Yesterday, Tony and I trekked to Wolverhampton, video kit on our backs, to video the recording of the last ever studio episode of LugRadio.

I feel somewhat privileged to have shared that small, sweaty studio at Jono’s house with the (current incarnation of) four large gents of LugRadio fame. And to have got on their final show (I said “Hello” a couple of times…before anyone gets too impressed!  😉  ).

I’m by no means a serious fan-girl of the show (I’m not really part of the regular LR community – forums, IRC, etc) but I have listened to a lot of this season (Season 5) and several from previous seasons, and attended all LugRadio Live events except the first (but including LRL USA 08!). So I can tell them apart when they talk, at least.

I was sad to hear that they were quitting, though – not least because that means no more LugRadio Live! I gratuitously mentioned LugRadio Live in the editorial of the totally unrelated BCS-HCI Interfaces magazine after attending LRL 06 because it was such a good example of how a community can pull together such a great conference.

Every year I’ve been really impressed by the sheer number of people who turn up from all corners of the Earth (the furthest travelled gets a prize), including New Zealand and Hong Kong, to spend a weekend in Wolverhampton. Open Source and Linux conferences aren’t exactly a rare occurance these days but most choose to take place in a fairly glamourous or desirable location. My first LRL took place at the Wolverhampton Students’ Union…on a particularly hot weekend…without aircon. My memories include:

  • It was hot.
  • Mark Shuttleworth presenting about making Open Source Software more usable and attractive to normal users.
  • Drinking copious amounts of free water from the bar.
  • Ade getting a verbal pummelling from the female LR community members in the session about how to encourage more women into Open Source.
  • Cramming into a tiny, airless BoF room to discuss the vision of
  • The ‘Women in Open Source’ discussion continuing into the corridor while the next session got underway, and then in the car on the way home.
  • Meeting Josette from O’Reilly and buying books from her.
  • A packed room crying with laughter at Bruno’s epic talk: “This talk may contain swearing”
  • Stephen Lamb from Microsoft bravely and successfully giving a presentation about Security to a room of Linux and Open Source fans.
  • Being incredibly impressed by the range of speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors at this informal conference event that cost just £5 to attend.

So the following year, I went again (this time to the nicer Lighthouse venue); this time I joined The Crew – the yellow-t-shirted people who do all the ‘backstage’ stuff. Memories:

  • It was another hot weekend.
  • Getting up very early to stand outside The Lighthouse at 8am on the Saturday.
  • Ron’s wife providing bacon butties to all the volunteers.
  • Adam running down the aisle to the Rocky Theme in a dressing gown, then….in a thong….banging a gong…
  • Continuing my habit of buying O’Reilly books from Josette.
  • Changing a lot of video tapes.
  • Setting up a lot of chairs, putting them away again, setting them up again, putting them away again…
  • The low-tech wiki.
  • Big LRL banners.
  • Ted Haegar’s teeth.
  • Being impressed yet again at the range of speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors the team had rustled up on the back of a fortnightly podcast that contains a lot of swearing.

And, bringing us right up to date: LugRadio Live USA 08:

  • Tony’s fantastic trailer for LRL USA 08.
  • An atypical heat wave in San Francisco (though, this being America, working aircon).
  • Watching (from a distance) Adam getting frisked of his water bottles by Heathrow’s Security after having been warned three times not to carry liquids through Security.
  • Jono commenting scathingly about Adam’s lack of travel experience, then thinking it a good idea to take a photo of Adam in Security….before disappearing under a swarm of Security staff supervising him deleting said photo.
  • Helping ward off The Doom that kept descending on the team in the couple of days before LRL.
  • Visiting Alcatraz and watching the team posing for more boy-band photos.
  • Sitting in Hard Rock Cafe all afternoon and coming up with the best spoof ever…which I still think should be their Christmas Special.
  • The view of Downtown SF from The Metreon’s balcony.
  • The empty vastness of the venue at The Metreon when we were allowed in on Friday morning.
  • Carrying (and dropping) far too many boxes of magazines and Nutsack goodies with Adam in the searing heat of the streets of San Francisco.
  • Meeting Kynan, who just never stopped working!
  • Being constantly amazed that Google (Google!) were bankrolling the entire event…and even bought us breakfast, live streamed to Google Video from a mobile phone (see it on YouTube here)!
  • Brilliant talks from Emma Jane Hogbin (Women in Open Source), Kristen Accardi and Val Henson (Linux device drivers in 30 minutes – while baking cookies on-stage), Matthew Garrett (Power management and anger)…
  • Stopping attendees sneaking into the building before the doors officially opened on the Saturday morning. The first group just sat down on the pavement and got their laptops out while they waited.
  • One Laptop Per Child laptops everywhere!
  • Small children – officially making this a (somewhat unlikely) family event!
  • Emma Jane getting progressively hoarser throughout the weekend.
  • Tedddd sprinting up and down the massive venue and videoing all the talks simultaneously.
  • Jono playing ‘Jack’s Playing Ball’ on the Frets on Fire (OSS version of Guitar Hero).
  • The MAKE kaleidoscope glasses.
  • A significant number of the last people standing on Sunday night wearing matching free Banshee t-shirts in the bar.
  • Massive Google beanbags.

And that’s just some of the things that I’ve enjoyed at LRL events. And why I’m going again this year. I’ll maybe see you there…