Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting to Ballarat or "You mean there's actually something in the 800km between Melbourne and Adelaide‽"

A long time ago, in a city far far away (Dunedin to be precise), when we first started talking about Ballarat, the first thing that came up was the 'issue' of traveling to Ballarat. To give a little background for those who don't know the geography, Ballarat is about 100km west of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, which works out to be an hours drive along the freeway. If you're from somewhere that considers 100km a long way, the first thing to remember is that its 110km/h freeway the whole distance, honestly it can easily take longer to drive from one side of Melbourne to the other!

As things started to get a bit more serious for LCA Ballarat, we began talking to the Linux Australia council, who also expressed their concern about the transport 'issue'. They were confident that this was in no way a deal breaker, but definitely something we needed to address in our bid.

And address it we have! Given that the major concern, particularly for those outside of Victoria, is in how to get from the airport to the conference venue, we currently have 8 full size busses scheduled to run to and from both locations the weekend before and the days after the conference. These are offerred for a token price of $5 and a schedule can be found at
Even better, if there's demand for them, we're more than happy to look into getting more services schedule to make things even easier! In short, we're 100% committed to making sure 'distance' is no excuse at all for not coming along to 2012 and will do what it takes to make sure anyone interested in the event is aware of this.

So with all of that said, I guess what I'm trying to point out is that I really can't see any reason why anyone should have any problem getting to Ballarat for the conference. Well, no more problems than they'd have getting to Melbourne anyway. However, if anyone still does consider this to be an issue for any reason, we really would love to hear from you! If there's something we've missed or any other ways we can make this easier, we're more than happy to look into them.

Finally, after all the comments we got from people around the schwag hint dropping in my last post, I thought I'd make a 'thing' of it. To that end, here's another artsy fartsy, tiny depth of field, pic of some of our recently arrived gear. No prizes for guessing the item itself :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So many stars!

On the weekend in Ballarat there was beautiful clear skies and when evening had comfortably settled in for the night there was this beautiful gradient washed over the sky... it went from blue to black. It made me think about how accurately we managed to capture that on our 2012 website.

We are very lucky to have that sort of skyline out here in Ballarat. That's the one thing I have noticed, now that I live in Melbourne there's a distinct lack of stars it's always refreshing to come back to Ballarat and just stand there "under the stars".

Our Schwag has strongly followed the "under the stars" idea. I'm not going to give away much because I would like to keep a little element of surprise but wow.... even I'm impressed and I'm tough to please. T-shirts are ordered, Lanyards have been printed and delivered. Bags are being printed as we speak, Secret Schwag is working it's way through the printer. So much going on! I'm definitely going to need to organise a holiday after this.

According to our countdown there's 118 days left until 2012 starts. Time is flying WAY too quickly, I do have to say that our core organising team have got it right. We're not panicking, we're taking everything in our stride and enjoying this experience and I really hope that reflects in January for you guys. We are doing what we can to make this the best conference that we can possibly give to you. So please do register, get on board and joins us under the stars...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Feeling silly

If you've attended in the past, you might've noticed a strange tagline / description appearing on your badge. Eg:

  • "a narrowly referenced structure"
  • "an improbably terminal expert"
  • "one mysteriously immutable definition"

Naturally the type of people who attend are not the type of people to simply leave this as is and a tradition of 'hacking' this description has become popular. Each year this tended to get a little more complicated (As always Futurama paints a great picture of this process) and so with registrations now open for 2012, I thought I'd give a quick view of how we approached this and drop a few hints in case you're having trouble.

First of all, Zookeepr (The conference management system uses) is open source and this was in the back of our minds as we put the code together, so if you want to have any chance of customising your tag description, you'll have to take a read of it. To this end though, we'll even save you some leg work and say that the code we run on is always available at

Secondly, whilst there's a shortcut or 2 to figuring it out, I suggest you do actually try to figure out what each section of the code is doing as trying to shortcut the whole thing probably won't help. 

Remember it's just python, so really, how hard can it be? ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Registrations now open for 2012

Yes you read correctly, early bird registrations are now open for 2012:

The early bird prices will remain available until the end of October or until sold out.

Schedules, schwag and schregistrations

So we may still be a good 4 months away from 2012, but things are already starting to get pretty crazy for us here on the organising team. To help show some of the behind the scenes things that are going on for the conference, we decided to start this organisers blog where we can leak, preview, vent and generally show off all manner of things about what we've got in store for the week in Ballarat next January.

Where are we at then? Well we have some awesome venues booked, obviously the University of Ballarat itself for the main conference but we've also got a real treat in store for those attending our Penguin Dinner, Speakers Dinner and Professional Delegates Networking session. We've tried to put together things that are uniquely Ballarat and so we're pretty confident everyone lucky enough to come along will have a ball.

We also made our first major announcement for a while this week with the release of the draft conference schedule:
The papers committee put in a fantastic effort and have come up with what we consider to be a simply amazing lineup. There's a lot of the regulars, but we've also aimed to get in a lot of new faces as well. Most impressively, approximately 24% of the selected talks will be given by women, which is a seriously encouraging continuation of the increasing trend the conference has seen in this regard over the past few years. It should go without saying, but for anyone who still has their doubts, I want to stress that this figure was reached with absolutely no need for a selection bias and gender was not considered as a criteria in any way, shape or form.

Over the coming few days and weeks we've got some huge announcements coming up, so keep your eyes out for these. We hope to spill some more behind the scenes beans shortly too to help give anyone interested a look at the various rooms etc we're looking at using.

To conclude, I'll leave you all with a little sneak peak of the first piece of schwag that has arrived recently: