Being and speaking at 25C3

You know that weird period between Christmas and New Years, when nothing really gets done? This year, I spent mine at 25C3; the 25th annual Chaos Communication Congress. Four thousand-odd geeks from around the world gather to share their ideas, hack, talk, game, build, start collaborations, and more. I'd never been to a hacker conference before, so I decided to jump in at the deep end and give a talk on Formica! It was a truly incredible experience...

I spent the week up to Christmas hacking madly to get a decent demo together, and sort out the infrastructure for taking the robots to Berlin. My thanks go to Joe, who built an amazing portable arena, ran some errands, filmed a backup demo and kept me sane. Thanks to Steve for help with the demo on the day and loan of his baggage allowance. Also to Faye, who'd never seen me in full hacking mode, and was sufficiently concerned that she brought tea and food on a regular basis!

I can't recommend 25C3 enough. Words like "conference" and "congress" summon up images of lecture theatres, speaker and audience, slides, q&a. These are important elements, but there's so much more going on! The cellar of the conference centre was a "hack centre" full of people working on projects, mood lit by blinken-everything. The corridors are lined with people on laptops, and every hour are heaving with people shuffling between talks. There are quadcopters, a homebrew GSM basestation, DECT phone infrastructure, an XO-1 jukebox halfway up the stairwell, stalls selling lockpicks, geek books, kits and t-shirts. Interesting talks fill every chair, then every patch of floorspace, then every doorway several rows deep before people resort to sitting in the corridor watching the live stream on their laptops!

I was getting pretty nervous as my presentation approached in the evening of day 2. I was going to be speaking in front of 400-500 people, and giving a live demo via a firewire camera, looking down onto the arena, connected to a borrowed laptop running German Windows XP! Once I spoke a couple of sentences, I chilled right out. The talk went well, and was well received. The demo went fairly well, except the camera could not quite see robots at the charger. Also, I should have explained the new firmware to Steve before thedemo. 

It became apparent that there's quite some demand for kits. We're working on the situation, as well as creating a community site. Watch this space. 

My talk is now available:

If any of those download links fail, try the mirrors on the official conference recordings page. There are heaps of other amazing talks to watch, too.

I'll be back next year. Already thinking about projects to present!

Submitted by jeff on Tue, 01/13/2009 - 15:53. categories [ ]


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