OggCamp 13 was just awesome

October 21, 2013 by Tony

I’ve just got back from an epic weekend at OggCamp. For my money this was the best event yet. There was a great atmosphere from the start. The exhibitors and hardware hackers kept everyone entertained and the Leaf tea shop provided the fuel necessary to get through a day. We even had giant beanbags and free arcade machines that took a pounding. There were some great scheduled speakers, the live podcast was good fun, and the famous rafflecast rounded off the event in style.

Exhibition at OggCamp 13

But the crowd really make the event what it is. Because it’s an unconference, things can just happen spontaneously. One talk prompted questions on the version control system “git”. So three OggCampers got together and gave a talk on it an hour later. Other things that “just happened” included a good-natured showdown between Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch, and a demonstration of tri- and quad-copters.

Tricopter at OggCamp 13

There were great parties too, at the Leaf on Bold Street and the Racquet Club – easily the poshest OggCamp party venue yet!

I was busy tweeting as @oggcamp throughout the weekend, accompanying this post are some of the photos from the weekend.

Partying at OggCamp 13

Thanks to the sponsors and crew who make it possible, and of course everyone who attended.

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    We’ve got Doctor Who coming from Venus, but we can’t get you from Maidstone

    October 14, 2013 by Tony

    telemessage arrived at home asking me to get in touch with the production office of ITV’s new Saturday morning kids show, WAC90. For some reason our telephone at home wasn’t working, and they had been trying to get in touch for several days. It was 1990, before the rise of the mobile phone. They wanted me to appear on that weekend’s show in their “fanatic” segment.

    Now, this wasn’t totally out of the blue. I had written into the show, which had started just two weeks earlier, offering to be a “fanatic” if they wanted. It was rather more out of the blue for Mum and Dad. (I had a habit of doing this. I’ll write about how I ended up posing with a police dog one day.)

    So with only a couple of days’ notice, we sprang into action. Mum slaved away over an iron turning a plain white t-shirt into a reasonable replica of Sylvester McCoy’s pullover. Dad constructed something that looked like a question mark out of copper piping. I packed the highlights of my Doctor Who collection (which included felt tip drawings of Davros) into plastic crates to take with us. It shows just how much love and support my parents gave me (and still do!). They always went out of their way to let me do things when special opportunities arose. I’m not sure I realised it at the time, but I really appreciate it looking back.

    Mum, Dad, my brother Mark and I drove up north and were put up in a swanky hotel. (Although the hotel was swanky, the four of us were squeezed in one room.) Dad was impressed that it was the same hotel that Sinitta and Bill Tidy were staying in, although less impressed at getting up at 4am having driven over 200 miles the evening before.

    Being in a TV studio was exciting. There were bacon sandwiches (which my Dad offered to the strictly vegetarian Michaela Strachan) and Ariel from “Return to the Forbidden Planet“. I was handed a green plastic frog and expected to guess that it was actually a telephone on which I could speak to the Doctor. (It wasn’t actually a telephone, which didn’t help matters.) There were also a few technical gremlins. It has been said that I am the only one who comes out of the segment with a reasonable degree of professionalism. I was twelve.

    One is supposed to “own” things that you really want to cringe from in embarrassment. So I was overjoyed when my Dad and Laura conspired to put the clip on-line last week. So for your viewing pleasure here is my appearance on the WAC90 sofa with Michaela Strachan.

    If this has given you a chuckle, please consider donating to my charity Malawi Mission. Every penny makes a difference.

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      These shoes, they fit perfectly

      October 7, 2013 by Tony

      I was at the BFI on Saturday for the latest in the 50th anniversary celebratory screenings of Doctor Who stories. And I should be writing about that. But yesterday was special for another reason: After the screening a whole collection of friends joined me in the bar at the BFI to have some slightly-premature informal birthday drinks. I don’t normally do things like that but being in London already seemed like a good opportunity. So I sat there smiling as friends from different parts of my life chatted away until closing time. I was touched both then and on reading the messages people had left for me.

      Andrew Cartmel, Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Gary Russell, Justin Richards and Marcus Hearn at the BFI

      The focus of the event was wider than just the 90 minutes of Paul McGann’s on-screen appearance as the Doctor. Before the story was screened, there was a full length panel discussion about the “wilderness years” – the time between 1989 and 2005 when, this TV movie aside, new Doctor Who was not being broadcast on the BBC. The script editor who was working on the show when it was cancelled, Andrew Cartmel, was joined by Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery from Big Finish (who still make fantastic full cast audio dramas about Doctor Who), Gary Russell and Marcus Hearn who worked on Doctor Who Magazine and Justin Richards who looked after the Doctor Who range from BBC books. This panel really worked and felt much more like a typical convention panel, with people trying to get their point in and the occasional guiding hand from the moderator.

      The story looked great on the big screen and sounded fantastic. I found Sylvester McCoy’s performance in the first third very strong, and a fitting send off for the character. McGann is a great Doctor, although the plot and the script only give him isolated moments to shine between hero scenes and forced quirkiness. It is interesting to compare and contrast this story with “Rose”, the first episode of the revival of the series in 2005. Both stories are intended to introduce the character of the Doctor who a whole new audience, but tackle it in totally different ways. “Rose” doesn’t try to force 35 years of lore down the viewer’s throat, whilst the TV Movie takes every opportunity to hark backwards. The Doctor of 2005 could fit in on any high street, the Doctor of 1996 dresses like a cowboy sans hat and gun but with a perm. Cardiff’s Doctor has a Big Dark Secret, Vancouver’s Doctor spend his time happily bobbing about in the TARDIS running missions for the Time Lords.

      Paul McGann joined director Geoffery Sax (who revealed he has twice been asked to direct episodes for the new series) and a very jet-lagged Daphne Ashbrook. McGann almost took over from the loquacious interviewer, starting a more open discussion which bounced back and forth in a relaxed way. I was pleased to hear later that he had also spent a long time signing autographs for waiting fans.

      Geoffery Sax, Daphne Ashbrook and Paul McGann at the BFI

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        What do you feel? Anger? Sorrow? Despair?

        September 30, 2013 by Tony

        Fortunately those emotions were the furthest from my mind yesterday as I attended the latest of the screenings at the BFI to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. This time the focus was on the tenth Doctor’s era, with the double bill of “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End”.

        David Tennant BFI screening

        You would have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by something in this epic story. It’s logically flawed and the plot resolution rather too convenient, but the heart of the piece overcomes that. It’s not Rose being dumped in a parallel world with a half-human-not-quite-the-man-she-loves version of the Doctor that is touching. It’s Donna, wiped clean of her experiences and returned to being the gobby temp from Chiswick that is the tragedy. This was a companion who changed more than any other through travelling with the Doctor, and the cruelty of undoing that in order to save her is horrendous.

        It surprised me how long ago the stories felt, how I’ve got used to the style of show under Steven Moffat. River Song garnered only a passing mention and all the people the Doctor gathered round him are long gone from the show: Donna, Captain Jack, Mickey, Martha and of course Sarah Jane. The look on her face when she hears the Dalek voices is terrifying. *sniff*

        The panel was particularly entertaining. Even alongside Graeme Harper, Phil Collinson and the man himself, David Tennant, Catherine Tate was the real star. Having referred to the potato-headed monsters as “Sultanas” she then revealed that for the whole of the first day she assumed they were mechanical. Tate also forgot the cover name she’d been given when checking into the Cardiff hotel to film her top secret surprise appearance at the end of “Doomsday”. Explaining that she had a room but had forgotten the name, the receptionist replied “Is it Catherine Tate, by any chance?” If the goal of these things it so find out new stories from behind-the-scenes then it worked.

        And yes, we recorded another special edition of the Doctor Who podcast afterwards. So look out for it on the Facebook page.

        Andy Pryor BFI

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          OggCamp 13 – superb speakers and sponsors

          September 23, 2013 by Tony

          It’s just under a month until OggCamp 13. There has been a massive demand for tickets, with over 300 gone already. But there are still a few left if you fancy joining us. Tickets are free (or you can donate if you want).

          Things are really ramping up now, with e-mails flying around between the organisers like nobody’s business. We’ve announced the speakers for the scheduled track:

          • Open Rights Group will be presenting about Internet filtering and censorship
          • Barney Brown – Inside the Intercontinental Music Lab
          • FreakyClown will be speaking about cyber security
          • Gary Smailes – Open Publishing
          • Lightning Talks
          • Live Podcast
          • RaffleCast

          Of course, being an unconference the rest of the talks are provided by you! So get your thinking hats on and come along with something amuse, educate or inform. If you would like an exhibition stand at the event, get in touch.

          This is all made possible by our sponsors, and we’ve got a great collection of them this year:

          LJMU Open Labs – Platinum Sponsor
          Open Labs is a catalyst for research and innovation – developing partnerships between Liverpool John Moores University’s research community and the region’s technology companies. Once again Open Labs are providing OggCamp with an amazing venue!

          Ubuntu (supported by Canonical) – Gold Sponsor
          Fast, secure and stylishly simple, the Ubuntu operating system is used by 20 million people worldwide every day. This year’s OggCamp is supported by donations from the Ubuntu community!

          Bytemark Hosting – Gold Sponsor
          Bytemark are a technically-focussed managed hosting provider with their our own data centre in York. Bytemark have supported OggCamp since the beginning, and this year maintain their unbroken record of support!

          The OggCamp Community – Gold Sponsor
          The amazing response to this year’s pay-what-you-want tickets has raised enough money for the OggCamp attendees to qualify as a Gold Sponsor!

          Transitiv Technologies – Silver Sponsor
          Transitiv Technologies specialise in providing solutions for heterogenous network monitoring utilising state of the art Open Source applications such as op5 MonitorNagiosIcingaOpenNMSMerlin and Ninja. Transitiv are once again funding a special prize for the raffle!

          There are still more details to announce, like the great venue we’ve got lined up for the Saturday evening party. Keep an eye on the event page for more information. See you there!

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