Monday, 8 June 2015

The Rest of May

Open Knowledge Melbourne

OpenKnowledge were hosting GovHack on the 13th which I figured I'd go to as I thought GovHack might be a good fit for Free Software Melbourne. Turns out it was a great fit, but b going to the O.K. event I got three times the bang with Alisha, Ruth & Rosie the Melbourne, Gelong and Balarat GovHack fellows. I never knew you could email a tree, but I did when they were done because apparently you can email the CBD trees ha! Anyhow it seems like a pretty interesting Hackathon and I keep hearing more and more from the Open Data movement recently and transparency and access can only be a step in the right direction.


YOW Nights

There was also the YOW night in Melbourne on the 14th with Dave Thomas talking about the past, present and event future of memory and computing in general. He seems to be excited about the new memory models proposed by HP's "The Machine" thingy, however he was just as vague and enthusiastic. He also discussed a (possibly related) new programming model where reads are fast and writes are slow and uncertain, which also fits the pattern of a web-based-architecture where reads can be cached close to the consumers, but writes have to follow the chain all the way back to the origin and the origins disk/storage before a write is completed (probably without confirmation). For the future he recomended focusing on collections and queries, with this absolute gem "think more ... write less code"

Do Right

On the 20th I took an interesting detour down the path of the Samurai at the Do Right meetup, who are a branch of the new acropolis group. Looking into the group they seem to be well intentioned and "mostly harmless", but the ethos seems somewhat flaky and unstated and I think my time is better spent elsewhere.

Free Software Melbourne

The 21st was the Free Software Melbourne meetup with guests from GovHack and Russell Coker. We trialled our first live stream of the meetings which was a particular success with a few regular members unable to attend in person but listening in from around Melbourne. Jordan Wilson-Otto and Alisha Ryans-Taylor from GovHack gave us a run down on the upcoming competition and outlined it's goals in regard to Open Government and some of it's history in Australia. After another frantic Gnews Russell gave us an account of his journey with open source and in particular Debian and SELinux. I especially enjoyed the Debian SElinux demo box stories... If I'd been given an offer like that I do more than just try "rm -Rf /". I also found the amusing story about email client bugs another good reasons to stick with server side email storage, where I can't mess it up :p. They were definitely some interesting topics this month sparking discussions that continued over to dinner at Classic Curry.


OWASP Melbourne

The OWASP meetup was on the 22nd and Julian Berton gave a cool demo using the exposed framework (there it is again) to bypass root and proxy checking on installed apps. To be honest I didn't know apps did that (although in the context it is quite understandable for this kind of app) and I'd might have had to learn this earlier if my bank did that (or change bank).


Data Science

Unfortunately I missed the Data Science meetup on the 26th and instead spent the evening wandering around Ettihad Stadium wondering where I was, it even took me over half an hour to find my car again... I'm so geographically challenged.


Open Knowledge

Then on the 27th the Open Knowledge Foundation had a mapping meetup in preparation for the upcoming GovHack. Matthew Cengia took us through a tour of JQ (json editor/viewer), CVS Kit (collection of cvs tools) and even slipped in a couple of command like skills (actually this might be hard not to do while demoing command line tools). Then Steve Bennett crammed a weekend workshop on TileMill into about an hour of slides and tutorials. Stowing data on proprietary clouds still gives me the creeps, so I'll probably skip that one if I can at GovHack, but we'll see what happens.


Engineering Machine Consciousness

The Engineering Machine Consciousness meet was a thought provoking night as always. It certainly will be an interesting time ahead with the rise of resources. Let me give that some context James Newton-Tho­mas was discussing the idea that the economy (at least as we know it) is made up of three fundamental units: resources, capital and labour. Now even mainstream news is catching onto the fact that labour is about to be taken out of that equation with the rise of automated vehicles and factories. I also think the capital part of the equation is in doubt with the rise of home fabrication and the pending self-manufacturing era, this will lead to an economy based solely on the possession of resources... unless something else changes, and what are the chances of that.


RHoK Melbourne Winter Hackathon

On the weekend of the 30th I joined about 50 other hackers at the RHoK Winter Hackathon. This was just a great weekend, if only more hackathons could be this focused on positive projects and relaxed about the competitive side. All the projects were interesting and seemed to have a real need and purpose, it was also interesting tackling projects with such a firm direction rather than the usual hackathon kind of "shot in the dark" kind of attitude.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Meetups from May in Melbourne

What a busy month of may that was, kicking off on the 1st with the virtual reality meetup. A guy form @TSRCTCO discussed and demonstrated some interactive imersive applications... the Occulus display was amazingly reactive and quick to react to movement without blur or lag. I also got to have a play with the Google Project Tango which had a few cute demo apps and I can't wait till those kind of sensors are standard. It's such a shame Occulus just got bought by Facebook because that looked like being the most open VR platform out there, but I'm terrified that the probably will still be the most "open".


Linux Users Victoria was on the 5th and Nathan Scott inspired me to have a fiddle around with PCP (Performance Co-Pilot) as remote historical logging coult be a very handy tool someday. Check out for more PCP resources. Then Paul Fenwick reminded me (and us all) to keep and eye on our apps, lest they keep an eye on us. His recomendations include afwall+, xprivacy, all the guardian project apps including orbot and off-the-record and also talked up Serval which I've been meaning to have a play with again (but haven't).


The next day was the Melbourne JVM meeting celebrating 20 years of Java with an international guest (New Zeland counts doesn't it). There were a couple of quite syncronynis news items with the Gradle 2.4 release and the BioWare Orbit release also making Free Software Melbourns Gnews. Then Pablo Caif gave us a great demo of performing geospatial queries in Java using GeoTools allowing for easy importing geo data in various formats. It also allows easy plotting and overlays on screen and usefull querying capabilities.

Then Sumit Khanna talked in depth about his experience with BigSense, a sensor network monitoring tool written mostly in Scala (with a splash of Jetty and Tomcat). It was quite an interesting project involving moitoring environmental impact and effects, in this case for storm water monitoring. One of the coolest things was simply the idea of repurposing old/cheap routers that run OpenWRT as microcontrollers for inputing sensor data through one wire interface and return data through wifi. I also checked out Sumits open mike night on th 13th which was a cool night and I particularly liked being reminded of the "this too shall pass" story.