advertise... or does he?

Recycled Air

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

In a little over twelve hours, I’ll be on a plane to Sydney for LCA. I imagine there’ll be blog entries galore from that point on.

So long as I don’t get food poisoning and a major allergic reaction to anti-nausea medication again, at least.

Anyway, Sydney here I come!