TheCamp 2009

THE-CAMP 2009 WAS the third time I’ve dedicated a week of my summer vacation at TheCamp.
As mentioned in previous posts (TheCamp 2008 and TheCamp 2007) its a week where nerds meet to have fun, eat lots of food, drink beers and hack with ones own projects at will. This year we were 50 participant of a wide variety. The youngest participant was an (circa) 14 year old gamer, the oldest participant was a lady of 73 years of age wanting to acquire some more Linux knowledge. This year the female participant count was raised to five – a pleasant trend.

As the previous years I came with so many projects to do, that I knew I would not finish them all. I’ve been wanting to learn functional programming for a while. My intention was to learn Falcon, but one other participants had a task of learning Haskell, while another was proficient in the language, so I joined in on Haskell. I only had time for a brief encounter, but I’ve ordered some books and can’t wait to seriously dive in. I had brought some work with me, where I managed to clean up some unit-test and functionality-test code. Linx have had my interest for a while now, and I managed to do a prototype porting, of a client-server application of mine, to use Linx for IPC instead. I wanted to try out Mono on a PowerPC evaulation board, but LTIB didn’t really want to run on my Debian unstable install, so I ended up playing around with OpenSuse 11 on a Sun Virtualbox 3.0.

Virtualization was in fact the “great big thing” in this years guest talks. Asbjørn Sloth Tønnesen held a talk about Xen, Niklas Q. Nielsen held a talk about OpenVz. A third person (Svenne Krap) gave a short informal introduction to KVM. Poul-Henning Kamp held a talk where he apposed the increasing use of virtualizing the hardware.

Generally there was many excellent talks this year (to many to describe in detail), but here is some details on a few:

Bo S. Sørensen held a very entertaining talk about Android. He gave an overview in the evolution of smart-phones, and introduced the available Android phones. During his 45 minute talk he demonstrated the Android development tools by creating an application that could extract where his fotos on his phone where taken (if equipped Android phones stores the GPS position as meta data for each photo), and show the positions on a google map. As a side note: working daily with embedded Linux, it was with much envy I saw how seamless and easy the development environment integrated with the actual hardware. It was impressing to see how easy one could switch from running or debugging directly on a phone or in a Android emulator.

Palle Raabjerg ranted (friendly) about keyboard layouts. He’s a bit fan of the Maltron ergonomic keyboards. Martin Toft spoke about his experiences with bug fixing Vim at Google Summer of Code 2007.
An then there was Thomas Bøgholm… The two public television stations DR1 and DR2 are experimenting with streaming all their broadcastings in Linux friendly high resolution streams. So Thomas records and stores everything streamed from those two channels. Some might think this a the work of a crazy man, but I think it is an awesome (and crazy) thing to do. He’s made some software for automating the procedures, and got the software released under FOSS friendly license.

A very special event was celebrating the 40’th year of the moon landing by having a midnight outdoor movie display of the Apollo 11 mission. One of the TheCamp participants had bought a book where the authors had done a lot of work piecing together two movies of the moon landing mission. The first movie was the last 30 minutes of the decent and landing on the moon, the second movie was an almost 2 hour movie of Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin working the moon. I’ve only seen small clips from the first moon landing, and it was first when seeing these movies that I really got my eyes up for the amazing achievement that was performed 40 years ago. I was very much awe struck. The same could be said for a revisiting participant of American (U.S.A) origin. He was convinced that he had seen everything there was to be seen of the Apollo 11 mission, but this movie had quite a few bits and pieces that was new to him. He went strait to amazon and bought the book :-).

This year we also had a visit from a public television station that did a daily broadcasting from different summer arrangement around the country. They didn’t have the first (or n’th) clue about computers, so they mainly wanted to hear “IT-jokes” (they didn’t understand a single one of the jokes) and filmed the days special event of hardware-throwing.

So TheCamp proved again to be the highlight of the year. I’m definitely going next year ;-).

Speedway On A Cold, Windy And Rainy day

COLD, WINDY AND rainy would describe the weather this past Saturday evening. Not that that kind of weather uncommon in Denmark, but this particular day I was at the outdoor Speedway event “Denmark vs. The World” at Vojens Speedway Arena. Speedway is one of the most exiting motor sport types, and its a fantastic experience to watch it live. This event was a special event where two teams, with Danes on one team and non Danes on the other, would race each other for the price.

Here’s a movie that I recorded with my IXUS 50 Canon camera: Speedway – Denmark vs. The World. Not the best quality, but captures the excitement pretty well.

It was a fantastic evening apart from the fact that the event was canceled after heat 11 out of 18 heats due to bad weather. As this picture will show, we all got a bit surprised on the weather. Here sits my brother, my sisters husband and my father with his Easton cap, all hoping it would stop raining.


I’m somewhat glad that I’m not on the picture – we ain’t looking to stylish I guess. lol.

TheCamp 2008

THE-CAMP 2008 WAS a repeat of the success from last year. Again this year 40 people, in all ages, from all over Denmark (plus an North America from Norway, plus a Dane from Holland) rallied for 7 days of of open source. TheCamp is the perfect opportunity for doing some serious nerding and spending time with others of same interest.

Again this year I had a lot planned for this year, but as expected I didn’t get though it all. Firstly I downloaded the latest Subversion revision of Boost 1.35.1 and did some Asio socket and thread programming. I’ve been using Mercurial for a while but planned a switch to Bazaar, so I got that install and moved my projects to a new (local) repository. I’ve bought a new Lenovo 3000 N200 laptop and planned for getting wireless lan up and running on it. That however, was surprisingly easy as everything was supported right out of the box on a Debian Unstable installation. I finally managed to check off a long time waiting TODO item of learning how to use CScope from Vim. I installed Aros on my spare laptop, an old Asus A1000, but Aros kept crashing on me, so I gave that up. Wednesday was more a chill-out day with drinking a few cold beers, taking to people generally enjoying that the sun had finally appeared ;-). I did get some Python programming done with libnotify though. Otherwise I played around with some programming with the Clutter-project toolkit along with it’s Python bindings Pyclutter. Additionally I also tried a bit of Docbook, but decided that LaTeX was better.

As per tradition at TheCamp there was plenty of guest speakers. There was three presentations a day, but of course attending was voluntary.

Sunday, the highlight was when Vim guru Preben Guldberg reran his Vim/regular-expressions presentation from last year. Preben is an expert user in Vim and is also seriously proficient in regular expressions (I think he’s got the black ninja belt in both categories). This year I grasped somewhat more that I did last year, so a great rerun ;-).

Monday Poul-Henning Kamp of FreeBSD/phkmalloc/Varnish fame gave a presentation on developer habits and tools. In essence his was tired of things like having to write linked lists or decide what hash-trees to use. He wished that the software industry would do for them selves, what they have done for all other industries – make the computer do the work. As always an interesting PHK speech, but I think the audience didn’t fully agree; as one argued: “There are being made progress with tools like Eclipse and frameworks like Ruby On Rails, but if you insist on using Vi and writing low level C, then your not really making it easier on your self”. In the evening, Linux multimedia enthusiast and game graphics designer, Rene Jensen held a Blender workshop where he gave a live introduction to Blender.

Tuesday Jørgen Olsen from Sun Microsystems Denmark presented OpenSolaris 2008.5 (sprinkled with Solaris comparisons as a few of the audience run Solaris at work). Jørgen may be an old guy that looks like a hippie with his headband and log grey hair – but he definitely know his Solaris/OpenSolaris stuff. We got a demonstration of the SMF (Service Management Facility) that is an attempt to replace the old system initialization scripts. Other topics was ZFS, Containers, virtualization and DTrace. Later that day Bjarke Walling gave a demonstration of Lego Mindstorm. It was a great run though of Lego Mindstorms hardware, software and historic. He had built a couple of robots and created a program upon feature request from the audience.

An interesting speech Wednesday was Flemming H. Sørensen’s presentation on the Syllable operating system. Flemming had been in the Syllable core group for a couple of years, having responsibility of the locale system. He, and a group of fellow Syllable friends, just forked Syllable to do development that they’d felt had been neglected far too long.

Thursday Preben Guldborg held another session of Vim tricks where one could ask questions or get help with.

All in all this voluntary driven TheCamp was just perfect again this year, and I will surely return next year.

Formula 1 Trip 2007

CIRCUIT DE SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS is a famous Formula 1 track in Belgium, and this year I, along with two of my Formula 1 enthusiast friends, spend three days watching the race from the the Silver tribune.

One spectacular section on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the Eau Rouge and Raidillon combination. This is a quit left turn in to an unbelievable steep hill that arcs to the right. Preceding this section is a long downhill stretch, making an excellent overview of a great part of the track. This viewable piece of track made it all worth the money for the Silver tribune seat. The F1 racers will blaze past you so close that its almost frightening, and then they continues up the steep hill so fast you just wouldn’t believe it wasn’t a cheap sped-up driving movie, if you didn’t see it with your own eyes.

Here I have the Eau Rouge / Raidillon combination in the background. Jan at Eau Rouge / Raidillon section

With my Canon IXUS 50 digital camera I recorded a video of a Toro Rosso in the second practice round. This might give some idea of the speed involved (the digital camera is not really suitable for this kind of video recording, so the video quality is not so great).

Wikipedia has extensive information on the technical details of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps track.

It was lots of great racing watching in three sunny days in 20-something degrees Celsius and low wind with lots of waffles of all sorts and plenty of cold Jupiler beer – sweet :-)

However, everything is not perfect at the old Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps stadium, at least at the Silver tribune. A Silver ticket cost around 350€ and include a numbered seat. Sadly the seats are only a plastic platform with no back support. This makes it pretty tough on your back to sit watching racing from 9:00 to 17:00. Further more the track owners made some stupid decisions that limits the view from most of the Silver tribune. The lowest seats sits so low that one almost cannot see above the crash fence. Also the lower seats sits to close to the cross-wired safety fence running in parallel between the tribune and the track, that only a narrow viewpoint straight ahead is available. If looking to the left or right you will see nothing but fence. The middle seats has an important part of their view blocked by a (Vodafone) bill-board, making it impossible to see the cars come out of the La Source corner. Last but not least, the tribune for the Gold tickets is placed after the Silver tribune and blocks the view of Eau Rouge for most Silver seats placed in the section closest to Eau Rouge – all some hard forgivable stupidities. In comparison I was at Hockenheim in 2006 and there the stadium offers perfect view and back supported seats for all spectators; actually the surrounding facilities like toilets, shops and exhibitions were better at Hockenheim too :-/

To be fair then its not all bad. In fact most of the middle and top Silver seats have a great view of the track section. I maneuvered my self to a position behind the top row of seats, and had probably the best view imaginable.

All in all it was a great trip and I will probably return there one day for more racing and beer and perhaps some waffles :-).

TheCamp

SO DID YOU get any hacking done this summer? I certainly did! I spent a hole week of my summer vacation attending the geek camp TheCamp (Danish). Along with roughly twenty of the forty participants, this was the first time of TheCamp’s six years of existence that I attended. The purpose of the TheCamp is to provide an opportunity for (whitehat) hackers to unite and do what they like the most: spend time at the computer. For people not to fuse entirely with their computers, the TheCamp had scheduled three daily informative speeches or educational lectures from various guest speakers and TheCamp attendees. Topics included beginner Linux training, advanced Vim usage, computer security, audio on Linux, network understanding and much more. Most sessions were informal (kind of BoF-session manor), allowing for everybody to fill in with additional information or personal views and experiences. This often led to very exiting discussions.

It was indeed a mixed group of people at the TheCamp. Ages ranged from a thirteen year old, accompanying his father, incrementing to a couple of people, of undisclosed age, who have had enjoyed their retirement for some years. The knowledgebase was very versatile too. Some were experts in Linux, others in networking, MAC OS X, Vim, security, audio, programming or even 3D graphics design (no Windows people it seemed). Others were at TheCamp to learn and benefit from the vast collective knowledgebase.

I started the week playing a bit with Elsa and Antlr, to investigate the possibilities of incorporating some C++ awareness to the old IDE we use at work. In both parsers I hit major problems when trying to parse STL code, so I ended up abandoned the idea (for now).

I then installed a InspIRCd IRC server on my headless Linux box. This was actually surprisingly easy to install and configure (although more tweaking can be done I’m sure), so with that success story I ventured on to learn some new programming skills.

At work I mainly program in C++ but I have decided to learn C# on the Mono framework. Additionally I want to learn some Lua for scripting and possibly some QT 4. I’ve bought a C# book (Professional C#) and a couple of Lua books (Beginning Lua Programming, Programming in Lua) to aid the learning process. I was somewhat disappointed by MonoDevelop. Apart from the instability problems, it was just to heavy an IDE for my laptop and the GUI is utter useless in a 1024×768 pixels resolution, so I settled on my usual editor of choice: Scribes. In a days work I managed to create a little C# program that had a QT 4 frontend (via Qyoto) and a small Lua script engine (via Tao.Lua) – it were lots of fun and a really exiting process, so definitely not my last programming with that constellation.

On the last day at TheCamp I was fortunate to be offered a used MacBook. My trusty old Asus A1000 laptop (600 MHz Celeron, 320 MB RAM) really really qualified for retirement and coincidentally I had long thought about acquiring a MAC. It didn’t require much consideration and now I am the happy owner of a cool black MacBook.

In conclusion the week at TheCamp was awesome, and I’ll definitely be ready next year when the ticket sale open.

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