2009: Quite A Year

Brian Likes The Source

I thought I’d finish off the year by sharing some of my favourite memories of 2009 with you. It’s been quite a year for me and included many new experiences and acquaintances. I hope 2010 turns out to be as good. I’ll try not to go into detail about every month or we could be here all day, but I have been back through the blog archives to note some of the big events.

Back in January of this year I finally got my act together and set up this site. When I say “got my act together” that’s debatable because the site still isn’t anywhere near finished. It’s still got the “temporary” (ha ha) design that I launched it with. I’m working on that as I’ve said all year, but I hope 2010 will herald a new overall design linking the main Drupal site to the WordPress blog more tightly, building on that foundation. The date I actually moved everything here to danlynch.org/blog was January 17th 2009. I haven’t regretted the move to self-hosting and it’s something I should have done long ago. There’ll be more consolidation and development around DanLynch.org in 2010. I also began my regular Weekly Rewind articles in February and I’m pleased with how they’ve gone so far. People seem to enjoy them but they actually prove very useful for me too, just being able to read back what I’ve done takes a big burden off my shoddy memory.

A big development this year has been public speaking. I have no trouble talking, in fact I have more trouble stopping. no doubt some of you have suffered at the hands of that from time to time, but being more focused and talking in front of people has been brilliant. In March I spoke at the first ever Think Visibility event in Leeds and had a great time. I then spoke again at Manchester Free Software in July. I hope to do more of that in 2010. Our podcast Linux Outlaws has gone from strength to strength throughout the year, seeing record download figures this month. I’m very grateful for that. We started doing the show live sometime around March and that’s been a real addition to the whole experience. Interacting with the listeners as we go has had a big effect I think. The list of the guests we’ve spoken to in 2009 is incredible. Just take a look: Randal Schwartz, Jeremy Allison, Bradley Kuhn, Miguel De Icaza, Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge, Max Spevak, Paul Frields, Mo Duffy, Jan Wilderboer, Allison Randal, Chromatic, Greg Kroah-Hartmann, Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, Pat Davila, Dann Washko, Chad Wollenberg, Matt Lee, Bruce Eckel, Steve Holden, Steve McIntyre, Christina Haralanova, Campbell Barton and more. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few there, so apologies to anyone I missed off.

Outlaws and Jan Wildeboer

I took part in Script Frenzy in April and wrote my first ever screenplay, I also made some lovely new friends that I’ve kept up with since. As I write this to you now I haven’t done anything with the resulting screenplay. It needs a lot of work and once I’d finished all the long nights of writing I didn’t really want to look at it for a while to be honest. I will do that soon and see what can be done with it. I’ve since had another idea for a book/tv series which I might explore in the New Year. In May I turned 29, one step close to the big three oh. Looking forward to that milestone next year. I also started doing Rathole Radio at the end of the month. It’s taken off in a way I couldn’t have imagined and given me a real appetite for radio work, which I hope to investigate in 2010. I’ve enjoyed playing some of my favourite music for people, performing live and again interviewing some amazing guests. I talked to Professor Kliq and David Rovics in previous shows and I’m looking to step up more guests in the coming year. I think Creative Commons is gaining some recognition from the wider public now and we’ve seen many mainstream artists using it. That has to be positive and my New Year’s wish would be for the music industry to wake up and stop criminalizing the Internet. They should be using it for what it is, the single greatest advancement in human communication for a very long time. It’s now possible to distribute your work globally with very little cost and people are willing to pay for it if you treat them fairly and charge a reasonable price. I don’t think this wish will come true, but then I suppose it wouldn’t be a wish otherwise. In June I visited Germany to stay with Fab and his lovely girlfriend Katy in Bonn. We travelled to Berlin for Linux Tag and met some very cool people on the way. Some listeners of the show, some who’d never heard of us and others who probably wished they hadn’t. It was a very hectic but satisfying week. We also recorded episode 100 of Linux Outlaws as we sped down the autobahn in the car. That was pretty memorable to say the least.

Linux Outlaws Saw

In July Professor Kliq played a live set on Rathole Radio and I was immensely proud of that. I think he’s got a big future and I hope I can help him along the way. I’m going to skip forward now to September as I said I wouldn’t ramble on for hours and I already have. In September I was incredibly lucky to visit Portland, Oregon for LinuxCon 2009. I met so many famous people from our little Linux world that I can’t name them all. I was really happy to finally meet Bradley and Karen from the SFLC in person. Such lovely people and good friends too. I also really enjoyed Portland, it’s a great place. I later discovered it’s where David Rovics lives, but I didn’t know that at the time. Back in England in October I went to London and saw Kevin Smith live for the first time. He’s a big hero of mine and it was great to see him in person. This all brings us lumbering towards probably my biggest event of the year. It’s tough to pick the biggest event out such a good year, but there’s one that really sticks in the memory. OggCamp!!!

Oggcamp 2009

Yes we somehow pulled it off, with help from our friends at the Ubuntu UK podcast the event went brilliantly. Everyone who came seemed to have a good time, the people who helped us out on the crew were fantastic and the whole thing was just a blast from start to finish. I enjoyed LugRadio Live 2009 the day before too and I just hoped OggCamp could live up to it. My biggest memory of the weekend has to be seeing Tony’s face as he returned from a trip downstairs. He looked white as a sheet and I said “you alright mate?”, his reply “there’s people queuing 3 floors down just to get in here”. We were all a bit shocked by that. A big thanks to everyone who attended and made it such a great weekend. We hope to have news on another OggCamp very soon. You’ve been warned.

In November this humble blog passed 200,000 visitors since the move to WordPress. Not bad going in just over 10 months. At the moment it’s closing in on 250,000 and I aim to break that landmark by the 1st anniversary on Jan 17th. In December I received my mystery box from Nokia and was delighted to discover it contained a new N900. Very cool! It looks like I’ll get to keep that a few months and play with the new system. That was something of a shock, but a pleasent one obviously.

I’ll stop now as I’ve gone on long enough. There’s so much stuff that’s happened in the last year I haven’t even covered. Thank you to everyone who’s been so good to me and I hope I’ve returned the favour at least in part. Look out for more podcasts, music, articles, FOSS antics and god knows what else from me in 2010. I can’t wait to find out what’s in store and I hope you’ll all join me. I’ll leave you with some quick 2009 stats:

  • 58 episodes of Linux Outlaws
  • 24 episodes of the Software Freedom Law Show
  • 16 episodes of Rathole Radio
  • 17 Epic Distro Reviews (126 blog posts in total)
  • Over 1400 Blog Comments
  • Over 230,000 visitors to this site
  • Over 10,000 miles travelled

Have a great New Year and take care of yourselves. I’ll see you back here very soon for business as usual next week, if you’re not too hung over that is 😉

See ya,



  1. Great review of your year, Dan, and not too long at all. Congrats on all you’ve done and achieved 🙂

    I want to know what happened in August, though!

    A couple of questions spring to mind, slightly rhetorical/personal, so I don’t expect you to answer if you prefer not to:

    – I think you have said or hinted at this before (I know you get paid for some writing, but which?), but do you receive any income from all the work you do or is it all out of love (and voluntary)? Curiosity as much as anything on my part.

    – What difference have you made? How have you changed people’s lives for the better? What evidence do you have? I’m asking this because

    I get asked this all the time in my work for a charity when trying to get or keep funding. I wonder if you have ever thought about getting funding – either through grants or loans – to develop what you’re doing or even to do something with or in “the community” – there are lots of pots of money available to not-for-profit organisations and I strongly feel that FLOSS has a natural synergy with the aims of wider charitable/voluntary sector, i.e., social change that the government and other established bodies either don’t see or don’t wish to act on. You’re experience in the NHS and recent news about it’s latest IT system failure will tell you this already, although I’m thinking more about grassroots and community groups. With your love of and skills in music/audio particularly, I’m sure there must be lots of scope for this, especially with “young people”.

    To coin a phrase, “information, advice and guidance” on FLOSS and the its potential benefits to the Third Sector is certainly something I’m interested in. But, of course it goes much deeper than that – what are the political, ethical, social and even moral consequences of people’s and organisation’s choices?

    Anyway, here’s wishing you all the best for 2010!

  2. Wow… Now that you list all of this, 2009 really was quite amazing! Those stats are mind blowing… Oo

    Very cool. I am really grateful to have shared some of this with you. I am so glad this whole crazy LO idea has worked out… 😀

  3. @fab – Yeah me too, it’s been a great experience which I’m hope will keep getting better. It was you who originally proposed the show and asked me to join, so I can’t take any credit for that. It’s worked out really well 🙂

  4. @David – Wow that’s a complicated question, so here’s the complicated answer. Firstly, I do earn money for some of the things I do obviously like selling articles to websites or other publications, but most of the ones here are for pleasure. I’d say it’s a mixture really. I also have other things bringing in cash in dribs and drabs. Bits of web development, I have some hosting clients whose websites I look after for a retainer, there’s some sound engineering work, ad income and I do odd jobs here and there. Whatever it takes to keep my head above water and give me the time to do other things I enjoy. It’s all mixed up and there’s no real definitive answer, short of publishing all my personal accounts, which obviously I’m not about to do. I would say this though, it’s amazing how often the “free” stuff I do in my spare time leads to better paid jobs and helps to promote me, it builds useful contacts. I don’t start projects with that motive in mind but it’s certainly a nice result.

    The second question is a funny one to answer. I would never be so conceited to say I’ve “changed people’s lives”. I don’t think I’m doing anything that fantastic in comparison to teachers, nurses, firemen, aid workers and real heroes. If what I do improves some things for someone somewhere then I’m glad. Some of the stuff I’ve done, like helping to fix up the computers at the Liverpool Social Centre has a good effect in that it allows people to access the Internet who just couldn’t otherwise. I’m only one small part of the group who did that though and I really can’t take the credit. It’s a nice feeling to know you did something good and I definitely find that rewarding. I probably could start some kind of non-profit or charity related to Free Software in the way you suggest, but I have no plans to do that right now. It may be work considering in future. I agree that charities and the public sector bodies in the UK should be doing a lot more with Free Software. Saving them money they could be using for good causes instead of paying on license fees. I’ll continue to help people I come into contact with in any reasonable way I can, and try to give a little bit back through that. It makes me feel good and if I can keep a roof over my head and food on the table at the same time, that’s enough for me. I’ve never wanted a grand lifestyle. I’m in a fortunate position that I don’t have anyone depending on me to survive right now, no family or kids to support and I can live as I chose with only myself to answer to. That might change in the future and I’ll have to think more seriously about a steady career, but for now I’m happy living each day to it’s fullest and discovering new things around every corner. Hope that answer makes some sense.

  5. Dan, you do yourself a terrible disservice. You and Fab do change peoples lives. In the creation of Linux Outlaws you have created a community that both entertains and informs. If it weren’t for Linux Outlaws, I wouldn’t know about the SFLC, the graphics of Richard Querin, and I wouldn’t have heard Dr. Kulp’s rendition of sudo-modprobe. Knowing and seeing makes me a better person and I thank you for that. Similarly, the community that you created allows me to share my knowledge and experiences with others. In this way, you and Fab set in motion ripples that will expand far beyond your original intent.

    Thank you.

    • @jezra – Wow l never thought of it like that, it’s very satisfying to hear. I’m glad what we do has some effect. We just try to make people laugh first and foremost, everything else is a bonus. The community that’s developed is incredible and that’s largely down to listeners like yourself who get involved. So thanks to you too 😉

  6. Jezra’s right; after all, I don’t just fly to England for nothing! You and Fab do a great deal for Free software, and should be proud of what you’ve built up.

    Thanks for reminding me what a blast OggCamp was – absolutely the best part of 2009 by a long shot. I’m looking forward to see where you take things in the upcoming year!

  7. @Windigo – It was really amazing that you and Bill travelled to the UK for OggCamp. I was sorry I couldn’t spend more time talking with everyone but there was so much to do. Thanks for the kind words. I hope to be able to announce something for this year very soon. I’ve been working on arrangements since before Christmas, things are afoot 🙂

  8. Well, I, for one, am shocked, sir — shocked! What have you done for the little man, hmm? What have you done for the environment? Or world peace? Anything? No, I thought not. Oh, sure, you’ve entertained, informed, and enlightened many thousands of people in the last year; you’ve made many great friends; you’ve helped form and build upon communities and organizations; and you’ve distributed some damn fine audio content. But the glaring question remains: what have you done for lostnbronx lately? Yes! Don’t deny it! Has HE received magic phone boxes of mystery in the mail? Has HE hobnobbed with the luminaries of FOSS? Hardly! And who, exactly is to blame for these oversights…? Well, a tired world turns its eyes toward Liverpool, Dan.

  9. @lostnbronx – 😀 excellent reply, nice work sir!

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