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Last Saturday was the fourth Ohio LinuxFest, at the Columbus Convention Center. I'm been involved in one way or another since the beginning; the first two years I made the nametags. This is the second year that my company did the program guides and signs, and this year we also did t-shirts and laminate passes. This year the most visible contribution I can claim as my own is that I came up with the "word" defined on the back of the t-shirt.

As an aside, my involvement with OLF the past two years feels a bit weird. I'm acting as a paid vendor, but we're giving OLF a huge discount beyond the ad space we take in the program, and I'm spending a fair amount of time on it outside my workday. Not to mention that I've been involved with OLF twice as long as with my employer. Does that make me a volunteer as well as a vendor? I'm not sure. The main organizers seem to think so, but I'm not entirely comfortable in the dual role.

There were talks going simultaneously in three large rooms most of the day, some of which were excellent and even entertaining (Jeff Waugh's being the highlight for me despite not agreeing with all his views), and there was even a visit from a pair of penguins, but the best part was talking to people I knew, many of whom I hadn't seen since the last OLF. And there were some there that I didn't get a chance to do much more than say hi to.

I noticed a lot more women there than in past years (though still a stark minority), and most of them looked college-aged. So maybe the future of the tech community will be more gender-balanced than it has been historically. It was hard to tell, however, how many of them were actually interested in the event and how many were just there because their boyfriends were. (And in that context, how to interpret the one with the "I love my geek" t-shirt?)

I've put some photos from the event up at Flickr. I didn't get any decent pictures of the penguins (Skippy did), but I did record the amusingly sparse state of the Red Hat booth late in the day.

In the evening there was an "after-party" at a nearby Holiday Inn, split between the hotel bar and a ballroom where a DJ played techno. Most people stood around talking (or, in the bar, watching the OSU game), while a sizable proportion just stood around. Since I only knew about three people there by that point, and didn't intend to stay long, I was primarily among the latter group.

The reason I didn't intend to stay long was twofold. One, it was dinnertime and there was no dinner there. (Eventually some people starting working on getting pizzas, but I was close to leaving by then.) Second, I was planning to head out to Oldfield's On High to see Room Nineteen play after the game. So I went up to La Bamba for dinner, then headed for the bar.

I arrived at Oldfield's as the football game entered the fourth quarter and hardly anyone was there besides the bands and bartenders. I chatted with the Room Nineteen drummer a bit, but I quickly found that at this point the way to fit in was just to watch the game. I grew up on OSU football like any Columbusite, but stopped caring about it by the time I graduated from there, and I haven't watched any football in years. The resulting combination of understanding and detachment meant that I was laughing instead of cheering every time OSU scored yet again or Iowa threw an interception yet again.

Originally, Room Nineteen had said the opening band would start before the game ended, then they'd play after the game, around 11. It didn't work out that way; the openers didn't start until after the game ended. Room Nineteen didn't go on until almost 1am. Last time I saw them play at the same bar they also started way late; on the other hand, last time they played in cleveland they started really early and I missed most of the set, and at Comfest they played in the early afternoon.

The set was wonderful as usual. But this time for a few songs they added an electric rhythm guitar to the mix; normally the only guitar is an amplified acoustic. I think the electric guitar overwhelmed the backing vocals a bit, but it worked better than I expected.

Too bad my favorite song of theirs pretty much requires the presence of a certain former member. But they played lots of other favorites (including their cover of the James song "Laid"), keeping things rolling happily past 2am.
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