Roger Whittaker

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Oggcamp event -- Liverpool

Monday 3rd May 2010

Over the weekend I attended the Oggcamp event at Liverpool, organised by the presenters of the Ubuntu UK Podcast and Linux Outlaws. I was there with a table top full of small green animals, openSUSE disks and the like.

The event was excellent: it was organised on barcamp / unconference lines, but with good forward planning and a strong team of helpers.

Saturday started with an excellent keynote by Simon Phipps. He spoke mostly about digital freedom issues including surveillance, DRM, ACTA and the Digital Economy Bill. He urged people to make election candidates aware of the issues and why they matter.

For most of the time there were talks in more than one track. I attended the following during the rest of Saturday.

Nathan Dumont: It's a Snake. A talk on using Python for sysadmin tasks. He has posted the slides here.

Mark Johnson: a talk on SVG, including using of CSS and javascript with SVG. His presentation is written up here.

A talk on JPEG Forensics by Freakyclown. This was extremely interesting, with examples of how to prove that images have been doctored and how to obtain much more information than you might think possible from the EXIF metadata.

Then there was a panel discussion, with Dan Lynch, Adrian Bradshaw, Brad Pierce, Samantha Baer, Simon Phipps and Chris Proctor. This was followed by a long raffle prize draw with some very worthwhile prizes.

On Sunday I attended the following talks.

Neil Wallace on GUI development, describing mostly how he decided to write his own dental practice software (openMolar) after problems with his supplier. He wrote the software in Python using PyQt4.

Philip Herron on Crules, a new dynamic language that he is working on.

Alan Bell on Vote Geek. Unfortunately I only caught the end of this, but graphics and underlying calculations on the site here are extremely interesting, with all possible outcomes in terms of popular votes illustrated on a triangular plot, with the region corresponding to a hung parliament clearly shown (some parts of that region corresponding to a potential political crisis: e.g. if Labour were to be third in the popular vote but first in number of seats.)

Mark Johnson on Software Patents explained to my Granddad. He used the analogy of what would happen if chess moves were patentable: it was a persuasive analogy at first sight but possibly broke down slightly under discussion afterwards.

Lorna Jane Mitchell on Subversion versus distributed version control systems.

Andy Stafford-Clark's MQTT workshop followed by his talk on The Twittering House, about the home automation and energy monitoring systems that he has set up so that he can monitor and control his house through the web, twitter and text messages. His work has been quite widely covered by the media. Particularly interesting and amusing were the stories of the mousetraps that report when they have caught a mouse, and the twitter feed that he set up to monitor the movement of the ferry that he takes to go to work (the ferry company ignored him when he tried to tell them about it but later embedded it in their web page without telling him, at which point he got their attention by playing an April fool on them).

Julian Todd on The Democracy supply chain talking about some of the excellent work done by MySociety and related organisations, mentioning amongst other things the freedom of information request for a copy of the government spending COINS database, and the Where Does MY Money Go website.

There are some photos here.