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Monday, 24 January 2011 12:50

Floods fail to keep LCA organisers down


Floods have not managed to keep the good people of the Australian national Linux conference down. This morning at 9am, or possibly a few minutes after, chief conference organiser Shaun Nykvist took the stage to greet the faithful who have gathered for the 12th LCA.

What Nykvist (pic below) and his band of volunteers - and there are many organisations and companies who have offered support in kind as a part of the volunteering - have done is akin to organising two conferences. And the second one has been done in the space of about 10 days.

When Brisbane was hit by torrential downpours, a goodly part of the original venue, the Gardens Point campus of the Queensland University of Technology, went under water. Sandbags did not help and in many places the water rose three metres above the bags.
Shaun Nykvist
Hence, Nykvist and his merry band had two options - either call off the conference or change the venue. The Kevin Grove campus of QUT, located about five kilometres from the Gardens Point campus, beckoned.

But it wasn't a friendly wave - transporting all the conference paraphernalia, setting up networks, arranging transport and informing people and companies involved in the conference was the worst kind of nightmare anyone could imagine.

Nykvist took the latter option - switching the venue. It is unlikely that too many other people would have taken this route; cancelling the conference would have been, by far, the easier option. And it is doubtful that anyone would have laid the blame at Nykvist's feet; nature has yet to be tamed by anyone, even Linux geeks.

Thus the conference has come to be, with a few loose ends. That is to be expected. That so many ends have been tied up is credit to the many sleepless nights that the volunteers have spent getting things organised so that the conference could get under way on time.

It's essential to bear in mind that this is not a company trying to preserve its reputation, just a bunch of geeks trying to provide a place where their fellow geeks can meet, greet, and generally have a good time.

Transport would not have been a problem at the original venue; the majority of conference delegates are staying at a lodge that is just a kilometre from that venue. Now it is a bus trip - sometimes two buses - of around five kms.

And given that Australia Day comes in the middle of the conference - normally the LCA is done and dusted by the time of this national holiday - there are additional transport problems involved.

Organising sustenance for the army of delegates is also a problem; the original venue was closer to the commercial area and on the Kelvin Grove campus nearly everything involves a bit of a trek. Moving big distances is not favoured by geeks, especially in the searing Brisbane heat.

Nykvist and his gang have overcome this obstacle to, by organising two canteens - and hosting a free lunch for all delegates on Australia Day.

So, the conference rolls on. This morning, Linux Australia president John Ferlito admitted that few  organisers of the past would have done as Nykvist has done.

In some ways it is an act of faith, perhaps blind faith, but things have come together pretty well for this soft-spoken man and there was no-one in the main conference hall this morning who did not cheer him as he wished everybody well for the week.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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