Going to FOSDEM, Brussels this weekend

This weekend I'm going to FOSDEM, one of the largest gatherings of free software developers in the world. It is an extraordinary event, also preceded by the XSF / XMPP Summit

For those who haven't been to FOSDEM before and haven't yet made travel plans, it is not too late. FOSDEM is a free event and no registration is required. Many Brussels hotels don't get a lot of bookings on weekends during the winter so there are plenty of last minute offers available, often cheaper than what is available on AirBNB. I was speaking to somebody in London on Sunday who commutes through St Pancras (the Eurostar terminal) every day and didn't realize it goes to Brussels and only takes 2 hours to get there. One year I booked a mini-van at the last minute and made the drive from the UK with a stop in Lille for dinner on the way back, for 5 people that was a lot cheaper than the train. In other years I've taken trains from Switzerland through Paris or Luxembourg.

Real-time Communication (RTC) dev-room on Saturday, 4 February

On Saturday, we have a series of 23 talks about RTC topics in the RTC dev-room, including SIP, XMPP, WebRTC, peer-to-peer (with Ring) and presentations from previous GSoC students and developers coming from far and wide.

The possibilities of RTC with free software will also be demonstrated and discussed at the RTC lounge in the K building, near the dev-room, over both Saturday and Sunday. Please come and say hello.

Please come and subscribe to the Free-RTC-Announce mailing list for important announcements on the RTC theme and join the Free-RTC discussion list if you have any questions about the activities at FOSDEM, dinners for RTC developers on Saturday night or RTC in general.

Software Defined Radio (SDR) and the Debian Hams project

At 11:30 on Saturday I'll be over at the SDR dev-room to meet other developers of SDR projects such as GNU Radio and give a brief talk about the Debian Hams project and the relationship between our diverse communities. Debian Hams (also on the Debian Ham wiki) provides a ready-to-run solution for ham radio and SDR is just one of its many capabilities.

If you've ever wondered about trying the RTL-SDR dongle or similar projects Debian Hams provides a great way to get started quickly.

I've previously given talks on this topic at the Vienna and Cambridge mini-DebConfs (video).

Ham Radio (also known as amateur radio) offers the possibility to gain exposure to every aspect of technology from the physical antennas and power systems through to software for a range of analog and digital communications purposes. Ham Radio and the huge community around it is a great fit with the principles and philosophy of free software development. In a world where hardware vendors are constantly exploring ways to limit their users with closed and proprietary architectures, such as DRM, a broad-based awareness of the entire technology stack empowers society to remain in control of the technology we are increasingly coming to depend on in our every day lives.