LugRadio Live 2008

July 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm (lugradio live)

I’m making an effort to write this before next year’s LugRadio Live is upon us.

If you’ve read my last post, you’ll know that this year’s LugRadio Live was slightly different from my perspective, as I was exhibiting there. My exhibition – the “Collaborative Art Thingy” – began with a large piece of paper on which people were free to use a broad selection of art materials to do as they wished with. The idea behind this was that the artwork would be produced in a way similar to how software is produced in the FLOSS community, although generally the people doing that are good at what they do, instead this was mostly just for fun. As the event progressed we switched from having no rules, to setting an actual theme for each piece, beginning with Cillian’s suggestion of XKCD – and eventually landing at LugRadio presenters at the end of Sunday.

As for what happened to these wonderful/intriguing pieces of art, most were given out at the end of Sunday, and I do have photos of each piece, aside from the XKCD theme, as Cillian wanted this and had to leave early. Anyhow, once I get hold of a photo of that one I will upload them all and link to them in a future blog post.

Before moving off this topic, I would like to thank all who contributed during the weekend for spending the time to be part of this exhibit. I really appreciate what everyone did, down to the very smallest contribution. Finally, I’d especially like to thank the Linux Outlaws guys as they seemed to frequent my stall most often, and one of those dudes started off the first piece on Saturday morning (as nobody had wanted to touch it for fair amount of time to begin with).

Now, in addition to this experiment of sorts, we (I say ‘we’ because a friend I had invited along – who we will refer to as Tom, seeing as that’s his name) ended up being asked to do several “arty” things during the event. These comprised of an applause sign, the defacing of the O’Reilly book stand – which you can find on digg, and a “Furries For Justice” sign which was used as part of a joke during Neuro’s Second Life talk, you can find a picture and commentary of this on Barbie’s blog. All of this was great fun and we both enjoyed having the chance to help out in such a cool way. Indeed, that was probably my favourite part of the weekend.

As for the rest of the event, although I was kept fairly busy and didn’t manage to see many talks, I did catch most of Dottwaffle’s demo scene talk and thoroughly enjoyed it. And it was nice to see all the other exhibits too, the 64 Studio one was very compelling and once I find a little spare time I will be taking a look into that project. It was also really great to see the OpenStreetMap project there in the flesh. Other exhibits that caught my eye included the awesome Bytemark gaming server rig, the legion of SuSE chameleons, and the nice guy from Ubuntu UK – who’s stall was next to mine (in fact, my stall was inside a Debian/Ubuntu sandwich – yum, yum) – who happened to give me an Ubuntu Guru tee shirt. Very nice.

Finally, another big highlight (for me) of LugRadio Live this year was BEING the Chinny Raccoon during the live recording on Saturday. Being such a devoted fan of the aforementioned raccoon, I believe this to be one of the greatest moments of my life. And besides, who hasn’t always dreamed of being inside a fursuit mascot costume?

So that was my take on LugRadio Live 2008, and just like last year, I am already looking forward to next year’s.

Chris Hayes

Finally – I have one sheet of A1 left and I’m not certain what to do with it…

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Exhibiting at LugRadio Live This Year

July 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm (lugradio, lugradio live, open source)

I should imagine that most you guys reading this know about LugRadio Live. For those who don’t (I’m looking at you Sam), go check out the website. Just like the last two years, you’ll find me amongst the mass of beards, long hair and O’Reilly books. However – unlike the last two years – all attending will have the opportunity to contribute towards a colaberative artwork, this is where I get involved.

Indeed, I shall be hosting an exhibition during the weekend long event where anyone can walk up, grab a pen, pencil, pastel, paintbrush, prittstick or many other wonderful things begining with ‘p’, and apply them to a large piece of paper. The aim being to create at least one piece of art produced in a (vaguely) similar fashion to how Open Source software is produced. Seemed like a fun, and reasonably apt idea – and the handsomely large gents over at LugRadio towers appear to have agreed.

The idea behind this originated while I was studying art a sixth form, as for one of the modules I did I could choose anything so long as it could be connected to the subject of “freedom”, I believe – something like that… So I chose FOSS, somewhere near the end of the course I remember talking to a friend about how great it would be to produce a piece of artwork in a similar fashion to the collaberative way that FOSS software is developed. Unfortunately, it was too far into the year to actually arrange that. However the idea stuck with me all this time – gently simering in the depths of my brain, like some kind of exqusite stew – and finally I decided to mentioned to the LugRadio guys earlier this year. The idea, not the awful stew analogy.

Anyhow, as much as it pains me to admit, I am only one of many great reasons why you need to attend LugRadio Live UK this year. In addition to the swarths of great speakers at the event – there will also be parties held each night starting on Friday. In addition to this you get to meet loads of great people also exhibiting at the event, talk to people about stuff you’re interested in during BoF sessions, see some poor guy in a thong banging on a gong, and – most importantly – shed a tear while whitnessing the very last LugRadio Live live LugRadio.

As it happens, I’m going away to make some final preperations for the exhibit (or rather, eat some tortilla chips and then go do something useful like that). Incidentally, for those who don’t know, I’m a big fan of LugRadio and it does feel a little strange that I’m exhibiting at the finale of this cherished thing. Although, at the same time I’m very excited about what might come out of this exhibition.

Don’t forget to pop round my table and draw/paint/pen/verb something if you are attending!

Chris Hayes

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Beware Of The Ninjas – Newark Day 2008

April 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm (ninjutsu) ()

Those of you who know me might be aware that I used to practice Ninjutsu – and those of you who stalk me are already aware that I recently began doing this again. In addition to this, those of you in the town of Newark might be aware of something called ‘Newark Day’, appropriately this is an event where Newark celebrates itself – this includes some of the most interesting organisations within Newark – including Newark’s most interesting organisation – the Newark Bujinkan Brian Ninjutsu Dojo!

Now, as part of the wonderful celebrations of this towns heritage and future – the dojo will be putting on two performances for the day. As for myself, I am playing a role in these proceedings. As for all taking part, from what I’ve seen we’ll be putting on a very interesting performance for you guys. So, if anyone here is in Newark and fancies seeing some real life Ninjas – doing what real life Ninjas do – pop round and take a look.

If you are interested, Newark Day is on Sunday the 4th of May and there are two planned performances, both lasting 15 minutes and the first occurring between 11:00 and 11:30, then the second at some point between 14:00 and 14:30. For more information regarding Newark Day visit http://www.newark.gov.uk/events/newark-day.html

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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FOSDEM08

March 5, 2008 at 4:52 pm (open source)

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the premier Free Software event of Europe, FOSDEM. FOSDEM is a weekend long event in which Free and Open software developers, enthusiasts and users meet up to watch presentations, key notes, lightning talks and demonstrations of some of the coolest things going on in Free Software right now, as well as taking part in workshops and talking to people representing many of the biggest projects and companies in Open Source.

My interest is mostly that I am an enthusiast, although I also work with Open Source technologies in my job, plus I intend to become a developer in the future. To make it all even better – it is hosted in Brussels, Belgium – this being quite nice because the first time I went abroad it was to Brussels, and I have very fond memories of the holiday.

Anyhow, back to FOSDEM. For those who have been to LUGRadio Live, over here in the UK, it is much like that event – although bigger – and with more of a technical focus, and – of course, far less rude. As for language (as opposed to Langridge) all the talks I attended were in English, and all the people who I spoke to at the event spoke English extremely well. This was good, seeing as I cannot speak any other languages well, and can barely articulate a coheisive sentence on demand in my native tounge. I remember being surprised of the widespread use of English throughout the actual event – however it makes sense as computing tends to be a realm where English has become the working language.

In general, I found the talks to be of a high quality – both well presented and rich in content. Being such a large event they were able to have both a really broad base of subjects, as well as having entire rooms dedicated to key projects – such as OpenOffice.org and Mozilla. Unfortunately – with so many really interesting things going on all around – this meant that it was impossible to see everything that you wanted.

Saying this, I found that there wasn’t much going on in the graphics and design area, it would have been great to have a Dev room for GIMP, Inkscape, Xara, FontForge, Blender – just to name a few of the more popular ones I’d love to hear about. CrystalSpace 3D appeared to be the only major graphics related project in the entirety of the event, excluding Xorg stuff. It would have been nice to hear about the creative tools out there from those developing them – as it wasn’t just graphics, there also seemed to be a lack of audio/video creation tools hackery on show too… It’s not as if FOSDEM was entirely technical either, the Mozilla related talks I saw tended to be timelines, facts about the Corporation, demos and job recruitments – rather than nitty gritty tech talks. However thei few Mozilla talks I saw may have been unrepresentative, for all I know.

Various people out there probably know that I am interested in game development – and it was great to hear about CrystalSpace 3D and the GGZ development framework. These and the virtualisation talks are probably the things that I found to be most interesting. Again, it was a shame that voice recognition wasn’t covered at all – even across the immense breadth of what was on offer there – however, this is merely a symptom of that fact that there isn’t a lot of work going into Open Source speech recognition, unfortunately… I also attended the Globulation2 talk as I’d played it once – and thought it was pretty good. And PackageKit – the package abstraction layer sounds very nice – this was the first time I’d heard of it, and I think that if some key distros adopted it (which certainly sounds like they are) it could be quite a big win in the Linux-on-the-desktop thing. Although it did get me thinking about how AutoPackage seems to have effectively died, something that I am deeply annoyed about.

I greatly enjoyed FOSDEM08, I certainly feel it was worth going. And I’ve definately come back with a spring in my step – eager to advance my skills as a developer. On that note, one thing that I learned at some point during the event was not to be shy of using abstraction layers and frameworks rather than reinventing the wheel. Sure, abstraction carries with it an enlarged overhead, however as a fairly novice developer, trying to re-invent the wheel from the ground up over and over again wastes time – and unless you do know what you’re doing – will likely result in badly written code that isn’t as effective as using a properly written abstraction layer. At least, that’s my current opinion of this.

Anyhow, I intend to be at the next FOSDEM, if I’m able to make it. And, finally – I’d like to thank Juddith and Christopher so much for being able to put me up between them both for the 3 nights I was over in Belgium for. I really, really appreciate this – epsecially on such short notice. Also, thanks to them both, for ensuring that the time outside FOSDEM was as interesting as the event itself. Thank you.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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Linkpot.net

August 20, 2007 at 6:01 am (Uncategorized)

At some point I was wanting to say something about Linkpot.net – so now I shall. Linkpot is Ben Thorp’s simply ingenious, and ingeniously simple replacement for tinyurl. Both of these tools aim to make urls, especially long urls, easier to communicate. However, while tinyurl lends itself to being written down in small spaces, with it’s collection of random numbers and letters – for example, http://tinyurl.com/2f978h. Linkpot, is instead deigned to make it easier to say difficult urls, so instead of using numbers and letters, Linkpot instead uses words, creating urls such as, http://linkpot.net/camera/. Some of you might be wondering where exactly I come into this. Well, I created the website and graphics for Linkpot, and currently I’m working on some banners which will hopefully be released soon.

It’s been nice to see quite a few people using Linkpot, although that might just be because I find myself around Linkpot users. It was also nice to find this article about it on the O’Reilly GMT, with the Linkpot pot graphic I designed in Inkscape featuring there.

It’d be interesting to see whether in a year a lot more podcasts are using Linkpot rather than tinyurl – and whether it just generally catches on. Regardless of that, though – it’s a useful tool that people ought to be aware of.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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The Story of Newark LUG…

August 19, 2007 at 8:12 pm (Newark LUG)

It would appear that through illness, grievances, projects and sheer lack of time I have neglected to properly mention Newark LUG here. Some may know that I come from a village near the town of Newark. For a long time now, various people – the most notable being Craig Lynch – have made clear a desire for Newark to have an offical LUG. However, this kept getting put off, because most of us knew of very few Linux users within the area, and with us all generally busy with our own little projects – it kept getting delayed.

Finally, I decided that if Newark was going to have a LUG, I wanted to design the website for it. Website design is something that I enjoy, it is both an exercise in artistic and technical ability. Thus, is my domain. After talking with Craig about this, I set about creating a website. Several months passed – this lack of time is becoming a recurring theme here – and many revisions of it later, I had a half finished design that I was happy to put up. Now, it was time to get the thing online. So, Craig – who’d been the driving and original force behind having a LUG for Newark, and myself – the webdeisgner talked about this and agreed that for the time being, I may as well set things up and get them running.

Anyhow, now Newark LUG is an offical UK LUG, with a mailing list, website and wiki. We’re aiming to hold our first social meet sometime soon, and I’m planning on making a few changes the website. Such as the members page – adding a planetplanet blog aggregator to it, and also making the events page more useful to people.

Before I end this, I would like to thank Craig Lynch for being the main guy behind it all. He started off with the idea and encouraged me throughout all what I’ve done for the LUG, as well as insisting that I didn’t put it above my school work and other commitments.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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A level results!

August 16, 2007 at 7:49 pm (personal)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pick my results up from school. However, I was informed over the miracle that goes by the name of telephone as to my grades. And to my astonishment, they were all ‘B’ grades! I was taking Art, Psychology, English Language & Literature and the General Studies.

These results surprised me a lot because I didn’t think that I’d done very well at art. Even though art itself is and has always been a huge part of my life. I didn’t think that it had gone as well as it appeared to have. Psychology and English were slightly disappointing as I’d hoped to get ‘A’s. But I’m extremely happy with the overall outcome of it all!

I can’t wait to actually see these grades on paper, for myself!

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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LugRadio Live 2007

August 13, 2007 at 10:49 am (lugradio, lugradio live)

This blog entry¬† entry will be updated to include photos as soon as I get around to it… But, for now – enjoy;

Indeed, it was that time of the year again – the greatest event of the entire entirety of the year. LugRadio Live.

Well, the 7th of July started with me running like a maniac across the countryside holding a partially wet oil painting at about half-past 7 in the morning. Thankfully the wet Chinny Raccoon painting made its way – unsmudged – all the way from Nottinghamshire to Wolverhampton, across 3 train routes and one pretty packed train. Annoyingly, after getting to the event it got slightly smudged about 10 minutes after I put it down, so I had to try to smudge it back to normal with my fingers as best I could :p

It was great, meeting people I’d only known on irc or the forums – MrBen, Neuro, Dave2, Xalior, DotWaffle, Tig – as well as meeting cool people I don’t think I’d ever known before anywhere, which is cool. Chating with Teg Hager, that was interesting. Having my oil painting of the Chinny Raccoon admired by the LugRadio team – it was absolutely awesome! And as for the painting – when Jono came up to me at first to comment on it, I said that if he thought it was any good they could give it away as a prize or something. And strangely enough, it was given away as one of 3 prizes to mrben who’d won the community hero award again, I say strangely because me and mrben had been working on the Linkpot.net creation of his – I’ve been helping out with the graphics and webdesign stuff, it certainly felt like the painting hadn’t drifted too far away from me and that it was in safe hands.

But back to the original point – it really was great to put faces to these people I’d known for the last year online. That was probably the best thing about this years LRL for me – last year when I was at LRL I didn’t even know what LugRadio was, a friend called me a week before the event and asked if I wanted to go, I said yes and it was pretty cool – even at that point I looked forward to the next one. After that I started listening to LugRadio and became a pretty hardcore fan of their show – and during that time I made to almost complete switch to using Linux. Those are the reasons why I enjoyed it more this year – I didn’t feel like a fish out of water, I felt more like I was part of it.

While at this years LRL, I ensured that I picked up a large amount of free stash, Ubuntu CDs, t-shirts, lanyards, baseball caps, keyrings, badges, stickers, pens, pencils, drinks mats, and other bits and pieces. Anyway, what I meant to say was, I’ve acquired a fairly reasonable amount of Ubuntu and SuSE CDs – these, and a lot of my other stash, I’ll be giving away at Newark LUG events – unfortunately Craig wasn’t able to attend LRL this year, hopefully he’ll be able to make it next year as I’m sure he would have enjoyed it tons.

It was a little disappointing that I wasn’t able to stay for the Sunday night post-event LugRadio Live drinkies and chatter – but I guess that’ll be something to make next years LRL even more worth looking forward to. And talking about hashlugradio (as the Sunday night is the #lugradio meet up) – the hashlugradio BoF was fantastic, I really found that to be one of the most highlit of the highlights. And the gong-a-thong, that was pretty good even without the hilarious Adam Sweet oiled up and on stage in a thong – he just made the difference, turning it into something that I doubt I’ll ever be able to forget.

Gah – I must admit, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing this event justice with what little I can say about it. It was friggin awesome – it is the kind of event where before hand, there are so many cool things going on – you just can’t decide what you want to go and see! Anyone even remotely interested really ought to try and make it to LRL next year, if you can – it really will rock, that I’m sure of.

Finally, I now own a very lovely little GP2X handheld games console – and over the next few months I hope to start developing some simple games for it in SDL during my spare time. But I’ll save this for a new post.Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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Last minute raccoons…

July 24, 2007 at 7:47 am (lugradio, lugradio live)

As you may know, I intended to create a piece of art that encompassed the ethic and motivations behind the Open Source / Free Software community. This piece of art would both form the final piece of my A2 level art exam – and be a scrumptious exhibit for the Geek Art Exhibition at the recently passed LugRadio Live 2007. Unfortunately the deadline for the A2 exam work was too close, so instead I provided a mediocre picture for that, and decided to still do the fantastic design of symbolism and abstracted concepts for the LugRadio Live event.

Unfortunately there wasn’t really enough time to do this either, as it is such a difficult thing to do I feel – so instead, it was time to go with what you know – so I decided to do a picture of the Chinny Raccoon. However! At the time when I needed to bring the finished background of it back home from school and complete the darn thing – about a week before LugRadio Live, I came down with some horrible infection, two in fact – and was unable to do this. But! Two days before LugRadio Live I was feeling a fair bit better and saw the doctor whom said that is wasn’t contagious and that I’d be fine to go to the event! Straight after this I picked up the oil painting. Unfortunately there was no time to work on it that day – and besides, I had to work out where I was staying for the Saturday night! Now – unfortunately – all the hotels seemed booked, but thankfully my uncle was able to put me up for the night – even on such short notice.

Right, so I’ve now sorted out everything except for… The painting. Right, so then – the following day – I had about 4 hours spare to do the Chinny Raccoon’s stylised head upon the background. Worse than that was that this meant there was no chance of letting the paint dry so that I could build it up and do decent coats of paint – upon dried layers – like the background was created from. Of course – me and my father did attempt to try and dry the paint using a fan and then a strong hot lightbulb – and finally a hairdryer. However all this was in vain.

But thankfully, something half decent was done before LugRadio Live – now the only issue is… how to keep the wet oil painting from getting smudged on the journey from Notttinghamshire to Wolverhampton… Hmm, I’ll cover how well this went in my post about LugRadio live itself.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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Gemma

July 22, 2007 at 4:46 pm (personal)

The biggest, and worst event to have happened in my life for – well, probably the whole of my life – was that of my wonderful dog Gemma dying on Monday the 25th of June this year. She was an adorable tiny little Yorkshire Terrier, with one eye and a beautiful smile – she was not playful in a tradition sense, but she did enjoy following me and my father around – knowing what we were doing. She absolutely hated the idea that if she did want us we wouldn’t be there, as demonstrated by how she would often just lay in her basket in the kitchen idly if the door was open, but if it was closed she would howl and sniff and scratch and bark.

Parts of me wanted to just not include this in my blog, it being such a personal and upsetting event – but other parts of me couldn’t stand that I’ve talked about Chinny Raccoons and Gnome and KDE, and then go and leave off one of the most seismic things that have occurred recently – it would feel like betraying her memory, not to acknowledge it openly.

Me and dad have had Gemma for about five or six years now, she was a rescued dog – originally found outside a police station in a cardboard box with a Pekingese. From then she was chosen by my fantastic cousin Henrietta – whose mum, Pip, took part in a rescue service for their area. Me and dad only came into the picture when we got around to delivering one of our old computers to Pip, and in the time we spent there, discovered the little Yorkie with one eye. It was only on the way back that me and my father talked about adopting her and decided we would both like to. Some point after that, we adopted her, and then she was part of our family.

Gemma’s had a huge effect on me, I had always wanted a dog – ever since I was little, and the funny thing was, I never thought it’d be a tiny dog like Gemma, I thought it’d be a ‘real’ dog, like a border collie or something. It was a bit odd at first, having a dog – and the novelty of her took quite a while to wear off.

Over the years Gemma has become such a central part of both mine, and my father’s life. Truly being a member of our family. Perhaps interestingly, Gemma has been around me from when I was around 14 to now being 19 years old. In this time I’ve completely changed my art to a large extent in that time, started using Linux – and ended up at the point where I virtually exclusively use it, met most my current friends – not all, but most, did Sixth Form and, well – changed a great deal in my opinion, finally became a vegetarian. Gemma has been around me for so much of this time.

Something that me and dad used to notice about Gemma was how many different things she could look like, depending on how long her hair was, and what facial expression she was wearing – and even her behaviour. Sometimes she would be just a normal Yorkshire Terrier dog – but this was rare, usually she was either my little spotted hyena cub, or a lion, or perhaps a soft cuddly teddy bear – she had ways of looking at us; through her face, and through the way she looked at us with her one large eye – sometimes she would look at us with the facial expression of parental concern and love towards us, other times with the interest and excitement of a puppy or child, eager to know what’s going on and how to be part of it. Even though she could not talk English, it was certainly clear that she wanted to tell us things, and sometimes you could see a little frustration in her when she realised how difficult it was to communicate with both of us.

It seemed like around the days she died, this look was often one of worry, concern – not just her usual motherly concern for us, but something a little more – also with a tinge of wanting to know what was going on around her. Other times she was full of exhaustion, barely able to move. But finally, when we went to see her at the vet for the last time, of absolute love and interest in having her family around her after we’d been away for some time, very unfortunately. It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that we took her to the vet on Monday morning after she had been collapsing Sunday night – however I had to rush off and do an exam (an exam over 3 hours long) straight after this, and it was only after I had got back that we then rushed off to be with her for the last time.

One of the saddest things is feeling memories become just that, memories – knowing that those last parts of of Gemma that are still there – almost like she is still there – the last bits of data in my brain’s local cache are now just normal files in the filesystem. Or at least, that is how it feels. I will always have memories and photos – maybe even a video clip somewhere, but nothing as intense as what I had. Life has felt very empty since she died, for me though – I’ve been struck down with some horrid illnesses and have had many other things to worry about and keep my mind off her. Of course, that in itself is a sad thought, that with all my distractions I can just have my mind taken off her to some extent.

Both me and dad are going to miss Gemma so much, and we’ve both found her death very difficult to cope with.

Thanks for reading this.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld

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