My 2013 Plans (my favourite tech conference, and one of the best in Australia/NZ) is on again next year, in Canberra from the 28th of January to the 2nd of February. I’m excited! I love being so immersed in enthusiastic talks on every sphere of open-source technology, from the deepest bowels of the Linux kernel to the talks on legal and social issues. The week is also a great opportunity to catch up with some of my Internet friends, most of whom I don’t see between LCA events.

I’ll be travelling to Canberra on Sunday the 27th of January, on Virgin Australia flights DJ1533 (HBA -> SYD) and DJ654 (SYD -> CBR). One more airport than strictly necessary, but I like that – I’m a fan of airports, aeroplanes, and public transportation in general. During the week I’ll be staying in the John XXIII student accomodation; mainly because it’s closer to the breakfast venue than the other location. I’ll be travelling back to Hobart on Sunday the 4th on DJ1205 (a direct flight, because I suspect I’ll be quite tired by then – LCA has a habit of finding energy and destroying it in a haze of excited geeky exhaustion).

You may have noticed this leaves Saturday the 3rd with no plans at all. I’ve never been to Canberra before, so I thought I would stay around on the Saturday and Sunday to explore Canberra a bit. I might go to the War Memorial, Old Parliament House, the National Museum, and maybe the Black Mountain Tower (logistics depending, I won’t have a car). It should be a fun trip! 2012 – Day 5 (Friday)

This week I’m at, the southern hemisphere’s premier open-source conference. This year it is being held in Ballarat, about an hour’s travel from Melbourne. I’ll be documenting the trip and conference as much as I can given the limits of my enthusiasm and awakeness.

Friday 20th January:

Friday is the last day of the conference, and everybody is starting to look tired; it’s a full-on week. But, before we all go home, there are just a few more excellent talks to attend. The first of these was Friday’s keynote, given by Jacob Appelbaum, and what an amazing keynote it was. Jacob talked about the state of surveillance states. He explained what they are doing to keep track of all of their citizens, and the special measures that have been put in place in the last few years (mostly since September 11) that significantly curtail our freedoms in the name of privacy and safety. A few choice quotes from the talk:

Free software is for freedom, open source is for business solutions.

Be the trouble you want to see in the world. [It’s in my notes, but I’m pretty sure it was actually just written on his shirt]

90s Nihilism: I have nothing to hide.

The data kept about you in [server] logs around the world tells a story that is not necessarily true, but is made up of facts.

This talk flowed on nicely from Senator Ludlam’s talk at the Penguin dinner.

After morning tea, I watched the talk by Rusty Russell and Matt Evans about why UNIX has been getting bigger over time (in terms of binary bloat). It’s mostly due to new features, but also because of the infrastructure that modern systems have and the libraries that are statically linked in these days (glibc is basically just bloatware). Also in this session I attended the talk by Simon Horman on Open vSwitch. It’s really interesting content, but the presentation was a bit dry. It’s definitely something I want to check out when I get home though, as it could be quite useful for me when I have VMs set up in Linux. The support for VLANs makes it a much better choice than standard Linux network bridges.

During lunchtime there was a meeting between a group of Tasmanian delegates, and it was decided that the Hobart Linux User’s Group should be started up again. So if you’re reading this, like Linux and live in Hobart, get in touch!

After lunch was the best-of sessions. These were talks voted for by the delegates that they wanted to see again, or missed the first time around. I watched two fabulous talks. The first was on Codec2 (presented by David Rowe), an audio speech codec that uses 1400 bits/sec for transmission, which is a 500x improvement on raw 16bit 44.1kHz audio. Very impressive. The second was on the freedom box project (presented by Bdale Garbee, which is a platform for developing easy-to-use home servers oriented towards federated social networking services (such as or Diaspora). This followed on nicely from Appelbaum’s talk that morning, giving a solution to some of the problems that were outlined.

The final session of the conference was the lightning talks. The real highlight was watching Paul Fenwick jump up on stage between the lightning talks and try to give a several minute long presentation in thirty seconds. He failed, but it was funny to watch. After the lightning talks was the closing ceremony. The main reason for this is to hand out a few awards and thank some people, but also to find out where the next is going to be held. Next year, it’s in Canberra!

Zzz? Zzz!

This has to be the most entertaining federal election of all time… not. Both major parties (the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/National coalition) agree with each other so much there’s nothing major left to argue about.

They’re both going to give us offshore processing of asylum seekers (though we have to decide between Nauru and East Timor). Personally, I’m appalled by the fact we are even considering either of these options. These are human beings we are dealing with here. We should be welcoming them with open arms into our country. No terrorist is going to come by leaking boat, so they pose a relatively small danger to the existing population. It’s all just a load of fear-mongering by the major parties, and I’m disappointed.

Both are making huge stuff-ups with Climate Change. The L/N coalition can’t even decide if it exists or not. The Labor party is having trouble committing to anything, and that’s showing through with climate change. We’re going to get a citizen’s assembly of 150 people to decide for us. This is a matter where normal citizens do just not have the information available to make the right decision. I (if I may) call myself a well-informed voter, and I don’t have the information for the job. The one man who does, Ross Garnaut (who wrote a report on this for the government), got his solution to the problem blown into a million pieces in parliament.

Both parties are completely over-using their campaign slogans.

One of the leaders is a backstabbing whining bitch; the other is also a backstabbing whining bitch.

There isn’t just a small number of people agreeing with me either. Here’s one of them.

At the election, I’ll be voting Green first. I think it’s the only rational choice. I don’t agree with every single policy they have, but the parliament needs a mix-up and a bit of discussion rather than simply disagreeing on the identical policy. I have no idea if they are running candidates in Tasmania, but if they are, the Liberal Democratic Party (basically a libertarian party) will get my second vote, simply because I think we need to stop turning into a nanny state.

So, unless something interesting happens, that’s all I really have to say about the federal election.

Note: As of the time of writing, the LDP’s website appears to be down for maintenance. I think they may need to fix that, being an election on and all…