Oggcamp 2011

Casting aside my fears of writing 'just another blog post about Oggcamp' in this post I'll give my thoughts on what was my first Oggcamp.

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What is Oggcamp?

For the uninitiated Oggcamp is an unconference/barcamp organised jointly by the presenters of the Ubuntu UK Podcast and Linux Outlaws. It encompasses a wide range of topics but mainly related to open source software / hardware and open culture more generally. In its third year this year and held in the small town of Farnham in Surrey.

Atmosphere

Normally the conference events I attend are traditional web development conferences which are semi formal events with fixed schedules and employer funded attendees, this was my first unconference. I found the atmosphere very refreshing, there were less cliques and evything was much more friendly than a traditional conference.  Alistair Munro (B1ackcr0w) beat me to summing up the buzz and enthusiasm of the weekend and does it much better than I ever will.

Talks

A crucial part of an unconference, impromptu talks given by attendees on subjects close to their heart. I enjoyed all talks I attended and hope to catch up on one or two more when the videos are released. My personal highlights were:

Image Forensics - FreakyClown

Building on a similar talk from Oggcamp 2010 FreakyClown gave a fast paced and amusing introduction to a couple of techniques used in image forensics including extracting a low resolution uncropped version of a cropped image, use of chromatic aberration to show photoshopped images and most amusingly of all using exif geotags for stalking celebrities. For me this talk took technology I'm familiar with, such as EXIF data, geotags, chromatic aberration and image feature detection and rolled then all together to make a cool image analysis tool.

Software Radio - Gordon Pearce

Despite having an interest in electronics I've never really been into radio (although my first ever kit was a crystal radio when I was about 8) but it was with an open mind that I attended this talk, hoping for a nice mix of cool electronics and software which is pretty much what I got. Gordon went through the basics of software defined radio and did some live analysis of a recorded stream using his custom tool. While it was a little bit of a ramble through the topic I found it engaging interesting and intend to get a simple radio kit and give it a go myself, if only to break the monotony of my usual hardware development efforts centred on arduino.

IPv6 - Can't Remember

As as web developer and sysadmin I've been following the developments in the exhaustion of traditional IPv4 addresses and know that at some point soon I will need to implement IPv6 on my servers and eventually home and work networks. It's also something I understand in principle but I'm still yet to grasp the finer points of the implementation, this talk brought me one step closer towards this and I'm sure after I've heard it a few more times I'll have picked up what I need. It also managed to make a fairly dry topic into an enjoyable talk.

MQTT  - Andy Piper

MQTT is a topic close to my heart, and one I've blogged about quite a few times this was a great talk but (as expected) didn't really teach me a lot new as I've seen most of it before and am quite familiar with the subject, still is was good to see some new people being inspired to try MQTT and also to see my work (a small code sample) used!

Live Show

As always there was a live joint recording of Linux Outlaws / UUPC but for me this was a little bit disappointing and I felt too much time was spent on the rioting of the past weeks in the UK, something which, while serious, has/is being done to death in the rest of the media. However it was still a highlight!

People

A point I glossed over the in initial version of this post as I'd expressed my views on twitter, but for completeness I'll say it again here:

An event like this is nothing without the people you meet and Oggcamp introduced me to a number of people I'd only previously known via twitter and more besides. There was a relaxed inclusive atmosphere without cliques with much opinion, knowledge and experience being shared freely.

Venue

While I managed to decide to get round to going to Oggcamp when it was held in a location significantly further away from home than previously I felt both the town of Farnham and Farnham Maltings did a great job of hosting the event. Also this is the first conference I've ever known the wifi work every time I tried to access it. And it came with a cool cat.

I'll be back...

This was my first Oggcamp and I hope it won't be the last, I met some great people and generally had a great time. If there is an Oggcamp next year then I shall certainly be wanting to attend.