Our 57north people had been assigned a table in the international hackerspace area, denoted by a stand displaying a world map with odd stickers. Early-on we started inviting visitors to add their stickers since ya'know.. stickers.
On arrival, it was clear that the sign also had an odd amount of plumbing attached to it. I learnt this was an unconnected delivery node to be used as part of the event's vacuum tube delivery system, which spread over the entrance floor areas. People were using the tubes to send all sorts of awesome crap from node to node. Occasionally near our table, LED lit pods could be seen and heard zipping over the plumbing, typically followed by a harsh crash as the tube contents escaped the catching cradle and ejected to the floor. This sound signified possible presents - it was a good sound.
The floor area our table was in was one of the darker areas intended to allow hacker-built lighting projects to shine in their glory. Around us hung a smörgåsbord of lit globes, chaser lights and fire effects. I had brought along an ATtiny-powered 80-led light strip of makeit:glow fame that, while pathetic in scale, still stood proud on our adopted world map board. The light preset was fixed to 'drunk, gay cyclon' which I felt added a particular foamy joy to the ambience. Special mention must be given to the large LED sign that invited all to send text to it via UDP packet. I witnessed deep conversations between a fellow 57north hacker and random others:
Them (paraphrasing): "You cannot spell"
Him: "Patches welcome"
Also, there were talks. I am not going to describe the talks much as they were all recorded and can be viewed on youtube. The following are ones which I would recommend:
I will add to this as I watch more videos.
From Dec 26 to 30th, a bunch of us from 57north hacklab travelled to Hamburg for the 31st Computer Chaos Club Congress, held at the Hamberg Congress Center. Over the 4 days, the building was transformed into essentially a mecca for hackerspace members, and a holy shrine it was indeed.
I flew from Aberdeen International Airport around noon on Boxing day and arrived at the congress centre around 5pm Hamburg time. The trains connecting me between the airport and the center ran with typical German efficiency and the guide from the CCC wiki was spot on, advising me to avoid a line closure by taking 3 extra connections. I found out later this advice was from last years congress and therefore redundant, still it was refreshing to travel the German version of the London underground - rather reminiscent of playing one of those familiar yet novel reinvented monopoly variants where your electric company has been swapped out with hot sausage vendors.
The evening was bloody cold and upon leaving the station, I delicately asked a waiting couple of apparent natives if they knew where the CCC conference was. Smiling American accents told me to simply look to the big ass building and walk towards it. The building was indeed big and I saw that in a stroke of genius, the Orga (the name given to those in charge) had hacked the giant CCH sign of the center to show "CCC" with what I presume were LED strips and black bin liners. Couldn't help thinking that this would not be allowed at the UKs NEC.
Entering via the buildings main lobby, I toured the heaving spread of caffeinated hackers. I zigzagged under hanging lighting spectaculars between people hugging laptops and engaged in animate conversations. Imagine 8,000 youngish NASA Engineers had been ripped away from their rocking casual Friday after-party and tasked to save the current manned mars mission, using only the IBM ThinkPad's, RGB lights and 3D printers that the astronauts had laying about. I caught this sense room after room. Framing the action were large vacuum tubing installations dotted either side of a starship-themed central lobby corridor. Occasional dance beats could be heard out-thumping the assorted pockets of vocal babbling as people entered and existed the beautifully hacked-up dance club bolted to the side of the entrance lobby spaces.
Taking all this in with my sluggishly English brain, I recall thinking how could any building official allow such freedom? They must have been either complicit and embedded in the vast t-shirted crowds somewhere, or hidden deep inside their city flats calming their shattered nerves with the best whiskey that bribes can buy.