Quick Tour of NMC Second Life Campus

A quick tour of the NMC Second Life campus. I walk around the virtual poster session, go for a walk/fly, and take a quick look around. Click the "play " or "download " links to take the tour.

The poster session seems odd at the moment – I'm not sure faithfully reproducing the physical world is the best way to take advantage of the virtual – but it may seem better on July 12 when the presenters will be on hand for discussion.


Second Life NMC Poster Session: A screenshot of the NMC Secondlife poster session.


Second Life NMC Poster Session: A screenshot of the NMC Secondlife poster session.

Expensive Open Source Conference

I had been making a case to attend OSCON2006 this year, the logic being that it's a better fit for what I'm doing now than WWDC is. OSCON is a gathering of open source projects and programmers/developers, with tracks on various cool open source technologies, methodologies, etc… WWDC is a corporate developers conference, aimed specificially at core Apple technologies (with some obvious trickle-over into open source as well).

The sub-thought was that I could save some coin in our budget by going to an open source conference, rather than a high-end corporate one.

Then, I checked out just how much O'Reilly charges for people to attend OSCON. Holy crap. For what you get (number of days, tutorials, etc…) WWDC turns out to be cheaper!

# of days 3 (+ 2 days of extra tutorials) 5

extra fee

$395 per tutorial, with discounts for multiples

# of sessions 210 (15-45 minutes each) 175+ (1 hour each)
Keynote Tim O'Reilly Steve Jobs
Location Portland San Francisco

$1,245US + Tutorials + Executive Briefing

(25% academic discount)


all events included

I know O'Reilly needs to pay their bills, but it just strikes me as odd that a conference aimed at the Open Source Community would cost so much. They could have followed the model of NorthernVoice et. al., by having partners contribute space/resources, and charge a nominal fee to make sure everyone can attend. Have the event hosted at a university campus, and I'm sure it would cost less to put on – and might offer facilities as good or better than a conference hotel.

There are certainly more expensive conferences (JavaOne2006 would have cost over 2 grand US for the full meal deal, and Microsoft's PDC is around 2 grand as well – TED is over $4KUS). I suppose that once you add on the cost of travel, accomadations, and any non-provided food, the conference really isn't that expensive in comparison, but something just seems wrong about charging over a grand (US) to listen to 45-minute sessions by open source luminaries.

I've been to a fair number of different conferences (but never to OSCON), and WWDC has always been consistently in a league all its own. Other conferences wish they could be run as smoothly, deliver the same tasteful showmanship, be planned as completely, and generate the excitement and buzz in the presenters and attendees. I'm not sure how much of that is a result of the bells and whistles they're able to throw in by charging $1,600 per head, and how much is a direct result of the energy in the community.

As it turns out, I don't think I'll be travelling this summer anyway (don't want to be away from home too much) so the point is basically moot for me, but I'd bet there are a lot of folks that would like to go to OSCON who simply can't afford the entrance fee.

A spammer responds

I was just clearing out the last of the comment spam – I'd let it stew in the database (unpublished) but thought I'd take a quick peek to see if there were any false positives. I thought I'd found one – a comment marked as spam, but with content portraying sympathy with my plight against these spammers – that they must be stopped.


A Spammer Responds (screenshot): This spam roach was trying to get whitelisted by commiserating on the evils of spammers... It didn't work - Akismet sniffed it a mile away.A Spammer Responds (screenshot): This spam roach was trying to get whitelisted by commiserating on the evils of spammers… It didn't work – Akismet sniffed it a mile away.


So, without thinking, I clicked "submit ham" – to tell Akismet that it was a bona fide comment. Then, I checked the URL to see which friendly blogger was commenting.

And got a spam site.

The spammer was trying to get through the filters by reading my recent post and trying to get whitelisted by posting something not spamish at first glance. But, Akismet had stopped him in his tracks – until I clumsily intervened. It's now re-flagged as Spam, and banished to that special inner circle of hell reserved for these roaches.

Where did the Flickr Schwag go?

Last year, Flickr was offering some cool free stuff to help promote the site. There were stickers and buttons showing the Flickr logo and the famous Flickr Dots.

They ran out, promising there would be “… more good stuff” – and now, a year later, there’s still nothing.

I mean, come ON, Flickr. I’d pick up an official Flickr shirt (polo or T), a baseball hat, and some other stuff… Doesn’t have to be free, but where’s the goods?

Antispam Update

The spammers started trailing off not long after I wrote the previous post – before hitting their target of 20,000 spam attempts in 24 hours. They punked out at about 18,000 – then I closed the door with the Bad Behavior module.

It was kind of interesting leaving the spammers swarming around my blog as a honeypot, but the load was just getting annoying. Since enabling Bad Behavior, Akismet has had to deal with less than a dozen spammers getting through in about 24 hours – and I haven’t had to deal with (or even be aware of) any of them. That’s a wee bit of a change…

Bad Behavior makes me a bit nervous though, because it is rather unforgiving by design. If it thinks you’re a spammer, or if your IP has been used by a spammer, you’re locked out. No second chances. That’s good, but it’s also a bit authoritarian. There’s also no admin interface for it, so if I want to unblock someone, I have to dig around in the database to nuke the appropriate records.

I’ll keep an eye on things, but it’s pretty cool knowing that this blog could handle a pretty intense load without breaking a sweat, that spammers will not be getting in, and that it takes basically no effort on my part to maintain things. Very cool.