SCALE, still catching up on blogging LCA and the Australia trip.
I didn't write about the Lightning Talks session just before the closing ceremonies. I love lightning talks -- to make a point in three minutes you really have to condense your talk to the single most important point.
Alas, I didn't come up with a topic in time, so I didn't give a lightning talk myself. But there were some excellent talks! Some of them included:
- a live demo going "from database to web app in 45 seconds" by someone listed only as "Flame";
- Paul Wayper describing some of the pitfalls of trying to fit a real wood veneer onto a laptop;
- a discussion of a PHP code quality analysis tool;
- A talk entitled "Getting Laid", by Jeff Waugh, which turned out to be a more general discussion of open source involvement;
- Pia Waugh describing her plans for OLPC Australia, to distribute XO laptops to needy children;
- I (Still) Hate Threads, in which Rusty Russell explained why threads are often less efficient than a separate process; and finally:
- "Fixing the Web", in which Paul Fenwick demonstrated the Greasemonkey extension to Firefox, and how you can use it to turn a cluttered, impossible myspace page into a nice neat login page.
Paul's demo concluded to overwhelming applause, and there wasn't much question as to who had won the lightning talks session. I believe Paul won an Asus Eee (nice prize!) (Oops, Paul tells me after reading this that it was nothing quite that cool, but he did get a very nice book voucher), and deserved it for a very polished and funny talk. You can watch the video of Paul's Lightning talk on youtube.
Other observations from the week of LCA 2008:
Linus was around and listening to kernel talks, but not presenting. Rusty's "LCA for Newbies" presentation on Sunday night included a bullet point on "Don't fanboy the speakers" presumably applies, and everybody behaved themselves pretty well (myself included).
I stayed in Trinity College. We didn't have wi-fi in the dorm rooms like last year, only in the common room; but actually it was just as well to have a good reason to hang out in the common room and talk to people. The bathrooms were co-ed, but the doors closed so there was enough privacy.
But the weirdest thing about Trinity was the corridor and outside doors. Every corridor had doors at both ends, usually locked doors that required a card key from one direction, and the push of a button from the other direction. Sometimes an alarm went off if you didn't wait quite long enough between pressing the button and opening the door (fortunately, pressing the button again cancelled the alarm). It was very strange to walk down the building corridor continually pushing buttons and then carding back in; I have to wonder whether the high security was worth it. The outside gates were worse: to get out to the street you need a card key, there's no button press allowed. (Fortunately on the weekend most of us checked out, they left one of the outer gates open so we could leave even after we'd returned the card key.)
There were tons of Asus Eees around. Turns out other Linux geeks find that little laptop just as interesting as I did! Everybody seems quite happy with them, and I mostly saw them being used as real laptops ... in contrast to the many OLPCs, which were numerous but mostly being used as toys to network with other OLPCs. I saw more and more of them as the week progressed -- turns out a lot of people were heading over to a nearby computer store to buy one, either because of hardware problems with their normal laptop, or just for a toy.
(In contrast, here at the first day of SCALE I haven't seen a single Eee yet, nor any other small laptops besides my own Vaio.)
I talked to someone who'd tried one with a projector, one of my main concerns with the very low resolution Eee. He said it drove the projector just fine ... but only at the Eee's native resolution of 800x480. Hard to imagine giving a GIMP talk (or, indeed, any sort of technical talk) like that. Bummer!
I also got a good look at one of the modern Toshiba Librettos (a year-old model). Lovely machine, smaller but thicker than the Eee, but much more capable (also much more expensive). The keyboard was noticably smaller than my Vaio or the Eee, but quite well designed and apparently it's no problem typing full speed on it once you adjust to the size.
Other interesting small laptops I noticed were a couple of Vaios (the 10-inch models descended from my SR17), a couple of Toshibas and Lenovos, and a couple of rare birds like Val's uber-cool grey-market Panasonic.
Also highly popular were Macs. Some were running Linux, but a surprising number were running OS X; I wasn't able to get an estimate of percentages.
[ 13:49 Feb 08, 2008 More conferences/lca2008 | permalink to this entry | ]