BarcampCHS 7


I will be at BarCampCHS 7 this Saturday. Although I am not making an explicit sales job of it, anyone who wants to talk about ServiceNow and particularly our independent developer program (for which I am now an evangelist) is welcome to seek me out. I’ll be wearing a company logo shirt and will talk about the company and the program at any length you wish. See you there, fellow makers, geeks and nerds!

Also, I will have Subproto collateral as well, if you want to talk about Myrtle Beach’s hackerspace. Come by if you swing up our way!

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for October 16 2015 – Getting Anything Done

In this episode, I play a song from The Darkness; I answer the very belated final question from the Dog Days of Podcasting; I talk about recording new podcasts and working my new role at my job; I describe my weekend at the beach; I talk about BarCamp CHS and the Charleston zine fest and my failure to ever publish a zine.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, October 16 2015

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

A Life Without Twitter (Mostly)

I’m still readjusting to the new baseline of being a non-constant user of Twitter. It feels a lot like when I gave up drinking sodas earlier this summer. At first I thought about it all the time and had constant cravings for what was missing. After a while the cravings went away and now with sodas, I almost never miss them. I’m getting that way with Twitter.

I’m not 100% averse to ever looking at it. I did just a minute ago to look at what people were posting about BarCampCHS. That kind of use is fine with me. What I’m not doing is spending all day every day twitching every few minutes when updates arrive and what I’m not doing is trying to figure out how to boil what I’m thinking or doing into 140 characters. It’s a relief to not have to constantly monitor something that is changing effectively all the time, and it’s a relief to stretch out my cognition into longer thoughts at less frequent intervals.

I still see anything with the @geniodiabolico string in at in my Google Reader eventually. It might be a day or more so the real time aspect has gone away but I’m OK with that. So little of what goes through that pipe is really of an urgency to need my attention Right This Second so I’m happy to harmonize my life back with acdtual priorities.

All told, my new evaluation function for everything is very much the way the Amish examine technologies. Nothing is rejected outright but is examined in the context of whether the benefits it brings outweigh the cost to their society. In my case, it’s all about big picture, long term happiness. The truth of the matter is that Twitter makes me less happy in ways large and small when I use it constantly. Thus, it’s out. Look out Facebook, you are next.

Social Media Vacation, Week 2

Not only am I not finding it hard to stay away from social media, I’m thinking about staying away nearly permanently. In my previous fit of pique where I dynamited my entire Twitter network I only used Twitter when I was at science fiction conventions. That was predominantly to find out which room parties and hotel bars my friends were at. Frankly, I think I could go back to that sort of thing easily.

More and more, I’m thinking that I don’t care at all about social media for its own sake. It only really has value to me in the context of the logistics of a real world meeting. I’ve said over and over again that most of the value of Twitter to me is syncing up with other Myrtle Beach people where we are having lunch. I can envision a world where my Twitter usage is confined to a few days before any event (CREATE South, BarCampCHS, Balticon, Dragon*Con, etc) and between 11 AM and 1 PM on the weekdays. In fact, I could see value in building a customer Twitter API app that specfically didn’t check for new messages except in certain pre-defined time windows and possibly based on certain hash-tags. If that could be hacked in to HootSuite, that would be great. In all likelihood, I’ll do it the old fashioned way by just shutting the thing down except for the times I care about it.

Dan Conover Is On Fire

I got to spend a little time with Dan Conover last Saturday, kicking around ideas that have floated between us personally, between our blogs and in the aether. Ever since he took the buyout for his job from the Charleston Post and Courier, he has really been on fire at the Xark blog.

Just this evening he made a post (which I think would rock even if it didn’t name check me) about the damage that narrative is doing to the current state of journalism. I find it amazing how hard it is to get facts from a news story nowadays. Any news story – print, web or video – that begins “It was a day like any other for Joe Bob …” is one that has already lost me.

He also wrote a piece yesterday that used BarCampCHS as an example of the things that are typical of a New Charleston forming that doesn’t need to ask permission of or win the approval of the old money, Old Charleston power brokers. It is also a kick ass read that I highly recommend.

Our conversation Saturday kept coming back to this journalism grenade he lobbed earlier this year. I think this is an idea he should pursue and since no one else seems to care, he should do this and force everyone else to adopt it by succeeding with it until no one else can possibly ignore it.

Check out Dan’s work. I guarantee you that it will rock your little world.

My BarCampCHS Experience

BarCampCHS 2009 Introductions

Last Saturday, October 24 2009, was the first ever BarCamp in the state of South Carolina, BarCampCHS. It was held at the Lowcountry Innovation Center which is in a former Navy yard. The Charleston contingent has been highly supportive of CREATE South the last few years so it only seemed reasonable to support them in this effort. I got up at 5 AM and drove up first thing in the morning. It was pretty uneventful as a drive up until the point I hit the roadblock with the cop blocking the road that both my GPS and a biiiig BarCampCHS sign said was the way to the venue. There was a road race coming through and the cop said I could not go that way. “Where are you going?” he asked. I replied “The Lowcountry Innovation Center.” “I don’t know where that is.” I asked him how long before the road reopened, trying to figure out if we are talking minutes or hours. “I don’t know, I can’t tell you” was his response, which I didn’t believe for one second. I’m sure the cop on this Saturday morning knew when he was able to leave this spot and get on with his life. I opted to just drive off, head in the general direction I believed the building to be, and hope that the Garmin Nuvi GPS would send me to the right spot. After about 10 minutes of meandering around North Charleston, I did in fact get to the venue.

Heahter, Dave, Lisa, Cal, Vera

I got there during the morning breakfast time, and got a chance to chat a bit with friends from the area. I had plenty of time to mingle before the introductory session kicked off at 9 AM. After introductions and some basic housekeeping announcements, the agenda turned to the session pitches. Each person who was interested in presenting gave a 30 second abstract on their session. Theoretically, the sessions would get voted on by the attendees based on how much people wanted to see them. In practice this wasn’t actually necessary because there were more open room slots than session pitches, so everyone that had a session got a room.

This is the first BarCamp I had ever attended, and I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of this part of the structure. A lot of people seem to love it but I’m not wild about it. It definitely distills the attendees down into a class of rarified geek attendees because I’d imagine for most ordinary people the notion of going to a conference that is getting assembled on the fly is off-putting. I find it a little bit so, and I’m in the choir waiting for the preaching. It worked out fine, as I’m sure it always does. I’d be just as happy if the voting happened exclusively online the week before and it got mostly or completely set the day before so that I could plan out which things to attend and know when I got there, with maybe a room or three devoted to the on-the-fly sessions. It’s just my personal preference. I know that the BarCamp format is very popular and I think most other geeks love the feel of just barely pulling it together. I freely admit this is my personal tic, and that I’m a spazz. Milage varies.

As an organizer of a conference myself, I know that it is impossible to predict exactly how things go in practice. One of those things was the placement of the session board and how it affected traffic flow. For 2010 a better spot needs to be found for it. It was at the top of the stairs, and there just wasn’t enough room for many people to jam in and read it at the same time. I’m not sure where it could have gone easily. It made it tricky to figure out where one wanted to go at any given time. I did work out a way to mitigate that some, which I’ll talk about shortly.

BarCampCHS 2009 - iPhone App Development Session

At 10 AM, the sessions kicked off. I spent most of my time in Paul Reynold’s iPhone development session, which was well attended and the crowd seemed pretty into. Somewhere in here, I realized that I had screwed up and completely forgotten to charge up my camcorder. Between the laptop and the camcorder, most of my seating choices during the day were driving predominantly by access to AC outlets. Even though I’ve never even touched an iPhone, I found Paul’s session pretty interesting. In the middle I bugged out for a little bit to go look at that session board. I talked to a few of the people around, asking if anybody had put up a really high res photo of it. There were photos but nothing so high res that you could use it determine what session to go to next. I made the statement that “Someone should set up a wiki of this, so that you can tell from your laptop or iPhone what sessions are what.” Almost as I was saying it, I realized that was a ridiculous statement and with a sentiment contrary to the day. Of course, what that meant is that I should do it. So I quickly created a WikiDot account and created a wiki page for the sessions. By the time I was typing in sessions, it was about 10:45 AM. I entered in all of the 11 AM sessions, saved it, and then tweeted some links for it. Then, after that, I went on with putting the rest of the schedule in. Over the course of the day, I kept checking back in to see if anything had changed. A few times I had to move things around or add sessions and I think what is up there is mostly accurate other than the fact that the 10 AM hour is not represented at all. Because I was filling a need to figure out what to do rather than archiving it, I didn’t think to go back and put in the already past sessions which is now slightly problematic since the Charleston city paper linked to it as a canonical representation of the sessions. If I can find a good photo of the board I will go back and put those sessions in (Note: I did). Funnily enough, as I went through the day I found people using the wiki on their iPhones or laptops, so “Mission Accomplished.”

The 11 AM hour was particularly bad for me, as seven of the nine sessions are ones I would have attended if I could. I went to about half of the XMPP session, put on by a guy from Collecta, and around the halfway point moved over to the Amazon Cloud Computing session. Both were interesting and I could easily have spent the entire time in either or a number of the other sessions.

Once we got into the noon hour, it was time for lunch. It was bbq catered by the Barbecue Joint, a restaurant that was near the venue. I had a giant plate of pork, cole slaw and baked beans. I made an effort to sit with people I didn’t already know, but I didn’t talk to them that much. I did soak in the vibe and listen, but I didin’t have much to say and didn’t introduce myself. I spent a fair bit of time talking to Dan Conover about an idea of his that he posted to the Xark weblog that I think should really be its own business. We talked about his life, why he should pursue this idea, how he could do that without starving and all that fun stuff. This was really a long lunch break we had, which allowed for lots of talking to people and meeting new folks.

There was an assemblage of people outside the back door to take a group photo. This was one of those moments where the hippie anarchy of self-organization really needed to take a back seat for a minute, with one and only one person in charge. After some milling around, Chrys and a few others snapped the pictures for the official record of the event. I’m pretty sure that in a number of those, I am occluded from view. In pretty much all the ones I looked at, I’m not visible. After the photo shoot, it was on to the afternoon.

At 2 PM, I went to the session on Ruby on Rails with git. it turns out that the Ruby on Rails portion was too rudimentary for me, and I ended up getting called out of there anyway. I had a spare projector I had borrowed from my day job, and I was asked if I could set it up in the main room for Team 342 to use during their robot demonstration. I went out to my car to get it, set it up, and the damn thing never worked. After some troubleshooting, I realized that the projector I took of two choices completely at random had a burned out bulb. Unfortunately, that pretty much ate a lot of the 2 PM hour for me. I did go over and walk through the art area, which I liked a lot. I wanted to have something like this last year at CREATE South and I hope to have it more fully fleshed out this year. My goal is for anyone that comes to the conference with something to sell has a community area where they can make that happen. That’s very much like how the art room worked at BarCampCHS and I hope to steal from them what worked.

At 3 PM, I went into the big room for the Team 342 robot presentation. They talked about how the program worked, how they got students involved from college and high school, about the actual bulding of the robot and such. I’ll have to admit that as neat as the robot was, I was more interested in the team, the team dynamics, and how they were organized. I found a lot of that fascinating and interesting for what lessons can be abstracted out to serve as a template. I’m interested in getting involved in helping to create the next generation of geeks in the Grand Strand so I was happy to hear those stories. The presentation ended around 3:30 after which people could fool around and drive the robot. After watching a few of the early amateur attempts, I got the hell out of dodge, spurred on by my own self-preservation gene.

BarCampCHS 2009

I had a few more conversations and met a few more people before the beginning of the 4 PM sessions. At 4 PM, I went to Chrys Rynearson’s session on Drupal. I’ll admit that I knew practically nothing about it before the session began. I got very interested really quickly and decided that this might be good for the CREATE South website so I installed it in our hosting account as I sat there and began working along with Chrys as he showed parts of the administration GUI. I’m far from done with it, but what I have started is here. Chrys is a Drupal wizard who works with it every day at his job, I’m a duffer. His session made me believe that it might well be the best tool for us, though, and made me want to learn more about it. What can be better than that? This sort of thing is why I came, and honestly by itself this session would have made the drive worth it. After this session, I made my goodbyes and hit the road. The 5 PM hour included the popular “BaconCamp” session but I wasn’t on fire for it.

One nice bonus was that they had a stack of books to give away to attendees. You marked three items you were most interested in winning, and they did drawings to give them out. I won one of them, a copy of Microformats Made Simple. Interestingly enough, I had multiple conversations during the day that microformats were applicable to, so I’m looking forward to reading this book.

So overall, I had an absolutely great time. It was fantastic to feel the energy and to see people excited, and excited about how they could learn things to allow them to do good and interesting work. I’m all for anything that raises the tech profile of the South Carolina coast. I think the event generally ran very smoothly with the hiccups being minor in the big scheme of things. The only issues I had were the placement of the session board and my structural qualms with the BarCamp format itself, which is no knock on BarCampCHS. I like the idea of BarCampCHS being a regular annual event in the fall, alternating with CREATE South in Myrtle Beach in the spring. Both events have different feels and different scopes and the presence and possibilities of both make the pair stronger. It was a great day, with great people, great friends, great food and as such, I had a great time. Let’s take what we learned, get smarter and tougher and more bad-assed, build some stuff and teach even more next year!

BarCampCHS Rocked

This is not the full post about BarCampCHS last Saturday in Charleston. That will be coming shortly. This is just a note to say that I had a great time, really appreciated the opportunity to see friends and make new ones, and to help geek up the South Carolina coast. This was a fine event to happen right as we begin to plan CREATE South 2010. It gave us some ideas about how we structure the event as well as provided everyone a booster shot of energy about how great these events are when they come off.

Thanks to Chrys Rynearson and the cast of dozens who helped put the event together, and the 200 or so folks who came out and made it a great day. Full recap coming as soon as I can find the time to type it.