EMFcamp (and some geek clothing)

I attended my first geek festival earlier this year: EMFcamp. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely go again.

As I was travelling, and camping, in Marmalade, my six-wheeled Land Rover, I helped Makespace (the hackerspace of which I am a member) by transporting several people and lots of stuff there, including a marquee. Only one thing went wrong on the journey: the improvised rearward extension to the exhaust fell off. (Since then, I have had the whole exhaust system replaced with a custom stainless steel one.)

Marmalade at EMF

Marmalade at EMF

There are many good things about an event like this, the main things being meeting interesting people, seeing interesting things, picking up and sharing interesting ideas, and trying new things.

I’m not usually comfortable with crowds, but that applies most strongly to general public crowds. It’s not so bad when I’m with people I have a common cause with (although still there can simply be too many people for me); this is probably connected with the kinds of people I most typically have common cause with, that is, more likely to be fellow introverts.

The hackerspace community, of which events like this are part, is one in which I tend to be comfortable with the people (although there are some creepy ones who I avoid or am sufficiently curt with that they realize that I’m not choosing to continue the contact). In fact, although the deepest priority in my life is religious, I’m typically more comfortable in a specifically geeky group than in a specifically Christian group.

One of the taster sessions I tried for learning new skills was lock-picking (hosted by The Open Organisation of Lockpickers, which turned out to be alarmingly easy, even with my co-ordination, which isn’t the best around. It changed my perception of locks; I still lock things that matter to me, and I still check that I have locked things before leaving them, but I don’t think of them as secure as I once did. I bought a set of picks at the event, and have since bought a set of practice locks, and have practiced with them a bit, and introduced some friends to it, and following tutorials on more kinds of lock is now on my queue of things to do (which of course is held in [org-mode]),

I also tried my hand at blacksmithing, making a straight bar of iron into a simple spiral. Not that difficult, although I’m sure a lot of other blacksmithing techniques are harder to learn than that.

There were more talks about politics than I had expected, but it makes sense, as this community has come up with new ways of doing things, that could be applied more widely. (I think these new ways could also tie in with the ways developed over the last few centuries by the Quaker community.) I’ve made some separate notes about [my speculations on society and politics]

I’ve bought a couple of items of geeky clothing recently: a Scottevest Quest vest, which has 42 pockets, and a Utilikilt (only 4 pockets, but really solid ones, and a hammer loop and a tape measure loop). I wear the vest most of the time, and at EMFcamp also wore the Utilikilt, thinking it was a good place to start while still expecting some odd looks. I didn’t get any odd looks at all; the commonest response was “Is that a real Utilikilt?”, so people there were quite clearly used to them — and that is clearly a well-known brand. Some time I’ll try wearing it in other situations, and seeing what people’s reactions are.

Having lots of pockets is great, and I can squirrel quite a lot of stuff away (I’ve stopped losing things in it now, as I’ve chosen and remembered specific places for things). I’ve now got: two phones, a bluetooth headset, a bluetooth keyboard, a wallet and a separate card-holder, USB memory, penknife, voltmeter, oscilloscope, torch, lock-picking set, ballpoints, Moo cards, and the inevitable Ventolin inhaler! Sometimes I also have a USB power pack, a 7″ tablet, and my netbook; they all fit reasonably well, although I can feel when I’ve got the netbook there, and sometimes the tablet too. I’d like to have a conventional “gent’s” jacket with a similar range of pockets; as a maker, I know what I can do about that: I’m planning to unsew the lining of an ordinary jacket I’ve already bought, and use it as the pattern for making a new lining with layers of pockets in it. (I’ll blog the details as I do it, or afterwards as a project report.)

EMF Camp happens at two-year intervals, and in the intervening years similar events are held alternately in Germany and in the Netherlands. I’m already planning to go to the corresponding event next year, which will be Chaos Communications Camp in Germany.


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  1. […] from two long-wheelbase Land Rover exhausts, with the help of my mechanic friend, fell apart on my way to EMF, and at last I got round to getting a custom one made, by Demand Engineering near Stowmarket. […]

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