Last updated: Monday, 28 March 2005 14:08 -0500
|The NordU2002 U*X conference was held in Helsinki, Finland in February 2002; here are my impressions.|
The crowd was the usual collection of Mensa-daunting übergeeks you'd expect, speaking in tongues and trading valuable technical hints and kinks in all directions. I didn't manage to get to any sessions, but Eric Allman's sendmail security tutorial was good.
The exhibit area was small -- fewer than a dozen booths -- but the exhibitors had some interesting stuff. It was well situated, too; it was virtually impossible to get to anything (especially the terminal room) without being exposed to the exhibits.
I took a number of photographs whilst in Helsinki; they're online at my site. They're a mix of conference crowds and Helsinki harbour scenes.
I was there to give a single session, for once not Apache-related. I mischievously named it 'The Synergy of Open Commercialism', since it was about how companies (such as IBM and Red Hat) can make money from open development, without damaging the development process. A surprising number of people showed up, particularly since the session was (to my surprise) slotted as 'WWW/Scripting'. (The slides are available online at the link above.)
The day before my session I ran my laptop down to about 8% of the battery. When I plugged it in back at the hotel, my power supply was dead. (I got maybe two hours of sleep that night.) Eric Allman offered to let me install my stuff on his machine if needed, but Ted Ts'o actually had a spare IBM T-series ThinkPad power supply which he loaned me, and I was saved. (He habitually carries several spares, plus a 14-hour ElectroFuel battery. Cool stuff! Thanks, Ted!)
Is Helsinki cold in February? Well, yeah, a little -- at least compared to North Carolina in the U.S. On its own merits it wasn't too bad; maybe around -5C. The surprise for me was the sea-ice in the harbour. I know the Baltic isn't as salty as the Atlantic, but the water still needs to be bloody cold to freeze. (I have pictures online at my site.)
If you thought wireless cards and access points were all interoperable, think again. I did, and boy, am I disillusioned now. Motorola, NEC, Lucent, Intel, ... a significant number of people spent a significant amount of time trying to get everything working together. With, it seemed to me, unfortunately limited success.
Here's a clew for Yanks travelling abroad: if you want to do wireless, get your wireless cards from Japan. Those available in the U.S., despite being labelled 'world' cards, actually only support channels 1 through 11. In Helsinki, the wireles access points were initially set up to use channel 13, so U.S. cards were essentially useless. Other regions have other channel ranges, but apparently only Japan supports all of them. So buy your card from Japan and you should be able to use it anywhere.