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Dublin and MashupCamp 2007 Europe

I spent slightly over a week in Ireland. The weekdays were spent with fellow Googlers at the office, and the weekend was spent at Mashup Camp.

The week was pretty great. I went on the viking splash tour of Dublin. The tour was anything other than informative, and despite that it was a really fun time. The guide mixed facts about historical Dublin with jokes about the shops, area, and Bono (of U2). The difference between the viking splash and other tours was that we wore viking hats, screamed at people on the street, and ended the tour with a ride through one of the canals. The canal ride was made possible because of the busses used in the tour, which were amphibious vehicles from WWII. The Google folks I've met here in Dublin are excellent.

The most recent weekend was Mashup Camp Europe, held in Dublin at the Guinness Store house. The format was a conference/unconference hybrid.

The first day, Saturday, was filled with many presentations about mashup-enabling tools. There was only one track due to the small size of the event.

I must admit I felt drowned in the IBM talks. There were 3 talks on IBM's fancy new mashup-enabling tool, all of which basically restated the same things in nearly the same way. Three hours of the same tool demo doesn't really make for much educational value. I absolutely appreciate IBM helping to sponsor the event, but seriously, there needs to be more content!

Someone from Microsoft Ireland gave a talk and demo about Popfly, which was pretty cool. Both the presentation of and product felt very UnMicrosoft - the inteface was very interactive, animated, and helpful; the presentation and presenter were somewhat modern and informative. I was expecting something with the burdens and weight of an Office product, but I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing I was left questioning was the target of Popfly, which seems to be nontechnical, end users who seem to be the expected target users of this system. I'm not wise to the marketing and demographic data, so I may be wrong in thinking targeting end users is a bad move. Let's hope not: if end users start mashing up content in new and wonderful ways, that'd be great!

I met up with Chad Dickerson from Yahoo!, who I'd met at Yahoo! Hack Day last year, in addition to meeting a dozen or so new folks. I'm a little surprised he remembered me, but I'm always happy to leave an impression upon people. One of the benefits of being at a technical event thousands of miles from home is that you tend to mingle with a set of people who are far outside the set of people who attend bay area tehnical events. Meeting new people is great :)

Half-way through Saturday, I found myself picking up parts of the Irish accent, which was a bit strange and I had to struggle not to lean towards the local accent and language. Lost cause, really.

After boozing with lots of fellow mashup campers at a few bars, I followed Chad and Tom (both of Yahoo!) around the Temple Bar district as they filmed locals asking questions such as "What is a mashup?" The drunk answers to these questions were fantastic.

I walked myself home after acquiring a map of the area.

I arrived on the second day of mashup camp around 11AM (local dublin time). Basically, this was just in time for lunch. I caught the end of a presentation by Serena, which unlike, drowning in IBMs presentations, did not make me nauseous. There was an 8-minute video-keynote recorded by Tim Berners Lee about his recent projects. I'd never seen Tim before and he reminded me much of Kevin Spacey. Then there was lunch, where a met a few more folks. Lunch concluded with a keynote by Chad (mentioned previously) about Yahoo! developer tools and a few other topics.

After Chad's talk was the start of the Mashup Camp open space sessions. I was the first to sign up for a session, which I intended on being a "look at this neat thing" session. I merged my slot with another camper who wanted to talk about scaling.

My talk basically covered Halo 3, Bungie's online player map, and graphing two-dimensional data over time. I played this video. The video was generated using perl, make, Image-Magick, and mencoder. The map images were downloaded with cron, every 15 minutes. I pointed out some interesting data discovered by watching the movie: Someone is playing in Sydney, Japan, New York, London, and a few other places with general coverage 100% of the time. I'll put up the scripts that generated the video soon.

Sunday night started at the Bankers' bar one street south of the Temple Bar district. Someone had volunteered to pay for the food and drinks; a native Irishman put it best, "This is like an Irishman's wet dream!" Free drinks are pretty sweet. I met more people there, too. After the open-bar closed, we wandered towards Temple Bar in search of somewhere with food. After finding many places weren't serving food anymore, we finally settled at some random pub with the kitchen still open. I ordered some chicken thing, but for an appetizer David (the organizer of Mashup Camp) and I split 'black and white pudding' which sounded pretty scary, even when a native described it. Turns out it was just sausages, and they were pretty good.

I leave for the airport in an hour, and I'm quite sad to leave. Thus far, Dublin has been far beyond my expectations. Then again, I've got a fiancee and a dog to come home to, so perhaps leaving isn't so bad after all ;)