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
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
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 ;)