21 Jan 2001 rmt   » (Journeyer)

Old Post: This is actually a mailing list post of mine from the 18th of January at 01:21:50 +1100:

So... I arrived in Sydney yesterday and am staying with a friend.

Today, I ventured to the University of New South Wales to partake in the first day of http://Linux.conf.au/ which you can read about for yourself.

Not being a Sydney-sider myself (rather from Newcastle, ~150km north) the bus situation catches me off guard. Half-following the instructions from the friendly www.131500.com.au I jumped off the bus at Railway Square. Only half-following the instructions wasn't a good idea, because I had no idea where to go next, and the not-bad-people around the area had no idea where I was to go either. They will die for it, I tell you.

Anyway - I eventually give up trying to find where to catch the bus, and

ask for directions to central station - a short walk away. I get down there, then totally confused ask again. And again. Clueless fscks who don't know how to get to where I want to go. At that time the same lady who pointed me to Central station walks by and helps me find the bus once again. How nice of her.

While walking we pass a few security guards, police cars, and a police rescue van. Someone must have jumped on the tracks again - or at least someone reported that someone jumped on the tracks. Incidentally, Australia apparently has one of (if not the) highest male youth suicide rate in the world.

So - on with the day. I get on the bus, arrive at the UNSW, and talk to a helpful oriental chap. We get along with a bit of english & sign language, and I'm on my way to the theaters where the conference is being held.

Signins were at 8am. First tutorials were at 9am. Or so they said. Lucky I arrived at 8:50am, otherwise I probably would've been alone there. I decided to skip the first tutorials, and instead mingle with strangers and non-strangers.

I met a number of people I knew from IRC without knowing who they are. Rik van Riel then assisted in pointing out a few more people. I growled at Raster (as everyone should) but didn't make a point of introducing myself to Alan Cox, despite meeting him on IRC a few times. The Linuxcare crowd arrived from Canberra at about 4:30pm - and after some conversation and thought, I came to the opinion that Rusty's role is overstated, in comparison to others at LinuxCare canberra. [ed. note: It happens that

I, having a somewhat shy front in real life, let others dominate conversations. Often listening in on other people's, and only speaking for clarification or if I have something I think will be of genuine interest to the people. I know there's nothing worse than being told what one already knows, and feeling like one has to act interested in it. The fly on the wall approach works well often. For the most part, I understood all topics of conversation, or inferred meaning easilly. Although listening to Alan Cox, Matthew Wilcox, Colin McCormack and others chat about the intricasies of kernels in a noisy room left me nodding dumbly for a little.

Colin's a friend, who gave a tutorial in the morning on his pet project (actually, it has a number of very competent developers now) Coldstore (http://coldstore.sourceforge.net/), which is a gigabyte scale persistant object system. Very interesting - read up on it yourself. I saw someone with a dictaphone, so expect to see an mp3 of his talk soon. [ed. note: An ogg. And they should be available at http://www.linux.conf.au/, and then at http://www.linux.org.au/ if/when they revoke the domain.]

I attended Colin's tutorial at 11:30, which to my surprise had a packed theater. Although judging from the limited laughing at certain clued-in jokes, there were only a dozen or so people in the room who had an idea of what he was talking about at times.

I lounged about for another 2 hours during the next tutorial, before discovering the student lounge downstairs where people had setup their laptops with network connections. Poor me with my lack of laptop was stranded without net-access. I could have borrowed one for a few if I really needed to, but I decided I could control my urges. Soon after everyone else discovered the student lounge, and it turned into a sauna. People talked for a while, and there was a generally accepted idea that we'd be heading to a pub somewhere for some drinks and pub-food. After about an hour, nothing eventuated, so Colin and I took off. With some instruction from Andrew Morton, we headed in exactly the opposite direction of the pub intended. After discovering our err, we caught a taxi to meet up with others at the Royal. Whether they had been there and moved, or if we had been misled, I don't know. We downed a beer and caught a taxi to the Coogee Bay Hotel, where most of the speakers were staying. We expected to find at least a few people there. Noone. We resigned to eat there (they have a grill-your-own setup) and grabbed our food. Heading to the table I spotted a GNU shirt sticking its head in briefly, and heading out again. I chased and invited it to sit down. On closer inspection of the shirt, it had a name-tag on it, reading "Raph Levien". On even closer inspection, I noticed it had Raph Levien inside the shirt. I introduced myself and Colin.

To try and keep this email short - he's a good bloke. Very interesting & easy to talk to. After food, several Guinesses, and much conversation, Raph bid us goodnight, and Colin and I decided to take a taxi back to central station. On the way to the cab, we negotiated to fit 3 attractive pommy girls in the back seat with me and we'd drop them at the top of the hill.. but with the taxi driver out of change, We had to fetch some first. Turns out they're from Newcastle.uk, (as mentioned before, I'm from Newcastle.au) - practically neighbours. Another friend of theirs turned up however, and 6 passengers in a 4 passenger taxi wasn't going to happen easily, so I let them take this taxi and hailed a new one. A point to note is that no taxi drivers in Sydney speak more than 300 or so English words. None of them whatsoever, I'm sure.

Anyway - the night ended, and I caught a bus back to my friend's place and started up putty (he has a Linux box, but in his bedroom) to my home machine, inhaling deeply to satisfy my hunger.

If I'm able, I'll post tomorrow aswell.

Good day to you all from drizzly Sydney, Australia, everybody.

Today's post: I arrived back at my Newcastle-ish home around 7:30pm today, Sunday the 21st. The last two days were fairly interesting, but less so than the first couple. IRC++ project has noble goals, and interesting ideas. It sounds very much like the corridors project I hear lilo talking about often. It is in perl just now, for prototype purposes. I must look at both and compare.

Rusty's talk was amusing as always. He actually had 3 scheduled for the one time. The jokes going around were that they were experimenting with human cloning (but with 3 Rusty's, would that mean 3 new firewall subsystems for each stable kernel?) and time-slicing him. He eventually put all three into the one talk, and had the theatre packed. The talk and slides [for all talks] should be available on the linux.conf.au website soon in Ogg format.

I finally found out what a TIVO is, and was impressed. Although advertising blocking/non-recording would be a great addition. The politics involved in it bites, though. Actually, politics bites all around - but seems unavoidable.

I noticed to an extent the god-ifying of certain figures in the community - Alan, Rusty, Raster, etc. They are the people that attract crowds, whether in talks or just standing around. I think I introduced myself (as my nick) to most people who I know online that were at the conference - which is good. It allows both parties to put a face to the nicks, and in some cases helps me to understand where they're coming from when online.

Overall, I met a few new people at the conference. I met in-person a few people, who I've previously known only online, at the conference. I listened to many interesting talks and conversations. I reminded myself that I need to work on extroverting myself, aswell as to stop relying completely on the grepping of logs or google to find things every time (by using my memory). [ed. note: Also read Skud's diary for a more critical overview of the conference. I doubt everyone agrees with her Sydney rant, but she summed up the conference pretty well.]

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