barcamp Blackpool 2012 Debrief Goodies!

‘Twas a fine cool clear day and ideal for a:

barcamp Blackpool 2012

Rather than a whimsical seaside story, here’s a brief rundown of various bits that I noticed. Those wanting the thousands of words, please skip down to the pretty pictures šŸ™‚ Others have also posted their various other pictures/videos.

This year the barcamp had new organisers with Les and Lally and a new venue at the Norbreck Castle Hotel (Britannia Hotels). And it all worked very well and with great informative interesting fun all round. Les has given a brief mention in Linux Format LXF165, page 14. Lally has her organiser’s writeup also.

Simply, it all worked rather well and was a very good expanded follow-on from the great events from previous years. The new venue is much better accommodating for larger numbers of people. The hospitality was good. Someone even kindly did a quick runner around the corner to get supplies of coffee to keep the geeks geekie. About the only addition possible would be a barrel of real ale for the bar šŸ˜‰ Also, geek up a bluetooth registration to go all paperless?

(Some of) The Sessions:

This a brief-ish summary of what I remember from the day…

Global Warming/Heating – The Big One!

I kicked off one of the first sessions appropriately in “The Big One” with a brief summary of Global Warming, but importantly with a straw poll of what the audience thought from what they had seen and heard for themselves. I find it utterly amazing for the unbelievable level of FUD and confusion that has been spread by lobbyists, conspiracy websites, and sensationalist media reporting. No wonder most people are completely befuddled beyond caring. Unfortunately, the audience response confirmed that befuddlement, despite any/all evidence that it really is we ourselves that are significantly and ever more quickly industrially polluting our planet into a very different and most likely a very unfavorable climate.

A few links to try:

Unfortunately, all the environmental consequences look to steer us away from the thousands of years of benign climate and weather that have helpfully combined to allow the human race to flourish to where we are now… So why now spoil the party?

Future of Broadcast + IPTV, Perceptive Media

This was a live demonstration of an interesting twist being explored for broadcast radio and similar broadcast media. Rather than have (expensive, small audience) local radio and local TV, instead have the one broadcast that is then customized depending upon the receiver/audience locality… An analogy given is that of telling a campfire story. You have the one well known well spun story, but the telling is different depending upon the audience and the ambiance and the audience response. A good story teller is sensitive to that and changes the way the story is told to best fit the particular audience at that time.

In the web example demonstrated, the lift/elevator voice is a speech synthesizer running in the host web browser. The programmed responses are modified by the detected location of the web browser so as to include familiar references such as the current weather outside, nearest shopping centre, landmarks, and so on, to give a ‘local feel’ to the exchange. (The cynical may be rightly suspicious of Marketing subverting that for product placement…)

Try it out on Breaking Out and give feedback. See further details on:

Concrete5 CMS – Easy to use, Made by Geeks

This was a rapid-fire live demo of concrete5 CMS.

The main aspects of note are the very tidy html/css/php coding and WYSIWYG in-context editing to edit website content directly on the page that you are viewing. There is also a form of versioning so that changed content is only visible to the person doing the editing until the modified page is released.

Very neat, and a refreshingly different and intuitive way of working compared to various other CMS website frameworks.

Geek Fit / Hit People With Swords!

Dancing with long pointy bits? Whatever, good blurry moves and great chaotic fun!

Stitching Electronics Demo

There were various examples shown of flashing LEDs stitched into clothing and fabrics.

There is very flexible conductive thread available to stitch the volts together. All is supposedly washable. And all good fun, but rather clunky for the size of the control boards/units and batteries.

Still waiting for the truly flexible wearable tech!…

Instruments of Time Through The Science Museum (A Short Sample of Time!)

Here I gave a tour through time and time pieces as shown in the Science Museum through to where we are now in time. All that ofcourse is but a mere briefest moment fleetingly past in the vast time of our universe. Causality and a few effects and synchronization and consequences were rushed over until I ran out of time.

After all that, the best that can be said of time is:

  • Time is that measured by clocks;
  • Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

We now have clocks that are more precise than the heavens. However, what more can we say about time?

Working With Arduino AVR

Usual good and well established Arduino fun made all the more fun with the following talk:

@Shrimping It With Ā£1.40 in 10 Minutes

This is quite a beautiful knock-out minimal cost response to the interest in the much more elaborate Raspberry Pi. Instead go Shrimping It! Not quite an ‘Arduino‘, but it has the same programming and is very capable at minimal cost.

A Free (Libre) Software Network Infrastructure

An interesting aim long long overdue in the world of FLOSS and GNU/Linux systems: To put together a FLOSS network suit/framework that integrates the present separate networking tools and packages to create a cohesive ‘one’ network system to give a ‘single point’ comprehensive network administration and a single sign-on for users.

Why should proprietary vendors be the only ones to dumb down ease network administration and network user authentication/sign-on?…

Huge enthusiasm there but that is also a large task to put together a networking unified user interface…

Code a Better Country

Give that man a gold star for excellence beyond the call of duty! Fabulous enthusiasm flying in the face of bureaucracy to do some real teaching for IT to children.

The presentation by @teknoteacher gave a tour of various groups and events encouraging children to try real computing. Check out his blog. He also has some fame in The Guardian:

How did we ever allow school IT teaching to become so painfully stagnant for so painfully long?…

Crowd Source My Dissertation

A room full of ideas in true FLOSS style to brainstorm options for a dissertation.

Next problem: The poor victim has to coalesce the mind map and ideas dump into some real writing of research, critical thought, and clear writing!


And lots of cake and biscuits! Yum! šŸ™‚

HTML5 on the Raspberry Pi

A blazingly fast implementation of a subset of HTML5 features was demoed on a Raspberry Pi, very much in real time! There is good performance to be had out of even modest hardware.

Really Really Useful Tools For The Windows IT Pro

Err… Anything more than Textpad, Wordpad, DOS prompt, Ultimate Boot, and err… Use a Linux LiveCD/USB for recovery?…

How Computing Drove The Music Industry

A very good and entertaining talk from someone very much involved in the music scene and immersed in the introduction of the emerging computer tech into the world of pop music. Amazing what was done with such ‘primitive’ hardware!

Beer, Food, Entertainment

OK… So the best bet was to go with the lager, but the food was good and the entertainment was LOUD!

We were also treated to a fun session by the retro gaming couple and saw/heard the delight of loading up an old ZX Spectrum from the audio output from a modern day iPhone from a downloaded iTunes copy of an old program tape cassette! And it worked first time!!! Phew!

The Pictures

And a few pictures from the day:

Various other Pictures and Videos for Barcamp Blackpool 2012


5 comments to barcamp Blackpool 2012 Debrief Goodies!

  • Martin L

    One group mentioned in one of the talks that were highly instrumental in the emergence of “electronic music” have now become an art form!

    And following on from my talk in The Big One, unfortunately the world spanning debacle procrastinates further…

    Kraftwerk to play shows in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall

    German electro pioneers Kraftwerk are to play eight shows at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in February.

    Kraftwerk: The Catalogue will see the group play eight of their studio albums in full – one every night, in order of release.

    The Tate described the shows as a “chronological exploration of the group’s sonic and visual experiments” and promised “spectacular 3D effects”.

    Appropriately for the venue, the band’s name translates as “power station”…

    Climate talks: UN forum extends Kyoto Protocol to 2020

    UN climate talks in Doha have closed with a historic shift in principle but few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases. …

    … they condemned the gulf between the science of climate change and political attempts to tackle it. …

    • Martin L

      Predictably, overenthusiastic demand for the old-tech has brought down the new tech…

      Kraftwerk gig breaks Tate website

      Kraftwerk fans have brought the Tate Modern’s website to a standstill after a rush to buy tickets…

      Meanwhile, world industrial CO2 pollution and fallout continues as the political procrastination continues:

      The Doha climate talks were a start, but 2015 will be the moment of truth

      It is almost a ritual now for UN climate change negotiations to reach the brink of collapse before a nail-biting, past-the-deadline compromise is achieved. But the tortuous conclusion to this year’s talks in Doha, Qatar, only sets the stage for a much bigger drama three years hence, in 2015…

      … The fact is, the current situation is already a failure: global emissions are rising, and on present trends 2C will be out of reach in less than a decade. The only hope of reversing this is if countries are forced into doing more by the pressure of an international “moment”. …

      … climate change needs to become again a moral crusade. Global warming is a theft of the future from the children of today: anger and emotion must galvanise public concern. …

      Doha showed that only domestic policy can drive international co-operation

      With the Doha summit now concluded, with only very modest achievement, there is growing consensus that a faster response to climate change is desperately needed. This is especially so when the science and physical impacts of global warming are telling us that the urgency to act is increasing. …

      • Martin L

        And they’re bleep, bleep, beep, flash away: Kraftwerk kick off Tate Modern retrospective

        German electro pioneers, Kraftwerk have played the first of their eagerly-anticipated series of eight shows at the Tate Modern.

        The quartet played their 1974 number one album, Autobahn, to 1,250 fans in the gallery’s Turbine Hall.

        The retrospective, dubbed The Catalogue, is described as a “chronological exploration” of the reclusive group’s “sonic experiments”. …

        … Fans described the performance of music and 3D visuals as “mesmerising”, “stunning” and “living up to the hype”…

        … Their pioneering music reflected upon the relationship between humans and technology, and their experiments with tapes and synthesizers later became predominant elements of pop music. They are credited as influences on everything from hip-hop to chill-out via drum and bass and house. …

  • Martin L

    Beer, Food, Entertainment

    … We were also treated to a fun session by the retro gaming couple and saw/heard the delight of loading up an old ZX Spectrum from the audio output from a modern day iPhone from a downloaded iTunes copy of an old program tape cassette! And it worked first time!!! Phew!

    A little behind the times, The Register has randomly stumbled across that little bit of retro-phenomena:

    ZX Spectrum cassette player lost? There’s an app for that

    Retro gone screechingly mad

    Those with a working ZX Spectrum in their cupboards but lacking a working cassette deck with which to load programs need fret no more: there’s an app for that.

    The app in question, Speccy Tape for iOS, allows users to access the World of Spectrum database of abandonware. Once loaded into an iOS device, it then plays back the virtual tape, complete with eighties vintage analog screeches and the Spectrum’s infamous flickering borders interface.

    The idea is that you run an audio cable from your iOS device to your Spectrum, which translates the screeching into values in RAM. Once done, fire up the application and enjoy some computing at Z80 [CPU MHz] speed!…

    All good fun! šŸ™‚

  • Martin L

    Modding Retro gone modern!? šŸ™‚

    Here’s a fun snippet of some surprising hacking/modding:

    Manic modder: Inside Ben Heck’s world of bonsai computing

    … [Ben Heck] is best known as a “console modder” – an expert in deconstructing classic games consoles, and morphing them into different forms. It is a passion he has cultivated as a hobby for nearly 15 years and stemmed from a fascination with computer gaming, growing up in Wisconsin.

    More used to the circuit of the American maker scene, he has made a trip to hackers’ camping festival Electromagnetic Field in Bletchley, just north of London, to connect with fellow British computing enthusiasts. To appease the Brits, he has brought not a converted XBox, or Atari – two of his signature hacks – but Sir Clive Sinclair’s 1980s ZX Spectrum…

    … A tablet instead of a music cassette player can be plugged in to the computer to load games, though still using an audio lead.

    “Ironically the tablet is around 2,000 times faster than the Spectrum,” muses Heck. “2GHz quadcore versus 3.5Mhz in the Z80.”

    There is the familiar, tense wait for the game to load…

    Shouldn’t that read about 8000 times faster? Or even x32000 for the number of bytes processed for also going from 8 bits to 32 bits?…

    All good retro-modern modding excellent fun šŸ™‚

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