LUGRadio social Travel


or “What I did on my holidays, by Nicholas Avenell aged 29 and a bit

One of the interesting things about London is that it has a kind of black hole effect. Most of the time, things come to you instead of you having to actually leave London, and I realised this week that – save for LARP excursions – I haven’t actually left the city boundaries since Christmas. Part of this is that I don’t find London the least bit boring, but when I was invited to D and Sarah’s housewarming in Glasgow, I decided to stretch my horizons a bit and go from a flat city to a more hilly one.

I’ve taken three plane trips in my adult life. To and from Amsterdam, and a Newcastle -> London plane one christmas when I was bored of trains. For this reason, I took the train this time. The price worked out almost exactly the same, but the amount of faff around getting in to and though an airport disuades me, even when I don’t factor in volcano ash or my environmental footprint. Besides, on modern trains I could sit, code and spod on the Internet, which is close to what I’d be doing at home anyway.

Yeah, not so much. Internet was terminally flakey, and my netbook’s screen was rendered unreadable by the position of the sun. On the way to the station I popped into an art shop, and replaced my much-missed japanese brush pen, and so I ended up spending the journey mostly relearning how to draw using it, being bored at Twitter, watching the scenery tick by both from the window and on my phone’s GPS + Google Maps. Even when the sun wasn’t stopping me, it turns out that the new version of PHP (which my laptop now runs) doesn’t like my favoured database abstraction library, which was last updated in 2007. I may end up having to rewrite Plank’s database stack to either use a different abstraction library (I dislike most of the others), or take over this one. Neither prospect appeals to me, and appealed even less on a train at 10am on a saturday.

However, going up by train give me a chance to watch the countrycide. Great sweeping vistas of fields and drystone walling, like someone was shooting a live action version of Postman Pat; The flat horizon of the north sea, suicidal kayakers bouncing off the coastline; the great cathedral in Durham. Shiny things.

Glasgow was quite shiny too. I hit the city with just enough time to make a pillgramage of a kind to Demijohn to buy a housewarming gift. London’s kind of skewed my idea of “a big city” and so I decided to walk it. Glasgow has several things London does not. It has, noticably, more people with red hair, slightly fewer kebab shops per square mile, and also hills.

London is mostly pretty flat. Glasgow isn’t. After a while of walking up and down hills in straight lines, I took a radical step. Cannot, apparently, go over the hills. Don’t have time to go though the hills. Have to go though them. Fortunatly, I was assisted in this regard by the fact that Glasgow has a toy underground system. It’s like the tube, but everything is built to around 6/8ths scale. So cute!

Later I was informed that this was mostly because London digs the tunnels out of mud. Scotland, being brewed from SOLID ROCK and girders, is harder to dig tunnels in. This is fair enough, but still, diddy toy trains! Also, apparently they used to be pulled around by giant cables powered by even more giant steam engines, which is significantly more interesting.

Then there was a party, which contained beer and wine and Guitar Hero and lovely people, some of whom I even remember the names of, and finally there was sleep and an EPIC journey home.

driving Imported From Epistula Larp LUGRadio Personal Projects social trutap

An Update

Most of what I’m doing right now is working, and due to the nature of my working, it’s dull. I’m mostly writing unit tests. And because it’s work, it’s occasionally awesome and fun, challanging and occasionally frustrating. We are, however, looking for PHP dev to work in our Kings Cross office, so if you know any PHP devs looking for a new job, fire an email at nicholas care of trutap dot net. I do hope to be able to shout about stuff we’re doing soon.

Because I’ve moved to the place with the most integrated transportation network in the country, it’s obvious that the next thing I need to do is learn to drive. Since my last experience I haven’t actually had any driving lessons at all (Well, not true. I got one while in Bedford, but taking a two hour lunch break meant I missed my bus home and didn’t get back to Letchworth until 22:00. I didn’t repeat the experience), But I’ve just signed up with Go Red for a lesson on the 1st August. Now to pass my theory test for the third, and ideally final, time.

One of the reasons for the above is my current habit of going LARPing, and the fact that lugging all my stuff on trains is annoying. Also, National Rail always seem to schedule line work over me coming back from Maelstrom, which is irritating. A car would make getting there – as well as Treasure Trap in Cambridge – easier. This weekend is another Maelstrom weekend, which should be fun.

This means that I’m going to not only miss LUGRadio Live, which annoyed me, but when it became the very last LR event ever, it just seemed like malice. I’ve listened to, and enjoyed, the show from the first episode, and while I’ve recently not been much part of the community, I’m proud of the bits I have been part of. LUGRadio is a staggering achievement, and I hope someone picks up the idea and does it half as well as the various generations of Gents have over the years. I don’t know what they’re planning to do with the site after it’s over, but if it fractures into a few dozen local LUGRadio divisions – such as was originally the plan for the series, I believe – it will be interesting.

Still not completed GTA4 yet.

Most of my “home” coding right now is being done on AqWiki, which is now running a community wiki for Maelstrom fans as well as one for an Ikariam alliance – pushing the under-developed macro system to the limit with treaty managers and databases. I’m also working on Lampstand, which is an IRC bot again for Maelstrom fans. It’s based on the Twisted framework, which is something of a run-up all of its own, and eventually I hope to integrate it into a django-powered community site.

Imported From Epistula LUGRadio programming

Free as in Mortgage Repayment

Okay, so in the first (zeroth?) hashlugradio broadcast, I put forth the view that the OS business model treated the programmers time as worthless. I wasn’t called upon it in the broadcast, but have been since. This is what I mean:

I am an individual programmer – not part of a massive company – I believe whole-heartedly in the Free/Open Source Movement. I scratch itches. I spend my time programming. I give away the results. I do not get paid for this.

How do I pay my rent?

Imported From Epistula LUGRadio LUGRadio Live

Pod people

So, Podcasts then.

I hate, with a passion unholy, the name Podcasting. I think it’s a horrible name, a terrible attempt at a neolism, and it annoys me that I’m against the combined forces of the bloggers of the world in attempting to get it wiped of the face of the blogosphere.

But everyone is doing podcasts, from the Barenaked Ladies though to John Cleese and the BBC’s The Now Show. So far, so bandwaggony. We can do better than that.

How about a metapodcast?

Because the LUGRadio Gents produce a podcast every other week (Well, mostly, they’re “on a break” right now, which means they can sleep with other podcasts and it becomes a running theme for the next six seasons), which contain their opinions and thoughts. So, it was thought (By Xalior) that we could get four members of the LR community together to, basically, witter on about our opinions on the last episode of LR and what they talked about, and throw our own unique blend of bullshit onto the steaming pile already covering the subject.

Our? Yes, for they (Xalior, Neuro and Dotwaffle) invited me to be a presenter. Fools, for they know not the evil they loose when they give me a microphone and a soapbox to stand on. Mwa ha ha ha ha.

So yes, we’ve done a test episode, based on the LUGRadio Live and Unleashed episode that was recorded at LUGRadio Live a few weeks ago, and should you wish to inflict this upon your unfortunate ears, you can do so at The Hashlugradio Website

And may you be forgiven.

2006 Imported From Epistula linux LUGRadio LUGRadio Live social

LUGRadio Live 2006

Okay, third time lucky…

Last weekend I went to LUGRadio Live 2006. I had a blast from the moment I got to the initial Friday lunch meet to the moment I left, annoyed I couldn’t stay for the after show party (Damn hotel bills).

Good Things


I didn’t go to very many talks, mostly because I was too busy shooting the breeze with people and playing computer games. In fact the only two actual talks I went to were Sara Ewen’s talk on PlayStation 2 Linux (Though I missed the bit on PS3 Linux) and Simon’s talk on Django (Which has lead to the rebuilding of the “Storyville” and “PFD4-2” projects in it. Watch this space). I also went to Bruno Bord’s talk on how much they swear in LR, and bits of the Women in Open Source talk (I caught the last twenty minutes) (Actually, I’d quite like to know what Jen, Kat & Phated – who hosted the talk – think about the recently announced Fedora Women project and others of its ilk. They may have discussed that, I wasn’t there.

Oh, and Dotwaffle’s talk on the Linux Demo scene (including a demonstration of a 64k demo called Origami, which I highly recommend you watch. It’s beautiful.

I went to more talks than I realised.


I met and remet some wonderful people. I made them wince at bad jokes and I took the piss out of their beards. Some of the people had corsets, some had full tuxedos, most had jeans and T-Shirts. They were all wonderful.

LAN Gaming

We played Enemy Territory. I shot Aquarius. He shot me. Repeat. This would have been better had we not been on the same team.

The Party.

About more later.

The Low Tech Wiki

They set up a Low Tech WikiAKA, A black board – upon which notes were made about stuff that was changing.

But it got spammed, and used for random crap, and because we had no revision history we couldn’t revert the changes.

Simon Willison and I started a discussion page on the back of the board on the Saturday night and by the end of Sunday that was still going strong.

What went not so right

Don’t get me wrong, the entire event was a blast, but in order to help them do even better next time:

The Hotel

I stayed at a hotel universally referred to as the Quality Chin. As hotels go it was reasonably priced (Heh. Our prices were something like 33% of their normal rates. At full price I’d have been… disappointed). The breakfast was fine but nothing stellar.

The hotel’s heating broke down. Or, rather, broke up. It apparently – on one of the hottest days of the year – decided to put everything up to full whack until they ripped the fuses out. The hotel was hot.

My room’s bathroom had black bits.

The bedroom was definitely a single. The bathroom could have held the encampment for napoleon’s entire army. I found this odd.

None of this is the LUGRadio team’s fault or responsibility, obviously.

Too Many Things

As Aq mentioned I’m not entirely sure how you can resolve this. There were effectively seven things happening at any one time. One main stage, two smaller stages, three community group gathering events and just shooting the breeze. I suppose the only way around it is to see which talks people want to go, see if you can group them so that those things don’t clash, and hope it all works. So if you found that the people interested in Linux on PS2 tended to also want to go to see Matthew Garrett’s talk about “Linux and Laptops” but not the more ethereal talks such as “The Zen Of Free”, arrange that Zen clashes with PS2, for example. It’s the kind of system that requires a lot more organisation and a certain amount of living with the consequences, but since it’s not me who will have to do the organising, I can suggest things as I please.

The Party DJ

Of which more later.

The weather

Winter. LRL2007 needs to be in winter or at least autumn. If nothing else, flights are cheaper.


This year by the end of LR, there were significantly fewer beards, and this is a Good Thing.

The Party

So, upon the Saturday evening it was decided that there should be a Party. So there was a Party. Some people dressed up properly for it (well, two people did). Some dressed up a bit (wave) most didn’t bother. There were cakes, and the cakes were very fine indeed. There was Guinness, and that was very fine also (I haven’t drunk Guinness since I was at university, and since we were back in a student bar I decided to revert to form and sit in the dark with a pint of the black watching the social butterflies dance in the bright lights.

Watching the dancing was interesting. (No, of course I didn’t dance. If you say you saw me, you are wrong. I have a twin brother. His dancing is worse than mine). Mostly because the DJ was more of a club-style than disco-style, as he claimed. The result of this was he was playing lots of loud thumpy tracks at deafening volume and complaining that nobody was kickin’ it on the dance floor. Then he started playing cheesy stuff (The Time Warp – albeit a disco remix; Madness – which got Jono on the dance floor; and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This brought a core of hard-core dancers onto the floor, where they danced as if nobody was watching. Natalie was intent on getting people to dance, but had to leave early, so it is for her benefit I mention the first person to start dancing was at 23:10.

Anyway, after a few cheesy tracks people could dance to, the DJ went back to the heavy thumpy stuff that drove them away. After that it turned into a tide effect: The DJ would play a few cheesy tracks to lure people into his domain, and then as he thought he had them in the groove would switch to something loud and thumpy, clearing the floor in seconds.

There was a MAME cabinet (Which played 4 player Gauntlet, which is something everyone should so at least twice), at one stage I counted 8 people around it with nobody on the dance floor at all.

Somewhere in this country there is a facility designed to get around the laws stopping them from cloning people. This facility is running a scientific study into how many times you can create an absolutely generic DJ, identical to all the others. Every so often one fails and is forced to become a fairground announcer (“If you’d like to ride, if you’d like to ride… scream if you want to faster…”) but the rest go out into the world of professional party DJing, and nobody can tell the difference…

…also, I notice that if you want to find out how many long haired people are in your audience, simply start playing “The Ace Of Spades” and they’ll all be in one place. Moshing like their hair was on fire.

The Macs

I can’t let this one go. At Linux User Group Radio Live 2006: the plasma announce boards, the recording software and – for a while – the Enemy Territory server were all PPC Macs running OS X, because they Just Worked when they needed to.

Nothing much I can add to that.

The final bit

It was great. Same time next month?

Apple Imported From Epistula LUGRadio music


So, with my new, black, shiny personal backup device I have been listening to Podcasts.

These are some I’m enjoying:

  • LUGradio The occasional good bit buried within screeds of high handed bigotry against other people’s choice of operating systems. [iTunes] [RSS]
afe Imported From Epistula LUGRadio LUGRadio Live Personal


So, I’ve been busy, somewhat.

Went to LUGRadio Live in Wolverhampton the weekend before last, which was a wonderful weekend spent geeking, playing, drinking, taking advantage of the hotel’s wifi, and yet more geeking. Other people have written better reports

The week was spent doing little, writing a bit and playing City of Heroes and GTA:San Andreas. My holiday.

Friday I toddled off to Durham for tEC Durham 2, which contained more talking, more geekary, more drinking, singing along to Buffy: The Musical. There are photos.

Then I came home and slept for 14 hours. I was very tired.

Otherwise, things are quiet on Planet Aquarion