The limitations of the now imposed by the past

Tomorrow evening I’m doing a talk at Ignite Bristol 4 entitled “The eternal sunshine of the spotless Facebook”. It’s not really a relevant title, but it was when I was thinking up ideas to talk about.

It’s being held in the ss Great Britain, the world’s first propeller-driven, iron-hulled steamship. This leads to the nicest part of the whole event:

But please, please, please bear in mind that modern card reading devices are incompatible with 19th century iron-hulled ships.

Get that! A ship built in the mid-ninteenth century is affecting what we carry in our wallets in the twenty-first century! My head reels at the implications of what we’re doing and building now having physical effects on individuals 150 years from now.

Ruby and memcached in Bristol

I have rather hastily promised to do a talk about memcached at the Bristol Ruby User Group meetup on Thursday evening (we’ll start after 6pm at the Jiva offices, see the map, no need to know about ruby or memcached in advance!).

As ever, this event is on Upcoming.

There’s a pub next door which I plan on visiting both before and afterwards, and I also want someone to guide me through the capabilities of Passenger (specifically, with nginx) as well as showing me why all my code is horribly wrong. Come along!

Bristol Ruby User Group

Tonight was the third Bristol Ruby User Group meeting, but the first with room for laptops and a projector (thanks to petef for organising and The Watershed for giving us somewhere to meet for free!).

Bristol Ruby User Group

About ten people showed up and we took some time to settle in because lots of us hadn’t met before, we ranged from total novices to professional Ruby programmers (I sit very close to the bottom rung in that ladder!) and didn’t have any concrete plans on what we were going to be doing.

In the end we decided to set up a GitHub repo for any work we might do in other sessions (which you can see here) so spent some time getting that up and running for everyone and then naturally gravitated into two main groups: one getting Jekyll integrated so that we could have a website, and another doing some introductory Ruby work.

(I’m afraid to say that I’d gone beyond tired and into slightly manic which was alarming for me, let alone everyone else, so I worry slightly about the impression on others but hope I can ascribe it to the beer.)

It was good to hear Steve from Beef praising Sinatra, since I’ve written a couple of apps based on it the last few weeks and it seems like the perfect way of writing lightweight web applications in Ruby.

In conclusion, there is an Upcoming Group, a mailing list and of course the GitHub repository we set up and the associated website/blog! We meet on the third Thursday of every month so if you’re local and interested in programming, come along!

An Adventure in Technology

Today saw (and in fact still sees, because I left early) An Adventure in Technology in central Bristol – an event for gathering interesting software, hardware and people together and sharing what they know.

Given that it was all organised by Ben Mankin in just four weeks the event came together really well, but had definite signs of haste, and Ben put out a plea for people to help with organisation, publicity, scheduling and, well, everything for next time! (that ‘next time’ will probably be in late Feb/early March 09 rather than a lovely summer’s Glastonbury weekend!)

An Adventure in Technology

Even though I only popped in for a couple of hours, I really enjoyed myself, seeing some great hardware, software and meeting some very interesting people – from hardware researchers to large-node cluster agencies to Red Hat employees and researchers from Edinburgh demo-ing the next-gen in motion capture (some short mobile-phone videos here and here).

I do, of course, have some suggestions for next time, in no particular order:

  • it really needs a schedule for the speakers, the events etc. – this will help people decide on whether to come and when, and hopefully shut people up whilst a presentation is on
  • either the presenter needs to be closer to the stage or needs a bigger/better laser pointer
  • just rename it to “Tech Adventure” – it’s easier to remember, tag, describe etc. and hey! it is the URL after all!
  • some better introduction for people arriving other than starting to aimlessly wander around; don’t know if this means someone on the door or a post-it note floor plan or what

Most crucially: give more than four weeks’ time for arranging the whole thing! In the end it all came together in terms of presenters and suchlike but it’s just not enough time for people to arrange to come. We need more notice in order to make preparations and book that day out.

The one thing that was very definitely lacking was the number of people attending – it’s not as if there’s not an audience for this kind of event, indeed people came from all around the country, but a longer run-up with more chance for advertising and providing at least a rough schedule would really encourage people to turn up (it also gives people a chance to decide what they want to bring and what they’re going to do with it!).

After all that though, I want to repeat that it was a very good, fun event that I was totally not expecting to happen but I’m extremely pleased that it did! Well done to all involved!

Bristol Wireless also have some good coverage, and I’ve uploaded my photos to Flickr

Barcamp Bristol was brilliant

photo of my slot on the timetable

The first Barcamp Bristol ran on Friday evening and all-day Saturday and was completely ace.

Many many thanks to Laura, Alex and Tim for doing the organising and for pulling together such a great mix of people, talks and pure fun!

My talk, “A very personal webserver”, was about the port Nokia have made of Apache2 to the Symbian OS – that is to say, you can now run a webserver from your phone and use their port of Python plus mod_python (and a number of other modules) to expose any data already on your phone to the outside world over HTTP. I’ll make another post about it, but for now my slides are on slideshare and I’ll put the original OpenOffice Impress file up here, too.

As is traditional we played Werewolf, three rounds, but there weren’t many of us playing so I ended up as a Seer (throat ripped out), then a Werewolf (killed by a baying mob), and a Werewolf again (feasted on villagers ‘til the end of time). Many thanks to Pete for, I strongly suspect, throwing the last game for the sake of sportsmanship 🙂

Anyway, I got to meet lots of bright, local people, learn lots of new things, and drink free beer. I’m not really sure how it could have been any better.

There are loads of photos on Flickr tagged with “barcampbristol” (I’m the one in the bright red tee).

BarcampBristol 12-13th October

BarCamp Bristol logo

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants

Bristol will be holding its first-ever BarCamp this year on Friday October 12th and Saturday 13th. It costs a fiver to sign up, and the first rule of Barcamp is that if you are attending BarCamp, you must present.

The wiki page with all the information is here, and links through to payment details. Sign up!

I have no idea what I can talk about. My Arduino maybe? XMPP? I don’t really know anything – PVR/media shifting and how it filters to consumers? I’m going to guess that the audience will mostly be non-heavy techie. Any ideas?