Technical Topics in Computing, December 2016

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’ve been missing the chance to hear about cool technical projects people are working on in a depth not possible at a CLUG meeting because of time constraints. I am therefore running a simple weekend meetup in Canberra on Saturday 3 December and Sunday 4 December.

The Saturday of the event will be organised talks, with the goal of the talks being to inspire attendees to have a hack on a new project on the second day of the weekend. The second day would be an unstructured hackfest to explore whatever is interesting after the talks of the previous day. I think reserving the Saturday evening for board games and general “hanging out” sounds like fun too.

More details can be found at the conference wiki, with tickets being sold at eventbrite for $20.

These talks are currently signed up:

Technical Topics weekly update, week starting 5 September

(This got emailed out to registered attendees yesterday).

Oh you few, you glorious, trustworthy and foolhardy few! Thanks to all of you who have registered for Technical Topics. I think it is cool (and a bit bonkers) that we’ve gone from idle idea to a conference with a venue, delegates, speakers and insurance quotes in a week. I think a lot of that is because of you super great people who went out on a limb to register early.

So far we’ve announced three talks, which leaves us with four more to announce. I assume now that the schedule is a bit firmer and venue confirmed we’ll start to see registrations pick up. That said, I’m happy if we make it to 50 people — this doesn’t have to be an event for thousands.

A few things you should know:

You should have been emailed out a wiki URL, username and password automatically as a side effect of buying a ticket on eventbrite. If that thing hasn’t happened let me know and I’ll fix it for you. The basic idea here is that people can self-organize as much of the event as they want — for example I am not assigning speakers talking slots on the schedule, I am hoping they will pick one which works for them by themselves. Similarly, I am also hoping they’ll put up a wiki page about their talk without a whole lot of hassling from me.

Secondly, we do still need more delegates if I am to cover insurance costs, so remember to hassle your friends into coming! I think this is also important because having a few more people will make the event more fun for all involved.
Thirdily, you’re welcome to camp over at the Scout Hall on the Saturday night if you’d like. I would like an idea of how many people want to do that though, so please add yourself to the wiki at http://wiki.madebymikal.com/index.php?title=Technical_Topics:December_2016#Wait.2C_its_in_a_Scout_Hall.3F.21.3F if that’s a thing of interest to you.

Finally for now, I still need to work out a video projector and screen. Do any of you have one I could borrow for the weekend?

Thanks heaps,
Michael

Feeling left out? Why not register and come along?

A Technical Topics Status Update

(The featured image for this post is by hobbymb on flickr).

So, its been a couple of days since I went mad and decided I should run a weekend conference. A bit has happened in that time, so here’s a quick status update…

First off, people have bought tickets! In fact, we’ve sold 20% of my original goal of 50 tickets, which is pretty impressive for a conference with no venue or agenda. Thanks to everyone who has made a leap of faith and done that thing. One of the things that I need to sort out is public liability insurance, and I am chasing quotes for that at the moment. Its hard to tell how many tickets I need to sell to cover the cost of that as I have no idea what the insurance will cost yet.

In other positive news, a surprising number of people have offered to present as well. The current plan is to try and focus on talks which have a good chance of leaving people to want to have a hack on the Sunday. I’d love to be in a place where people have to make hard choices about what to hack on because there is more than one thing that excites them on the Saturday. That said, keep the proposals rolling in to the talk proposals form.

That said, I’ve accepted our first talk, which is from Richard Jones. Richard has kindly agreed to come up from Melbourne to run a tutorial on writing Minecraft Mods in Python for people with limited Python experience. I know that’s not super deep technically, but I am excited by getting my own kids into a room with a smart developer with significant teaching experience and I’m hoping other people are too.

A reminder of the details — the first Saturday and Sunday in December (3-4 December) in Canberra. A basic non-conference, with a room, a set of speakers, and a lot of enthusiasm. Only $20 to attend to cover some simple venue costs.

So you know what to do people! Use the little box thingie down below to buy a ticket!

Technical Topics in Computing, Canberra December 2016

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’ve been missing the chance to hear about cool technical projects people are working on in a depth not possible at a CLUG meeting because of time constraints.

Many years ago, AUUG used to run a weekend “summer conference” that was almost free and addressed some of this issue. That conference died a natural death when linux.conf.au got big, but I think maybe it’s time to bring that back.

So, I’d like to propose a simple weekend meetup in Canberra. I would make it free, but I feel like the no-show rate is lower for events which charge a token amount. I’m thinking something like $20 is small enough not to be painful, but enough that people will value their tickets. Any profit would be donated to some form of community group at the end, but I haven’t picked one yet.

The Saturday of the event would be organised talks, with the goal of the talks being to inspire attendees to have a hack on a new project on the second day of the weekend. The second day would be an unstructured hackfest to explore whatever is interesting after the talks of the previous day. I think reserving the Saturday evening for board games and general “hanging out” sounds like fun too.

Venue wise, I was thinking of doing something a bit out of left field like hosting the event at Macarthur Scout Hall, mostly because I have easy access to it, but also because it is in a good location with easy parking, cafes and pizza nearby. It would also mean that people could sleep over in the hall overnight instead of paying for accommodation if they wanted to. The venue is not yet confirmed though.

Looking at my calendar, I’d like to suggest the first weekend of December as the dates for the event, which is 3-4 December.

If you’d be interested in talking on the Saturday, there is a Google form you can fill in to express interest at https://goo.gl/forms/EHIvGvDfoceweMnk2

For the super keen, you can buy at ticket for this super speculative event at eventbrite now — https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/technical-topics-in-computing-tickets-27377136753 . If the event doesn’t run, I will refund your ticket purchase.

For those with an accepted linux.conf.au 2017 talk it might be a good way to get a practice run in before the big event?

 

Pen making with my eldest son, or how to win at the $20 boss

Andrew, my eldest son, was enrolled in a competition recently by his school. The competition is called the $20 boss, and is run by the National Australia Bank, which is one of the largest banks around here. The basic idea is that the bank loans each of the students $20, with which they start a business. The goal is to make a profit, with the bank expecting to be returned $21. 10% of money over that should go to charity, and the rest is the student’s to keep.

Other kids seem to have chosen to make muffins, cookies, or drinks. Well, except for the kids who made candles. Andrew on the other hand had a think, and decided to ask me to teach him to make wood turned pens. This was exciting to me as Andrew hasn’t previously shown a particular interest in wood craft.

Continue reading Pen making with my eldest son, or how to win at the $20 boss

Darts Cabinet

My most recent project is a cabinet for a darts board. This is based on a project in Australian Woodsmith. I tweaked the design along the way though because I wanted something more modern and some of the rigidity elements didn’t seem to be required for strength. Here’s how it turned out:

Finished darts cabinet
Finished darts cabinet

 

Which I think is a pretty good outcome to be honest. The cabinet is solid Silky Oak, with a Jarrah veneer for the door panels. The handles are hand turned from Silky Oak to match the cabinet.

I already posted a YouTube video of me finishing one of the doors, but I’ll include it here for those who haven’t already seen it:

One final pic of the finished product:

A view inside the finished darts cabinet. We went with an electronic board because of the children.
A view inside the finished darts cabinet. We went with an electronic board because of the children.

IMG_9933

A big shout out to Terry and Russell who advised on various aspects of this project.

Playing with alternate cameras: the GoPro Hero 3

I wasn’t happy with the behaviour of the kit lens on my Canon 650d when I shot the Christmas bottle stopper videos. I therefore decided to try out a few other cameras I had lying around before just going and buying a better lens for my Canon SLR. First off, I gave a GoPro Hero 3 a try.

Continue reading Playing with alternate cameras: the GoPro Hero 3

Random tip: cheap bar clamps in Australia

I’ve been experimenting a lot recently with making furniture out of MGP10 structural pine that I machine myself. The first few examples have been work stands for things like my Tormek in the garage. One of the things I need to do when making these stands is to turn a series of machined pine strips into panels. That’s where bar clamps come in handy. I recently discovered where to buy good quality clamps cheaply, and thought I’d share…

Continue reading Random tip: cheap bar clamps in Australia

Home made vanilla essence for Christmas

Catherine and I decided to make home made vanilla essence as part of our Christmas gifts for 2014. This turned out to be pretty easy, and result is really good. As part of that I turned bottle stoppers for the little decorative bottles we gave the essence out in. I also needed to explore what glue would work with silicone stoppers, which turned out to be a bit of an adventure.

Continue reading Home made vanilla essence for Christmas