Sunday, June 27, 2010

Conferences are awesome especially #Pyconau

I've just finished a weekend at the first PyCon held in Sydney. A fantastic conference, well done to everyone involved. Here's Mark Pesce giving the opening keynote where he unveiled his Facebook killer:


For me, it only takes one or two new insights to make the whole thing worth while and this year is was Graham Dumpleton's talk on his mod_wsgi where I discovered I should be using DaemonMode. After his talk I rushed out and updated my deployment to use this and now I can go to top and see my processes named after the virtual host they are serving right in top.

As a Django user, it was great to see presentations by Russell Keith-Magee and Malcolm Tredinnick.

Google not only sponsored but provided first-class speakers Pamela Fox and Brian Quinlan.

Brian showed some snippets of this video of creator of xkcd, Randall Munroe speaking at Google. I like the bit where he takes a question from Don Knuth then figures out who it is.

Twitter seems part of all conferences today and it was a great way to follow comments from others as well as useful urls from speakers. I question whether IRC would be just as good though.

The funnest talk was a "war story" by Simon Wittber who provided a war story about controlling 15 tonne industrial robots with Python and ended with a hack that let him control them using a Wimote.

A great conference, a great crowd, lots of fantastic insights. Thanks to everyone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Visted the fantastic Kurrajong Radio Museum

Finally, I managed to visit the famous Kurrajong Radio Museum and catch up with the friendly proprietor Ian O'Tool VK2ZIO. We'd met at Wyong with Nigel Holmes and I was embarrassed to know all about the place but never made my way there.

Ian made us most welcome.

ian and peter.jpg

In the collection is a C42 a rig I had when I was young.


There's lots of stuff for those of us who've worked in broadcast over the years.


And a huge collection of radios with wooden cabinets.


Racks and racks of all sorts of interesting gear.


Even an AM transmitter.

awa transmitter.jpg

My dear wife Phillipa took it all graciously and even said she found the visit "mildly entertaining".


Take the Bells Line of Road towards the Blue Mountains and drop in.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

A pleasant weekend at Blackheath

To counteract the long days of sitting in an office staring at a computer screen full of code I'm having another weekend away, this time in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

By accident, our visit coincides with the "Winter Magic" festival at Katoomba.


Lots of costumes and music including a local ukulele band:


A huge crowd turned up:


For some peace we headed off for a walk at Govetts Leap.


I can't help wondering what Ansel Adams would make of this place.


Big sky and all. (I don't have my RAW tools with me).


Along the walk someone took the leap:


Happily a parachute opened.


Now back to base for a complimentary port by the fire, or three.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seven periods with Mr Gormsby - recommended

We're a bit slow on this one but have just caught up with a fantastic show out of New Zealand called "Seven periods with Mr Gormsby".


It was aired by the ABC in Australia but without promotion from what I can tell. While it's clearly a satire about NZ education it generally critiques political correctness with great humour and heart. Highly recommended.

A pleasant weekend of ham radio and low noise

I've just returned from a weekend away with two other hams about four hours west of Sydney. The country and the site was lovely:


We erected an impressive tilt up tower, with a concrete base and steel guy wires:

Tower up.jpg

We participated in contests:


I'm not a big contester myself but it was entertaining tuning around quiet bands outside Sydney. 20m was amazing, stations from all over the world were booming in.

I learned lots of things by observing my more experienced fellow campers and next time I'll bring warmer clothes - it was sub-zero and I was wearing tennis shoes with holes in them. Brrrr.