Penguicon 6.0 So Far

Chris Miller and I got to the con yesterday afternoon. We were delighted to meet our friend and fellow podcaster, Rick Stringer, who was already at the con.

After getting registered, settled and checked in we attended the copyright panel. It was a little odd being in the audience, but with the panelists being Peter Salus, Eric Raymond, and Cathy Raymond I was content. The conversation bogged down a little bit on patent and trademark, as many folks confuse these with each other and copyright, but I was impressed with the sheer depth of knowledge, historical, technical, and legal, present on the panel.

We met up with some local podcasters, including Chris Lester and Michael Ireland among others. The food was excellent and the company engaging. I got a couple of recommendations from Michael of single malts I will have to seek out. After the recent monologue on social spaces, it was enjoyable cementing a couple of previously online only connections and getting some more substantial, and thankfully very positive, first hand impressions.

We returned in time for my two panels of the evening. Chris joined me for the podcasting panel which went very well. It is enjoyable to get a fresh audience especially given how often we’ve covered the subject. Rick joined the two of us for the next panel, computer geeks and science fiction. It was originally supposed to be me and David Louis Edelman but he had to cancel at the last minute. Eric Raymond was supposed to join us as part of the ad hoc plan b, and he did though a few minutes late. We rambled a b it before he showed up then he preceded to school us in classic science fiction.

We caught a bit of Shoggoth on the Roof, a neat mash up of H.P. Lovecraft and Fiddler on the Roof, with puppets, but left early as my head cold was getting the better of me. Unfortunately, it was much worse this morning. I’ve felt feverish all day and all of the nasal and chest congestion has moved to my ears, very painful and making speaking somewhat difficult.

Still, I managed to catch Benjamin Mako Hill give a solid presentation on the OLPC project. I also stumbled over to a reading given by John Scalzi, Lucy Snyder, and Jeff deLuzio. I was so tickled with Lucy’s story, I picked up a copy of Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. It reminded me somewhat of Charlie Stross’ Laundry Service novels.

I crashed for a bit before starting my panels for the day. The first was a doozy, with me feeling totally overwhelmed by Eric Raymond, Peter Salus, and Vernor Vinge. The topic was staying ahead of obsolesence I did get a word in edgewise. Just one thought, which seemed well received by the audience on the nature of legacy technology. I was the youngest on that panel by at least a decade, though. It was a thrill, all the same, to be on the panel with them and the other panelists.

My next panel was intimidating in a whole different way. Alternatives to silicon. The audience was large and my only other panelist was Aaron Diaz. I have not read Dresden Codak but intend to check it out, Aaron was funny and very quick, despite his modest protestations to the contrary. The audience was also full of some very bright people and the discussion was fascinating if a bit scattered. I admit it stretched my recollection of relevant news, especially without my laptop handy.

The final panel was an especial treat, it was just Vernor Vinge and me talking about secure computing hardware. I deferred to him, mostly, and he set the tone by discussing the monocultural nature of the semiconductor basis of computing. We dug a bit into some doom and gloom scenarios with this single point of failure or attack. I offered a couple of examples of incremental steps along this speculative path, hopefully bolstering some of the sociological and economic drivers he postulated for how a silicon apocalypse might come to pass. Vernor Vinge is an incredibly intelligent, articular, and gracious person and it was a real privilege to be the only other person on stage with him. I am very much a fan of his fiction and was delighted at my impressions on spending time with him.

Three more panels, tomorrow. More then. For the rest of the evening, we’re going to take in the tesla coil concert from our balcony and perhaps play some Arkham Horror over room service.

One Reply to “Penguicon 6.0 So Far”

  1. Thanks for the recap!

    Honestly, it sounds quite interesting… the mix of some aspects of genre fandom with the technical and legal/philosophical side of things sounds quite refreshing for a con experience.

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