Midwesterners: Are You Going to Barcamp?

In the Midwestern United States, where I am, there are three BarCamps that are always of interest to me. I though I would check out what was going on and when the next one is (I’ve made the Chicago Barcamp several times).

The Milwaukee BarCamp will be in its fifth run, and usually occurs on the first weekend in October. For 2010, that would be October 2-3, but there doesn’t seem to be any word on what to expect.

Madison, Wisconsin (the capital) will be host to the Madison BarCamp on August 28, 2010 – from 10a to 7p. It appears that the event will not be overnight, unlike my experiences in the Chicago BarCamp.

Chicago has wonderful BarCamp events; no word on the web site as to what is happening with Chicago BarCamp this year. Last year was July 11-12; we should be getting close.

If I find anything more about BarCamp Chicago, I’ll post it here.

BarCamp Chicago 2008: Afterword

BarCamp Chicago wrapped up nicely yesterday with a number of talks. There was a talk about Python (I still don’t get why folks aren’t using Ruby, but that’s just me), an open source hardware project demo, a talk on wikis, a talk on couchdb – very nice indeed.

The open source hardware project is called Arduino and is available prebuilt for a minimal price (about US$30 to US$40) – though you could build it yourself if you like (the diagrams are online and available to all). An accelerometer was attached to the Arduino device (which was attached to the computer via USB) and the outputs printed out on the console.

The wiki talk covered what it took to install a wiki and the speaker’s experience with wikis (and MediaWiki in particular).

The couchdb talk discussed couchdb (which was particularly pertinent, because it runs using Erlang, discussed earlier). Couchdb is a database which is based on documents and uses RDF for everything, and which can be spread out among a set of computers quite easily. Note that it is not relational, and it is not object-oriented either.

And of course, what is BarCamp Chicago without Ron May?

BarCamp Chicago 2008: In Progress

Earlier there was a discussion on how to get open source communities started and active. This was an interesting discussion with lots of audience participation.

Then there was a talk about open source and intellectual property law (including copyright mainly, as well as patents – almost no talk about trademarks). There was talk about software licensing and commercialization of software.

In progress is a delightful talk about user interface design (particularly web design).

There’s lots of soda, pizza, sharing, discussion, and so forth.

More to come. Pictures (phone pictures – sigh) to come.

BarCamp Chicago

I’ll be at BarCamp Chicago this weekend; why not join us there? I’ll be speaking about GNU Screen on Saturday.

I plan to post entries directly from BarCamp; we’ll see how it goes. Of course, my laptop is a tad more advanced than last time – now it’s a Pentium III Compaq Armada E500 with FreeBSD 6.3 loaded (and a complete graphical KDE environment).

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Do you need a reminder? Send a message to HitMeLater at the address hours@hitmelater.com (such as 24@hitmelater.com) and they’ll send your message back to you. The address dayofweek@hitmelater.com also works: wednesday@hitmelater.com will resend on the next wednesday after today.

Foreign Languages: A BARcamp Experience

One experience at BARcamp Chicago stood out for me – it was unusual for me. I’m not one to take part in multiuser dungeons (MUDs), or anything of the sort. However, one person who was ran into a person who spoke no English, but spoke French.

Now I speak passable French, and can type, so I become a sort of interpreter. Thus, here I was conversing with (it turned out) a Belgian and helping the two gameplayers to converse.

Learning a foreign language can be a benefit, and it can help you professionally as well. One notable time was when I helped my employer (a bank) to understand a French check that was returned for non-sufficent funds (in English, NSF).

There are a lot of foreign language technical resources as well – don’t forget to visit them and try to understand them if you have the knowledge. If you don’t, then use services like Babelfish to translate them.

If you know a foreign language, keep it up by listening to it often and reading foreign language news. You can start to lose some of your proficiency if you don’t. You can listen to foreign language podcasts, or read foreign language newspapers online, or attempt to read or edit online foreign language wiki entries – or even read foreign language corporate sites.

Here are some possible resources (using French, Spanish, and Russian as examples) – search Google for others.

Many sites can be found just by using the appropriate domain: the Esperanto Wikipedia would be at http://eo.wikipedia.org, Apple Germany at http://www.apple.de, and Microsoft Germany at http://www.microsoft.de. You could even use Google France (http://www.google.fr) or Amazon France (http://www.amazon.fr) to search for more French materials, for example.

BARcamp Chicago!

Got back from BARcamp Chicago Sunday night. It was a good time, and had a lot of good workshops. Met some good people, and used the nice high-speed bandwidth (but had to bypass the slow DNS!).

If you want an excellent DNS service, fast and unrestricted, use OpenDNS. This service also offers phishing protection, abbreviations, and spell-correction.

At BARcamp, some folks went to sleep – and some did not (like yours truly…). Several brought sleeping bags and went to sleep.

There were talks on Testing, the Bayes Theorem, Groovy, LISP, the rPath Linux distribution and Conary, and more. There was also the “InstallFest” – Linux installs made easy with help on hand. Even so, my machine was maxed out with CentOS 3 (a Red Hat 2.1AS source-compiled distro), even though I did upgrade it to CentOS 3.8. My machine is probably memorable as it had to be the oldest machine present (a Pentium-150 IBM Thinkpad) – and had no graphical interface – at least, on the machine itself. The graphical interface on the Thinkpad 760XL is rather odd – the full screen is used by “stretching” the actual display to the full size; otherwise, it only takes up about 75% of the LCD display space.

It was interesting to see (at BARcamp) that the Mountain Dew disappeared and was hard to get at the end, while there was plenty (plenty!) of Red Bull left. We know which is favored….

Next up is the Chicago Linux Group (which also hosts the Chicago Lisp Group), as well as the Madison LOPSA chapter meeting.