Foo Camp 2008

July 22, 2008

This was the 5th year that I’ve attended Foo Camp and with each year I feel more and more honored to be invited. If you’ve never heard of Foo Camp and you’re too damn lazy to follow the above link, I’ll give you a brief overview.

Tim O’Reilly is the founder of O’Reilly Media and tends to be very insightful when it comes to technology (he’s also one hell of a nice guy). Every year he holds this (un)conference at the O’Reilly campus in Sebastopol and invites interesting people to attend. The conference starts on a Friday and goes through Sunday and is three of the most enlightening days of my year. There isn’t much for lodging in Sebastopol so attendees are invited to camp on the lawn.

One of the greatest things about Foo Camp is that you always feel like the dumbest person there (or at least I do). For years now I’ve wondered how NASA communicates with the vehicles on Mars. The time delay to communicate that far away is so massive that I couldn’t see traditional communications working. I could have done some research online or I could have just attended Foo Camp because I actually meet a person that worked on the communications systems for the Mars projects! Talk about making my day.

Foo Camp is a very special place because no matter where you turn, you are talking to someone that has done something notable. I had some great conversations over dinner with Andy and Dave from Pragmatic Programmers, Jim Zemlin from The Linux Foundation and scores of others as well. Late at night Scott Berkun and I spent hours sharing stories with our mutual friend Bonnie around the fire pit.

As for the talks at the conference, they are always spectacular. I went to a fantastic talk about renewable energy sources and exactly how big of a task we have ahead of us (I might devote an entire post to this topic). Another fantastic session was by Dan Kaminsky where he talked about the huge DNS security hole that has recently been making waves in the tech circles. But in general I find that my most valuable time is spent with one on one or impromptu group conversations.

So as usual, I walked away 100% exhausted. Ze Frank made me laugh just like he always does, catching up with former O’Reilly coworkers is always fantastic and I’m more motivated than ever to continue doing things worthy of Tim’s appreciation with the hopes of getting another invite next year :).

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