That Was The OggCamp That Was

Photo by Tris Linnell under CC BY-NC-SA

Well, it’s all over now.* It was a pleasure and a privilege to spend the weekend with the 300 or so attendees of OggCamp11. 8 months in the planning and it feels like it was all over in 8 minutes.

Having spent Friday running around collecting equipment (including driving into the middle of a wood in search of some C1000S microphones) it was quite a rush to drop everything off at the venue before they closed. The UUPC team set off in a Top Gear-style convoy up the M3, our cars loaded with computers, t-shirts, mugs and more. When we got to Farnham Maltings it was a pleasure to find that the venue technical staff had set up most of the kit for us already. It was so reassuring to be able to go out on Friday evening knowing that there wasn’t too much to get ready the following morning! After a brief stop at Alan Bell’s house to meet the crew, we found the William Cobbett pub full of geeky faces, familiar and unfamiliar. There were so many people to talk to that, despite seeming to get involved in a new conversation at every turn, I didn’t manage to say hello to everyone. But it was a wonderful familial feeling as people converged on this one small beer garden from all over the country, indeed the world.

The crew and most of the organisers were back at the Maltings for 8am. Despite a few hairy moments for Mark as he wrestled with last-minute bugs in the CampFire Manager system, everything was up and running by the time we walked out on stage for the intro. In fact, the schedule had pretty much been filled up by that point. Alan Bell and his video crew had a whole edit suite set up in a little cranny and I even had some help with the main stage AV from Dan‘s friend Andy. There were even two other podcasts present: Hacker Public Radio were interviewing everyone the could get their hands on and Dick Turpin’s podcast even managed a live recording! Before we knew it, we were into the live UUPC and LO  show. I was the least nervous I had been at any of our live shows, perhaps because we’re so used to doing our Ubuntu Podcast live now. We’re also more used to presenting with the Linux Outlaws guys too. That said, the show didn’t go quite as I had planned, in particular the segment about the threats to communication systems being made by the Government. I had wanted to keep the socio-political arguments out of the debate and focus on impact of the proposals on freedom of speech and civil liberties, using the civil unrest as a backdrop. Maybe I was unrealistic in that and it’s one of the dangers of a live show! That said, I was actually pretty happy with the show when I listened back to it. You can download it and judge for yourself.

Photo by Tris Linnell under CC BY-NC-SA

After a brief respite to find something to eat with the ever-lovely Ana Nelson and to change into a less sweaty t-shirt, we headed to the party. With three live guitarists and apparently some impromptu fire-breathing going on it was quite an affair, despite the long queues for the bar and the rather early closing. Fortunately the William Cobbett accommodated us again and people were still going strong when we left in the small hours.

Sunday morning was a more leisurely affair, although the 40 minute wait for breakfast at the hotel dented some of that leisure. The talk slots all filled up quickly. There were even people proposing talks just after midnight on Sunday through CampFire Manager. Lorna Jane‘s talk seems to have been a highlight for many people. Certainly the bits I saw made me think and I definitely want to catch the bits I missed. Before I knew it, we were at the end of the day and the raffle. I enjoyed the raffle the most, I think. The room was buzzing and a surprisingly large number of people had stayed to see it. After all the stress of the event it was time to let our hair down a bit! There were still thirty or so die-hard OggCampers in the bar at midnight. No surprises that I needed Monday and Tuesday to recover.

Photo by Tris Linnell under CC BY-NC-SA

There’s always a bitter-sweet element to an OggCamp for me. On the one hand, people have travelled from all over the world to attend an event that I’ve helped organise. This year, more friends from Hampshire made the journey to join in and my two Godsons (and their parents) also turned up to watch us on stage. Looking around the bar on Saturday I allowed myself to feel a bit smug that all these people were gathered together having a good time because of us. But the other side is that I’m so busy I miss so much of what is going on, the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Both Laura Czajkowski and Aq have told me that I’m still doing too much work for OggCamp and they’re right. That will have to change in future, particular as I have other projects I want to work on too.

This seemed to be the year that OggCamp came of age. The first year we were finding our feet, working out how to organise and event and just grateful that anyone came. Last year we upped the ante by going to two days and a much bigger venue. There has been such a level of enthusiasm from crew and attendees, such a lot of positive feedback that it feels like OggCamp has gained a momentum separate from its six podcast parents.

There are so many people to thank that doing so risks leaving someone out! But we’re so grateful to all the attendees for coming and volunteering talks: Without you we would be six idiots on stage talking into the void. The crew did a marvellous job, ably led by Les Pounder. It was great to be able to delegate so much to Les and his team. Our sponsors made it all happen too. Seriously. They gave us money so that we could run the event, we couldn’t have done it without them. They’re all listed on the homepage and you should buy their products.

Andy Piper has done an excellent job of collating blogs, photos and videos about the event on Lanyrd. Please feel free to add anything you spot to that page. We’re also asking for your feedback on the event in general and the CampFire Manager system, information on which you can find at

Photo by Juan J Martinez under CC BY-SA

* Actually, there’s still a bit of follow-up to do, but all the hard work has been done.

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