This weekend just gone was Barcamp Bornemouth 4. While I was only able to attend one day, I still had an absolute blast.

Wait, bar what?

A BarCamp is an “international network of user-generated conferences (or unconferences). [That] are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants.” They don’t necessarily have anything to do with bars, but… they usually do 😉

BCBomo, as it’s called by participants, has been going since 2008 and takes place at Bournemouth University, in Dorset. Dark and I arrived on campus at 0945, just enough time to sign in, grab a drink and (in my case at least) jump up and down excitedly at people we hadn’t seen for over a year, before heading into Scissors for the intro talk.

*Reads that last sentence back* Oh right, I should have said. The university kindly donates five rooms, free of charge, to the event, and every year they get different names. This year the theme was Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. Rock and Paper were standard classrooms, Scissors the bigger lecture theatre, with Lizard being the ‘crash’ room and Spock the ‘hackspace’.

The organisers

 So we headed into Scissors for the Welcome Talk by the organisers (from left to right in the pic) Luke Wiliams, Dan Heath,  Lewis Davies and Paul Albinson. We were informed of who to thank for the space, the free lunch and the goodies, fire regulation, legal et ceteras. Then Luke showed us the shiny new gDocs schedule. Even as he spoke, asking us not to abuse the document, this appeared:

Cue much sighing and face-palming

After we’d been welcomed, told what time lunch was and where to find the free water, it was time for the first session. Dark and I opted for the session on ‘Ultimate frisbee’. Run by Tarik, we were breifly introduced to the rules and theory behind this sport before he took us outside to put into practice what we learnt. Rather, they put it into practice and I took photos.

Someone thought I needed to get involved too

After that Dark and I decided to split our differences. He went to check out Software Quality for MicroISVs by @annajayne, while I headed for the Failure Swap Shop run by @alukeonlife. The rules were simple: you said your name, and that you were a failure (after which everyone cheered); told your tale of fail; then explained what you learnt from it. It was quite a cathartic experience, in a mostly non-judgemental setting. Nearly everyone in the room shared something stupid they’d done and Luke recorded all the lessons learnt.

‘RTFM’, ‘Back-up’ and ‘Don’t show off’ were big favourites

We finished a touch late and I had to pee, which made us even more late, so Dark and I sat in the crash room and I wrote some notes on a talk I was going to do in the afternoon.

Next up was lunch \0/ Made by Dylon’s, provided free by A-Tech Media, we had wraps and rolls of various fillings, followed by nachos. It filled a hole and kept us going through the afternoon till dinner.

The next session was (How to Play) Settlers of Catan by @oliciv and @beanocide.

It’s an interesting game, very much like Diplomacy or a board-game version of Freeciv. Sadly Dark and the others were getting into the game just as their time was us. People started congregating outside and then I realized I was going to be up next.

Unsurprisingly, I did my talk on how I run the station. Surprisingly more than just Dark showed up. I had about eight people listen to my talk, and fortunately they were full of questions. Given it was my first talk ever and I was nervous as hell I think it went okay. I got some feedback from Dark  afterwards. I should hopefully be able to put up a video someone took of me doing it.

Almost straight after was Stop dreading talking to people. About stuff by @alightheart, a brilliant talk that gave five tips on how, basically, geek can talk to normal people without freaking out. Could have done with his talk being before mine, if I’m honest, but I still learnt a lot.

After that, and spending a few minutes swapping business cards, Dark vanished to Node.js by @tomgco, and I headed to the lightning talks. Lightning talks are talks of 5 minutes each that fill up one slot. We had a couple of talks on extreme sports, one on shorthand writing and ‘how many types of nyan cat can we fit in 5 minuets’ before launching into ‘Powerpoint Karaoke’. The idea behind this is that you chose two words, Google a slideshow with those as the topic, then present the result as thought it was your own. It’s… interesting to say the least.

Sadly Dark and I had to leave half way through, but we had a wonderful time.

We met some new awesome people, reconnected with old awesome people, made some good connections and generally had a good time. Congratulations to the organizers, thanks to the sponsors and I’ll see you all again next year 🙂

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