LUG Radio Live 2006 – Part Four

The following morning arrived far too soon. The night had been warm and the hotel room boiling. The breakfast room was full of LRL attendees, mostly #lugradio people. After eating a nice enough breakfast (although the sausages were a bit odd), Alan drove us to the venue. The Students Union is actually part of a big building marked “Wolverhampton University”, which includes the library and a number of shops. Parking was in the almost adjacent underground car park and good value at £10 for the day (split five ways).

We got to the venue about 20 minutes before the doors were due to open and already a small queue had gathered. Luckily for me, Jono ushered me through to the main auditorium and presented me rather unexpectedly with bright yellow crew T-shirt, my punishment for volunteering to help out. After a brief tour of the venue, including the two rooms I would be looking after, I was left to mooch about for a few minutes. It was immediately apparent how much bigger the venue was than last year, with two large lightning talk rooms, exhibition and sales space in addition to the bar and main arena. The gaming and BOF areas 1 & 2 were at the back of the main auditorium, whilst BOF area 3 was a small room squeezed between the gaming area and one of the lightning talk rooms. The main auditorium was dominated by a huge projector screen,

The quality of the signage, banners and programme demonstrated a lot of thought and presumably quite a bit of expense. Even the Low Tech Wiki was a great twist on an old idea. Of course, various chuckleheads spammed it over the course of the weekend. In parallel with hi-tech wikis, this reduced the usefulness of the wiki to almost nothing. Next year I suggest better anti-spam protection, in the form of someone mean-looking with a big stick standing guard.

The venue’s plasma screens were used to display important information to attendees: a “now and next” updating timetable, a news ticker and an area for photos. The idea was that attendees could have their photos included into the cycle. I was amused to see that the default photos shown at the beginning of the day were from the photos I took last year, apparently nicked by Aq. The system looked really impressive but did suffer from technical problems over the weekend, which left the photo section showing static most of the time.

Before long the doors opened and the great unwashed (sometimes literally) entered. It was about this time that it became apparent that one of the two video cameras in use in the lightning talks room didn’t have an internal microphone. Somewhere along the line, it looks as if the video people thought the audio was being recorded direct off the speaker’s mic but this wasn’t the case. (I can safely take no blame for this as I wasn’t involved in the planning stage!) After a period of headless-chicken imitation, a second mic was found which was then plugged in to the mini-jack port on the laptop provided for use by the presenters. Audacity fired up and was used to record each of the talks.

During the first talk in the Beard room, Christian’s talk on Gstreamer, the levels of sound were really low on the recording. Adam Sweet was compereing the room for the morning in another of his tasteless suits, which sadly looks like becoming an LRL tradition, set off to find something better. About ten minutes later he turned up with a roll of sellotape. So yes, we taped the second microphone to the first in true Hendrix style.

I spent the morning diving in and out of the lightning talks: Gervase Markham’s talk on “How to destroy the Free Software Movement,” was busy and well receieved; Tom Steinberg’s last minute stand-in (Matt, I think) talked about lots of interesting projects designed to improve communication between the government and the people; Mirco Muller demonstrated the lowfat document management system, which looks very, very swish and Belial from Hacker Voice Radio talked about ethical hacking, mainly a break-in on a server to shut down a phishing site. I didn’t really get to see any of the talks from beginning to end though; There’s an inherent problem with having one person sorting out sound in two rooms, when both rooms are scheduled to have talks start at the same time!

For lunch we wandered in to town and found a Subway. It looked big enough to old about eight people, fortunately most the other attendees had gone elsewhere or were too slow off the mark. We had hooked up with Hein-Pieter van Braam, known as HP to his friends and TMM on IRC and were sitting munching in the rather cellar-like down-stairs eating area with another guy who was playing with a Nintendo DS whilst munching on his sandwich. He showed Alan how he had Linux running on it, could run a few commands and could start X. Alan has one of these things (or something similar, I’m not very in to handhelds) so was interested to hear how much RAM and ROM was used in running Linux. HP asked at one point, “Is there a Linux port for the DS already?” “Yeah,” the guy replied, “I wrote it.” Turns out this guy was Malcolm “pepsiman” Parsons who was due to give a talk on Linux on the DS, during the Hour of Power the following day. This is one of the things I love about the FLOSS community: You really never know who you are rubbing shoulders with and find yourself getting in to conversations with people who turn out to be someone whose project you’ve read about or have used.

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