Happenings: LugRadio Live 2009
By Chris von Eitzen
The H attended this year's LugRadio Live 2009, the last ever*, meeting a wide spectrum of people from the open source community.
This year's LugRadio Live conference, which took place in Wolverhampton on Saturday the 24th of October, may again like last years, be the last. LugRadio Live 2009 was organised by the Wolves LUG, Wolverhampton's own Linux User Group (LUG) and included attendees from locations as far away as Russia and New York - Jono Bacon, one of the LugRadio founders even flew in from San Francisco where he now lives.
LugRadio was a very popular Linux related podcast, so popular that the strong following led to the LugRadio Live events being created, bringing together a wide spectrum of people from the open source community in the UK and around the world. In a step up from LugRadio Live 2008, LugRadio Live 2009 featured a new live Twitter feed projected onto the first of two main screens on the main stage. Attendees that used the hash-tag #lrl2009 during the event would see their posts appear in almost real time. The live feed continued non-stop throughout the day, even during each of the talks, at times leading to a degree of hilarity. A second "Low-tech Twitter" feed was on display on the second floor by stage two. The Low-tech Twitter was comprised of a set of fanfold pages held in place by old dot matrix printer parts that allowed attendees to "tweet" by writing in the available spaces.
While at LugRadio Live The H attended a number of talks and met with people and groups in the exhibition area. This year's exhibition area included, for example, members of the OpenStreetMap project, who were recruiting more volunteers, members of Manchester Free Software and members of the Open Rights Group.
The first talk The H attended on the main stage was a presentation by Brock Craft on tinker.it, a design studio that builds interactive products, spaces and events that "bridge the physical and the digital". Brock discussed the various Arduino open source electronics prototyping models and provided recent examples of his projects using them, such as a Speak & Spell powered by the Maemo-based Nokia N900. Using the keyboard on the Speak & Spell, users could send text messages using the N900's phone functionality.
In a talk titled "Hack the Planet", Martin Meredith, a member of Wolverhampton's LUG, gave a presentation on the world of hacking. Topics included popular misconceptions about hackers, what he believed a hacker really is and how to hack things around you in everyday life. As a demonstration, Meredith brought a stripped down Furby toy modified to allow input from a mobile phone. The phone could be used to make the Furby frame move about and speak. Meredith said that everyone should be interested in how things work and possibly even take them apart to see what else they can do, as long as no one gets hurt in the process.
The H also attended a presentation by Glyn Wintle of the Open Rights Group. The Open Rights Group (ORG) is the UK's leading non-profit digital rights group. Wintle compared the Open Rights Group as the UK's version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the United States which also fights for consumer rights and privacy on the Internet. Wintle discussed past and present campaigns ranging from Phorm and net neutrality, to the new three strikes disconnection plans and knitting patterns. Other current issues that the public need to be concerned about, according to Wintle, include data retention, e-voting systems, digital rights management (DRM), intellectual property and automatic vehicle tracking.
Andy Robinson, also known as "Blackadder", is an active contributor to the OpenStreetMap (OSM) Project and is the current secretary of the OSM Foundation. OpenStreetMap is an open source project run by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, that is building free online maps, not based on any copyright or licensed map data. The OpenStreetMap maps are released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 license.
During his presentation, Robinson demonstrated how easy it was to go out and start mapping using very little equipment. Robinson also gave advice to both novice and experienced mappers. He says that wearing a high-visibility vest, like those worn by construction workers, usually keeps people from asking you questions when you're out mapping. "After all, how many of you would walk up to someone dressed like I am now (wearing his high-visibility vest with "Surveyor" written on the back) and would ask them what they're doing," said Robinson. On the following day LugRadio Live 2009, Robinson and a group of volunteers went out into the eastern part of Wolverhampton to complete some additional mapping of the area.
The last LugRadio Live. Ever.
The live recording, as always, began with the roar of the audience welcoming the four large gents back to the stage. For the live show, Bacon donned a pair of flip-flops and a raccoon costume. The group discussed Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems and how Linux has become somewhat more popular since LugRadio began in 2004. The panel and members of the audience noted the inclusion of Linux in various netbooks and Linux-based mobile devices, such as those powered by Google's Android OS or Maemo.
While at the event, everyone asked if this would indeed be the last ever LugRadio Live. The answer is maybe. The four large gents have said they do not want to organise another event themselves. When asked what the listeners thought about not having another live event, the overwhelming response was that they wanted more. Jono suggested the idea of a community organised event. Another idea is to simply tag along to another event, perhaps OggCamp. While nothing is finalised or confirmed, Jono suggested that those interested in working to organise an event should email email@example.com with their ideas and suggestions. One thing is for certain, if LugRadio Live 2010 happens, we will let you know when any details are confirmed.
In the words of Stuart 'Aq' Langridge, "Maybe, just maybe, we'll see you next year."