Tag Archives: lca2008

30 Days of Geek: 14 – Favourite Computer Conference

Oh. You probably won’t be surprised to hear this one, but the answer is Linux.conf.au the Australasian Free and Open Source Software Conference. I’ve been attending since Melbourne 2008, and have since “been” to Hobart in 2009 and travelled to Wellington to attend in 2010.

LCA is a great conference because it gives people in the broader FOSS-using community in Australia (people like me) the opportunity to meet the people who put together the software that we used on a day-to-day basis. It turns out that they’re an entirely friendly bunch of people, who are all too willing to share their experience: in 2008, Andrew Tridgell spent 20 minutes one-on-one with me explaining how a particularly awesome piece of code he’d written worked.

In 2010 I ran one of the short single-day conference streams (known as “miniconfs”), on the topic of Open Programming Languages. This was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the LCA community, and help bring more of the topics that I was interested in to LCA — we had a fantastic lineup of presenters, and the day went awesomely. I’m glad to have the opportunity to do this again: I’m running the Open Programming miniconf at LCA2011 in Brisbane, and along with my friend Peter Lyle, will be running the Research and Student Innovation Miniconf. Both of them are shaping up to be excellent miniconfs.

So yes, LCA is in Brisbane this January, and I thoroughly recommend you get along if you can!

Linux.conf.au 2009 -- Day 5
LCA2010 Speakers Dinner
LCA2010 Open Day

Linux.conf.au — Wrapup

LCA officially finished yesterday with the Open Day being a massive success. Here’s my attempt to wrap up everything that I’ve done since Tuesday:


Keynote was Bruce Schneier, he gave a speech which was not terribly revelatory, but was entertaining nonetheless. This was probably to be expected — keynoters are notorious for regurgitating talks, but the talk was well-presented, and thinking about the psychology of security was a particularly interesting process.

Other highlights of the day included The Kernel Report, and a talk on the OLPC by Jim Gettys.


There was one standout talk from Thursday, and that was Andrew Tridgell‘s talk on Clustered Samba (not just a hack any more). The level of thought that’s gone into the system is incredible, one particular standout from that talk was the concept of a “Tickle ACK”, which in my opinion, was the most beautiful piece of TCP Hackery I’ve ever seen. The audience’s reaction is well-justified — make sure you watch the talk.

Leslie Hawthorn’s talk on the Summer of Code and other Google Open Source stuff was worth going to; whilst the topics covered were for the most part repeats of stuff that’s already been revealed, one small soundbite was dropped, and that is that Summer of Code is almost certainly going to happen in the Southern Hemisphere. This is great news for Australian coders, since the Northern Summer of Code really doesn’t work for committed students (a clash with exams and 7 weeks of second semester is particularly discouraging). I’m seriously considering doing it this year. Thanks Leslie!

The Google Student Party was also really cool — an evening in a dingy pub in the middle of Melbourne, chatting with students and hobbyists, and planning projects for the rest of the year — I already have one, and thanks to Leslie, a contact to pitch it to. I’m looking forward to that!


The day started out with Anthony Baxter‘s talk on Python’s latest developments, with a really stupid title. Fortunately, the talk itself wasn’t stupid: it was definitely the standout keynote talk for the conference, and probably the best talk on Python, which is cool. He talked about all of the things that are going to break in version 3.0, future developments on the 2.x line, and also mentioned NCSS (in particular, he namedropped me, which is nice — I’ll be posting a post about NCSS in the near future for those of you LCAers who are interested in it)

Another cool thing done for the last day was a “Geek Junk Giveaway”, where people would give out their old computer junk to people who wanted it: I hope this becomes an LCA tradition.

The lightning talks (can’t find the video yet, sorry!), which went for the last hour of the conference were many, varied, and generally excellent. Standout talks included Jeff Waugh on Getting Laid (or rather, “Couple-oriented Software”, or the lack of software services that don’t recognise couples), and Paul Fenwick on Fixing the Web (using greasemonkey to remove content from Myspace).

Finally, the best part of Friday was finding out that LCA2009 will be in Hobart! And I’ve already started inviting people to pop by for it.


Open Day == Schwag (Red Hats, DVDs, and a Google T-Shirt), Schmooze (I spent 20 minutes exploring the Clustered Samba codebase with Tridge — and a generalised version of the Tickle Ack (the Socket Killer — it’s cool!), dicussing developments in Kate with Aaron Seigo, and playing Infra-red Pong with Rusty Russell), and Schpeech (that was dreadful, but the lightning talks were good)

So, that’s it for LCA proceedings, onto my general thoughts: LCA was fantastic. To Donna, Peter, and the rest of the mel8ourne crew, you did a fantastic job, it’s going to be interesting to see if Hobart can top it.

To the People of LCA, thanks for making it worthwhile — people who work on cool stuff actually giving me the time of day (thanks Tridge and Aaron and Anthony for all of that), the community really makes LCA special. I will be going back every year that I can, as it’s really a special event.

Cool stuff for Python Coders

Today at Day 2 of LCA, I attened the Distro Summit for the first half of the day, and the Gaming Miniconf for the second part, this particular post is going to focus mostly upon the gaming talks, since it’s probably the stuff I was more technically interested in, and the parts that I can remember best.

LCA Observation of the day:

The current distros of choice to bag out are:

  1. Ubuntu
  2. Gentoo


The latter half of the gaming miniconf spent a lot of time dealing with Python, which is excellent, given that Python is one of the main reasons why I’m attending the conference.

The first talk given was for Pyglet by Alex Holkner (the lead/founder of the project) and Richard Jones, a game development/media processing library (which would therefore make it a suitable replacement for Pygame), is written entirely in Python, and allows for extremely rapid development of games in Python. It’s currently at version 1.0, but is soon to progress to version 1.1, which, amongst other things, introduces a proper event handling inner loop, which is something that is notoriously missing from libraries such as Pygame.

Pyglet is designed around the ctypes library that was introduced in Python 2.5: for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, allows developers to register shared C libraries within python, and call them as functions without needing to write full-blown Python extensions in C. Pygame uses ctypes to wrap basically every media-related libary imaginable (frequently multiple libraries for different operating systems) and presents them to coders as a unified interface, so developers don’t need to know whether or not their system is using Quicktime or OpenAL (for example).

Demos given included of an FPS and a full-screen Mandelbrot Set renderer, both of which were very fast (though the fractal did get a bit pixelated at high zoom, so there could have been a large amount of caching performed — I’m not sure as I haven’t really looked into it.

From a coding point of view, Pyglet looks like an excellent library, a worthy successor to Pygame, and could be extremely fun to code in. Which leads me to:

Richard Jones gave a talk about Pyweek, a twice-yearly Python Game Writing challenge; the aim is to write Python games, which must somehow link into a theme (for example “Energy” or “It Runs on Steam”), and the game must be written entirely within a week. You may code in teams or as ain individual. The next round will be in March, followed by September. I’m seriously considering taking part in the next one.

The final non-lightning talk I saw was on an interesting game system, whereby you draw a picture of the game you want to play, and it lets you play it. I can’t remember the name of it, and can’t find it on Planet LCA yet, so if anyone remembers the name of it, it would be great if you can let me know (such as via the comments on this post) — this looked incredibly cool, and I’ll definitely try it out at the open day.

In Melbourne Tonight (LCA Sunday)

LCA Observation of the Day

I can safely say that I’ve never been in a room full of people making unfortunate computing analogies in order to describe people bunching up closer together. I now notice the similarity between defragmentation, and shuffling down rows in lecture theatres.

Schwag Bag

The Schwag for LCA this year is really impressive (though I’ve not had the opportunity to judge it against previous years) — Google have provided an umbrella (which, though not the t-shirt that I’ve been wanting for quite some time, is probably more useful given Melbourne weather), and there’s a nice Aluminium (?) Drink Bottle; the bag itself is excellent, it’s a laptop-sized bag, which should do well for holding my laptop over the next few days — well done to whoever thought of the bags, they’re certainly appreciated!

First Timer’s Session

This afternoon, since I’m a first-time LCAer, I went to Kelly Yeoh and Rusty Russell’s LCA Newbies’ Session, which consisted of a 40 minute talk on what to expect from LCA, as well as a bit of a history of the conference. Rusty and Kelly spent the duration of the talk subtly referencing injokes from the history of LCA, whilst not referencing their context: this will probably have the effect of newbies making jokes about Dunk Tanks and Rusty’s Credit Card (the latter has already definitely happened, since I’m already doing so.

The “Well-oiled machine” that was the first-timer’s session was, despite it’s very casual tone, reasonably informative, and looks like something worth repeating. I certainly know a bit more about what to expect that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t go to it. Well done to Rusty and Kelly on it.

Ad-hoc Socialising

One important part of LCA (according to Rusty) is Ad-hoc social events, and to prove his point, organised one: the 50-or-so of us (not all of whom were newbies… interesting) went to a pub near U.Melbourne (I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large pack of nerds take over a pub — a sight to behold, if I do say so myself), and sat around chatting with people. Whilst as a student I generally hung around Students, we eventually got some interesting company in the form of Bernado Innocenti from the One Laptop Per Child project, who had some pre-release XOs to show off to us: whilst he stressed that they’re pre-release and therefore buggy, I was generally impressed by the quality, and the UI, although slightly annoying at the beginning (slow, foreign, and almost entirely pictorial, so my command of the English language was absolutely useless in this context), was quite interesting to see in action, and whilst I’m not entirely sure, I suspect that the hype that they’ve generated is justified.

The XOs attracted Casey Schaufler, a developer of Smack (a Linux Security Module), who was very interesting to talk to: during the conversation, he made me feel very young on multiple occations, mostly by mentioning first releases of products, that he’s had something to do with (he was at SUN when the first release of NFS came out, he was at the X11 release party (1987 by my reckoning).

Rusty was certainly right in the newbies session: you get to meet really interesting people at LCA, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a student, or an accomplished kernel hacker — people will talk to you. I was sceptical about whether or not I would find my place at LCA, but if this first session is anything to judge by, I’m confident that the conference is going to be excellent.

LCA Continues tomorrow; I’ll be attending part of the Debian Miniconf, and part of the Security Miniconf

Other Planet LCA2008

If you’re the sort of person who likes reading planets that contain general interest meterial (as well as subject-specific stuff), then you may want to register yourself at Russell Coker’s OTHER Planet LCA2008 — this is an alternative planet that contains entire blog feeds (as opposed to just the LCA stuff). I’ve done so!

Hello Planet LCA2008!


This would be my customary welcome/test post for Planet linux.conf.au 2008, and if this shows up there, then it would indicate that everything is working as planned, in which case: Hello to you all!

In relation to setup, it appears that getting PyBlosxom‘s Tags Plugin to output an RSS feed is slightly more trouble than it’s worth: the plugin doesn’t obey the URL extension as an indication of the output flavour, and instead places it on the end of the tag (so in this case, searching for a tag lca2008.rss20), so instead the less-desirable “flav” querystring is necessary. I suspect that this is one to fix on a rainy day.

I look forward to seeing everyone here at LCA: it should be excellent (I hope).