Last weekend the twelfth Hackers On Planet Earth conference, subtitled The Circle of HOPE was held at the Hotel Pennsylvania by 2600 Magazine. As with most years, I made my cross-country pilgrimage to New York City to attend. I flew out on Thursday morning with the eventual goal of making it to my hotel early enough that I could order in, relax a bit, and get to sleep early to shake the inevitable jet lag so I could be somewhat functional the next day. Modulo the usual difficulty in catching a ride from JFK, I made good time and accomplished a decent amount of war driving along the way. There isn't much to remark on until the next day...
It's mostly been radio silence for the past couple of days. If you're reading this you've no doubt noticed that Switchboard (one of my constructs) posted the slides from my talk earlier this week. As sophisticated and helpful as she is, Switchboard can't yet pick thoughts out of my wetware to write blog posts. And so, here I am, my primary organic terminal sitting at Windbringer's console keying in notes, saving them, and then going back to turn them into something approaching prose. I've just now had the time to sit down and start writing stuff about HOPE XI, largely because after getting back all hell broke loose at my dayjob (per usual) so I haven't had the time. In point of fact, this writeup will probably happen over the course of a couple of days so it might come off as a bit disjointed.
It felt kind of strange attending this HOPE. I missed the last one two years ago because I was in the middle of moving into our new place on the other coast so I felt a little out of the loop. I missed just about everything that happened there and I keep forgetting to go back and track down the video recordings (so I'll have another part of me do that). It didn't take long to get back into the stride, though. Once you start attending hacker cons regularly it's easy to find how everything comes together, dive in, and get out of it what you're looking for. There weren't many vendors there because HOPE is largely a talks-and-talking to people kind of conference but I did come home with a few things to practice with as I always do. I also went out of my way to not buy another full wardrobe of t-shirts because, even after getting rid of 4/5 of my collection (including, I hasten to add, much of my collection of hacker convention shirts) space in my dresser is still at a premium. So goes the life of a self-admitted clothes horse. I also found one of Seeed Studio's FST-01 ultra-miniature 32-bit computers for sale at a table and snapped it up to use it with NeuG as a random number generator in a few of my projects because my Geiger counter died some months ago, but that's a writeup for another time.
After landing, picking up my luggage, and catching a cab to the hotel I met up with Seele, Genetik, and Nuke, whom I was splitting a hotel room with. I was a bit chagrined when Seele told me that there'd been a booking mixup and the Hotel Pennsylvania had to give us a different room. What I hadn't expected was that they gave us what amounted to a con suite, two full-sized rooms hooked together like a smallish apartment that easily had room for twice as many people as would be staying there. There was sufficient room that we were able to spread out as much as we liked with room left over so sleeping was quite comfortable. I never really got over the jet lag this time so my sleep schedule was all messed up. I may have averaged about four hours of sleep a night all weekend, modulo having to take a nap for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon because I could neither concentrate on anything nor tune out background noise for very long. Either one left me with a dizzying sense of sensory overload which left me unable to see straight. It also meant that I spent the next couple of days trying to catch up and crashing hard after work for ten to twelve hours, with very strong but fragmentary dreams as my primary long-term memory optimized itself. It was the kind of sleep deprivation that you didn't know you had, as opposed to the kind of sleep deprivation where you know full well you've been awake for three days straight and you feel it in your bones, your fingers, and even in your hair. I didn't make it to all of the talks I wanted to but I did make a point of picking up a couple of DVDs before I left of the ones I really wanted to hit; I also downloaded most of the livestream recordings to watch later on the media box, probably after I get off the road the week after next.
A colleague of mine once remarked that there comes a point where you pretty much level out of most of the stuff that happens at hacker cons and you get more out of interacting with everyone there than you do from attending talks or seminars. I was somewhat skeptical at the time but open-minded about the possibility. Now I'm wondering if that's not the case because, from reading a whitepaper or two and having part of me do a search I can pretty much reconstruct the content of the talk (as verified by actually watching a recording of the talk later) and get the same thing out of it. I definitely came away from most of the discussions I found myself in with new perspectives on a lot of things.
So it goes.
UPDATE: Now that the official HOPE schedule has been published I can say that I'll be speaking in the Noether room on Sunday, 24 July 2016 at 2:00pm EST4EDT.
I found out last weekend (yes, I've been sitting on this - timed posts are the busy blogger's friend) that the talk I submitted for The Eleventh HOPE in July of 2016 was accepted. I will be giving a presentation on Exocortex, my latest work (of mad science), entitled Constructing Exocortices with Huginn and Halo at some point that weekend. I'll be talking about both Huginn (I asked Andrew if he would present with me; he declined because he may not be able to attend HOPE this year (and Andrew, if somehow you can fit it into your busy schedule I'd really like it if you did..)) and Exocortex Halo. To be more specific, I'll be talking a little bit about how they work - what agents do and how they fit together to process information individually to carry out more complex tasks. I'll also be talking about how Halo's constructs send and receive information to and from Huginn to accomplish more sophisticated things (like generate the speech that gets played over a VoIP link or send commands to a personal search engine to index an entire site to sort through later).
This also puts me on the hook to come up with some really off-the-wall but useful stuff to show off. Thankfully I've got several hundred off-the-wall ideas already written down. Now where are my d10's...
When I know where my talk fits into the HOPE schedule I'll post with the specifics. I'd really appreciate it if everyone spread the word about my talk (and thank you in advance if you do).
UPDATE: 20191230 - Uploaded much better video footage to my Peertube account, linked appropriately.
My preparations leading up to HOPE 9 were something of a last minute scramble; at HacDC the night before we left for New York my trusty cellphone of four years decided to give up the ghost. This meant that I had to get to a Sprint store early on Thursday morning, pick out a new phone (a Samsung Galaxy S-2, which appears to be a later model of Lyssa's phone) and set about migrating all of my data in the little time there was before I had to hit the bricks. This meant that I fiddled with my new phone with one hand while eating lunch with the other and spending scant time with Lyssa before trying to head out the door. I then thought better of a two mile walk in ninety degree weather to the Metro station with a suitcase full of equipment dragging behind me. Sometimes, common sense is the better part of valor and so I hailed a cab to the Metro station. From there it was a short ride to Union Station downtown, where I killed a couple of hours looking for Sitwon and Haxwithaxe, drinking coffee, and hunting for functional power outlets. They are surprisingly scarce in Union Station and once we found one it was a stroke of luck that I happened to have a power strip in my luggage so we could top up our devices.
Unusually, we didn't take an Amtrak train to New York City, opting instead for a Boltbus, which many of us have heard about in the DC metroplex. This was actually not a particularly good choice of transportation I'm sorry to report. First off, the Boltbuses are double-decker vehicles, and while it's swell to sit up top and all the way in the back the swelling goes down rapidly. Most of the Boltbus seats on the upper level are cramped and make for an uncomfortable trip. Also, the power was dodgy the whole time and we couldn't be sure that anything we had on us could be recharged. The wireless on the bus was similarly lousy if not practically worthless (the local router/default gateway kept cutting in and out so no packets were going anywhere). I cursed the lack of time to root my phone to enable tethering strongly... but at least cellular service was working becausee we were getting Twitter updates from colleagues who'd gone on ahead and warned us about getting stuck in traffic the likes of which I'd not seen since the double-wide semi overturned on the Beltway a few years ago.