Wow, we’re finally here. The 100th Weekly Rewind. It’s been a long road and by my calculations longer than it should have been. If I’d managed an update every single week since starting this series in early 2009 we’d have hit triple figures some months back. But you know what? I firmly believe quality is more important than quantity in all parts of life. Often I’ve just been too busy and it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes. I believe it was John Lennon who said “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”, or words to that effect. Anyway, the last couple of weeks have been interesting and eventful, so let’s talk about them.
We last spoke on Thursday October 15th and I’d like to pick things up from the following weekend. I mentioned that I was heading up to Barcamp Blackpool and I duly did so on the Saturday. I always forget how close Blackpool is to Liverpool really. In my mind it seems far away, possibly due to childhood memories of long car journeys. It’s only about an hour in the car but when you’re a kid that feels like an eternity, there’s only so much entertainment you can glean from the 400th game of I Spy. I arrived just before the event kicked off which is a novelty for me and immediately ran into friend and cohort Les Pounder of Blackpool LUG. I’d taken my Zoom H4 recorder along at his request. He had 2 other audio recorders and we decided to try and cover as many different talks as we could by splitting up. As always there was a great atmosphere and the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Casino is a good location for a Barcamp. For the uninitiated a Barcamp is basically an unscheduled event where people come along and pitch talks or sessions about whatever they want. It tends to be dominated by geeky topics but is by no means restricted to this. There were people making cakes, badges and all kinds. It was great to see Peter Cannon of The Dick Turpin Roadshow there and catch up. He’s a good mate and a top podcaster too. He may be embarrassed by me saying this but the stuff he’s been doing with Matt Copperwaite in the last few months is really good. He brings an interesting (sometimes controversial) perspective to Open Source topics and I think we need that in the community. We caught some talks and hung out with the Blackpool LUG crew in their Ubuntu demo area. At some point Les came over and said “Dan, do you fancy doing a podcast?”. With so many podcasters and generally opinionated people around it made sense. After lunch we spotted that one of the talk areas – known as The Flying Handbag – was free on the schedule board. I talked about all this in my recent post but apparently this area was comically named after a well known Blackpool gay bar. I’d never heard of it but then I don’t go to Blackpool often, I liked the name anyhow. As it turned out someone else was using the space when we arrived and they didn’t look willing to move. We wandered around and finally found a reasonably quiet spot by the gents toilets. Somehow I always end up recording interviews around the toilets at conferences. You have to try and find somewhere quiet and it always seems to end up being in some back corridor, usually by the toilets. At least I’m consistent. So we camped out on the stairs for about 45mins and recorded a great discussion. See the full post to find out more and download the show.
(BC Blackpool photo below by Jez Page)
As I always say with Barcamp events one of the best things for me is meeting and chatting with people outside the FOSS community. I love our community don’t get me wrong, but we can be too insular at times. We have to be able to relate to others and discuss things properly, otherwise we’re going nowhere. Pete had travelled up with a mate of his – also called Dan – who works for Microsoft. You may shudder at that thought but he’s a lovely bloke and he confirmed my view that there are some great people working at MS, even if the actions at board room level leave a lot to be desired. We had a good chat about all kinds of things and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps the company would be better off if they let the decent people there have more influence. I also got to see Jon Spriggs (AKA JonTheNiceGuy) and his growing family. He and his wife have rather wisely named their young son Daniel and it was lovely to see them all doing well. This is rapidly turning into a post solely about Barcamp Blackpool. It is well worthy of it’s own post but I don’t have time for that right now, so let’s press on.
On the following Sunday I did some more practice with my band 20lb Sounds and then headed home to do another live Rathole Radio in the evening. The show went very well and everyone seemed to enjoy joining in. That’s the best part of it for me, seeing people enjoy the music and also each others company. You can grab Rathole Radio 63 right now and hear for yourself.
Keeping with podcasts there was another live Linux Outlaws the following Monday and also the long awaited second episode of Leave Your Hat On with LivLUG cohort Andrew Bates. Fab edited both of those together and released them as the week went on. On Wednesday night I got something to eat with Adrian, Andy and Neil. We also went for a few drinks. Ending up at one of my favourite locations, The Grapes. It was a strange night and my memory is fuzzy but I do remember requesting that the DJ play War by Edwin Starr, then dancing around with the landlord singing “What is it good for?! Absolutely nothing. Say it again y’all!!” hehe
On Thursday it was Jelly at LEAF again and I went down to check that the wifi kit was all working properly. I’ve also been working on some video and audio stuff with them, we hope to use that as promotion for the venue. In keeping with this goal I recorded a great gig there on Saturday night with Neil. The event was run by local promoters Harvest Sun and featured an American band called Other Lives. I hadn’t heard of them before but I was thoroughly impressed. Well worth checking out. All of this recent video activity has made me realise one thing important though, I’m really going to have to build myself a faster studio computer. Openshot has done a great job for me but editing together DV footage from 3 different cameras with a separate audio track requires some real CPU grunt. I don’t think the old AMD processor in there right now is up to it. Hopefully I can get hold of a new motherboard and something like an i5 processor.
Getting back to 20lb business, I released the first new studio recording in quite some time recently. It’s had a really nice response for which I thank everyone. The song is called Rip It Up and you can grab it from our website. We also just wrote another new song in rehearsal that is going to be really good. It’s tentatively titled “Enemies” at the moment but that might change. I’m really proud of the lyrics and I feel like I’m finally getting to grips with writing decent lyrics now. It’s something I’ve always found to be the most difficult part of songwriting but I think age helps, and perhaps the confidence it brings. Our drummer Ross is away in China for a while so I plan to work on other recordings with Gary and hopefully also do some acoustic stuff on my own. I might even do some acoustic videos since life has drawn me in that direction of late.
This Wednesday I appeared on FLOSS Weekly again with Randal. Our guest project was web2py which I didn’t know much about until I researched it. It’s a Python web framework originally developed for academic purposes by Massimo Di Piero and he explained to us how it’s expanded from there. It’s a really good discussion and I encourage you to download the show if you have any interest in web frameworks, Python or even High Energy Physics, which Massimo teaches.
I’ve also been grabbing all kinds of stock video footage from LEAF this week. Yesterday I watched a panel event in the afternoon and nipped back in the evening to catch up with the Craft Creative people. It was interesting stuff and hopefully you’ll be able to see some of the results in the coming fortnight. I’ll keep you posted.
As always there’s a ton of other stuff I could tell you about but time is pressing on us. So let’s leave it there and I’ll endeavour to share more of this video, music and other stuff with you ASAP.
It’s Friday afternoon as I write this and I’m hoping for a slightly quieter weekend. There will be more live Rathole Radio on Sunday night. Plenty more Linux Outlaws and other Sixgun Productions stuff, along with hopefully a chance to install and review the new Ubuntu 11.10. I’ve played with it on other people’s machines but I should really do a meaty review. I’ll let you know about all this when time allows. Until then stay safe, look after yourselves as the cold winter nights draw in and be good. If you can’t be good at least hide the evidence.