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Google Open Source Jam and Webtuesday Hackday //at 22:45 //by abe

from the Clubbing-for-Geeks dept.

I was at two geek events in Zurich this week: At the Google Open Source Jam Zurich on Thursday evening and at the first Webtuesday Hackday on Saturday.

Somehow I expected both events to be quite similar, but they weren’t.

Google Open Source Jam

When I read “Jam” or “Jam Session” I think of Jazz musicians spontaneously playing together. So for me “Open Source Jam” sounded like a hack session where some spontaneous coding is done. But there was no spontaneous collaboration at Open Source Jam at all. It’s just (more or less spontaneous) talks about different topics and chatting. So I was quite disappointed from that event.

There were though quite a lot of people I knew from e.g. Webtuesday, Chaostreff or Debian. I even met some people I just knew from IRC until then.

Half of the talks were sole propaganda talks though, e.g. for Webtuesday Hackday, OpenExpo and Soaring as a geek sport. Not really wrongly placed talks, but not what I expected in talks at Open Source Jam.

The few rooms and floors I saw reminded me very much to IKEA Children’s Paradies, just even more motley. Though it felt all sterile and wasn’t by far as cool as I expected after what I read elsewhere of Google offices.

I also think that several of the Google employees showed some contrived friendlyness, and questions I asked e.g. why I have to give them my e-mail address and employer’s name (what do unemployed or self-employed people do?) got answered with answers I do not really believe – like “for security”. A leopard doesn’t change its spots. A data squid probably neither, even not at events labeled with OSS and said to be for the community.

I suspect that finding new employees is one of the reasons behind such events at Google. But after my first visit at one of their locations, this company still makes me feel uncomfortable. And I’m even more sure than before that I wouldn’t want to work there.

Not sure if I’ll attend the Google Open Source Jam a second time.

Webtuesday Hackday

Webtuesday Hackday also was not as I expected, but still more close to my expectations: the Webtuesday crowd gathers for hacking instead of having long talks. :-)

There were surprisingly many people from outside Zurich, from Munich and Belgium, from Lake Constance and Lausaunne – not only the usual suspects (who were there anyway ;-).

The event took place at Liip’s new office. They still look a little bit empty and steril, but all the toys (mini rugby balls, Wii, plush figures on floor lamps) and people around made them very alive. And they had very cool lamps in the form of their company logo in the office. They sure have a good interior designer. :-)

Although most participants found time to do some hacking, many found less time than they expected so we hope that we can glue the talks a little bit more together in regards of timing to cause less interruptions of the hacking.

The food was also better at Hackday, too, but mostly because we ate outside. ;-) For lunch we were at Lily’s Stomach Supply at Langstrasse (very recommendable!) and in 6he evening we were at Pizzeria Grottino 79 near Helvetiaplatz. Had a Pizza Vesuvio with Gruyère cheese there.

Hackday also had a surprise for me: The IRC channel at Hackday was but when I entered the channel there were someone in I didn’t expect there: tklauser aka Tobias Klauser aka tuxedo. Even more surprising, he read about my project idea for Hackday – a semantic feed cache proxy – and liked it, so he decided to come over to Zurich and join the project.

We didn’t came that far until Tobias had to leave again, but the progamming language and partially also libraries had been nailed: Ruby and it’s WEBrick framework. After the Hackday I worked on it a few more hours and it now already saves feeds to a cache. The Mercurial repository is at

There were several reasons which spoke for using Ruby instead of Perl (my favourite progamming language and the one I’m most experienced in): Ruby brings HTTP and RSS support already in it’s standard classes and Tobias is more experienced in Ruby than Perl. I started to learn Ruby a few years ago to look beyond my own nose and to get my hands dirty on some object-oriented and nice programming language, but I hadn’t found an appropriate project until now, so this was one more reason to not do it in Perl.

I also worked on my Debian package of Conkeror during Hackday. It’s already usable and I now use Conkeror as primary web browser on my EeePC, but e.g. the man page is still missing. As soon as I have the minimum in necessary documentation ready I’ll let it upload to Debian Experimental (since its dependency XULRunner 1.9 is also only in Debian Experimental yet). The Mercurial repository for the Debian packaging of Conkeror is at

Those who were still at Hackday in the evening decided that the Webtuesday Hackday should become a regular institution and should take place approximately every two months, but stay a one day event (for now). I already look forward to the next Webtuesday Hackday.

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This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the Network Security Group (NSG) of the Central IT Services (Informatikdienste) at ETH Zurich.

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