penguicon has wound down, and i am winding down with it. i'm sitting at i3Detroit, sipping tasty bourbon, and feeling good.
penguicon was definitely not like the cons i'm used to attending. i go to cons all the time, but they're always hacker cons. they have a specifically technical focus, and are full of a rather specific kind of geek, the hacker. penguicon was a totally different world. there was a rather small tech track, but niteshad and nullspace were totally correct when they described it as tech content bolted to the side of a sci-fi/fandom con. most of the culture there was sci-fi/fandom culture, and only a small portion of the talks were technical talks or hacking talks.
the con was also a lot more seat-of-its-pants than i'm used to. the hacker cons i go to aren't terribly regimented, of course, but there's a kind of structure to them. the staff can fairly readily communicate with one another. there's some level of feeling like most people there have half a clue what's going on...something i didn't really get from penguicon. it was a lot more hectic. the staff didn't have radios to communicate with one another. there was a little confusion or miscommunication about talk locations...certain talks that drew only a couple of people were in large ballrooms, whereas other talks that drew more people were put in rooms that were too small for the level of interest. however, despite my organizational gripes, i had a good time at the con.
both of my talks went well. i gave my arduino music talk on Saturday at 3pm. none of my demos crashed; they all sounded the way i wanted them to. i could answer most of the questions people asked me; this was a worry, since i've only been doing arduino for about five months. i didn't want to sound like an idiot, and i don't usually do talks on things i'm so new to. i remembered everything that i wanted to say, and there wasn't too much awkward silence. my only complaint is that i wish it had been located in a bigger room...they put me in this tiny dining room that held about fifteen or twenty people comfortably. every seat in the room was taken, there were standees, and there were people who didn't get to see it because there just wasn't enough room for them to come in and listen to me.
speaking of that...if you are curious about arduino music and want to see what i had to say about it, i have my slides posted on the presentations section of my site. one of the attendees recorded my talk and gave me the file, too, so soon there will be video of my whole talk on the site. i also have a page with the code of everything i showed at my talk, as well as other arduino music resources, on the arduino music section of my site.
right after that, i did a hackerspaces panel with Mitch Altman from Noisebridge and Nick Britsky of i3Detroit. that went really, really well. originally that panel was supposed to be in that same tiny dining room where my arduino talk was, but they realised that if it was too small for some goofball like me, it's REALLY going to be too small for a panel with me and Mitch and Nick. so, we were moved out to this large, open hallway where i3Detroit had already set up its projects, and they set chairs up there. i am really happy with how it went. all three of us helped start our respective hackerspace, and came from different enough perspectives to keep it interesting. the crowd at the panel was interested in hackerspaces and asked really good questions. as far as i know, though, no one videotaped it; however, if someone did, i'll post it on my site and let you all know.
the other big highlight of the con was Geeks with Guns. niteshad organized a trip to the shooting range on friday morning, before the con started. it ended up going very well! about twenty people came along, and everyone was really cool about letting others try out their guns, and giving shooting pointers to new people like me. it was a really fun way to start the con, even if my shooting muscles got really tired because i got the bright (ha!) idea of shooting 32 rounds out of niteshad's shiny new .40 caliber pistol early in the day. [i am SO not ready to shoot a gun like that...i should really stick with the .22 and the .38 revolvers right now, if i'm going to shoot handguns! that .40 was fun, though...] i did keep one of my targets, though...i can shoot the ruger 10/22 rifle pretty damn accurately. i should spend some more time with that one next time i go out shooting, though...try and shoot it longer and longer distances, and get some even nicer, tighter groups.
i'll stop here; otherwise this entry is going to turn into a book. i have a busy and awesome week ahead of me...i'm in detroit until tuesday, and then i have scavhunt thursday through sunday. i'm on the road trip squad again for GASH this year, so i am guaranteed to have a random and amazing time in parts unknown. also, for the first time in GASH history, we will have a four-person road trip, and not a three-person road trip! this will make it so much better for the people who actually drive...a three-person road trip is especially grueling when one road tripper [yours truly!] does not have a driver's license. the road trips the last two years have been epic, and i have no reason to believe that this year's won't also lead to all kinds of weird stories.