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BarCamp San Francisco, Day 3

If you're reading this and were at BarCamp San Francisco, I was the guy wearing pajamas throughout the event. Shoot me an email, let's keep in touch.

I'd been meaning to write a general summary of the kinds of technologies prevalent at this BarCamp, so here it is: The typical "Web 2.0" demos and discussions were present, aswell as political and legal discussions. Lots of Drupal fans were also here; I keep hearing more and more about Drupal as time goes on. This BarCamp seemed to have a greater focus on mobile technology and microformats. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to finding time to attend the mobile technology sessions. Along with that were a large number of microformats-oriented sessions, which were cool. A few of the technorati guys were here and were big pushers of microformats. There was also a great deal of schwag to be had. I picked up a few T-shirts, a mug, some stickers, etc.

The last day (sad!) of BarCamp was today. The numbers have dwindled somewhat as folks went home never to return. I attended a lightning talk on S5 and a very cool introduction to Microsoft's Atlas framework. I was hoping to see a whole track dedicated to lightning talks (aka speed geeking?). I'm sad to go, but I'm bound to go to more BarCamps after this one, my second barcamp.

S5 is a simple web-based presentation software. It has features that make me say "Hey, I want that in my presentation software!" It's standards compliant and uses microformats. It's a very neat, simple, easy, and new-tech presentation technology.

Atlas is the first framework I've been exposed to that incorporates client and server code generation and interaction. It's cool to see how you can expose C# functions to websites via ASP and JavaScript. I'm certain other frameworks exist to do similar things, but I'm not in the market for it so I don't know about them. Cool presentation.

I gave my Unix and Vim presentations today, which was sort of the impetus for the S5 presentation, so that others (including me) could learn about S5 and it's coolness. My future presentations will likely be using S5, now that it's matured. I'm told lots of extremely useful features are in testing and should be released soon.

So much for not my worry of not having anything to present on, eh? 6 sessions of various kinds, and I attended many more. I'm flat-out exhausted, but I can't stop thinking about the weekend.

It's more than just the sessions that make BarCamp worth it to me. New technologies are really cool to see. Everyone like demos, right? My favorite part about BarCamp is meeting the people. Camps and conferences like BarCamp create such a useful avenue to talk to fellow geeks, business folk, lawyers, and whoever else attends. The greater portion of last night was spent talking about lots of random socio-political geek stuff. Talking to industry and non-industry people about where they think the mad train of technology is headed. Everyone seems to be willing to talk to everyone else. That's my kind of town.

A super mega huge thanks to Microsoft for hosting, all of the great sponsors (coffee!), and everyone who helped make this event a huge success. Who knows? Maybe large corporations will see this event at Microsoft's office as a sign that they, too, can host a BarCamp, or sponsor another BarCamp-style event.

BarCampEarth is coming in 2 months. I haven't seen anything about a bay area camp for BarCampEarth. Maybe if I find some time and others to help plan, perhaps we'll have a BarCamp in the area for BarCampEarth?

For now, it's back to the Real World. Riding BART back has actually provided me a great opportunity for writing and reflecting about the event and the weekend. Double-plus for rapid transit!

In closing: S5, Atlas, AJAX is still in, microformats, *Camp Network Kit, social geekery, and beer.

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.

BarCamp SanFrancisco, Day 1 (barcampsf)

Lots of people are here. The venue is huge compared to BarCamp NYC's venue, which is great considering the number of people in attendance.

The People: There are quite a few people I know here, which is surprising considering I've only been in the area for 3 weeks. Some BarCamp NYC attendees, coworkers, and a friend from Yahoo, so far. I initially started helping with sign-in so I met lots of folks at the door. Later time was spent wandering around and chatting about various interests. Meeting new folks is definitely still not my forte, but I seem to be doing decently. The two folks I know from BarCamp NYC recognized me by my pajamas. I tried to find a photo of said event with my pajamas featured but Flickr doesn't seem to let you search by comments. At any rate, there's a lot of people in attendance so the next two days should be quite fun. There's a few VCs here, marketing and other types. On the whole, there's mostly geeks. The type of geek ranges from high-up engineers to self-employed consultants to I-just-do-this-in-my-free-time hackers.

The Venue: Microsoft is this camp's host. The office is very large and has a number of conference rooms. There are 8 presentation areas setup for this camp. That's probably more than is necessary, but more is always better than less. It's ironic considering the location and the openness of the event. That is, how the common view of Microsoft is of an evil megacorp, while it is the host to an incredibly successful open-style conference. Thanks for the venue, Microsoft!

Between final exams, moving, situating with a new job at Google, etc, I haven't had any time to work on new projects. Therefore, I don't really have anything to present on. However, I'm considering having a BoF-type session where we share ideas on computing productivity. I'm always finding irritating barriers in software that have solutions available but I don't know about them and don't seem to find them while searching. We'll see.

Common interests seem to be Flock, Drupal, social networking, etc. Seems like a similar set of interests and people as at BarCamp NYC. Have the last 5 months sat idle amongst the "new software technology" community? I can't tell, but I'm sure I'll find out tomorrow. Either way, I'm looking forward to the presentations.

I'll poll tomorrow for feedback on what I probably should present on, but current ideas are: anti-hype presentation discussing AJAX (what it is, what it's not? where it may be going) or general productivity to find/share what people use to make computing use easier.

BarCamp SanFrancisco starts tonight

I attended BarCamp NYC back in January, and it was awesome. Now that I'm in the Bay Area, I'm going to attend BarCamp San Francisco, which starts tonight.

I'll post more about the conference as it progresses.