Monday, October 03, 2005

My overall impression of Linucon 2005

Knowing the troubles the organizational committee has been through this year, I expected a very chaotic, disorganized convention. And looking at their schedule and seeing how the panelists were a small subset of last year's panelists (and not many new people) reiterating some of the same topics as last year, I expected it might get just a taaaad bit repetitive. And attending a convention with a baby in tow isn't easy even when it's well organized, but a disorganized convention may be a lot more stressful that way. So I went to Linucon with appropriately low expectations.

And they were exceeded beyond any expectation! It was even more fun than last year. Even though the speakers were the same people and talked on some of the same or related subjects, their personalities made it captivating. In particular, I'm talking about Eric and Cathy Raymond, Howard Tayler, and to some extent Jay Maynard "The Tron Guy", Steve Jackson (he of Steve Jackson games), Rie Sheridan and John Quarterman.

Chase Hoffman, the convention chair, was asked how the number of attendees this year compared to last year. He said, the universal gas law says that as the gas volume is compressed, its temperature increases. "So let me just say we are twice as hot this year."

Hotter despite (or because of) being smaller

And I agree -- it was hotter despite (or because) being smaller. For one thing, a small number of simultaneously occurring panels didn't put me in a conflict over which panel to choose, like it usually happens at ArmadillCon. ArmadilloCon organizers have a knack of scheduling two of the most interesting (to me) panels at the same time and that time is 10 am in the morning. Or 11 pm in the evening. :-) Maybe it means that the subjects I am interested in appeal only to a very small part of the general con-going population? Anyway, Linucon didn't have many scheduling conflicts. S and I were able to easily agree how to distribute baby-caring responsibility so that neither of us would have to miss too many interesting panels.

Of non-panel events there was Cosplay, which, I gather, is just a new-fangled name for Masquerade, a good old con tradition (which ArmadilloCon doesn't have -- too literary for that, huh?) and it had Chupaquesos. More on those two subjects later. I will post highlights from various events I went to in my upcoming posts.

More liquid nitrogen stories

At the closing ceremony Chase Hoffman retold his liquid nitrogen story that he first told at the opening ceremony, which I told in this post. Of course, this wasn't the only time he had to explain liquid nitrogen to puzzled onlookers. Another time, at the end of probably the same convention in Dallas, he had to decide what to do with the unused liquid nitrogen. He didn't want to drive it back to Austin in the front seat of his car (apparently no other arrangement was possible) just in case it splashes. He said he was already an ugly man (though I disagree), and he didn't want to make himself even uglier by having his skin slough off. And the parking lot at the convention hotel was conveniently empty. So he thought he would dump the remaining liquid nitrogen right there. He started to do that. This, however, is not an inconspicuous action, as it generates lots of impressive vapor. Suddenly the hotel guard (or something) comes out running, yelling, "what the hell is that?" "Really cold water." The guard didn't believe that at first, but as he saw the stuff evaporating on the scorching hot pavement, he mumbled, "hmm. Cold water." and went back inside.

In the picture (click for a bigger image): The rightmost guy in a black T-Shirt, Rob Landley -- the chair of last year's Linucon and one of the key organizers this year -- is making ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

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