Hello everyone and greetings from a ridiculously hot Liverpool. It’s almost October and for some reason the weather just got really hot here for a few days. Maybe Al Gore was onto something after all, apart from his private jet, who knows. It’s nice though and the influx of new students in town certainly seem to be enjoying it. The volume levels around my flat have gone up lately. I live in the University area so it’s been late night parties and loud music for a couple of weeks. I don’t mind it actually, it makes me feel young. They’ll run out money soon and calm down probably. Anyway, there’s lots to reflect on, so let’s do that…
I’ll begin with Friday September 23rd. I loaded my guitar and other bits into the car then set off for Coventry. I think I chose a bad time to leave as I hit the road at 4pm on a Friday afternoon. It took me almost an hour just to get onto the motorway and fight through Liverpool traffic jams. Once I hit the motorway though it was pretty smooth sailing all the way to Coventry. Google Maps got me to the hotel and I made good time, arriving about 7pm. I’d been asked to speak and perform music at PyConUK. The annual meet up for UK Python developers which is partly organised by my friend John Pinner of The Linux Emporium. He’d asked me to do an after dinner speech and also suggested I bring the guitar. I really wasn’t sure what wisdom (if any) I could impart to a group of people as clever as this, but I’m always up for a challenge. I checked into the hotel and actually bumped into John in reception. He was looking for Allison Randal who’d flown over from the US and was giving the opening keynote. I know Allison through Linux Outlaws and I said I’d find her and get her to the party. I rang her hotel room, tried sending some messages online but pretty much failed in that mission I’m afraid. John phoned to tell me Allison was already at the party so it was panic averted anyway. I joined the rest of the conference attendees at the bar nearby. As I walked in I wondered how many people I’d know there and bumped straight into my friend Ross Jones from the DoES Liverpool office. He’s an accomplished Python developer and I shouldn’t have been surprised he was there really. It was just funny that we’d both made our separate ways from Liverpool. The party was great fun and we had a curry on the way back to the hotel. My stomach regretted that slightly the next day but it was fun at the time.
On Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed to get breakfast at the hotel, then made my way over to the conference venue next door to discover there was already breakfast laid on there. Never mind. I joined the large registration queue and chatted to people. I’ll skip along a little bit or we’ll be here all day. The sessions on Saturday were very interesting, I joined the scraping BOF and contributed a few comments. I enjoyed John’s opening speech and also got to catch up with Allison a little better at lunch. That was good. We talked about all kinds of things but I mostly remember going on to her about obscure British comedy programmes for a while. That does sound like me. She humoured me and we also discussed techy stuff with Ross and others. I lent Allison the power cable from my spare laptop for the afternoon as hers was stuck on stage from the opening keynote. After the lightning talks I headed back to the hotel a little early, collected the guitar and made my way back to the evening event. I had to get set up to play music and talk after dinner. I was sat with Laura Creighton who develops Py Py, John Pinner and his wife Sheila. We had a lovely dinner and discussed some pretty in-depth political and social matters. After that John introduced me and I addressed the crowd. I started by explaining who I was as I was sure most of them had no clue and talked for a short time before admitting that I was going to cheat and just sing instead. I sang for about 40mins and some of the crowd really liked it, the rest carried on talking after I gave them permission. I knew a lot of them weren’t really there to see me so I just said “you can talk if you like, it’s ok”. They hadn’t up until that point and were a very polite audience. I wasn’t sure what to make of the gig but John seemed pleased and he said other people had made good remarks to him. With my duties done I could finally relax. We all made our way to the Whitefryers Pub down the road. The building which houses the pub has been there for over 500 years and it was quite impressive. One of the few things to survive the extended bombing of Coventry during WWII.
I really enjoyed chatting with all the other conference attendees in the pub and we were still there at 2am. I thought we’d inadvertently found out way into a lock in, but sadly not. The bar staff did give us a load of free drinks though. I discovered that night that I’m the kind of man who will drink a cup of ra ndom blue shit if it’s handed to him free. It’s good to know these things about yourself. I think it was probably blue After Shock but I really have no idea. I got a kebab with Ross and Ian from ScraperWiki on the way home. It’s been a long time since I had a kebab but I really enjoyed it. Despite all this late night activity I felt surprisingly good on Sunday morning and made it to the first session on time. I watched some interesting talks, got involved a little and then headed off for lunch downstairs. During lunch John asked if I would join a panel to answer audience questions in the next session. I agreed of course but it did feel strange as I sat on stage with 4 highly accomplished developers, including Laura Creighton and Allison Randal. Some of the questions were highly technical Python things and flew over my head. I like Python, I’ve used it a fair bit, but a “Python expert” is not what I would call myself. Especially in this company. Nevertheless it was good fun and we did get into some other topics. Someone asked about Palestine and seeing my opportunity to finally answer a question properly I waded in on the issue. The crowd were very nice and if I took one thing from this whole experience it was a renewed belief that Python people are some of the kindest, smartest and loveliest folks you could ever hope to meet. I don’t wish to upset anyone who consideres themselves part of another language community, like Perl or Ruby. I’m sure you’re fine people too, I just don’t know you as well yet.
I recorded a couple of interviews and then hit the road back to Liverpool with my music cranked up loud. It was Pearl Jam, the redux edition of Ten in this case. I was pretty worn out when I arrived back and dragged myself in. But I still found time to install Django on a couple of my computers before bed. My experience at PyConUK made me determined to get back into Python development more seriously again. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve joined some of the mailing lists and I hope to give something back if I can.
On Monday I reconnected all the studio bits I’d taken to use on the road. I also prepared the email and other things for a live Linux Outlaws that night. The show went very well and it was one of the funniest ones in a while. I don’t know if that’s really true but it did feel good. Maybe it’s just because it’s the latest one and I can remember it best. Fab edited that show and it was released later in the week as episode 231. On Wednesday I went over to Wallasey and we did band practice there instead. It was different to play a bit quieter but it probably does us good once in a while. I still haven’t released that new 20lb song I promised but it’s only because I’ve been too busy. It is on the way, honest. I also fixed up a website for my Mum and caught up on other things. I got an invite to a press event at fact the next day for the launch of the Abandon Normal Devices Festival and took it up. I headed to FACT on Thursday morning for free coffee and a trip round some of the exhibits. You can’t complain at that now can you? I also went to the opening event at The Black-E, a venue I know well from OggCamp last year. I saw some more stuff at FACT and hung out at the Static Gallery with friend and cohort Neil Morrin of Defnet Media. We ended up round the corner at The Grapes by the end of the night. On Friday it was my turn to host AMPed, the weekly round up show from the Association Of Music Podcasting. I’ve been an AMP member for a while now and I enjoy hosting the show when I get a chance. I put it all together on Friday night and it consists of tracks submitted by other member shows. You can download AMPed 303 right now and I recommend it. You’d expect me to, I made it.
Over the past weekend I was at LEAF for AND Festival salon events. Neil and I did video streaming of the three sessions. There was some hassle getting set up but it went well in the end. Band practice was cancelled on Sunday and it was probably a good thing as I was knackered by then. I love playing with the band and would choose to do it over most other things I can think of. I’d just spent too much energy working on other stuff. It did afford me more time to prepare for live Rathole Radio that evening which I needed. I got everything set up and started almost bang on time. I hope I can extend this run in future. The show went smoothly and people told me they enjoyed listening so that’s the main thing. I’ll be releasing the podcast tomorrow and I’ll write about that next week. Keep an eye on the RatholeRadio.org site or better yet subscribe to the feed and get the show delivered.
That just about covers it for now. Let’s move onto upcoming items.
There’ll be another live Linux Outlaws tomorrow night. We moved back a day this week but we’ll be back on air pumping out the Linux news and laughs from the usual time of 7pm UK (October 4th). On Wednesday I’ll be hosting FLOSS Weekly as Randal is away. I’ve booked my friend and fellow Liverpudlian Francis Irving to talk to us about ScraperWiki. Simon Phipps will also be joining us and it should be great fun. You’ll be able to watch that live at 5:30pm UK time on Wednesday October 5th. After that it’s Liverpool LUG as usual at the Liverpool Social Centre and we’ll be in LEAF afterwards for drinks. On Thursday I’ll be back in LEAF again for another Jelly Liverpool co-working event. So if you’re in the area call in and say hello. There may be other stuff to report and I’ll try to do so in a timely fashion. Until then, take care out there and be lucky 🙂