Search this site





BarCamp Stanford in Review

BarCamp Stanford has come and gone. Like prior BarCamp events, it ends with new friends and new knowledge.

This BarCamp was like the others I have attended: different. There were fewer tracks and sessions. The time organization was more ad-hoc than structured. One session set was organized using a method called open space. This camp was special to me in that I met *way* more people this time.


Friday night's BBQ was a fantastic idea. I showed up around 5:45pm and met up with Chris Messina. Shortly after, Nima and others returned with food. More folks flowed in as the evening progressed. The selection of food was quite nice - grilled peppers and pineapples, sausages, salad, and portabellas. It always takes me a little while to warm up to social situations, being whatever I am that makes me shy. As such, I tried to be useful and aided in food preparation. After grabbing a sausage and some grilled peppers for snacking, I floated around aquainting myself with people I haven't met and catching up with folks I knew from previous BarCamp events. Dick Karpinski had lots of interesting things to talk about, as did others. I met some fine folks from Yahoo! and other local companies. Lots of user interface and public policy people were present, aswell, which made for a better BarCamp.

The BBQ closed around 10pm with Todd giving some remarks about the event and calling for those who were sleeping on campus to follow him. I went home for the night.


At Tantek's suggestion, I gave a session loosely titled "Corporate firewall bypass for fun and profit." I covered using PuTTY to encrypt your more general traffic such as web and mail with both local port forwarding and dynamic (SOCKS5) forwarding. I went over how you can bypass even draconian firewalls with simple tunneling over ssh. I also covered why you especially want encrypted traffic on an open wireless network. I finished up with coverage of arp poisoning, nat traversal, and a few other things. Those in attendance seemed pleased with the content. Thanks to those who came!

The next session was on online identity, and how to fix it. I was aware of most of the problems discussed, but hadn't heard of any of the technologies geared towards solutions. Notes can be found on the BarCamp wiki, here. There was lots of good discussion, most of which I don't recall the details of. It was heavily attended.

Lunch time: Stanford's SSP sponsored pizza. Woot!

After lunch, I attended a microformat discussion lead by Tantek Celik. I learned quite a bit more about microformats. Notes from this session can be found here. I'm fairly convinced that microformats are a good thing. The best part about them is that many of the microformat standards are simply microformat implementations of existing standards, such as hCard (a microformat version of vCard).

The next session I attended was on the idea of community. Notes can be found here. I must confess I wasn't paying too much attention, as I was busy doing other things such as hacking on a few random ideas or updating the wiki notes. A short way through the presentation, someone came in and announced that the Busycle had arrived and was open for riders.

I ran downstairs to take a ride. This thing sat about 12 people plus the driver. Everyone had to pedal to get it moving. We also had to synchronize not pedalling when the driver needed to shift gears. It was really fun to ride.

The next session was directed using "open space" - something I hadn't had experience with before. There were very many sessions held at the same time. Everyone split into small groups in different parts of the camp area to have discussions. The discussion I attended was "Best/Worst AJAX UI" - which had very little to cover. It ran mostly with some of us showing demos of cool/crappy applications. One of the guys from Yahoo! showed off their maps and finance interfaces. We also showed Meebo and YouOS as interestingly unique class of applications - these applications don't suffer from the "broken back button" syndrome that many "Web 2.0" (I hate that buzzword) applications often suffer. This is likely due to the desktop-feel of those two applications.

The day closed with a few remarks about where/how the night should progress. We split up into groups and ventured from Stanford into downtown Palo Alto. I ended up at a Thai restaurant. After dinner, we collected at a bar called Blue Chalk. I had a beer, and later left with some folks to go back to the dorms for the night.

I stayed at the dorms until most folks went to sleep. I remembered I had brought no clothes or toothbrush, so I drove home around 1am.


Sunday was super cool. There were a few morning presentations on mashup tools and tricks. Bjorn Hartman gave a presentation on mashup tools. It was cool to see someone mash flickr and hardware together. Kent Brewster gave a demo of SpiffY!Search.

After that, ideas were thrown up for mashpit groups. People broke into a few groups: identity "2.0", Coworking, Decentralized Coworking, flickr slideshow video mashup, technology and politics, and educative systems. I kept to myself and worked on a Selenium mashup of my own.

Notes on my selenium mashup can be found here.

The flickr slideshow movie generator was very cool. The demo allowed you to search flickr for text and generate a video clip of any number of photos, automatically. Certainly faster than manually finding pictures and gluing them together yourself in a video, eh?

The other groups had other interesting presentations, but weren't doing software so had nothing to demo. The coworking group came up with some cool stuff, as did the tech policy group.

At the end of the camp, Silona Bonewald mentioned that I should attend the League of Technical Voters' 48-hour hackathon in October. I've put it on my calendar. Current plan is to attend. </BarCampStanford>

Until next time, BarCampers!