Category Archives: education

Barcamp Milwaukee 7 Attendance Postmortem

This is my way-late postmortem on the seventh annual Barcamp Milwaukee, held every year to celebrate geeks everywhere and bring people together to discuss and learn from one another about all the things they make and do.

There was only one ugly bit for me this year, during the late, late overnight hours, that kinda screwed up my Barcamp rhythm to the point where I knew I’d not be able to stick around for the full day on Sunday. It was in the form of a drunk attendee that apparently ran out of people to “talk to” overnight. He was wandering the building, and kept drifting back to an area where I was working with a young woman on a Linux problem she was trying solve. Now, I can’t speak for her, but my impression was that she didn’t feel particularly safe with this guy wandering the building, tripping all over himself, carrying beers around, blasting music in the commons downstairs, and so on. He told me the 3D printing guys all vanished–gee, I wonder why–so we were all he had left to talk to. Grrrrrreat it was not.

I’d love to see a reminder that people not be allowed to get drunk-stupid at future events. I had a beer or two earlier Saturday night, so I’m not being a prude about it, but excess… is usually excessive.

As for the sessions… I enjoyed the Artemis bridge simulation software time quite a lot. Hard to believe that’s all one developer’s work. There was a ton of 3D printing going on. Got into an OpenBSD session discussing it and its heritage, got an impression of the state of the apparently-barely-existent game development industry in Milwaukee (not great), learned a bit about cable hacking, sushi rolling, and spent some more time around people interested in the Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects/hardware. Even helped a few people with some hardware/software issues (mostly Linux-related) outside of sessions in the coworking space. The “Nerdy Derby” car racing was a real highlight and treat to watch this year, too, with tons of interesting entries. And finally, I got to knuckle down in a corner and get some work done of my own, as I do every year; it’s a tad anti-social, perhaps, but highly productive time for me!

If you have kids, you should try and bring them to the Sunday “Kids Camp” next year. I keep meaning to bring my own, but Barcamp always ends up being in a bad weekend for my kids (October’s a busy month for us in general). It’s a kids event still finding its legs, but it’s a nifty way to get your kids into making, presenting, learning, and having fun while doing it. I suspect it will break away from Barcamp and become its own event at some point, but for now, you’ll only find it at Barcamp Milwaukee.

Barcamp Milwaukee is free, every year, relying on sponsors for meals, t-shirts, etc. They really want you to come and help make it better simply by sharing what you know. Of course, if you’re able to sponsor, or know someone who can, that’s another awesome way to get involved.

So, summing up: I had a good time, despite bailing early on the second day (and missing Immy’s lunch cater, which saddened me greatly). Most sessions were informative. I never seem to come away feeling like I’ve learned a lot, but I do always come away feeling reinvigorated about learning more than I already know–a net-positive, I think, for the event itself and for me.

Special thanks to the Bucketworks crew for all they do, and to Pete Prodoehl in particular. I understand this may be his last time herding Barcamp Milwaukee’s many cats, and I can’t say I blame him.

Until next October, I guess.

WordCamp Chicago 2009 – I’ll Be There

WordCamp Chicago 2009

I’ll be out of the office here this weekend, taking part in the first-ever WordCamp Chicago.

I’m looking forward to meeting a few WordPress people. The event has sold out all 200 seats, which is great! Huge thanks to Lisa Sabin-Wilson for not only coordinating the conference itself (with Brian Gardner), but also managing the ticket cancellation and resale process to help get tickets into the hands of people who thought they weren’t going to make it this year (this means me, among others). If you don’t own her WordPress For Dummies book, by the way, you really should go out and buy it.

And just in case you don’t know what a WordCamp even is:WordCamp Chicago 2009

WordCamp is a conference type of event that focuses squarely on everything WordPress. Everyone from casual end users all the way up to core developers show up to these events. These events are usually highlighted by speeches or keynotes by various people.

With all the demand for the Chicago event, I’m hoping it means good things for an occasionally-discussed WordCamp Milwaukee somewhere down the line–maybe later this year..? Whenever it is, I might just see you there, too.

Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" released today

Ubuntu 7.10, also known as “Gutsy Gibbon”, has been officially released this morning. Take a tour of what’s new in this latest release here (lots of new and interesting features and eye candy).

It is free software, and there are several ways to get it. Ubuntu is also available in a variety of flavors, from the educational Edubuntu version, to the KDE-enabled Kubuntu version, to Xubuntu for those that like a sparser looking/feeling desktop interface, to their very popular Ubuntu Server Edition (which is really great for LAMP installs, among other things).

UbuntuThe normal image download of Ubuntu is also a LiveCD, which allows you to boot off of the CD and give Ubuntu a try, without worrying about damaging or altering your existing OS/setup. It does run a bit slower in this mode, since it’s not actually installed but instead running directly off the CD in RAM only, but it should otherwise be a working version of Ubuntu you can kick the tires on and try out before you commit to it. Pretty powerful stuff.

You can also download an “alternate desktop CD” version; it does not include the Live CD functionality, instead it uses a text-based installer, and is a slightly smaller download. I recommend you skip this version, unless you know you specifically need it.

Who should try Ubuntu? Well, the LiveCD will allow anyone to simply pop in a disc and try it out, so I think everyone should, at least once. You’ve got nothing to lose but a some time downloading and burning it to CD, and again, it’s totally free.

And yes, it’s probably a bit different from what you may be used to, but it’s really the same in most of the ways that matter to a typical PC user. Will Windows users love it? That depends on how stuck you are on the familiarity of Windows. Most of the things the average person does with Windows can be easily accomplished for free using a Linux distro like Ubuntu, which already includes–out of the ‘box’–Firefox,’s office suite, and tons of other useful “everyday” software most people want and need. We use it here, daily–both the Desktop and Server editions–and love it.

If you have questions or want to get even more into it, feel free to contact us to set up a demo, give a presentation, or arrange some training. Ubuntu offers both free and paid support and paid training as well.

Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” can be downloaded here, or from a large number of download mirror sites. Enjoy!

(Image from