Friday, October 23, 2009

FOSS4G 2009 - Day 4

The final day of the conference was a welcome relief for me. The only real trauma was Jody's GeoTools tutorial. At the beginning of the break as he was running off to the demo theater to get things going, he looked around the booth for his box of dvd's and print material and couldn't find it. After a quick pass over the booth myself, I ran to the tutorial room to make sure it hadn't migrated there and then tracked down Michael Bedward, Jody's partner in crime for the tutorial, to make sure he hadn't moved it. Of course he hadn't. So back to the booth to dig through every box in the place. It turned out it was in plain sight, but had been moved under the table and had some spare propaganda and a program dropped on the top to hide its true contents.

I managed to attend Andrea Antonello's presentation on jGRASS, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but had to flee before Silvia Franceschi's related presentation. Instead I attended Ben Caradoc-Davies talk on Application Schemas in GeoServer, which was a good talk in and of itself, but more review for me than I had hoped. Andrea Aime's talk on GeoServer in Production follow Ben and gave heaps of valuable information; much more that I had been able to scrounge up from the lists on my own.

The late-afternoon sessions were started with the WMS Shootout, which was presented in a lively and engaging manner by Andrea Aime and Jeff McKenna. The results are already posted and the whole shootout is in svn, reproducible by all and a great basis for ongoing performance comparisons. I wonder if this could be ported to DuckHawk.

The CCIP discussion was frankly a poor reflection on the good work that the CCIP actually did. I can't comment in much more detail, as I wasn't awake for all of it. The Sol Katz award was presented to the very deserving Daniel Morissette, who I was finally able to meet on Tuesday, and a passionate closing by Cameron Shorter to cap of the day.

The end of the conference was a strange feeling. So much work has been poured into it by so many people over the last year, most of it seemingly in the last month. With everything finished, and everything successful, I suddenly didn't know what to do with myself. I met some people for some meat and wine and the Meat and Wine Company. We deferred our plans to make a serious investment in wine for a day, since Jody and I were both in pretty poor shape. I went to sleep before 11pm for the first time in a month. Bloody hell that was nice.

But... what happened to day 3?

Day three was a long day for me. I was assisting Jody with a uDig-based tour of the Live DVD in the morning and so we both had to blow off Ignite Spatial on Wednesday to go back to the office and get it finished. I made it through the three out of the four available workbooks and got some slides put together for an overview of PostGIS. It was a late night and it made for a rough morning. The tutorial was fairly successful. Because it was completely hands-on and required a laptop, or a neighbor with a laptop, we had around 40% of the prospective attendees walk out at the start. It actually worked well, and those that stayed behind got a good tour of a number of services, though we didn't get through all the material. I only made Simon Greener's presentation, PostGIS and Oracle Spatial, and enjoyed that, though the slides were too complicated to fully ingest at the rate of delivery. Simon was a very entertaining presenter which more than made up for it.

Thursday night was also the dinner cruise and Bird of a Feathers. I rolled into the PostGIS BoF with no particular plan to be awake, let alone useful, but found myself called upon to provide some direction. I didn't, but the call itself was enough to get people talking. There was some great discussion of how people are hacking up raster-ish support, the hacks and use-cases of real users and even some excitement about Paul's work on the geography datatype. I had to flee earlier than I had hoped to make the dinner cruise.

The cruise was plenty good. They handled my special dietary needs quite well, but the food was overcooked. The wine was not. I only sampled the sparkling and the red and both were very nice bottles. Between exhaustion and free bar, it was a fun night. We didn't really get much value from the cruise aspect of the dinner cruise. We left Darling Harbour and sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Most people were on the viewing deck with their cameras blazing, but then the drinks and food was eminent were drained so we returned below deck. The views out the windows were nice enough, but I was left feeling that we could have made better use of the whole I'm on a boat phenomena. Bow jumping for example, or water skiing.

The result of the whole day three experience was that I didn't have a blog post in me. Not that there wasn't bloggable material, clearly, but consciousness and coherence was not in the cards by the time my day was done. I beg your forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FOSS4G 2009 - Day 2

The first real day of FOSS4G began today with a spectacular keynote session by Paul Ramsey. I made it's way onto YouTube by lunch and has been all the talk on Twitter. If you haven't seen it yet, you should do so. I'll wait.

Due to my committments to both organisation and boothery, I only managed to make one session during the day. Volker Mische presented his work on GeoCouch, the spatial extension for CouchDB, to a large, but widely dispersed crowd in the Auditorium. The presentation was much better than his ad-hoc explanations over beer; likely due to the reduced heckling that large spaces and microphones bring. I was able to catch the set-up of the first of Jim Groffen's tutorials with Andrea Aime, and the set-up and take-down of the second with Arne Kepp. With back-to-back sets, I held no envy for Jim's afternoon. Even still, the rooms were packed and attendees were leaving happy. At least, those that got a seat were leaving happy.

Tomorrow is another day, and my morning includes assisting Jody Garnett with a tutorial session. As such, we've absconded the venue and hidden ourselves away to complete and rehearse our material.

Until tomorrow then.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

FOSS4G 2009 - Day 1

Day one of the FOSS4G conference has come to a close, and by all reports has been a resounding success. I would like to mention a few names: Jeff McKenna (the wisdom of the ages), Daniel Branik (our system and network manager from Arinex) and Julia Vernon (conference manager from Arinex). Without these people things would have fallen apart weeks ago. My thanks to you.

As for the workshops themselves, I didn't have the pleasure of actually attending one, other than my own, but everyone I've spoken to has had nothing but good things to say. The effort all of the workshop presenters have put in to their material both today and in the weeks and months leading up to today have served them well and it's because of these efforts that so many people have finished today with a smile on their faces. Well done to all of you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beyond FOSS4G

The FOSS4G conference has been consuming the majority of my waking hours for the last few months, but with the conference in sight I'm beginning to see a little light shining back at me from around the edges. So this begs the question, what to do when FOSS4G is over?

The obvious answer is to code. The code sprint is running all day Saturday and is not strictly constrained to programming. Efforts such as the Live DVD and OSGeo Marketing and Education will be represented as well. Anybody with an interest in an project, subcommittee or endeavour is free to organise a group, or join those already signed up.

While some keeners will be sprinting all weekend, my plan is for a more leisurely walk on Sunday. The Seven Bridges Walk is a 25km stroll around Sydney Harbour, crossing three of the cities picturesque bridges (and four that are more on the functional side). For those not up for the distance, shuttle buses will be running around the course throughout the day to take you back to your point of origin. Having taken part in the walk last year, and having to run the final leg due to a late start, this year I'm heading out bright and early this year. Drop me a line if you're keen to join.

All of this is nice, but it neglects some of Sydney's greatest assets. Where are the beaches? Well, in keeping with tradition, they are found on the coast. No trip to Sydney would be complete without a stop at the worlds most famous beach, Bondi Beach. Public transport to the beach is readily available near the conference center and will deliver you in under an hour to one of the highest density tanning locations in the country. If you're not a fan of the crowds, Manley Beach is another tourist-owned-and-operated destination that is easy to get to, but far enough from the city to ease the congestion on the sand.

And if I'm still not tickling your fancy, there Taronga Zoo, the Sydney Opera House, the markets at Paddys or The Rocks, the Sydney Fish Markets, the Sydney Theatre and Dance Companies and even our very own Starbucks. And that's not even touching restaurants, pubs, clubs and proper cafes.

There are no excuses for being bored in this city.