Former things – OSSG

Having grown up in Brighton & Hove, I started to get frustrated with being there towards the end of the 2000s. At the time I was in a bubble of fairly high level web folks and had missed the heyday of BSD in Brighton back in the day (the first ever EuroBSDcon was held there in 2001 and before that Pavilion Internet one of the early UK ISPs, which was a FreeBSD shop, where the PPP stack evolved). Musically things had also changed, with the emergence of electro, dubstep, and minimal techno, things had moved on from the housier side of things which was more my thing.

So, I started looking elsewhere for folks interested in the lower levels of the software stack, and hardware. This got me visiting London monthly for London OpenSolaris User Group (LOSUG) and later the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG) where twice a month I got to hear interesting topics and I could talk to likeminded folks who could understand what I was talking about. I was able to stay content with being in Brighton for a few years with this arrangement. I did consider moving to London but couldn’t see how to make it work financially at the time.

Ironically, some of the people and types I was trying to get away from in Brighton were on Paul Downey‘s The Web is Agreement poster, who was a co-founder of OSHUG 🙂 .

The Web is Agreement

The first OSHUG meeting I headed up for was #8 on MilkyMist (spot the dude with the wireframe beastie t-shirt) and from then on headed up regularly for a monthly fix. We have travelled to Kent, Hebden Bridge, Lincoln to hang out but mostly were in London, eventually settling in with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group. It is there where I became involved with event organisation, holding the annual conference for the pkgsrc packaging system, pkgsrcCon, in 2017. From there I organised workshops on NetBSD and evenings on various themes that I was interested in, like making music, FPGA, programming and most importantly, hardware 🙂

I also gave various talks over the years at BCS OSSG. The photo below was taken at the 2019 AGM where I gave a talk entitled “It’s Open Source, not gratis binaries”. The photo captures the moment where the talk was torpedoed by the objection that one should compile their own Firefox or Chrome which have hefty dependencies, taking lots of time & resources to build. It wasn’t the argument I was trying to make, but I hadn’t been clear in conveying that.
The slide on display is a reference to avoiding having to understand tools you rely on and going from fad to fad instead (fad at the time and currently, containers).

Me -“It’s Open Source, not gratis binaries”, BCS OSSG AGM 2019

The last event I organised was an evening on the theme of POWER & PowerPC. I will be stepping down from the event organisation team in September and continue participation as a member of the community.

Regarding music, in 2011, Ralph Lawson‘s 2020Vision put out a promo video for a day of parties they held in London and it made me want to be in London even more because musically it was really what I was into. I didn’t realise it until some years later that looking back I had indirectly and unconsciously fulfilled my wish, though since that video I only attended the Village Underground on two occassions.
Sometimes the end goal is reached, but not necessarily by the route imagined. 🙂

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