Hacking Hardware and Back from OSCON Now

Ahhh, finally back from OSCON. There was a mixup with the hotel rooms and I accidentally did not get reservations for my last night in Portland (Saturday). I checked four hotels and they were all out of rooms, and I was a bit freaked out about the possibility of spending the night on a couch in a lobby at the airport or a hotel.

Luckily, Scott Mathews from offered to let me sleep on the floor of his hotel room. Lucky for me, that is. Unlucky for Scott, who had a fairly severe allergic reaction to the small tumbleweed of cat hair that was attached to my luggage. Unfortunately for Scott, he didn’t realize the situation until the morning, when it was too late to do something about it…

Oh, and then the train system broke down when a tram accidentally disconnected the power line on the steel bridge going into downtown, causing a domino-effect breakdown of the system. So, into a town car Scott and I went, and off to the airport. And then my flight out of Houston was delayed… ah, such is travel. Oh well, the bad travel experiences didn’t damper my excitement and enthusiasm from a wonderful week at OSCON.

Perhaps the most entertaining session I have ever seen at any conference was given on Friday morning, to an absolutely standing-room only crowd, by Jonathan Oxer, from Internet Vision Technologies, about how to do simple hardware hacking using scripting languages like PHP, Python, and Perl. In attendance was Larry Wall, Wez Furlong, and a host of open source folks who were intrigued by the topic and the title of the session, “Making Thing Move: Finding Inappropriate Uses For Scripting Languages“. Suffice it to say that this is the first software session I have ever been in that featured live soddering from the audience. Yes, that’s right. Our own Arjen Lentz had the opportunity to sodder on stage while Jonathan proceeded to walk the crowd through an amazing array of hardware and device hacks in a short hour (supposed to be forty five minutes, but nobody left at all after that…). One really cool aspect of the session was the final demo, which featured a cross-continent SMS call routed through a MySQL database… Oh yeah.

Now, I know that Brian will disagree about this being the best presentation at OSCON 🙂 But, Brian, I didn’t get to see “Hacking Your House with VOIP“, but I didn’t want to walk in halfway through your talk! 😉

The end result of all this is that I’m sitting here blogging and listening to some old Nina Simone (currently on “In the Dark”) and dreaming up ways of rigging my own security system on my garage door, which was broken by thieves for the third time this year this week. Hmmm, MicroCenter and Greybar, here comes Jay…