Yesterday I got back from a bit of a holiday in Auckland. The purpose of the trip was to go to Kiwi Foo Camp (a.k.a. Baa Camp). It is a gathering of 150 people with creative interests in various, generally technology related, things. It’s aim is to be a way for all these people to get together in a way the breaks down normal barriers of hierarchy so that they can share ideas, plots, and schemes without these getting in the way.
I met a bunch of people that I’ve heard about or only ever talked to via email, such as Don Christie and Peter Gutmann, along with a host of people I probably would have never heard of if they weren’t there but who are also doing interesting work in a variety of fields. A nice effect, which is by design, of the 150 people cap is that you have the ability to meet nearly everyone there. It also means they can put on free beer and wine for the entire event.
Almost everyone was sleeping on the school grounds where it was hosted, or nearby, which meant that things like game playing (Werewolf is a favourite) carried on to 4am, and people were happily getting up at 8am for breakfast in the morning. I was supposed to be sleeping in the Wharenui at the school, however due to getting to bed a little late and an apparent overbooking of it meant that I ended up sleeping outside on the deck of it the first evening. From what I could tell, I got the better deal. It wasn’t hot and stuffy, and the one person out there with me didn’t snore too much. The following night was inside one of the school rooms, which was helpful because it kept the mosquitoes somewhere where I wasn’t, although I think by then they’d decided I was bled dry anyway.
As is common with conferences, and even moreso with this one being an ‘unconference’, much of the value isn’t so much from the sessions, but from chatting to people you happen to sit beside because there’s a spare seat, whether they do programming, community projects, are politicians (I talked with Judith Tizard extremely briefly), or whatever. They all seem to be doing good stuff. I did, however, do a session of my own. I was planning on doing one on neural networks and genetic algorithms, and another on Amazon web services but due to time constraints (some uncharitable folk may call it laziness) beforehand, I only had time to prepare the GA stuff. That worked out OK, as it managed to take up the whole hour anyway. I didn’t get a big turnout, but I didn’t expect one – this was a fair bit more on the computer science side than most of the things there.
The rest of the time in Auckland was catching up with friends there, and spending way too much money at JB Hi-Fi on music and a little bit of anime.