I have only been to a couple of Linux fests and I have enjoyed every single one. Ohio Linux Fest was my first, three years ago. I was very privileged to meet a few long time listeners there, make some new friends, and meet some of the Hacker Public Radio crew for the first time. I am finally going back to Ohio Linux Fest in a couple of weeks and am very much looking forward to it, especially if it is at all like that first time.
The first day of my first OLF, I of course immediately scoped out the local beer scene. I staked out a stool at the bar of the brew pub across the street from the Columbus Convention Center. As I sipped on my first beer, waiting for my lunch order to arrive, I heard someone at the end of the bar recommending my podcast to someone else. I recognized the voice from audio comments I had received. More immodestly than I would have done if it was a complete stranger, I interrupted and introduced myself. It remains one of the more humbling and surreal moments made possible by my podcast.
I hung out with that listener a lot that weekend. We accumulated a couple of new friends, as well, who often joined us as I continued to explore the beer scene. Downtown Columbus is…well, bare may be a bit strong but right at the convention center, that brewpub is a bit of an oasis. I hope it is still there. Despite that scarcity of obvious points of interest, we found a handful of respectable beer spots.
Later in the weekend, I was wandering the small but excellent exhibit area. One table was run by a musician who had CDs out as well as some headphones to sample his wares. I was immediately struck by the sound and the story I heard when I put the headphones one. I started chatting with the artist, int 0x80 as it happens, part of the amazing rap duo, Dual Core. The song was “Painting Pictures” which tells the tale of a fan of the pair who was deaf from birth. As the song progresses, int 0x80’s rap tells the story of, as he puts it, “an amazing little girl” who through the internet makes connections she never would have otherwise and ultimately ends up researching cochlear implants. With the support of her family, the first song she finally hears is one of Dual Core’s. The track still moves me.
I interviewed int 0x80 shortly after meeting him. When I was at DEFCON this year, I happened to run into him. I was surprised because I didn’t think to look for him. I wasn’t really surprised as so much of his early work with c64 is about playing hacker conferences, just like DEFCON. He remembered me and catching up with him was one of my favorite parts of my first, and so far only, DEFCON.
I am sure these experiences set unrealistic expectations. The quality of the programming means it doesn’t matter. I will have a good time attending the talks. Even though my podcast has been a bit quiet lately, I trust I will still bump into people I recognize. Better yet, I hope to meet some new people, make some new friends. If going to Linux fests has taught me anything, it is to be entirely open to that.