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OpenTech 2010

This weekend, I spent the day at OpenTech 2010, with several friends, enjoying a day of interesting and thought-provoking geek talks (only slightly marred by a re-acquaintance with the concept of Saturday mornings and by my stomach being awkward). My notes from the talks that I actually took notes in are pretty sketchy and lacking in detail, but I figured I'd post them for anyone who's interested. I'm gonna list all the sessions I went to, even where I didn't take notes. Obviously, I'm typing these up well after the event, so any errors in the interpretation of my notes are entirely mine and not due to the speakers.

It's worth pointing out that the OpenTech schedule page now has links to audio for most sessions and notes and slides for several others; I've linked to slideshows where appropriate.

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cymraeg: challenges


I'm getting very frustrated with trying to generate text on images in .Net. Whilst the process to do so is pretty simple, the results one gets simply aren't that satisfactory.

I have the following code (really very simple, as you can see) in an IHttpHandler, which I call in a loop to iterate through some of the fonts on my system as a proof-of-concept:

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So where were we gonna be bombed? No-one knows!

I'm very disappointed in the British Civil Service.

In 1980, the entire Civil Service, nationwide, ran a dry run of a Cold War nuclear attack on the United Kingdom, called Operation Square Leg.

After freedom of information requests to:

I'm slightly concerned that we spent a lot of money planning the civil contingencies of a Cold War attack — a sensible things to do, arguably — but no longer know where we were expecting to be hit or at what megatonnage.

Very disappointing.

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Suw Charman-Anderson

Now I know this seems a bit like a cop-out, partly because I consider her to be a good friend and partly because this whole damn thing's her idea, but bear with me.

At the start of the year, Suw launched a pledge on Pledgebank to honour Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and the world's first computer programmer — she made copious notes on Charles Babbage's Analytical engine. Importantly, girls start off just as interested in science and technology as boys, but lose interest in primary school. So how do we encourage girls to maintain their interest? Well, Suw's thought was to provide an answer to the frequently-asked question of "where are all the women in technology".

Now I'm neither the most observant nor the most decisive of chaps. I have spent the last week thinking, on and off, about who to write about and I just kept coming back to Suw.

I first met Suw after that renowned matchmaker of geeks, Danny O'Brien, set us up for a political date, shortly after OpenTech 2005, where many of the great and good of British geek politics ended up creating the idea of the Open Rights Group — of which Suw was the first executive director and I have been a member of the Advisory Council since get-go.

The first things that struck me about Suw were her infectious enthusiasm and comprehensive knowledge of the digital rights landscape in Britain. (That and the odd Welsh spelling of her name, which apparently originates from a typo that stuck!) Her experience in journalism was essential to our burgeoning organisation — and, of course, being an attractive woman is always a boon when seeking media attention. But, more than that, Suw's firm sense of fairness and understanding of the technology behind the issues meant she was perfect to be the day-to-day force behind a new organisation fighting for our digital rights in the UK.

So, whilst it seems a bit like a cop-out to choose someone I consider to be a good friend to eulogise as an inspirational woman in technology, that is genuinely how I think of her. And, whilst blind geek-dates organised by Danny always end up adding to my workload, I'm always bloody glad I agree to them.

For more information about Ada Lovelace Day, visit