My first FOSDEM

Last weekend, I went to FOSDEM for my first time.

I think I failed to make the most of the opportunity (I didn’t get into general conversations with interesting strangers much, just asked some questions in talks and at stalls; that’s partly my common inclination, and partly being pissed off about the process of getting there and not feeling particularly polite because of that), but I’ll come better prepared next time. Also, I missed the introductory session, which I gather had some information that I would have found useful (I was stuck in the uncharted wastes of Brussels public transport).

But, overall, it was good. I was expecting the talks to go into more depth, but they seemed to be aimed more at getting people interested in new things, which is fair enough. And there was a lot of lovely embedded stuff, that I want to get into but haven’t yet really made time for.

I was pleased to see the Emacs and Scheme talks were well-attended. In fact, a lot of talks were completely full, and getting into a room at the start of a half-day block and staying there until the end of that block turned out to be a good strategy.

About being better prepared next time: I should get round to downloading a map system onto my N900, so I won’t be worrying about network charges when I use its GPS (the software it comes with downloads maps on the fly, and that put me off using it as I didn’t want to be stuck with a phone account that I might not be able to top up). I should look at the transport network around the areas I need in advance: Brussels is very poor at providing transport maps. (Perhaps I’m spoilt with the English ones, where, for example, the London Underground has route maps for the line you’re on almost every way you look.) I probably won’t bother to bring my netbook again, unless I’m doing a talk and using it to project from: I hardly had time to use it, and for what little I did, the N900 was sufficient. And I must warn my bank when I go overseas; they blocked my account! Fortunately, they rang my mobile to check whether I really was overseas; I had forgotten that they had started requiring me to ask in advance to unblock use outside the UK.

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