Phew! LCA 2005 is done, and I have to say that I'm personally fairly happy
with how things went. There were a few things that we could have done
better, but overall, I think it was a pretty rocking conference, which was
Steven's main objective.
I figure now is a good time for a braindump, so stand back, here goes...
From an organiser's perspective (in the order they occur to me):
Waaaay too much pizza. The CLUG pizza
guestimating algorithm clearly does not scale. We had something like 150
pizzas surplus to our requirements. The final batch of 100 that arrived went
straight to Ainslie
Village, where they were gratefully received, and about another 50
left over from the preceding 300 where dispersed around the campus of the
ANU to random resident students and anyone else who happened to be in the
right place at the right time. Oh, and we really didn't do a terribly good
job of catering for the people with special dietary requirements. We went to
the trouble of asking delegates if they had any when they registered, but
didn't plan appropriate alternatives for the Saturday conference-provided
pizza lunch, hence me making a rushed trip to the nearest kebab shop for
half a dozen felafel kebabs for the vegans and the food^Wdairy intolerants.
Lightning talks fell off the radar. I think Steve thought that I was looking
after them, and I certainly didn't think I was. They didn't even make the
program, so they really got overlooked. We managed to shoehorn them into the
program on the last day with me nominally coordinating them, but it was a
bit too disorganised for my liking. I think they are a very important part
of the conference, so they need to get factored in. Perhaps half an hour of
them a day (first up, prior to the keynote?) would be a good way to do it in
Speaking of keynotes, giving away a laptop was certainly a great way to
ensure attendance. Rob did a fantastic job of defragmenting the audience
every day. I did find the latecomers, who insisted on clustering around the
back rather than finding a seat, mildly annoying. The back rows of the
theatres were also popular because the wireless coverage was better there. I
had mixed opinions on whether people should be availing themselves to the
wireless LAN during presentations, but everyone seemed to be doing it, so I
guess go with the flow...
The birds of a feather sessions could have been advertised better. This
was my responsibility. I had one delegate have a bit of a bitch to me
at the Professional Delegates Networking Session about the sessions being
too late and poorly advertised. I hope he email[ed|s] the feedback
through to us so we get it straight from the horses mouth. I don't
really know how we could have done that a lot better, scheduling-wise. I was
keen on having 2 hour (maybe 1.5 hour would have been better?) BOFs, and
with a pretty jam-packed
program, this meant things had to stretch into the evening. The problem
with this was that once people shot through for dinner, they didn't tend to
come back again, so that realistically really leaves you with 9am until
about 6 or 7pm at the latest, before people are going to want to run away
and have dinner. I had 12 BOF slots, of which I think 7 I'd filled before
the conference started by people emailing us. I wanted to preferably keep
half the slots available for people to suggest topics during the conference,
but I allocated the vacant slots to the later 2 hours, which I suspect is
what the delegate I spoke to at the PDNS was pissed about. In hindsight,
perhaps having them later in the week would have been better, however that
would have required some serious rejiggery, because most other nights had
something on, between the Penguin Dinner, and the PDNS. There was just a lot
of stuff to try and cram in, and something had to give. Maybe running more
BOFs in conflict with stuff would have worked.
The quiz show was a late addition to the program, and seemed very popular.
It was a shame that it was up against the keysigning, with so many
well-connected foreigners chosing to attend it over the keysigning.
The venue for the Penguin Dinner was a bit ordinary (mainly with respect to
open space and audibility from the back of the room). We were a bit limited
with where we could seat 500-odd people, within walking distance of the
conference venue. I still think it was a fairly good night, even if I didn't
manage to blow $2005 on a signed t-shirt :-) The food was pretty good in my
I think the conference venue itself rocked extremely hard (damn, that phrase
is infectious). Having all the theatres in close proxmity worked well.
Having it all in the one building was a definite bonus. The foyer ended up
being big enough, even with the couches (and the couches were a brilliant
The (data) networking was really good. I don't think anyone found the static
IP addressing requirement humungously onerous. The proxy ARP problem that
was bouncing MacOS X and Windows clients off the wireless LAN was a bit of a
pain, but the fact that we could piggyback on the ANU's excellent wireless LAN was a real bonus. Bob
did a fantastic job of getting a lot out of the ANU's networking guys. I
think the terminal room was sufficiently good as well. Throwing a few PCs in
there seemed to be well received, as they seemed to be in use most times I
poked my head in the room.
I found the organisers' room was too far away from the action. It was good
to go and chill out there, but the registration concession booth seemed to
become the de facto organiser's room instead. That didn't seem to be a major
problem though. I'm not sure how well patronised the speakers' and media
rooms were. They appeared vacant the majority of the times I walked past
them to go to the organisers' room (which wasn't that often).
Having ready access to a laser printer and laminator was bloody brilliant.
I spent so much of the first couple of days just knocking up signage as the
requirements popped up.
The slideshow in the theatres worked really well as an information
dissemination technique (if I do say so myself). The technology we used to
implement it was a little bit flakey (the theatre PCs were netbooted with a
minimal Linux installation, and all ran svncviewer back to a
central server, which had the desktop shared with rfb. If I'd had a
bit more time, and done a bit more testing, I probably wouldn't have gone
with something that shared the normal X desktop (or maybe a different VNC
server that did), as it did some weird shit with what was exported via VNC
if you switched to another virtual terminal. But it worked well enough. I
had a lot of trouble finding a GNOME-based slideshow displaying app. I ended
up using gqview, which was okay, but not great.
Some delegates seemed to be a bit grotty. Mikal lamented about finding
apples cores under all the couches, to which I think Chris or Jeremy
responded "those damn Apple users!". That was an amusing comment today. I
think bins were in sufficient supply that there shouldn't have been as much
mess as there was.
I think we overcatered morning and afternoon teas. I dare say LCA2005 will
be forever known as the LCA where the delegates were stuffed with food to
the point of popping. The coffee was good, and one of our main concerns
(that we wouldn't be able to caffeinate enough people in the time alloted)
The cowbell worked well as an indication that the talks were restarting
after the breaks.
Umm, I think my brain is starting to run out of things now...
But please, if you have some feedback, (positive or negative, but preferably
constructive if it's negative) please email it to us.
I'm looking forward to attending LCA
2006 as a mere delegate again.