Had a wonderful time at BarCamp London X. "A free-to-attend weekend unconference for designers, developers and geeks of all types at Microsoft's offices in Victoria, London."

I learnt about Scala, puppies, search engines, the future, sequencing your genes, the Novikov self-consistency principle, augmented reality, quantum physics, passwords, philosophy of AI, writing on the road, UI archeology, art and mathematics, synthesizers, Haskell, how to design things to make sense, and probably other things too! I also played a card game about being a band on tour, and spoke to many interesting people, and ended up wearing a pirate hat and an inflatable parrot on my shoulder and didn't want to go home.

List of sessions I went to )

The grid


Dec. 2nd, 2010 12:52 pm
At London BarCamp 8, I was given a sachet of sugru. Some people made keyfobs out of it, but I did not know what to do with it, so took it home. Sugru is kind of like Fimo, but instead of baking it in an oven, you just leave it to set.

I thought about attempting to mend my shoes with it, but then the strap on my watch broke, so instead I used it for that. I had to leave it to set, which annoyed me, as it meant I was without a watch for the weekend. (I have been wearing a digital watch since I was about 5 years old and rely on it.) Now it seems set, now it seems fixed and I have been wearing it for a few days. I have no idea how long it will last.
BarCamp London 8 was awesome. Great talks and great people. Not much sleep, drank lots of coffee, and it was quite intense, hearing all those interesting ideas and running between sessions, and reading what was happening in the other sessions on Twitter, and bumping into people I hadn't seen for a few years and meeting new people, and trying to stay awake and not falling behind with NaNoWriMo. I also had to attend a surprise retirement party on Saturday night (still wearing my BarCamp t-shirt, with my Twitter name, etc, on it, in glow-in-the-dark print), and caught up with some of my family then, and ended up accompanying my mum back to Kent (we ate cake and made Kinder egg toys on the train), where I slept for a few hours, then dashed back to London.

I think these were the sessions I attended:

Location Aware Services - A useful idea or an invitation to get burgled?
The secret life of bees (bee-keeping)
Set, Sugru and Fluxx (played a game of Set; got given a sachet of Sugru)
Hack 3D (3D photography; viewed a stereoscopic image)
Running meetups using social networks (meetup.com, ning, etc)
Books for freaks (book recommendations)
How photographs tell stories
Beautiful Code (coding standards; tabs vs spaces)
What's wrong with "it just works"? (whether computers can or should be consumer devices. Mac vs Windows.)
Let's get.. antisocial (ASCII art; demo scene; is using Twitter ever creative?)
Why online social media isn't a new thing (dial up BBSes; Fidonet; Monochrome BBS)
What has porn done for us, and should we be grateful? (would you work in the porn industry? does porn still help to drive technology?)
Cupcakes (cupcake decorating and eating; discussions about cookery and one girl's addiction to dettol)
Culture Hacking (flash mobs, hack spaces, pop up shops)
A rough intro to User Experience Design
Photography is not a crime!!
What kids are doing in ICT in schools today

If you're interested in reading about what other sessions were on, or even seeing videos of the talks or slides, some are available on Lanyrd.


May. 4th, 2010 02:42 pm
Poll based on a game played at BarCamp Manchester 2:

[Poll #1560131]

A few weeks ago, I saw the film, Dogtooth. In the film, some words had different definitions than they usually do. For example, the salt was called a telephone and excursions were a type of building material. This reminded me of the surrealist poetry game that I played at BarCamp Manchester 2 last year.
Some of the results )
50 or so geeks (and their laptops) spent the weekend at Welshmans Reef Vineyard in Newstead, about 140km from Melbourne. It was the first StixCamp, an informal conference (unconference), similar to BarCamp, but located out in the sticks, and thus involved tents. I'd heard good things about BarCamps from friends in London, and had been to GameCamp in London, which worked on similar principles, so I had some idea what to expect.

People wrote on post-it notes what they wanted to talk about, and these were arranged into available slots to form the schedule. I decided a few minutes before the talks started that I wanted to discuss pervasive games with people, as I was interested to hear about what kind of pervasive games, alternate reality games, etc, people had played in Melbourne. I had not prepared a talk, and was quite nervous, particularly when I realised most people did not know what pervasive games or ARGs were, but people were friendly and interested, and hey, at least I tried. :)

Other people's talks were much more planned and I found the talks I went to interesting:

Gian Sampson-Wild talked about accessibility and usability standards, and I was intrigued to learn that you can get fined in Australia if your website does not conform to accessibility guidelines.

Josh Stewart gave a talk on Your Toaster wants Twitter too and Andy Gelme gave a talk on Device Sensor Networks, and both demonstrated cool electronics devices. I've seen a few similar talks before and they always inspire me and make me think I should buy an Arduino, but then I realise I don't have any ideas as to what I'd actually use one for.

Paul Fenwick gave a talk about Hacking other people's brains, which was quite amusing, and tried to explain things such as how to understand other people even when there are no status bars, like there are in The Sims.

James Vautin explained how to use Amazon Mechanical Turk - Artificial Artificial Intelligence. Amazon Mechanical Turk allows you to pay people small amounts of money to do tasks for you. As an example, during the talk, James paid people to join the IRC channel we were on. One interesting use of Mechanical Turk that was mentioned is Feedback Army, which allows you to get rapid feedback on the usability of your website.

Ron Snep gave a tour of the winery, where we got to see (and taste) the grapes at various stages, the machinery used, and many barrels of wine.

Dave Hall explained the difficulties of getting Broadband in the bush.

After the main sessions of talks had ended, lightning talks began, which were talks that lasted just for 5 minutes. I particularly remember the talks by Philip about taming wire, and Jackson talking about being awesome.

In between the talks, much food was consumed, some alcohol also, and various conversations were had. I do not recall any dancing, but I do remember someone giving a late night lightning talk on each key on their keyring, the weather being so windy that I had to try to stop my tent from blowing away, watching some of a strangely dubbed version of Star Wars, and in general, meeting some excellent people, who I look forward to meeting again. I hope I will still be in Melbourne for the next BarCamp, which will take place in September.


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