Just a pile of Old Computer Junk "Its life Jim, but not as we know it"

From the outside looking in

From the outside looking in (reflections on linux.conf.au)

I haven’t blogged for a while. Things have been busy, tiring. Events have transpired. Hopefully I will be creating new things in 2017 but there has been a lot of zig-zagging along the way. And across the new year break family has taken precedence. This is reflected in my github profile - for me opportunities to contribute to open source were scarce across 2016.

I first attended LCA at Ballarat in January 2012. This was an awesome eye opening experience for me. I felt like I had finally found my people; people who talked computers, and geeked out, who like me were sometimes socially awkward outside of this arena where others eyes glaze over at our passions, yet in this element eloquently describe their favourite things to a room full of people. Well, thats just how I felt!

I made new friendships that exist to this day.

I had attended every LCA since.

In 2012 I was thrown in the deep end. Prior to travel I was researching tourism opportunities around Ballarat, not yet fully aware of the full conference social experience. Naively (need a work that means the same thing but more positive connotation) I posted a message to the mailing list noting the presence of a nearby computer museum, I was thinking of attending, Next morning and across the next couple of days my Inbox was full of excited fellow attendees wanting to come along. So at a conference I had never yet been to and I know only one person at I found myself organising a social event. Which was not exactly something I was used to at the time! I have absolutely zero regrets - it turned out to be an awesome event, it forced me to gain experience interacting with strangers, and distracted me from that fact at the same time. Best of all I gained ongoing friendships from the event.

Across the years I had manage to experience LCA from most possible angles: first as a “newbie”, seeing in real life people whose names I had only read on the Internet. Gaining confidence I realised “ I could do this” and I had a mini-conf talk in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 I splurged for a professional ticket, then as a speaker presenting in different years, the first time in 2015 a tutorial, the same year I also finally learned how to surface mount solder which led in part to the project I was able to give a talk on in 2016.

The conferences has always been a massive buzz, a high point, of inspiration, ideas and people. Along the way I discovered the value in the “hallway track” and realised that a large portion of the value is found outside of the lecture rooms, in conversation.

However, this time around, a confluence of work commitments, progress on longer term projects, and financial priorities made things difficult. In the end, this time around, it was also a turn for another family member to travel around this time. So I get to experience LCA from a new perspective: outside looking in.

And I would not be surprised that there is a suitable German word - like schadenfreude, but instead expressing the sadness at not being where friends are but knowing you are still part of it somehow, having done it before, and at least you get to experience just a little of it through the osmosis of twitter and reading the blog posts of those attendees who are very organised (thank you Simon!)

Also a huge thank you to the video team who have from day 1 been getting talks out on YouTube already. There is the live stream, which is awesome as well, but for various reasons (work commitments, then mobile bandwidth) that turned out to be impractical for me at the times when it would have been most valuable (keynotes), although it of course would have great value for many other remote observers.

Looking forward to 2018. Funds will have been diligently set aside, projects will have progressed, and planning commenced far in advance.

And all those people that due to geography and introversion I have great conversations with at the conference but never manage to catch online during the year, I hope to catch you next time. And to improve in keeping in touch.

Antarctica beckons…


I realised that the number of blog entries I created, collapsed through last year. Oddly I also noticed that somehow I didn’t blog at the previous LCA. Or I forgot to tag, I’m not sure and haven’t checked. Anyway I’m going to try and maintain a rate of one per month for 2017. Mainly because this is a simple way to stay in practice at writing, no other reason. I don’t expect too many people to be following any ramblings here…

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