Last week, I enjoyed the beautiful environs of Keble College, Oxford, and the rather noisier hospitality of the University Club, to attend TransferSummit/UK, and the associated BarCampOxford.

What a show! It was a great freedom to be able to attend–and speak–without having to run around making sure everything was planned, organized, working. I love putting on the events I’m involved with; I had a fantastic time at the Retreat in Ireland, and we have a brilliant crew who come in to put on ApacheCon, but there’s still always a “background radiation” level of stress and tension that means it was a very different experience to just “show up” and get on stage :-)

My talk was a lot of fun to give – I was delighted that my mum could attend, and it’s always a thrill to have a packed room, whether it’s big or small :-) The audience were a mix – some friends for backup, others for mild heckling, and a whole lot of people, academics and engineers alike, who were completely new to Open Source. I’m too much of a perfectionist to ever be pleased with my presentations, but the feedback was universally positive, and I hope they’ll have me back next year! The organizers very kindly invited mum to share lunch with us before she had to head back home, and it was lovely to be able to introduce her to some of my “Apache friends” ;-)

The conference was unusual, in that it had essentially been assembled by a crack team who decided who they wanted to have speaking, wrote up the abstracts, and then asked those speakers to speak to the chosen topics :-) It ended up being a really solid program, with lots of interesting talks from a great cross-section of the open-source and academic communities.

Once I’d gotten my talk done, it was much easier to relax, and Thursday night started off with a wee dram in my room. We had a variety of things to taste, and some excellent (and knowledgable!) company. We didn’t get too very far before it was time for the gala dinner, in an unmatchably beautiful setting – the Dining Hall at Keble College. It was a lot of fun, although I was eventually warned off dancing on the “precarious” floor, a little while after Paul brought out his whistle. The only thing for it, of course, was to move back to my room, where he kept the music going until well past bedtime! Happily all the neighbours were in attendance, and no one seemed to mind too much :-)

The rest of the conference was, of course, of a standard – unsurprisingly! But the fun didn’t stop with the closing plenary, as we headed on for a pre-BarCamp dinner. I retired early, but sadly didn’t get much sleep – World Cup, a warm night, and accommodation above a bar with a great BBQ menu conspired to keep me awake rather longer than I’d wished. And there was no opportunity to sleep on in the morning, despite staying at the BarCamp venue – some tour organizer was wandering up and down the corridors from early morn, trying to determine where her charges were sleeping by yelling for them :-(

The BarCamp more than made up though – a packed schedule, great content, fun presenters, and lots of audience participation. Robert of Bunnyfoot gave a particularly memorable talk about the use of eyetracking, and my sincere apologies to the Apache crew, on whom I completely accidentally bailed, and only turned up for the second half of the “Apache Way” talk I had intended to co-present.

We had a truly delicious Indian dinner afterwards, whereupon I discovered the first person I know who didn’t grow up in Dublin but has heard of “Jesus: The Guantanamo Years” :-) Some of the Americans bailed on the Indian to have Whetherspoons fish & chips, so of course we had to rejoin them and provide appropriate mocking! By then, of course, USA/Ghana was kicking off, and we turned up in a (briefly!) very quiet pub to watch the match.

Much hilarity ensued, a good proportion of it stemming from those unaccustomed to the Irish style of sports supporter laughing at me :-) The result didn’t work out as we hoped, but overall I think everyone had fun, and if they were truly traumatised, the Americans did a good job of hiding it.

Thanks to all involved for not one, but two great events! Hopefully, I’ll see you all again next year ;-)

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