Daily Illuminator

April 20, 2004: Penguicon Report, With Pictures

Okay, this combination Linux/SF convention was a lot of fun. And me without a digital camera. (Have had a small one, just for such trips, on order from Amazon for three months. Maybe someday it'll come.)

So I'll have to describe Penguicon in terms of photographs that don't exist. This has advantages, though . . . they are all in perfect focus, and they take way less bandwidth.

  • This is me grinning like a loon in my new Schlock Mercenary T-shirt. When we got there Thursday, the first person I ran into was Howard Tayler, and he gave me this. We got to spend some actual quiet time talking. Neat. Later in the con, he drew some great caricatures of the guests, and here's the one he did of me!
  • This is me and Michelle starting the Chaos setup on Friday morning. She got the parts organized by type while I built a simple framework. With the help of a couple of early arrivers, we got a single simple ball-return circuit working. Then we walked away and left it. Pretty sparse, isn't it? It got better . . .
  • This is Tom Smith performing his new song "Talk Like A Pirate Day." Arrrrr! Pretty soon you'll be able to hear it on the appropriate website. The blond guy behind Tom, coming in on the chorus, is the talented and manic Luke Ski. The other one, the guy in the pirate necktie, is me! Yep, I got to perform on stage with Tom Smith. Wow. I'm still whistling the tune.
  • This incredible Tron costume was created by Jay Maynard. The glowing blue lines are electroluminescent wire. Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen?
  • This is the Chaos machine on Saturday, after people have been playing with it for a day. LOTS of people have been playing with it . . . I'm delighted. Sometimes it's completely surrounded by people tearing out track, putting in track, or plotting new track. Saturday was the day I heard:
    • (from floor level) "I've just about got this bug fixed."
    • (from behind the machine) "I don't think you can fix that. We're going to have to do a patch."
    • (from atop a chair)"Well, I'm working on a new feature up here."
  • This is me and Pete Abrams and Rob Balder talking about the "Get Nifty" game that Rob designed and Pete illustrated with Sluggy Freelance cartoons. We have no official announcement whatsoever to make about this. Move along, nothing to see here.
  • This is Michelle dressed to kill for the Saturday night parties. Rainbow hair, lace, and jeans . . . worship her, for she is the Geek Goddess. We ran into a lot of people I haven't seen in a while . . . Eric Raymond (who will be coming to Austin this October for Linucon), Steve Macdonald . . .
  • This is the panel on blogging. I haven't had this much fun on a panel in a long time, which is why I'm half standing on my chair listening to Neil Gaiman. He, Jeff "Hemos" Bates, and the audience were all coming up with great insights.
  • This is the Chaos machine Sunday morning right before teardown. It reaches nearly to the ceiling. It has spread out in all directions. It has five working drives and I-have-no-idea how many feet of track, and it uses parts in ways the designer never dreamed . . . a cantilever section is supported by duct-tape girders, and a large piece of plastic (dubbed the Error Handler) catches dropped balls and funnels them to one of the drives. Sometimes. It is the biggest and coolest Chaos machine I have *ever* seen.
  • This is Neil Gaiman being interviewed Sunday afternoon just before we left. I'm out of the frame, off to the left, just listening. He is a very, very interesting guy. Observant, experienced, and incredibly articulate. He was kind of buzzed at the con, because his novella "Coraline" was up for a Nebula . . . and on Saturday night word came in that he'd won. I've been a fan of his work for a long time; I'm now his admirer as well.
  • This is the van leaving for the airport, full of tired but happy guests. A good time, as they say, was had.
-- Steve Jackson

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