BarCamp Sheffield Diary: Saturday

Predictably, BarCamp sheffield 2008 2nd day started way to early for me (what with yesterday evening and BarCamp being in a Bar…). I managed to drag myself out of bed in time to get down to the venue, Sheffield’s Showroom cinema, at around 9:30am. The sausage, bacon and egg breakfast waiting for me there was most welcome and set me up nicely to start taking in some really well put together and fascinating talks.
Friday | Saturday | Sunday

One of the things I didn’t know about was how to find out what talks and events were on when – there’s as idea of the content of some of the talks on the forum. Turns out that the organizers put up a big grid of days, times and rooms, with a load of paper slips for folks to post up stuff they wanted to talk about. What a great idea, the schedule for talks just sort of appeared over the course of the Friday night and the Saturday.

So – what kind of stuff do people talk about at this thing? I’m going to just give my brief summary of the talks I attended, but there were up to four talks going on at once so I had to pick and choose. I think there’s really something of interest for anyone interested in anything to do with technology here.

How spammers are breaking email. Looking at how spammers abuse the naivity of the e-mail protocol (SMTP) to send you viagra advertising, and some of the countermeasures that can be used to protect email users from their spam.

I’ll show you mine – git and github. Placing your source code into a repository where other people can view, comment and contribute to it – github is a free service that does just that. The guys giving the talk also talked about the softer considerations when sharing your source code – what if everyone thinks your code is dumb? Only thought about it afterwards, but refactormycode.com is along the same collaborative development theme.

I also got a groovy t-shirt for contributing my laptop because there was no adapter for the guy’s Mac DV-out.

Arduino. A short talk on working with the Arduino hardware, including a couple or demonstrations of things people have done. The whole hardware hacking thing is really interesting – I just wish I had the time time to have a go myself!

The we have the lunchtime quiz. Name that Web2.0 service by the logo, who made such-and-such a quote, etc. My team came 2nd to last. I don’t feel too bad about it – I like to think I count as a geek, but I can only aspire the level of uber-geekdom that is on display here!

After lunch, I kicked off by attending a talk entitled Sneaking AGILE in under the Radar. I’m interested in the whole agile thing these days, as it seems to be the way I naturally try to work. The talk was about how to adopt useful elements of the agile style without making a big fuss.

Agile Estimating: Planning poker. Anyone who has ever tried to estimate how long a new feature, or enhancement, or bug fix for something is going to take will probably be familiar with how tricky it is to do. The quote from the talk is that doing the work often takes five times longer than the original estimate indicated. This talk was about approaches to estimating process – maybe sounds dull until you take into account the poker element…

My First Rails Plugin. One of the guys who’s justing starting out with Ruby On Rails has build a plugin to try and make typing content into a web form more transparent to the average user. An interesting talk, because it was less a presenter-presenting thing as a guy looking to run his ideas past some tech folks and get feedback.

Which led nicely onto dinner – again, great food laid on by the venue.

I do know that there was Poker going on around now – but I was too busy doing other stuff to join in. Shame that, I was looking forward to playing a few hands.

Whilst dinner was serving up, some of the rooms started showing films – geek-oriented, ideal dinnertime viewing! The first film was The Code Linux, a history of the development of Linux and the people involved in the early days.

Next up was a bit of a gem, to be honest – TED talks. Online video coverage of talks given in a very expensive US conference – the four I watched were absolute gold. Check out Johnny Lee talking about Wii remote hacks – you’re going to want to have a go yourself. For something a little deeper and more thought-provoking, I recommend Ken Robinson’s talk on education. It’s one of the best talks I’ve ever seen, and I think I’m going to have to watch it again a couple of times to really take it in. Apparently, these talks are released each week, so this one’s going straight on my iPod.

My evening wrapped up when I caught up with some of my old Taekwondo buddies, and a Wado-Ryu Karate guy. I gave the Hoegaarden a miss though today, and I think I’ll feel much better in the morning for it.

The BarCamp Sheffield 2008 Photos
The BarCamp Sheffield 2008 Site
The BarCamp Sheffield 2008 Forum

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