Monthly Archives: January 2011 2011: dinner activities has a charity auction over dinner. There are various failure modes:

  1. it’s a year of big corporate budgets, so bidding reaches about $5000, no one else can compete, and then it stops
  2. it’s not a year of big corporate budgets, so bidding reaches about $500 from a private individual and then it stops
  3. bids aren’t high enough, so there is some pressure for someone to donate something precious. This was how Bdale Garbee ended up being shaved by Linus Torvalds at 2009. This can be fun, but it also at least tweaks and sometimes outright triggers people’s fear of coercion (having a lot of drunk people screaming for your beard is definitely coercive).

There’s always been a tradition of large consortia of private individuals forming to try and solve problem #1, in recent years these have even tended to win. The trouble then is what happens to the money that was pledged by losers: at lca2011 (and I think lca2010 too, but I wasn’t there) bids aren’t revocable. The donated money stays donated, the only question is whether you get a prize associated with it.

So far so good for money. And now for entertainment, as Rusty posts. The trouble with lca2011 was that the auction consisted of people walking up to laptops and having their donation amount entered and associated with their team. Running totals were displayed on a graph, but spectacle was lacking.

The ritual humiliation of Linux celebrities does have something in it. But, no more screaming for people’s beards. I think it would be much more appropriate, and probably fun, to organise something in advance to occur at the dinner, with celebrities volunteering. The closest model would be lca2004′s dunking of Linus Torvalds (which was organised in advance, the pressure placed on Torvalds to participate I can’t speak to but he gives the appearance of generally enjoying some mild organised humiliation for the benefit of charity).

Say, as an example, that five developers compete to throw three-pointers (actually, this is probably too hard, in addition to being difficult to stage at a dinner, but never mind). Then there’s a very short pre-planned set of auctions for things like being able to take steps forward to start with, extra shots, probably culminating in the right to substitute, together with a simple “highest amount, yay!” kind of contest. At least one or two bids to allow your celebrity to increase the challenge facing an opponent. Probably five rounds of shots total with bidding in between. You could probably solve some obvious problems (like everyone backing Torvalds or betting against him or whatever) with simple transparent manipulation: Linux Australia increasing their matching donations when tables back their assigned celebrity, or something.

Finally, since this is a developer conference, there should be some kind of application allowing people to pledge using their phones from their tables. 2011: lightning talk take homes

As usual some rather important things went on in the lightning talks.

Rusty Russell got irritated at Geoff Huston’s “IPocalypse” keynote (which argued that the last minute no-options-left switch to IPv6 runs the risk of IPv6 being outcompeted by a closed solution) and he got coding. The result is a CCAN module (so, C code) to support simultaneous IPv4 and IPv6 connections, thus not penalising either. He’ll fix the dependency’s licence shortly. It might not work perfectly yet.

Donna Benjamin is trying to raise $7500 to get The National Library of Australia to digitise The Dawn, Louisa Lawson’s journal for women from the nineteenth century.

In intellectual property news (specifically, anti-stronger IP news) Kim Weatherall wants us to worry about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which Australia will likely ratify, the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, which it would be really great to oppose, the impending result of the Federal Court appeal in the iiNet case, which iiNet may lose, and even if they don’t there will probably be legislative “three strikes” discussion about copyright violation. 2011: Day 1

Slow first day for me. I had a stressful Sunday getting a toddler to the airport on my own and Andrew has just flown in from the US.

We weren’t very impressed with our hotel, iStay River City. For starters, it has extremely limited keys. Many, but not all, rooms have two keys, which would be hard enough with four adults per room, but one of the keys for our room is missing, which means one key (and suggests that somewhere out there a former guest still has a working key to our room). The hotel reception wasn’t even sympathetic. People steal our keys all the time! What else are we to do?!

There’s no way to leave a key with reception and get yourself back into the room unless you have a second key to the room. There are buzzers for the rooms, but the reception smilingly conceded that it does only get guests into the lobby. You have to go down the lift yourself to get them up to the room. (Interestingly, this has meant with a lot of confusion from other LCA attendees. “How hard is it to make a new keycard?” Bad assumption. They are using keys, as in, those chunks of metal with notches in them.)

There’s also several things broken in our apartment: a couple of lights, the phone, the bathroom fan.

Anyway, after a restless night, LCA! I mostly spent time at the Haecksen miniconf, although partly working on my laptop in an introversion bubble. I wasn’t really ready, after the travel and the settling in, to sit down and listen to talks well. Some talks I did catch in whole or in part:

  • Pia Waugh Applying martial arts to the workplace: your guide to kicking arse
  • Brianna Laugher An Approach to Automatic Text Generation
  • Andrew Gerrand Practical Go Programming
  • Noirin Shirley Open Source: Saving the World
  • Donna Benjamin We are here. We have always been here
  • Valerie Aurora and Donna Benjamin Training Allies (workshop)

I didn’t really fully follow any of them, except for Training Allies, which is of professional interest to me now. (More on that later, I guess.)

LCA2011: unofficial planet

In lieu of an official Planet site for LCA2011, I’ve set up an unofficial one.

Q. I want to be on it!

If you would like to add your own blog to the site, please see for info and contact me in comments if it doesn’t work out.

Q. What happens when there is an official planet?

I’ll add 301 redirects as appropriate as soon as an official planet is announced.

Q. Wait, can this BE the official planet?

LCA organisers, I’m happy to be the official Planet if it makes things easier for you. Get in touch with me.

Linux Australia Council statement

I’ve accepted a nomination to stand for Ordinary Council Member of Linux Australia in 2011, and here’s my statement. If you have any questions and so on, please let me know! Ideally ask them on the linux-aus list but here is OK too.

Voting is at until Jan 26th. You can sign up for free membership there at any time. I actually don’t want people to sign up for the sole purpose of electing me, but if you’re an Open Source developer or community member in Australia the organisation is designed for you.

I am keen to help Linux Australia with community and events in 2011 as an OCM. I am especially interested in events, especially liaison and helping Open Source events in Australia, which are increasingly affiliated with LA, share knowledge and resources. I’m also interested in being part of discussions about Linux Australia, Open Source in Australia and young people: entry level community involvement and entry level career outreach for the next generation of Open Source hackers.

Selected previous Open Source community involvement:

  • chair or co-chair of paper selection committee 2008–2010
  • member of paper selection committee 2007–

LinuxChix/Haecksen miniconf:

  • (co-)lead organiser, 2007–2008
  • founder, 2007

AussieChix (Australian chapter of LinuxChix):

  • microconf co-organiser, 2008
  • systems administration, event organisation, website maintainence, 2007–
  • founder, 2007


  • administrator, 2005–
  • active contributor, 2004–2006

Sydney Linux Users Group (SLUG):

  • Secretary, 2003
  • Ordinary Committee Member, 2002

LCA2011: preliminary picks

One week to go and the conference is definitely going ahead.

Here’s my early plans for spending my time at LCA. I should note that my husband and our one year old son will be in Brisbane, and for various reasons I won’t be doing a lot of socialising at night. Anyone for lunch?


I’ll mostly be at the Haecksen miniconf, but also potentially interested in:

(PS, Brianna, how many talks is it physically possible for you to give on a single day?)

I will not be at the Girl Geek Dinner, sadly, but this is only one night after Andrew will have flown in from Dallas and so I’d like to see my family early in the week.


At present I think this will mostly be hallway track.


I will also attend the Linux Australia AGM, since I am standing for election (and I think results are available by then, it seems that voting closes at 26/01/2011 00:00, which is maybe an unfortunate choice of time, since many people will read “votes close 26/01/2011″ as giving them that day to vote too).

I won’t be at the Professional Delegates Networking Session, since I am registered as a Hobbyist. I might be at the informal UnProfessional Delegates Session if there is one, and if my husband and son can come.


I will be at the Penguin dinner.


We fly home lunchtime Saturday, so won’t be around for Open Day.


Andrew and I try and have some quick dinner recipes in mind at all times, for those nights when one has ten minutes of energy and time for dinner preparation. Every night since January 2010, for example.

Here are a few. There’s a lot of ready-made things in here that aren’t that hard to make oneself. But that hard is too hard, on the nights in question.

  1. Wraps: buy tortillas. Buy filling (mince for us), fry it or whatever is appropriate. Place in tortilla, add lettuce, chopped tomato, salsa and natural yoghurt, or subset thereof. Eat.
  2. Gang Show Chicken. Buy roast chicken, cream of mushroom soup and olives. Combine in saucepan until soup is heated through. Eat. (It’s called Gang Show Chicken because in my early teens I was a Girl Guide and in a few Gang Shows. Rehearsals were Tuesday nights I think and my mother also had something on those nights. So this level of preparation was what the household had time for.)
  3. Tom Yum Goong. We use this recipe. This one needs a few practice runs to bring it down to easy cooking. It is a little bit trickier in terms of sourcing the ingredients, although you can buy kaffir lime leaves in supermarkets in Sydney, but you probably want your nam prig pow in advance. (It’s often not transliterated into English, so you get a jar with Thai characters and an English description along the lines of “roasted soya beans in chilli”.) Note that adding more lime juice makes this better. There’s probably some upper bound on that, but we haven’t found it.
  4. Larb/laab. More or less like this, except we use chicken or kangaroo, skip the shallots and a purple rather than green onion. OK, so not lots like the linked recipe.
  5. Daal, to Stephanie Alexander’s basic recipe in The Cook’s Companion. This has a rather long cooking time.
  6. Lazy pizza, as in, we buy the base. We buy Bazaar Breads of the World bases, which beat McCain’s anyway. Then tomato paste, olives, pepperoni, purple onion, maybe some finely sliced garlic, and cheese.

Rice, couscous and/or oven baked potatoes usually fill out meals of this style for us.

Six is a decent number of options, although more vegetarian dishes would be good. What are your “I feel like the very soul has left me tonight” home dinner options?

Some fun for 2011

Things I plan to do!

  • visit the Canberra area at some point, as we know several people there and want to spend more time with all of them. I’m currently thinking sometime in March.
  • have someone(s) over for dinner several times, maybe every other month or so.
  • join a gym. I realise this doesn’t fall under the category of “fun” in many of these lists, but YOGA CLASSES and maybe a chance to try pilates and maybe Zumba and free weights. I miss the pool already dammit.
  • occasional shore diving, probably with a local-ish club (Frog Dive?).
  • at long last, five years after we started on swimming fitness, I’d like to do PADI Rescue Diver, ideally combined with a Nitrox course. That, barring perhaps PADI Deep, will likely be the last SCUBA course I do in the foreseeable future. As a prerequisite, this requires renewing our First Aid certification, which is a February todo.
  • some kind of organised parent-kid thing with Vincent: book group or something like that.

Things I’d love to do, but realistically… we’ll see. I definitely won’t do all these things.

  • Travel to the US/Canada. I’d like to visit Liga, spend some time in the mountains, go to one or two great conferences… This will probably happen sometime in or before 2013, but I don’t know that it will be 2011.
  • Go to the snow again. And maybe level up in snowboarding again. Or work out if I should be on skis instead.
  • Baby swimming lessons for Vincent.