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Before registration began, the Hilton lobby filled quickly with gadget-toting geeks waiting for the festivities to start.
A section of hallway in the convention hotel was covered with pages showing the event schedule for Penguicon. There were times when the hallway was almost impassible for a few minutes, as people tried to decide where they were going next.
Alternatives to Silicon
A panel discussion called Alternatives to Silicon, led by eminent geek Thomas “cmdlin” Gideon and Aaron Diaz, artist of the speculative webcomic Dresden Codak. A discussion of cutting-edge and future information technologies, it quickly dissolved into matters of quantum tunneling and similar esoterica.
PostgreSQL + D&D = ?
I couldn’t resist attending a presentation called Into the Dayta-b’hase: A First-level Introductory Adventure, on building a PostgreSQL database for managing D&D characters. Seen here is Catherine Devlin, the presenter, marveling at the rapid level advancement of one of her example characters.
PostgreSQL 8.3 and Beyond
A day after the D&D character database demonstration, Aaron Thul gave a presentation describing the new features of PostgreSQL 8.3 and plans for 8.4, including native support for clusters.
Playtesting with Andy Looney
Fluxx creator Andy Looney recruited convention attendees to help him playtest a new card game design.
Eberron with Keith Baker
Eberron creator and Penguicon Gaming Guest of Honor Keith Baker ponders behind a DM’s screen.He ran a D&D game for convention attendees set in the Eberron setting as he envisioned it, in this photo. Players were chosen via an Eberron Quiz Show.
Drums and Dancing
For a change of pace, there was a drums-and-dancing festival in the halls of the convention hotel, complete with homemade didgeridoo.
Forensics and Knoppix
Kyle Rankin, the author of several of O’Reilly Media’s Hacks series of books, gave the Introduction to Forensics and Remastering Knoppix Without Remastering presentations.
The Illustrated Man
One convention attendee got his head illustrated by webcomic artists in the dealer’s room. Shown here are Megan Rose Gedris (creator of I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space) and Jennie Breeden (of The Devil’s Panties fame) putting ink to scalp. He was later seen being decorated by xkcd‘s Randall Munroe and Dresden Codak‘s Aaron Diaz. Aaron’s contribution was a caricature of the Higgs boson, aka “the God Particle”.
Tea, Biscuits, Death Metal, and Linux
Sporting a “tea, biscuits, and death metal” t-shirt, Ubuntu Community Manager and Penguicon Tech Guest of Honor Jono Bacon gave the Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants: The Coming Of The Linux Desktop presentation.
Tesla Coil Concert
The nighttime Musical Tesla Coil concerts — Penguicon’s Hack of Honor this year — were really a sight to behold. Steve Ward created a pair of solid state Tesla coils that can be programmatically controlled to modulate the spark frequency they generate, so that the sound produced can be matched to musical notes. Check out the Penguicon Tesla coil concert video captured during a rendition of Popcorn by Lisa Joy, who provided photography assistance for me at the convention.
At Junkyard Wars, convention attendees competed against each other to build a working system from a pile of component parts more quickly than anyone else. Among the challenges: making sure the parts you picked out of the pile actually work.
Among the other oddities of Penguicon, the Aegis Academy of Swordsmanship gave convention attendees free crash courses in knife fighting.
Why to Vandalize a Network
Northern Michigan University Professor and network administrator Randy Appleton took a moment in his Linux Computer Security: Fighting Off the Hackers presentation to ponder why anyone would penetrate and vandalize someone’s network.
The Search for the Perfect Window Manager
Giles Orr presented a survey of window managers, touching on their features, origins, quirks, and performance characteristics, in History, Oddities, and the Search for the Perfect Window Manager. He maintains The Window Manager Report, an in-depth listing and analysis of common (and uncommon) window managers for the X Window System.
Worldbuilding in a Bottle
Authors Elizabeth Bear, Catherynne Valente, Tamora Pierce, and Cherie Priest headed the panel discussion Worldbuilding in a Bottle along with Sarah Monette (not pictured). The subject matter, as described in the Penguicon event program, was “The overlooked skill of city building in Urban Fantasy.” Tamora Pierce was an Author Guest of Honor at this year’s Penguicon.
Paint and Take
The Paint and Take miniatures painting events were organized by Linda and Dean Martelle, who provided expert advice from novice miniature painters. Reaper Games provided the free miniatures and paints.
Build a Better Mousetrap
The hotel lobby later became the site of a sort of open-source, community-driven mousetrap construction project. This was the state of the thing early Saturday morning; by Saturday evening, it had been torn down and was being rebuilt in a completely different style.
Open Source and Copyright
The Current Status of Open Source Copyright Issues panel discussion was led by Peter Salus, Cathy Raymond, and surprise guest panelist Eric S. Raymond — Cathy’s husband.
In his Intro to Bayesian Reasoning, Eliezer Rudkowski uses common errors in the way physicians determine whether a mastectomy is warranted to demonstrate how to calculate probabilities from complex data sets.
Math and Elections
In the Math and Elections panel discussion, Randall Munroe, Eric S. Raymond, and Garrett Kajmowicz discussed the statistical merits and flaws of existing and proposed voting processes in the United States. Nobody mentioned the Condorcet criterion explicitly, but the tendency of the current single-vote system to produce suboptimal results was discussed. Factors like the effects of the electoral college, traditional political leanings of geographical regions, and even the breeding practices of differing political demographics on the outcome of elections were also covered.
Have you heard of Jay Maynard, the TRON Guy? Well, he was at Penguicon, in all his TRON-costumed glory.
TRON Guy wasn’t the only costumed figure roaming the halls of the Penguicon convention hotel. Often confused for the GNU mascot, Orvan Ox actually does deliveries for ACME Delivery, and has no direct connection with the GNU project.
A round-table discussion about mascot costume design and construction featured Beastie, the BSD Unix mascot. This costume was the work of Limey Zrnich and his wife Amy Zelyn, with Kylia Zrnich under the daemon’s fuzzy skin.
Star Trek Tux and Beastie
Beastie made another appearance for the Penguicon Closing Ceremonies alongside Linux mascot Tux, who happened to be doing some Star Trek cosplay at the time.
Sailing the High Seas of Penguicon
Imagine the surprise when a pirate ship sailed through the halls of the convention hotel, complete with a bawdy sea shanty sung by its “crew”.
Leaving the Con
Speaking of sailing, a man was sighted sailing a car through an empty parking lot on Sunday afternoon with the convention’s overflow hotel in the background.