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BarCamp San Francisco - Day 2 (barcampsf)

8am wake up. Concrete is bad for good sleep.

The concrete flooring here at the Microsoft office was certainly not the most comfortable. I woke up a number of times to adjust position. Oh well, I got sleep. It's not quite BarCamp if I don't sleep over, right? ;)

I held 4 sessions today, wow! Here goes for a summary of them:

In keeping with tradition, I gave an introductory presentation on AJAX. There was good attendance, and as in NYC there were still a great number of people who came to BarCamp but don't have huge clue about what some of these technologies actually are. I'm always glad to spread the clue. I also held a discussion about productivity software. During the productivity session, someone introduced me to ActiveWords. I watched some of the demo videos and I was left fairly impressed with the capabilities. Check it out for yourself if you run Windows, it's quite cool. Later today I was approached by a man who introduced himself as "Buzz" asking if I'm the guy with the pajamas. Turns out, this is Buzz Bruggeman, big whig man at ActiveWords Systems, Inc. Neat! He sat me down and showed me all of the cool things he does with ActiveWords. As a result, I found out about some new productivity software, and for that I consider the productivity session a huge success, personally.

ActiveWords is super cool. It addresses one of my bigger issues with computer interaction: Impulse-driven use is nearly impossible. Let me explain. Everyone has impulses during workflow. For instance, "I want to bring up gmail" - simple, right? First I've got to find firefox in the taskbar, bring it up, assuming I can find the particular firefox window I need. Then I have to hunt through a series of tabs which may or may not have useful information in the icon and titles. Hopefully I eventually find it, right? Quickly? Probably not. Why can't I just say "bring up gmail" and have it happen just like I described, but without the need for any extra effort on my part? You can't, though. ActiveWords attempts to address that. I was relieved with the ease by which it seemed you can do all of this impulse-driven work flow with ActiveWords.

Buzz is certainly a good salesman, I was sold after a few minutes. While I may not buy it, because my work environment is unix, I'm happy to plug it. I'm installing it as I'm writing this, so I'll review it shortly. Meanwhile, back to BarCamp SanFrancisco!

Where was I? It's about 11:30pm. There's a physician blogger sitting down the hall who many people are polling about funky medical questions and such.

Sessions, right. After the AJAX and productivity sessions, I mingled with many of the fine folks here at BarCamp. I think Chris Messina put it best when he described BarCamp as putting the hallway-type conversations in the spotlight. That is, conversations people have outside of the scope of work and deadlines and whatnot. Those are the best conversations anyway, right?

The next session I held was a firewall bypass session, mostly covering the use of SSH to tunnel traffic (for fun and profit?). Those in attendance seemed to think it was cool, so success there. I'll post notes to the BarCamp wiki later.

The next session I helped orchestrate was the "BarCamp Network Kit" project. The impetus for this session was due to random networking issues plagueing the network this morning and through the early afternon. I rememebered how BarCampNYC had lots of slow network issues, so I put up a session to discuss a potential "BarCamp Network In A Box" project. There were a good deal of strong network/sysadmin people here, The results of our discussion can be found With luck and lots of collaboration, and assuming someone steps up for organizing a BarCampEarth event in the bay area, perhaps the network kit can be demonstrated then?

[2 hours later...] I took a break from writing and went with some folks to a bar in North Beach(?). Something around 20th and Mission. Car bombs, talking about work, talking about other interests, and further alcohol consumption. Good times.

So it's not 3AM, and I'm exhausted from today's activities. Tonight is much better than the last, as many people are still awake. Two (swedish?) folks are working on getting some WordPress thing running, others are discussing politics and technology. I've been doing some ad-hoc sysadmin help for a folks that have been fighting the typical LAMP stuff just to get some form of blog or website online. It really ought to be easier to get a website up, eh? One particular instance was Debian running Apache2. I'm used to Apache2 built from source, but Debian makes *lots* of changes downstream before packages get to users. Why? Is it too much to ask for a bit of consistency?

There's been some interest in both my vim and unix seminars, so I'll probably do both tomorrow. Anyway, it's getting to be quite the naptime. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's events.