Weekly Rewind #97

Hello and welcome to another Weekly Rewind. A slightly overdue one at that. Apologies for missing last week but it slipped under the radar. When I originally conceived of these updates I thought they’d be a nice Sunday afternoon activity. As life has gone on though I actually tend to be more busy on weekends now. So I plan to continue the mid-week pattern I’ve fallen into. Right, I’m sure that bit of information makes fascinating reading. So let’s talk about what’s happened in the last 2 weeks…

I left you on Wednesday September 7th as I was about to do another live FLOSS Weekly with Randal. We interviewed Tomaz Muraus about Libcloud, a Python library for accessing cloud services, storage and so on. It was an interesting discussion and you know I love Python, even if I don’t get much free time to write code these days. You can download that show now as FLOSS Weekly 181.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat I headed down to LivLUG where Bob was telling us all about Emacs. Not at first sight a fascinating subject, but to be fair I really enjoyed it. For those not versed in the dogma of Free Software, Emacs is a text editor originally written by the founder of the movement, Richard Stallman. This all sounds slightly religious and cult-like, some would argue it is, but I’m only giving a very rough outline. Lots of hardcore hackers and coders use Emacs and believe everyone else should too. The rest of us just tend to joke about how hard it is to use. There were plenty of those jokes thrown around during the session but by the end I think we all realised we should probably give Emacs a chance. It does look incredibly powerful and easy to customise. I don’t think I’ll be writing these posts in Emacs any time soon, but maybe someday. After the talk we ended up in the FACT bar for a while. It was a good night.

I’ve been pretty busy with the band in the last couple of weeks. Much rehearsing, recording, plotting and rocking has gone on. I hope to be able to share new recordings with you all soon, but I say that so often it’s getting ridiculous. We’ve decided to take a Debian release schedule policy, we only put stuff out once we’re 100% happy with it. I’ll forgo extended band talk for today as we have more pressing matters to get to. Something I’ve always loved is hacking and tinkering with gadgets. When I found out the wireless at LEAF (one of my favourite haunts) was struggling, it was a perfect excuse. I used a new Linksys WRT54GL router with the Open Source DD-WRT software to boost the signal. I’d done similar things years ago to make a wireless bridge at home, so I knew how to re-flash the firmware. It all went well and I soon had the router ready to be used as a repeater, client bridge or anything else really. I went down to LEAF and tested it out briefly before heading back home. We’ll rejoin this story later.

A side on shot of darts player Phil Taylor throwing a dart.

Phil Taylor - A True Dartist

On Saturday Sept 17th I ventured down to The Masque in Seel Street, a venue I know well. Hip hop veterans the Jungle Brothers were playing that night and I managed to get in on one of the support band guest lists. What can I say, I have great friends. The group are called Corinthians and they’re a local Liverpool hip hop/dub outfit. I’d never seen them live before but I was blown away. I can’t find their official website but I did find this video online. On Sunday I headed down to practice with the band and did some audio editing later as I prepared another Free As In Freedom. As I was doing this I heard from Fab that his laptop had died and wasn’t going to be recovered. This meant he couldn’t do any podcasting until he had a replacement and Linux Outlaws would be cancelled for the foreseeable future. As luck would have it he got a replacement later that week and we had an extra show already recorded. So the podcast schedule wasn’t disturbed. On Tuesday 13th my lovely parents came over and helped me to sort out the flat a bit. I’ve relocated the studio to the spare room now and sorted out the bedroom. I also finally got my dartboard up in the living room and I’ve been hammering that lately. It seems easier than I remember and I’ve hit a few 140’s but no 180’s yet. I don’t think Phil Taylor will be getting worried but I’ll keep practising anyway, hehe 🙂

On Thursday I took the Linksys router down to LEAF for Jelly Liverpool and created a new wireless network upstairs. It all went suspiciously smoothly and I had it hooked up in 10 minutes. People used the new network throughout the day and said they found it better. There was another Ignite event in the evening and we continued to use the wireless for that. It held up to the volume of users nicely. All in all I’m pleased with it. Though I’d still like to do some more tweaking.

Last weekend I hit the road for Manchester and Barcamp Media City at the new BBC base in Salford. That new complex is really fancy and I like it but the security was a bit over the top. You had to have photo ID, go through a scanner and you couldn’t really come and go without a lot of hassle. As I entered this glass tube scanner thing to get into the building the alarms went off and I was left stuck in there. Like an over-sized test tube. A red light was flashing and I thought “Well this is it Dan, your time is up”. I was just waiting for the floor to open up and dump me into a shark infested tank below. Thankfully none of that happened but the guard on the other side made no attempt to help me out. He just looked at me. Eventually the guard on the side I’d entered from let me back out into reception. I thought perhaps the laptop in my rucksack was a problem but he remarked “It thinks you’re two people”. I thought “you cheeky git, I’m not that fat” but didn’t say it out loud. It turned out it was the ruck sack on my back. When I carried it through in front of me it was fine. I tell you what though, I’ve been through airports with less security. I saw the Blackpool LUG guys upstairs, lots of friends from Liverpool and also JonTheNiceGuy. I watched a few talks, chatted and generally had a good time. After all this drama I hopped in the car and headed to Ormskirk with the help of Google Navigation on my phone. I went to see my friend Sarah’s choir doing a gig in a church hall and it was a lot of fun. The theme for the second half of the concert was ABBA and they’d all dressed up in appropriate 70’s gear. Top stuff.

On Sunday I rehearsed with the band again and also prepared Rathole Radio. I broadcast the show and released the podcast on Tuesday. You can download Rathole Radio 61 right now. Please do so and pass it on to friends if you like it. I’m trying to build up the audience a bit and I’m also going to revamp the website with the help of my friend Anna. The podcasting has continued apace this week with live Linux Outlaws on Monday night. At the time of writing that hasn’t been released but Fab is working hard on it. I also did another FLOSS Weekly with Randal last night. We interviewed Jonathan Ellis about Cassandra, a key/value data store which was originally developed at Facebook and now runs behind many massive websites. You can download that now as FLOSS Weekly 183.

That just about covers it for now. I’ve condensed a lot of this stuff down and left bits out, but that’s all the juicy bits I promise.

Upcoming:

This weekend I’ll be hitting Coventry for PyConUK, a conference for Python developers. I was asked to speak after dinner on Saturday and also play live music which should be fun. I’m taking the guitar. A few tickets are still available but it’s very short notice now. If you can make it and would like to join us please do. There’s an Eventbrite page to sign up. It’s 120 pounds for a normal 2 day ticket or 75 pounds with concession, so that’s worth bearing in mind. There’ll be another FAIF to edit at the weekend and then more Linux Outlaws next Monday. Not to mention Jelly at LEAF on Thursday and more Rathole Radio a week on Sunday. So there’ll be plenty to report back on. I hope to do that very soon.

In the meantime take care of yourselves out there.

Dan

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